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Spacecraft

ESA's IXV experimental spaceplane has successfully carried out its 100-minute mission to test technology re-entry and navigation technology for the next generation of European spacecraft. Whilst often described as a spaceplane, the IXV is in reality an atmospheric re-entry testing package wrapped in what appears to be a basic space shuttle fuselage. The resulting data accrued from the launch will inform a wide range of endeavors, spanning from re-supply trips to the ISS, to manned return missions to Mars. Read More
With the death of Neil Armstrong back in August 2012, humanity lost one of its greatest heroes. Whilst his first steps on the Moon were driven by the United States out of competition with its terrestrial rival, the USSR, the words that accompanied his actions spoke of an achievement for all mankind. Upon his death, the Armstrong family donated many of the mementos that Neil had kept to Purdue University, Indiana (his alma mater) and to the National Air and Space Museum, Virginia. However, a bag full of Apollo 11 relics that traveled aboard the Eagle Lunar Module (LM) were unexpectedly discovered months later in an unassuming bag in his closet. Read More
Now that NASA has got the hang of planetary rovers, the space agency is looking at sending submarines into space around the year 2040. At the recent 2015 NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium in Cocoa Beach, Florida, NASA scientists and engineers presented a study of the Titan Submarine Phase I Conceptual Design, which outlines a possible mission to Saturn's largest moon, Titan, where the unmanned submersible would explore the seas of liquid hydrocarbons at the Titanian poles. Read More
Sunday's delayed launch means that NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) will wait at least a day before it can take up its job of helping warn of potentially damaging solar flares. If Monday's rescheduled liftoff goes as planned, the unmanned spacecraft will be on its way to a point between the Earth and the Sun, where it will act as a space weather observatory and early warning station. Read More

Today's launch of NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) has been delayed 24 hours. With less than two and a half minutes on the clock, mission control placed the launch on hold due to problems in the first stage avionics and with one of the range safety radars. Read More

NASA's New Horizons deep space probe to Pluto and beyond has sent back its first images since waking up in December. Taken by the unmanned spacecraft's Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on January 25 and 27, it took until Wednesday to download the image data due to the great distance and bandwidth limitations, and shows the dwarf planet and its moon Charon. Read More
Another celestial body has been added to NASA's bucket list as the space agency officially asks the US Congress for US$30 million for the first mission aimed at exploring Jupiter’s moon Europa. Part of the FY 2015 NASA Planetary Science budget, it would fund further development of an unmanned probe to study place in the Solar System outside of Earth where life may exist. Read More
Though we tend to think of private spaceflight as being in the SpaceX league, it also includes many smaller-scale efforts. For example, the non-profit Planetary Society has announced that its LightSail spacecraft will make its first test flight in May. The solar-propelled CubeSat will lift off as a piggyback cargo atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Read More
After months of searching, the Euopean Space Agency (ESA) has given up the hunt for the lost Philae comet lander. Despite having narrowed the final resting place of the unmanned probe to a "landing strip" measuring 350 x 30 m (1,150 x 100 ft) on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the space agency has been unable to locate it and has commanded the Rosetta spacecraft to move into a higher orbit as it continues its science mission. Read More
On its third attempt, NASA has successfully launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The orbiter is designed to take high resolution moisture maps on a global scale, mapping the entire planet in the space of only two to three days. The maps will grant us an improved ability to forecast droughts, floods, and even aid agricultural workers in crop planning and rotation. Read More
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