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The Year In Space

THIS is a year of great expectation for astronomers as several new space-based observatories are put on station. The shuttle Discovery is due to carry the much delayed Hubble Space Telescope into orbit as early as April 19.

In May, a US-supplied Delta II rocket is scheduled to orbit West Germany's ROSAT X-ray observatory. This joint West Germany, US, and British satellite will give astronomers sharp views of celestial objects by means of the X-rays they emit.

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In November, the shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to orbit the US Gamma Ray Observatory. GRO will allow astronomers to study the universe at gamma ray wavelengths, which are shorter than those of X-rays. Like the Hubble satellite, GRO is one of four ``Great Observatories'' the US plans to orbit this decade.

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