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Space Travel

April 12 marks the 50th anniversary of the first man in space (Photo: NASA)

A remarkable milestone in human history took place exactly 50 years ago today when Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. During the flight of Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961, Gagarin, then 27, completed a single orbit of Earth in approximately 108 minutes. His flight begun at Baikonur cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan and ended with his safe arrival by parachute in the Saratov region of central Russia, where he was famously welcomed back to our planet with a hospitable offer of bread and milk by Anna Takhtarova and her four-year-old granddaughter Margarita.  Read More

The crew of the final Space Shuttle Discovery STS-133 mission (Image: NASA)

At 4:53pm EST Tuesday 24th February, Discovery blasted off two minutes and fifty-three seconds late for its final launch into space. After a tense few moments with an Air Force computer problem, emotions ran high as the NASA space shuttle rocketed through the clear blue afternoon skies. The mission revolves around the delivery of "Leonardo" a Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the International Space Station. In addition to carrying critical supplies the module delivered Robonaut 2, a dexterous robot that will find permanent residence on the space station.  Read More

Mission Control Center during the Apollo 13 oxygen cell failure (Photo: NASA)

NASA space missions have always been a source of fascination amongst the general public and films like Apollo 13 have tried to encapsulate the experience of space travel. The famous words “Houston, we've had a problem,” uttered by Lovell on the second day of what was to be the USA's third lunar landing mission, remains just as famous at the aborted mission itself. Now, thanks to British programmer Andrew Godwin, it is possible to view the actual NASA transcripts online. Spacelog.org has published the radio transcripts of the earliest manned NASA missions to space. Currently the site hosts the Apollo 13 transcripts along with Mercury-Atlas 6, John Glenn's mission aboard Friendship 7 as the first American to reach orbit.  Read More

The peanut-shaped Hartley 2 comet is only the fifth comet to be studied at such close rang...

Mission controllers from the University of Maryland-led EPOXI mission celebrated last week as NASA's Deep Impact space probe flew close by the Hartley 2 comet, sending back rare and valuable data about the comet. This is only the fifth time that a comet core has been viewed from such a near distance by a space probe, and it is hoped that by understanding comets better we can learn more about the origin and history of our solar system.  Read More

Boeing and Space Adventures plan to offer commercial spaceflight opportunities (Image: Spa...

Boeing and Space Adventures have joined forces to offer "affordable" travel to low Earth orbit for private space tourists. A memorandum of agreement between the two companies could see flights on-board the Boeing Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft from 2015.  Read More

VSS Enterprise on its first manned flight attached to VMS Eve

Virgin Galactic has taken another important step to becoming the world’s first private commercial spaceline with its VSS Enterprise spacecraft flying with a crew on board for the first time. The craft formerly known as SpaceShipTwo remained attached to VMS Eve, the jet-powered carrier aircraft from which the VSS Enterprise will eventually be launched, for the duration of the flight to allow for numerous combined vehicle systems tests to be conducted.  Read More

The Lunokhod 1 lunar rover (Photo: Lavochkin Association)

On November 17, 1970, the Soviet spacecraft Luna 17 delivered the lunar rover Lunokhod 1 onto the surface of the moon. For 11 months after, controlled in real-time by a human team in Moscow, it explored seven miles of the lunar surface. Sending back reams of data, it was considered to be one of the biggest successes of the little-known Soviet lunar exploration program. And then, it disappeared. It wasn’t abducted or anything, it just ceased transmitting, as space probes have a tendency to do. This spring, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spied it on the moon’s surface. The really neat thing: it can still reflect laser beams back to Earth as if it were brand new.  Read More

Far out ... the blackness of space at 100,000ft. Traveling to destinations like this one c...

While Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is moving steadily along the space tourism trail, Space Adventures, Ltd, - featured regularly on Gizmag - is currently the only company skyrocketing people into space (and bringing them home again). It has even placed “privateers” in the International Space Station. The company has just announced that it has joined forces with Armadillo Aerospace, LLC, makers of reusable rocket-powered vehicles, to market and sell exclusive trips on Armadillo Aerospace’s future suborbital spaceflight vehicles, currently in development.  Read More

SOHLA is planning to send a humanoid robot to the moon by 2015 (Image: SOHLA)

It's more than 40 years since the first human set foot on the moon, so where are all the robot space explorers? While rovers like those that have been trawling the Martian surface in recent times could properly be called robots, and machines like the legless R2 are heading to space, these don't match the classic science fiction image of a bi-pedal humanoid bot that we've all become accustomed to. Now a Japanese space-business group is promising to set things in order by sending a humanoid robot to the moon by 2015.  Read More

ESA's BepiColombo spacecraft

There's no air to breathe, it's 400 degrees Celsius and you are six long years away from home. Welcome to Mercury, the smallest and perhaps most mysterious planet in the Solar System. The European Space Agency (ESA) is aiming to increase our knowledge of the Sun's closest neighbor by launching its BepiColombo spacecraft to the planet Mercury in 2014. One of the key challenges faced by the mission is not just getting there, but also how to apply the brakes against the Sun’s gravitational pull when you do... and that's where QinetiQ's solar-electric ion propulsion system comes in. The company has just announced a £23m contract with EADS Astrium for the supply of its system for the BepiColombo mission.  Read More

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