Astro News Briefs: April 21–27

Meade Instruments Chairman and Founder to Retire

April 24, 2003 | On Monday Meade Instruments announced that John C. Diebel, the company's chairman, chief executive officer, and founder, will retire on May 31st. Assuming the role of CEO will be Steven Murdock, Meade's current president and chief operating officer. Harry L. Casari, a member of Meade's board of directors since 1997, will become the new chairman.

For more information about the changes in Meade, see the Business Wire report.


SIRTF Launch Delayed

April 21, 2003 | NASA's next Great Observatory, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), will not reach orbit before mid-August. Until April 18th it had been scheduled for launch by the end of the month.

The problem is not with the spacecraft itself, but with the Delta II rocket that will propel it into space. One of the booster's auxiliary solid-fuel rockets needs to be replaced because its engine nozzle is deteriorating.

"There simply is not enough time to remove and replace the rocket motor to support a SIRTF launch in advance of the Mars Exploration Rover[s]," said Karen Poniatowski (NASA Headquarters). The twin Mars rovers are also on Delta II rockets, and they have to be launched in June while the red planet is relatively nearby. SIRTF, in contrast, can go anytime.

For more information on the launch delay, see NASA's press release.