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Anxious to take the next step in space exploration, Russia.s space agency is looking for six male volunteers willing to be locked into a metal tube for 500 days to simulate a trip to Mars. No word, unfortunately, on where to apply. It can.t be a good sign that their Web site ( currently consists of an "Under construction" page...

The Hayabusa probe has reached the asteroid Itokawa and is now photographing it in preparation for taking a sample later this month. The sample is scheduled to arrive back at Earth in June 2007.

Meanwhile, Venus Express was supposed to be flying by now but had its launch postponed due to particulate contamination of the launcher. ESA hopes to try again on November 9th.

As I was starting to type this up, CNN reported a weekend NASA get-together to demonstrate possible space elevator designs and duly noted The Fountains of Paradise as the source of the idea. Now, has anyone told CNN that Arthur C. Clarke invented keyword-based electronic news alerts in the same book?

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