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Spacecraft

The TRV system is designed for on-demand return of small payloads from the ISS

So much attention is paid to how to get into space that we often forget that getting back can be just as difficult. For example, getting experiment samples back from the International Space Station (ISS) is a logistical nightmare. Intuitive Machines' Terrestrial Return Vehicle (TRV) system may change that by making sending small payloads back to Earth as easy as mailing a parcel.  Read More

The powered landing capability of SpaceX's Falcon 9 makes it a good test bed for studying ...

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has made it no secret that he plans to go to Mars, and it looks like he’s giving NASA’s ambitions about the Red Planet a bit of a boost along the way. During a Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in September, the space agency sent a pair of chase planes up to take high-resolution images of the booster as it made a powered test landing on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean as a way of gather critical engineering information for future Mars missions.  Read More

Artist's concept of MAVEN in Mars orbit (Image: NASA/GSFC)

After completing its 10 month-long voyage, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft is taking its first look at the Martian atmosphere. Part of the unmanned orbiter’s commissioning phase, it limbered up its sensors by observing the effect of a massive solar event and returned its first images of the fountain-like coronas that are slowly peeling away the Red Planet's atmosphere.  Read More

The OTV-3 mission set a new record for time spent in orbit by a reusable spacecraft (Image...

A secret mission came to a public end this morning as the US Air Force’s top secret X-37B spaceplane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The unmanned reusable spacecraft touched down on the runway like a conventional aircraft this morning at 9:24 am EDT after a record-breaking 674 days in orbit. According to the Air Force, the automatic landing was monitored by the 30th Space Wing and occurred without incident.  Read More

The assets that will be used to observe Siding Spring as it skims past Mars (Image: NASA)

NASA is busy readying its considerable arsenal of scientific instruments, spacecraft and rovers for a close encounter with comet C/2013 A1 on Sunday, Oct 19. The comet's closest approach with a planetary body will be with Mars, at which point it will miss the Red Planet by only 87,000 miles (140,013 km), less than half the distance between Earth and our moon, traveling at speeds of up to 126,000 mph (202,777 km/h).  Read More

Technicians inspecting the X-37B after a 2010 landing (Image: US Air Force)

The US Air Force’s reusable unmanned spacecraft, the X-37B, is scheduled to return to Earth this week. Although the exact day and time remains undetermined, preparations are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in anticipation of the arrival of the mini-shuttle as it ends its classified Orbital Test Vehicle mission 3 (OTV-3).  Read More

Artist's impression of the Orion spacecraft in orbit, having separated from the Delta IV l...

Progress is continuing apace as NASA readies its next-generation Orion spacecraft for her maiden flight, dubbed Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), set to blast off Dec. 4 atop a Delta IV heavy launch vehicle. Once operational, Orion will be the first spacecraft built with the capacity to carry out a manned flight beyond low-Earth orbit since the Apollo era, when man first walked on the moon. NASA boasts that Orion will represent the safest and most advanced spacecraft ever created, allowing man to capture an asteroid and in time, even put a man on Mars.  Read More

Four landing sites have been shortlisted for further analysis for the ESA/Roscosmos ExoMar...

Four potential landing sites have been shortlisted for the 2018 ExoMars mission. ExoMars is a joint venture between the ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, with the ultimate goal of scouring the Red Planet for any signs of life, past or present. The mission will consist of multiple spacecraft in addition to two rovers. The ExoMars rover will be one of the final assets to launch, with an expected arrival date on Mars estimated at January 2019.  Read More

Artist's concept of the rifts that created the Ocean of Storms (image: NASA/Colorado Schoo...

Where did the Man in the Moon come from? It sounds like a nursery school riddle, but it’s actually a very serious question about the history of our satellite. A major part of the "Man" is the lunar mare or sea called the Oceanus Procellarum or Ocean of Storms; the origin of which has been a matter of scientific speculation for centuries. Now NASA claims that the answer has been found by the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) orbiter mission, which ended with a controlled impact on the Moon in 2012.  Read More

Artist's concept of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission (Image: NASA)

Last month, the US MAVEN space probe and the Indian MOM orbiter arrived at the planet Mars within days of one another. As part of a welcome to India as the newest interplanetary spacefaring nation, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed a pair of documents formally sealing agreements between the US and India for greater cooperation in the exploration of Mars and for a joint NASA-ISRO Earth observation mission later this decade.  Read More

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