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Spacecraft

Artist's concept of Orion adjusting its attitude for re-entry (Image: NASA)

Orion is go for launch. At a press conference today, NASA and aerospace industry officials confirmed that the EFT-1 mission to test the deep-space capsule designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit has been given the final clearance for launch on Thursday morning. The unmanned spacecraft will lift off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy booster on a four-hour flight that will send it 3,600 mi (5,800 km) from Earth before returning to Earth.  Read More

Venus Express carrying out aerobraking maneuver in July (Image: ESA–C. Carreau)

The European Space Agency's Venus Express unmanned probe is being put through a series of maneuvers in hopes that its remaining fuel can push it into a higher orbit. If successful, the orbit change will give the spacecraft a bit more life before it plunges into the Venusian atmosphere it was sent to investigate.  Read More

Artist's impression of the four MMS spacecraft (Image: NASA)

NASA has released a video depicting the initial deployment of an undertaking designed to study a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection. The launch of the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission will see four identical spacecraft deployed from a single Atlas V rocket, set to lift off from cape Canaveral, Florida, no earlier than March next year.  Read More

Rendering of Lunar Mission One lander

Another private space exploration venture is under way with the British-led Lunar Mission One announcing plans to send an unmanned robotic landing module to the South Pole of the Moon. Initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the non-profit organization hopes to drill ten times deeper into the lunar surface than has ever previously been attempted and use the borehole to store a giant digital time capsule of human knowledge.  Read More

Technicians at Lockheed Martin prepare the InSight Mars lander for propulsion proof and le...

At some point in every project, you stop unpacking the parts and start putting them together. What's true for flat-pack furniture is also true for spacecraft, so Lockheed Martin has begun the Assembly, Test and Launch Operations (ATLO) phase of NASA's INterior exploration using Seismic investigations, geodesy and heat transport (InSight) Mars lander project. Scheduled to launch in 2016, the unmanned InSight probe will be the first deep-drilling mission sent to the Red Planet.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft (Image: ESA - J. Huart)

As Philae begins its long sleep, bedded down on the surface of comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko (67P), mankind's attention shifts back to the Rosetta spacecraft as she begins the next phase of her audacious mission. Over the course of the next year, Rosetta will become the first spacecraft to orbit and observe a comet as it approaches the Sun, allowing the already phenomenally successful mission to detail the evolving characteristics of 67P as the heat from our star causes a dramatic rise in activity.  Read More

U.S. communication with the International Space Station happens from this room at NASA's M...

One of NASA’s more off-the-radar facilities is responsible for some of the organization’s most important research. Kennedy Space Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory may get the lion's share of attention, but Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, Alabama, is responsible for developing much of the complex inner-workings of rockets, satellites, and future technologies.  Read More

Artist's concept of New Horizons flying by Pluto (Image: NASA)

In what must be history’s longest distance wake up call, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft comes out of hibernation on December 6 at 3:00 pm EST. Now about 2.9 billion miles (4.6 billion km) from Earth, and 162 million miles (260 million km) from Pluto, the spacecraft will be put through a month-long preparation for its six month flyby of Pluto, with the primary phase of the mission slated to begin on January 15.  Read More

Photo mosaic showing Philae's approach, landing, and bounce (Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OS...

The European Space Agency (ESA) has released an image mosaic taken by the Rosetta mothership showing the Philae lander’s November 12 touchdown on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The composite image shows the unmanned spacecraft making its approach to the surface of 67/P and its first rebound after its anchoring harpoons failed to deploy, along with timestamps in GMT (lander time) and images contrasting the touch sites before and after landing.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Philae lander (Image: ESA) (Image: ESA)

After its historic landing on a comet, the Philae spacecraft has gone silent. Trapped on its side in a shadowed hole, the unmanned European Space Agency lander was unable to receive enough sunlight to recharge its battery and contact was lost today at 00:36 GMT when power levels dropped below critical.  Read More

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