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Space


— Space

SpaceX static firing test of Falcon 9

SpaceX has announced that its Falcon 9 rocket may head back into space on Sunday after being grounded for nearly six months due to a mid-air explosion. The improved version of the booster carried out a static test firing on Friday at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in preparation for the mission to send 11 Orbcomm OG-2 communication satellites into low Earth orbit. If the results of the test prove positive, the launch will go forward on December 20.

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— Space

Cassini prepares for a final pass of icy Enceladus

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is preparing for its final flyby of the icy moon Enceladus. The pass is slated to take place on Dec. 19 at a distance of 3,106 miles (4,999 km). This final close proximity encounter of Enceladus comes as part of a farewell tour of Saturn's moons that have been so well characterized by the spacecraft, prior to beginning its "Grand Finale" mission late in 2016.

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— Space

Closest potentially habitable planet found just 14 light years away

Our nearest cosmic neighbors may be closer than we think. A team of astronomers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have announced the discovery of what could be the closest habitable planet beyond the Solar System. Orbiting the red dwarf star Wolf 1061 in the constellation of Ophiuchus, the planet is only 14 light years from Earth, which is closer than the exoplanet Gliese 667Cc's 22 light years.

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