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Spacecraft

NASA’S Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has taken a deep dive into the Martian atmosphere. The first of a series of five planned deep-dip maneuvers by the unmanned spacecraft, its purpose was to gather information about the lower limits of the upper regions of the Red Planet's atmosphere. Read More
The past year has been a mixed bag for the commercial space industry, with successful launches from the likes of SpaceX, but also a few mishaps, including a tragic Virgin Galactic crash that claimed the life of one pilot. That last incident in particular has led some politicians in New Mexico to question the future of Spaceport America, where Virgin is an anchor tenant, and to even call for the US$200 million facility to be put up for sale. Read More
As NASA's New Horizons deep space probe heads for its July rendezvous with Pluto, it's not only revealing the secrets of the dwarf planet, but of its moons as well. On the 85th anniversary of Pluto's discovery, the unmanned spacecraft sent back its first look at the small moons Nix and Hydra. Taken by New Horizons’ Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), the images will help space scientist better understand their orbits. Read More
In a space-age game of chicken, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta probe made its closest approach to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko last weekend. The spacecraft, which has ceased orbiting the comet due to 67P's increased activity as it approaches the Sun, came within 6 km (3.7 mi) of the surface over the Imhotep region of the larger of the comet’s two lobes, with the up close and personal maneuver taking place, appropriately enough, on Valentine's Day. Read More

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has captured the sharpest image yet of the dwarf planet Ceres. The picture was snapped at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 km), as the probe readies itself for orbital insertion slated for March 6. Read More

The Mars One project, aimed at starting the first permanent human settlement on the Red Planet, has reduced its pool of prospective colonists to 100 candidates. According to the non-profit company, the selection was winnowed down from the original pool of 202,586 applicants of people from all walks of life from all over the world. However, questions remain about the viability of the project. Read More
25 years ago Voyager 1 turned back towards our planet, and captured one of the most profound images ever taken – the pale blue dot. On the face of it, the little blue dot to screen-right appears insignificant. Yet, in its scope, it captured every human being that has ever lived and ever died, every wonder and every labor that mankind had then achieved in the relatively short history of our race. Read More
Recently, DARPA unveiled its ALASA system for launching satellites from fighter planes. Now NASA is upping the ante with its Towed Glider Air-Launch System (TGALS), which is designed to launch satellites from a twin-fuselage towed glider. Under development by NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, it's designed as an economical method for putting spacecraft into low-Earth orbit with the first test flight of a scale prototype having already been conducted. Read More
Cape Canaveral has seen decades of rockets lifting into space, and now it will act as home to the world's first space landing pad. Brigadier General Nina Armagno, commander of the US Air Force 45th Space Wing, signed an agreement with SpaceX; giving the company a five-year lease on Launch Complex 13 (LC-13) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, which will be converted to receive returning boosters and spacecraft making powered soft landings. Read More
It was fourth time's the charm today as NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 6:05 pm EST. The launch went without incident, placing the unmanned solar weather station into a parking orbit, but rough weather in the recovery area meant that the planned power landing attempt of the Falcon 9 booster had to be abandoned. Read More
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