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Spacecraft

An odd pair lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station today as the Planetary Society's LightSail nanosatellite piggybacked a ride atop an Atlas V rocket alongside the US Air Force's secret X-37B spaceplane.

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As we count down the days to its historic flyby of Pluto, NASA's New Horizons probe has moved within sight of all members of the dwarf planet's system. This has enabled it to return the first images of its smallest moons Kerberos and Styx, and signals the beginning of the spacecraft's hunt for unknown moons and rings in the region.

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More details have been revealed about the X-37B spaceplane's upcoming OTV-4 mission. When it launches on May 20 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the (not entirely) secret X-37B will carry a NASA experiment called Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) designed to test new materials for use in future spacecraft.

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The unmanned Progress 59 (M-27M) cargo spacecraft has burned up somewhere over the central Pacific ocean according to the Russian Federal Space Agency. Launched 10 days ago, it failed to reach the ISS due to a malfunction that prevented mission control from establishing contact shortly after launch.

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SpaceX has carried out a successful test of its Launch Abort System (LAS) for the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The test, which took place at Space Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station represents a major stop towards getting the spacecraft human rated under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract. NASA hopes that commercial spacecraft such as the Crew Dragon will return manned spacecraft launches back to American soil sometime in 2017.

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Repeated attempts by Russian mission controllers have failed to rescue the stricken Progress 59 cargo spacecraft. It is now expected that the unmanned resupply ship will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at some point over the next few weeks, resulting in the complete destruction of both the spacecraft and its cargo. Read More
Billionaires who made their cash in dot-coms from the 1990s successfully launching commercial rockets is officially a trend, now that Jeff Bezos has followed in the footsteps of Elon Musk with Wednesday's successful test flight of Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle. Read More
NASA'S MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has ended its phenomenally successful mission in the most fitting manner imaginable. The probe, which had maintained a lonely vigil over the desolate planet for more than four years, smashed into the surface of Mercury, the planet that had surrendered countless secrets to the robotic explorer this Thursday at 3:26:02 pm EDT. Read More
If you thought the Apple watch was something to write home about, take a look at NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC). This miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock is described by the space agency as "orders of magnitude more stable than today's best navigational clocks," and is smaller and more accurate than any that's been previously sent into space. In 2016, it will fly on a test mission to demonstrate a technology that NASA sees as key to a number of high-priority Earth-orbit and deep space missions. Read More
After over nine years of travel, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is starting to provide hints of what its July flyby of Pluto will reveal. Earlier this month, the unmanned probe sent back the clearest images yet of the most distant planet of the classic Solar System, which have revealed light areas on the surface that show it may have polar caps. Read More
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