Mission accomplished again! Now do more.

GalileoCompleting its extended two-year tour of Jupiter and its intriguing moons Io and Europa, NASA’s Galileo robotic probe is given another extension, this time called the Galileo Millennium Mission. Highlights are expected to include observing Jupiter in tandem with the Cassini unmanned probe, which will swing by Jupiter in 2000 to gain a gravity assist en route to its own final target, Saturn. Galileo will also resume its exploration of the major Jovian moon Ganymede, the solar system’s largest satellite.


Space ShuttleSpace Shuttle Endeavour lifts off on the 97th shuttle flight, and the only one on the 2000 launch schedule not devoted to construction of the International Space Station. Instead, Endeavour carries out an 11-day radar topography mission, though the 200-foot radar mast deployed from the cargo bay changes Endeavour’s center of mass and necessitates an unusually high usage of the orbiter’s fuel to keep the vehicle and payload properly oriented. Endeavour’s 14th crew is Commander Kevin Kregel, Pilot Dominic Gorie, and mission specialists Janet Kavandi, Janice Voss, Mamoru Mohri and Gerhard Thiele.

NEARer to Eros

NEARAfter orbiting the sun behind asteroid 433 Eros for a year since a failed thruster burn almost ended its mission, unmanned space probe NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) fires its engines successfully, slowing itself to fall into orbit around Eros. During the weeks leading up to the orbital insertion maneuver, NEAR observed the space around Eros to ensure that no satellites existed with which it might collide. NEAR’s close study of Eros officially begins, and further maneuvers bring it into an ever-closer orbit around the asteroid.