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Spacecraft

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

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting 67P (Image: ESA)

Ever since the historic achievement of August 6, when Rosetta became the first unmanned spacecraft to achieve a stable orbit around a comet, mission operators have been readying themselves for the inevitable nail-biting landing attempt. Six weeks after arrival at the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P), Rosetta's handlers have tentatively announced November 12 as the date for the historic touchdown.  Read More

Artist's concept of MOM arriving in Mars orbit (Image: ISRO)

After a journey of almost a year, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has arrived at the Red Planet. On Wednesday at 7.29 am IST (02.29 GMT), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed that the unmanned probe had successfully executed its 24 minute and 14 second engine burn and gone into orbit around Mars. With MOM’s successful rendezvous, the number of active spacecraft now studying the planet rises to eight.  Read More

Artist's impression of MAVEN orbiting the Red Planet (Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight C...

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has successfully completed a maneuver designed to place the robotic explorer in Mars orbit. The achievement is the crowning moment in a 10-month journey through deep space, representing the culmination of millions of dollars and over a decade of planning and hard work by NASA mission operators.  Read More

CRS-4 lifting off (Image: NASA Television)

SpaceX has launched its fourth commercial mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The CRS-4 Dragon spacecraft lifted off atop a Falcon 9 booster early Sunday morning from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 1:52 am EDT. On board is about 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) of cargo, including the first zero gravity 3D printer and a crew of "mousetronauts."  Read More

Artist's impression of NASA's MAVEN spacecraft approaching Mars (Image: NASA/Goddard Space...

Mission operators working from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center are undergoing final adjustments for orbital insertion of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft, due to take place September 21. Achieving a stable orbit around the Red Planet would be the culmination of a 10-month voyage, during which the robotic explorer traveled 442 million miles (711 million km) after having ridden into space in November 2013 atop an Atlas V rocket.  Read More

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