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Space

SpaceShipTwo will carry 12 NASA experiments (Image: Mars Scientific/Clay Center Observator...

Science and space tourism shook hands this week with NASA announcing 12 technology experiments that will fly on the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane under a charter agreement with Virgin Galactic. The payload is a mixture of government, academic, and private microgravity experiments that will form the first commercial research flight for the spacecraft.  Read More

SOFIA, with her cavity doors open and a NASA F/A-18 in tow (Photo: NASA/Jim Ross)

NASA scientists are eager to get to grips with a new toy for observing the heavens, the Echelon-Cross-Echelle Spectrograph (EXES). Mounted on a heavily-customized Boeing 747, the spectrograph has undergone two successful test flights and when declared operational, will comb the sky for infrared frequency light aboard the largest flying telescope ever constructed.  Read More

The ESA Common Berthing Mechanism is intended to replace other devices, such as this Russi...

Docking is the paradox of spaceflight. On the one hand, it’s as boring to watch as an apple turning brown; on the other, it’s white-knuckle suspense when you realise that tons of paper-thin metal are one misstep away from destruction. What’s worse, the number of different docking port designs makes compatibility a major concern, so ESA is developing a universal docking mechanism that will allow any spacecraft to lock onto any other.  Read More

Kepler-10c is 17 times more massive than the Earth (Image: NASA/Harvard-Smithsonian Center...

Despite being currently offline, the Kepler space telescope is still turning up surprises. One of them is an Earth-like planet that’s so large that astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics call it a “mega-Earth.” Planet Kepler-10c is 17 times heavier than the Earth, and may require scientists to rethink their ideas on planet formation and the likelihood of life in our galaxy.  Read More

Artist's impression of the GPM satellite (Image: NASA/Britt Griswold)

Control of NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement Core satellite (GPM) has been handed over to the team of engineers who will maintain operational control of the piece of equipment for the remainder of its life in space. The GPM mission, launched on February 27 atop a Japanese manufactured H-IIA rocket, will work in tandem with a constellation of pre-existing satellites with the objective of creating a unified measurement of rain and snow-fall on a global scale.  Read More

Earth is surrounded by a cloud of debris that is becoming increasingly hazardous to operat...

As part of its Clean Space Initiative, the ESA is planning a satellite salvage mission called e.DeOrbit that would use a satellite to net space debris and remove it from low Earth orbit. To capture such debris using an autonomous system, it needs to be targeted effectively, which is difficult when the debris is tumbling unpredictably. To fine tune the design of the e.DeOrbit mission, the ESA will commission a study to shed light on why space debris tumbles the way it does.  Read More

The 35-year old spacecraft will be sent on a new comet flyby mission (Image: NASA)

A 35-year old space probe has come back to life after a 16-year slumber thanks to the world's largest single-aperture radio telescope. Using the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico, the ISEE-3 Reboot Project has re-established contact with the mothballed ISEE-3 space probe. The private organization took control of the unmanned ex-NASA spacecraft and is commanding it to execute functions as part of an assessment of its health before returning it to exploration service.  Read More

The first night-time flight of the Morpheus lander (Image: NASA)

Spacecraft lifting off at night are a beautiful sight, but equally impressive is when one lands in the dark under its own power. NASA’s robotic Morpheus prototype planetary lander did both of those in its first night-time free flight at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which included an autonomous landing in an artificial lunar landscape.  Read More

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed a joint agreement with for airspace use ...

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed a joint agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for access to airspace for spaceflights from New Mexico. The agreement helps to pave the way for commercial flights of Virgin's SpaceShipTwo, and is the first agreement of its type for a commercial spaceline.  Read More

The Dragon V2 was unveiled at a brief media event

Having teased the public by showing off the SuperDraco engine, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk takes the wraps off the Dragon V2 manned spacecraft that it’s designed to propel. In a brief media event at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, Musk introduced the larger, more powerful version of the reusable Dragon capsule, which will one day carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and return to Earth to land under its own power.  Read More

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