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Spacecraft

Artist's concept of the Mars One lander (Image: Lockheed Martin)

The nonprofit Mars One foundation is mainly known for trying to recruit people who really, really want to go to Mars. That redundant "really" is because it's a one-way ticket to the Red Planet for life. But now, Mars One is looking at something a bit less dramatic. On Monday, it was revealed that Lockheed Martin, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) have been selected to carry out concept studies for a Mars lander mission in 2018 as a prelude to colonization.  Read More

Artist's concept of eLISA passing through gravitational waves (Image: AEI/MM/exozet)

Mark your calendars for 2034, because that is when science is set to get a whole new spectrum to play with when the European Space Agency (ESA) launches its eLISA mission. Consisting of a constellation of three spacecraft flying in precise formation, eLISA will study gravitational waves in a manner that may one day revolutionize our understanding of the Universe.  Read More

The Moon Express MX-1 lunar lander acts as a hub for activity on the lunar surface, sendin...

Moon Express, a privately held company driven by a short-term goal of winning the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition, and a longer-term strategy of mining the Moon, last week revealed its MX-1 lunar lander at the closing session of Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Not a one-trick pony, the MX-1 is being designed as the first of a series of robotic spacecraft that can carry out a multitude of tasks in Earth orbit as well as in deep space.  Read More

China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe has entered orbit around the Moon (Photo: Gregory H. Revera ...

The Beijing Aerospace Control Center reports that China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe successfully entered lunar orbit Friday at 5:53 pm Beijing time.  Read More

Test firing of the BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine that took place on Nov. 20, 2013 (Ph...

NASA announced on Tuesday that Blue Origin had successfully test fired its new BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine at the company’s West Texas facility in Van Horn. The test, which took place on November 20, was a series of static firings to simulate the engine sequence of an actual suborbital flight from lift off to landing and is part of the development of Blue Origin’s manned Orbital Launch Vehicle for carrying passengers and cargo into low Earth orbit.  Read More

Artist's depiction of the Sunjammer spacecraft leaving Earth orbit

The team of NASA, L’Guarde, and Space Services Inc. are preparing for the Sunjammer space mission that in 2015 will see the first deep space deployment of a solar sail. On September 30, the Sunjammer team completed a milestone when they successfully deployed a quarter panel of the spacecraft’s solar sail.  Read More

Illustration of the Yu Tu lunar rover being offloaded from the Chang'e-3 lander (Image: Be...

China's lunar probe Chang'e-3 was placed into an Earth-Moon transfer orbit on Monday by a Long March 3B launch vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. It has on board a lunar landing module, containing the Yu Tu (Jade Rabbit) lunar rover. If all continues to go well, on December 14 Chang'e-3 will land in Sinus Iridum on the Moon's northern hemisphere. It will be the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon in 37 years.  Read More

An artist's concept of Kepler (Image: NASA)

Last August, it looked as if the NASA's Kepler space telescope was as good as scrap due to the failure of its attitude control system. Now the space agency proposes what it calls the K2 mission concept, which will give the unmanned probe "second light" by using the Sun to regain attitude control and allow Kepler to resume its search for extrasolar planets.  Read More

Artist's impression of MOM (Image: Nesnad/Wikipedia)

After a month spent jockeying about in Earth Orbit, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is finally on its way to the Red Planet. According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the unmanned spacecraft fired its main engine on Sunday at 12:49 AM (IST) and completed the firing 22 minutes and 8.89 seconds later, completing the Mars orbit insertion that will see it arrive in orbit around Mars in September of next year.  Read More

Is it supposed to look like that? In this case, yes (Photo:  Steve Jurvetson)

The terms "auger in" and "lawndart" refer to rather exciting and decidedly dangerous methods of recovering a rocket, during which the screaming rocket buries its pointy end deep in the ground. Such over-enthusiastic landings provided a group of research students from the University of Washington (UWash) the inspiration for a new approach to collecting samples from hostile environments, such as the crater of an erupting volcano or a melting nuclear reactor.  Read More

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