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— Space

Soyuz spacecraft docks with ISS despite failing to deploy solar panel

A Russian-made Soyuz TMA-17M blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome last night, as it undertook a journey to the International Space Station. Aboard the spacecraft was NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Kimiya Yui. The initial launch proceeded without incident, with the rocket successfully reaching preliminary staging orbit. However, soon after reaching space it became apparent that the spacecraft's port solar array had failed to open.

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— Space

ESA to collaborate with Japan in daring asteroid mission

ESA has announced its intent to aid the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA) with its ambitious Hayabusa-2 mission to retrieve material samples from an asteroid, and return said samples to Earth by the year 2020. Following a successful launch last December atop a H-IIA rocket, the probe will now benefit from 400 hours of tracking and telemetry from ESA's 35 m (115 ft) diameter dish at Malargüe, Argentina. Read More
— Space

Japanese space agency uses worms to help understand bone loss in astronauts

Mankind is not built for life in space. This is one of the fundamental truths that we have been forced to come to terms with during the short period in which humanity has frequented low-Earth orbit. In an effort to better understand the detrimental effects of microgravity on the human body, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is conducting a pair of experiments centering around observing the tiny roundworm, Caenorhabditis Elegans. Read More
— Space

New crowdsourcing project calls on citizen scientists to catalog images of cities at night

A new crowdsourcing initiative is calling upon the public to help catalog the ever increasing library of images snapped of our planet, and more importantly its cities, at night from the International Space Station (ISS). With your help, the Cities at Night project could help map light pollution spanning the course of the 16 year period in which the images where taken, with the added bonus of giving volunteers the opportunity to flick through a catalog of stunning images that highlight the mark we make on our planet at night. Read More
— Space

Hayabusa 2 launches on asteroid bombing mission

Sometimes it seems as if the history of spaceflight is a long exercise in oneupsmanship with each agency trying to top the others. Case in point is Japan's Hayabusa2 mission, which, following the landing of Philae on on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko last month, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed was successfully launched today at 1:22:04 pm JST from the Tanegashima Space Center on a mission to not only land on an asteroid, but to bomb it. Read More
— Space

Could a space-based solar farm become a reality by 2040?

Space-based solar power seems like an idea from a Star Trek script, but given the uncertain future of its power generation industry, Japan stands to gain as much as anyone by exploring this potential source of renewable energy. The disaster at Fukushima, limited access to fossil fuels and advances in technology has, at least in the eyes of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), added further weight to the notion of a space-based solar power system. The agency is developing a complex roadmap involving a 1 GW extraterrestrial solar farm, a microwave beam and a man-made island in the Tokyo harbor which could be used collect solar energy in space and supply power to Earth by 2040. Read More
— Space

GPM weather observatory successfully launched

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was launched last Thursday aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket that blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan. Weighing in at 4-ton, the GPM is the largest spacecraft ever built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and will help provide a more detailed picture of the Earth's precipitation to assist climate scientists and help improve forecasting of extreme weather events. Read More
— Space

GPM satellite to usher in a new era of weather observation

NASA is set to launch a new satellite designed to take detailed, near real-time measurements of rain and snowfall on a global scale whilst mapping the interior of storm systems. The Core Observatory of the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) has been in development since 2005 and is a collaboration project between NASA and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA). The satellite is due to be launched on the Japanese manufactured H-IIA delivery vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Centre, Tanegashima Island, Japan, on February 27. Read More
— Space

Kirobo robot speaks from the ISS

In space, no one can hear you scream, but they can hear a little robot speaking greetings in Japanese. Toyota announced today that a robot spoke from space for the first time. On August 21, the communications robot, Kirobo, sent greetings back to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS). Kirobo said, in translation, “On August 21, 2013, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all.” Read More
— Space

Robot astronaut Kirobo headed for ISS in August

In what may not be the most historic event in space exploration, but may be the cutest, Toyota has announced that the Kibo Robot Project’s “robot astronaut” Kirobo will be sent to the International Space Station on August 4. Unlike its human counterparts, the 13.4-in (34 cm) tall humanoid robot will travel aboard an unmanned Kounotori 4 cargo spacecraft launched from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center atop a H-IIB rocket. Once at the ISS, Kirobo is scheduled to conduct the first-ever robot-human conversation experiments in December. Read More
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