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The awarding of NASA's most recent Commercial Crew Program contract will see an end to Ame...

The push to return manned launch capabilities to United States soil is bringing about an exciting period in the commercial space industry. September 2014 saw the awarding of the US Government's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract, with both Boeing and SpaceX benefiting from a significant investment of US$6.8 billion. The contract has the ultimate goal of expediting the development and production of commercial spacecraft specializing in low-Earth orbit operations to the ISS. But what were the driving factors behind the change, and how do the planned replacements match up to the capabilities and conditions of the long standing Soyuz program? Read on as we delve deeper into NASA's mission to end the nation's reliance on Russia by 2017.  Read More

The RS-25 engine took place at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi...

The Orion spacecraft may have had its maiden flight, but it's still waiting for the Space Launch System (SLS) booster that will send it beyond the Moon. That wait got a bit shorter on Friday as NASA test fired the RS-25 engine that will power the SLS. The first of eight hot tests, it took place at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  Read More

VolcanoBot 1 in a lava tube (Image: NASA/JPL/Caltech)

Space may be vast, but the planets can be pretty cramped – especially when it comes to volcanoes. This is unfortunate because the difficult to navigate fissures that are a major volcanic feature contain clues as to the interior of planets and moons and the mechanisms that formed them. To help learn more, NASA is dropping miniature robots down crevices inaccessible to humans as a way of extracting information about volcanoes on and off the Earth.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Kepler space telescope (Image: NASA)

NASA's Kepler space telescope's count of exoplanets has passed the magic 1,000 mark, including eight new "habitable" planets and 544 candidate planets. Having confirmed so many exoplanets and their characteristics provides a database large enough to allow astronomers to carry out statistical analysis and make very rough predictions about how many planets there are in our galaxy, as well as the odds of finding another Earth.  Read More

CRS-5 lifting off (Photo: SapceX)

The CRS-5 mission lifted off today in a pre-dawn launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. As the unmanned spacecraft rose into orbit to resupply the International Space Station, the first stage of its Falcon 9 booster made an historic attempt at a powered landing on a drone barge positioned in the Atlantic Ocean, which did not come off successfully.  Read More

The DC-8 airborne laboratory is one of several NASA aircraft that will fly in support the ...

With the goal of shedding more light on a number of Earth system processes whose effect on our climate is incompletely understood, NASA will this year launch five new airborne field campaigns. These studies will look at long-range air pollution, warming ocean waters, melting Greenland glaciers, greenhouse gas sources, fires in Africa and clouds over the Atlantic, with the captured data to complement satellite- and surface-based observations to help provide a better understanding of the interconnected systems that affect our climate and how it is changing.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Opportunity rover (Image: NASA)

NASA's Opportunity rover landed on Mars in 2004 and its 90-day mission has now lasted almost 11 years. Unfortunately, its age is beginning to show with the unmanned robotic explorer beginning to display signs of memory loss. Mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory reports that Opportunity's computers have been resetting as its flash memory banks suffer fits of "amnesia," which engineers back on Earth are trying to repair.  Read More

Artist's concept of Dawn firing its ion engine (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Like the end of a very long and eventful road trip, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has its main goal in sight. The space agency says that the unmanned probe has emerged from behind the Sun as it uses its ion propulsion to catch up with the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt and that mission control was able to re-establish contact. The craft has received instructions for executing a series of maneuvers that will take it on its final approach phase, which will end with it going into orbit around Ceres.  Read More

Artist's concept of the MESSENGER orbiter (Image: NASA)

Now orbiting the planet Mercury after over ten years in space, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is still functioning better than expected. Its mission will soon come to an end though – it's running out of fuel and is scheduled to crash into the planet in March. However, mission control have come up with a novel plan that will use the helium used to pressurize the unmanned probe's engine to give it another month of life.  Read More

The milestone is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability program (Image: ...

At the moment, if you want to fly to the International Space Station, your only option is to hitch a lift on one of Russia's 1970s-vintage Soyuz space capsules. That may not be the case for too much longer, with NASA announcing that it has approved the first milestone for the manned version of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft.  Read More

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