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The tests aim at reducing the weight of the SLS by 20 percent (Image: NASA)

On December 9, NASA began what is either an impressive engineering test or a classic example of world-class larking about. At the space agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, engineers are crushing an enormous can by subjecting it to almost one million pounds of force. This may seem like a party trick that’s gone out of control, but there’s a serious reason behind this … or so NASA says. The crushing is part of the project to design the fuel tanks for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which will be used to launch the Orion spacecraft and deep space missions.  Read More

The spacewalks have delayed the flight of the Cygnus cargo ship (Image: NASA)

Christmas will be another work day for the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) this year. While many Earthlings are sitting down to turkey and plum pudding, NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will be carrying out the third and final of three spacewalks announced by NASA managers on Tuesday.  Read More

The famous Earthrise photo from Apollo 8 (Image: NASA)

When the first astronauts landed on the Moon, it wasn’t a straight jump from Earth to the lunar surface on the first try. Instead, the first footsteps only came after a long series of preliminary steps, one of which was a manned orbital mission to the satellite. This December 21st marks the 45th anniversary of the day in 1968 when Apollo 8 lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and into history as the first manned mission to orbit the Moon. It not only paved the way for Apollo 11, but is also seen by some as a greater achievement than the Moon landing itself.  Read More

The new suit undergoing neutral buoyancy testing (Image: NASA)

Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. NASA is carrying out initial tests on a new, lighter spacesuit for use by the crew of the Orion spacecraft that is currently under development. The tests are being carried out in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on a modified version of the pumpkin orange suit normally worn by Space Shuttle crews during liftoff and re-entry and is a return to a space suit design of the 1960s.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Juno flyby (Image: NASA)

If you want to have a starship captain’s view of flying past the Earth, then NASA is happy to oblige. This week, the space agency released a video made of images taken by the Juno space probe as it shot past our planet last October. The unmanned spacecraft was using the Earth’s gravity to build up its velocity by over 8,800 mph (14,100 km/h) and slingshot it on its way to Jupiter. And as it did so, it took the time to receive a “Hi” from ham radio operators back home.  Read More

Robonaut 2 will receive its legs early next year (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2) isn't half the robot it used to be. On Monday, the space agency released images and video showing new legs that will be added to the robot assistant currently working aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The currently upper-body-only R2 will receive its new limbs early next year.  Read More

View of Yellowknife Bay formation with drilling sites (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

The chances of life having once existed on Mars got a boost this week alongside good news for astronauts on any future expeditions to the Red Planet. Six papers from Curiosity team members presented to the autumn meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco revealed that they had directly dated their first Martian rock, gave details of an ancient lake where life may once of existed, and found new evidence about the radiation hazards that explorers and colonists may one day face.  Read More

Compact at launch, the origami-inspired solar array will expand to 10 times its stored siz...

One big problem when sending things into space is, well, space. Rockets have limited payload capacity and given the costs involved, every inch counts. That's why Brigham Young University researchers have turned to origami as their inspiration. Their folding solar array is designed to be compact at launch and expand to around 10 times its size once it's deployed in outer space.  Read More

Test firing of the BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine that took place on Nov. 20, 2013 (Ph...

NASA announced on Tuesday that Blue Origin had successfully test fired its new BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine at the company’s West Texas facility in Van Horn. The test, which took place on November 20, was a series of static firings to simulate the engine sequence of an actual suborbital flight from lift off to landing and is part of the development of Blue Origin’s manned Orbital Launch Vehicle for carrying passengers and cargo into low Earth orbit.  Read More

Artist's depiction of the Sunjammer spacecraft leaving Earth orbit

The team of NASA, L’Guarde, and Space Services Inc. are preparing for the Sunjammer space mission that in 2015 will see the first deep space deployment of a solar sail. On September 30, the Sunjammer team completed a milestone when they successfully deployed a quarter panel of the spacecraft’s solar sail.  Read More

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