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Space Travel

— Aircraft

WhiteKnightTwo completes historic maiden flight

By - December 22, 2008 3 Pictures
WhiteKnightTwo (WK2), the carrier aircraft that will become the launch platform for Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital spaceline has taken to the skies over California in its maiden test flight. Powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A turbofan engines, the mammoth, 140-foot wingspan carbon composite aircraft launched from the Mojave Air and Space Port on Sunday morning and completed an hour long test flight without a hitch. Read More
— Space

Teddy Bears in space

By - December 8, 2008 2 Pictures
For half a century, the friendliest face of space travel was Laika the space-dog, launched into Earth orbit aboard Sputnik II. Now Britain has challenged Laika’s supremacy by launching two teddy bears into the stratosphere. The toys, named MAT and KMS, wore space suits designed by children at the Parkside and Coleridge community colleges. Read More
— Science

NASA testing next-gen lunar rover in Arizona

By - October 27, 2008 4 Pictures
NASA’s 12-wheeled Small Pressurized Rover raced (by lunar rover standards) across the moon-like Arizona outback at 6mph this week as part of the 11th annual Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS). While the buggies on the Apollo missions only provided a 6 mile range, the presence of two or more SPRs on a lunar landing will provide a range of over 150 miles. Read More
— Aircraft

India launches first lunar mission

By - October 26, 2008 2 Pictures
The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully launched Chandrayaan-1, the country’s first scientific mission to the moon. The two-year, USD$80 million mission will see the PSLV-C11 rocket enter lunar orbit in roughly two weeks, before descending to a final 100 km-high circular orbit. The Moon Impact Probe will land on the lunar surface, while the orbiter will continue gathering data with 11 scientific instruments. Read More
— Science

Mining the moon: the Scarab lunar prospecting robot

By - October 16, 2008 5 Pictures
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
— Aircraft

SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 1 into orbit

By - September 30, 2008 1 Picture
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
— Science

MAVEN: NASA's post-Phoenix Mars probe

By - September 22, 2008 4 Pictures
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
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