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Mining the moon: the Scarab lunar prospecting robot

Plans are afoot to have humans back on the moon by 2020, but if we want to make it more than just a brief visit and truly begin to colonize the solar system, the challenge will be to find ways to extract and exploit local resources that can help sustain a lunar outpost. That's where the Scarab comes in. The four-wheel, 880-pound lunar prospecting robot designed by Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, and soon to be field tested by NASA on the slopes of a dormant volcano in Hawaii, is equipped to drill and collect three-foot samples of soil and rock while operating in one of the harshest environments imaginable - the moon's southern pole. The rover will act as a terrestrial testbed for the development of technologies that it's hoped can be used to find hydrogen, oxygen and possibly even water, that could be mined from beneath the moon's surface.  Read More

Falcon 1 launch vehicle

With the Space Shuttle scheduled to retire in 2010, alternative transport vessels will need to be developed to keep the International Space Station manned, and to keep options open for possible manned lunar missions. After three failed attempts, the SpaceX Falcon 1 has successfully achieved Earth orbit – the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to do so.  Read More

Stephen Hawking to send DNA into space
 Photo: hawking.org.uk/

Along with daughter Lucy, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is planning to send his digitized DNA into space as part of NCsoft’s Operation Immortality. The pair hopes the exercise will help publicize the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics; a competition that will award $10 million to the first person or team that can sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days or less.  Read More

The craft, modelled on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey, will arrive at Ma...

After the Phoenix lander has finished scraping away at Martian soil, the MAVEN spacecraft will examine the atmosphere of the red planet. The US$485 million Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN program is the second stage of NASA’s Mars Scout program, following the successful Phoenix mission. The MAVEN craft will study the planet’s atmospheric gases, upper atmosphere, solar wind, ionosphere, planetary corona, solar EUV and SEPS, and investigate past climate change.  Read More

Galactic Suite - a resort holiday in outer-space

Thirty eight travelers have made reservations to be the first guests on the Galactic Suite space hotel. The four day vacation will take passengers to a distance of 300 miles (450 kilometers) from the earth at a cost of €3 million (USD$4.46 million).  Read More

Commercial Space Flight milestone: WhiteKnightTwo

Virgin Galactic has achieved another milestone in its push to become the world’s first private commercial spaceline with the unveiling of the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft. Built at the Scaled Composites facility in Mojave, California, the twin fuselage WK2 is a formidable engineering feat. It is the world’s largest all carbon composite aircraft and the main wing, which spans 140 ft, is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever built. Christened “EVE” in honor of Sir Richard Branson's mother, the aircraft can can fly across the US non-stop and reach altitudes of 50,000 ft - the height from which SpaceShipTwo (SS2) will be air launched.  Read More

This color-enhanced picture from the MRO shows the distribution of phyllosilicates (shown ...

NASA’s $720 million Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided groundbreaking insight into the environmental makeup of the planet during its earliest geological age. Images from the MRO reveal that the Red Planet was originally a muddy brown, with vast lakes and flowing rivers covering a predominantly clay surface.  Read More

View from space taken by Greg Olsen
 Photo: Space Adventures

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has forked out a US$5 million deposit to reserve a seat on future orbital spaceflights and join the select group of private space tourists. Space Adventures, the company that helped Dennis Tito become the world’s first private astronaut in 2001, has also announced an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) to launch a dedicated mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011.  Read More

Artist's impression of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander
 Image credit: NASA/JPL

May 26, 2008 NASA has announced the successful touchdown of the Phoenix spacecraft on arctic plains in the north of the Red Planet. The completion of the 10 month journey was confirmed with the detection of a radio signal from Phoenix (a signal which takes more than 15 minutes to reach Earth) indicating that it had reached the Martian surface. The spacecraft reached speeds of approximately 12,000 mph before entering the top of the planet's atmosphere and beginning its decent towards a soft touchdown on its three-legs made possible by parachute deployment and finally, the use of controlled thrusters. Launched on August 4, 2007, Phoenix is the sixth lander to touch down on Mars with only five of the 11 previous international attempts having succeeded including the first successful landing of the Viking program in 1976.  Read More

Dr Yang Gao testing the lunar rover

May 1, 2008 The development of a new generation of lunar rovers has been given a boost thanks to funding for an exchange program between the Surrey Space Centre and the University of Beijing. The exchange will pave the way for future moon projects such as the UK‘s proposed Moonraker lander mission and the second phase of China's Chang'e programme.  Read More

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