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Spacecraft

Five finalists have been selected for the Google Lunar XPrize competition (Photo: NASA/JPL...

Five international teams are moving forward from a field of 33 proposals with the goal of performing a robotic landing on the moon, followed by a short drive and high-quality video mooncast, all as part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition to incentivize a new novel, low-cost era of lunar exploration.  Read More

The GPM Core Observatory is launched aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima S...

The Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory was launched last Thursday aboard a Japanese H-IIA rocket that blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan. Weighing in at 4-ton, the GPM is the largest spacecraft ever built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and will help provide a more detailed picture of the Earth's precipitation to assist climate scientists and help improve forecasting of extreme weather events.  Read More

Netting a satellite (Image: ESA)

With the film Gravity hoovering up awards for its portrayal of astronauts dodging colliding satellites, now seems a good time to talk about the very real threat posed by space debris. It’s small wonder, then, that ESA’s Clean Space initiative is looking at developing a satellite that can rendezvous with space debris and render it harmless by netting it like fish. The proposal is just one of the ideas to be discussed as part of a symposium this May focusing on the space agency's e.DeOrbit mission.  Read More

Chris Ferguson (center) at the simulator controls

The commander of the last Space Shuttle mission recently returned to space, but never left the ground. No, this isn’t one of those annoying lateral thinking puzzles. Chris Ferguson, commander of the STS-135 Atlantis mission in 2011 and currently director of Crew and Mission Operations at Boeing, went on a virtual flight to the International Space Station (ISS) in a ground-based simulator as part of NASA’s testing requirements for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft.  Read More

The image is a mosaic of the best shots from various missions (Image: USGS Astrogeology Sc...

NASA scientists have produced the first global geological map of Jupiter's largest moon Ganymede by combining images from over twenty years of observation by the Voyager spacecraft and the Galileo orbiter.  Read More

Artist's concept of the Kepler space telescope (Image: NASA)

Last year, it looked as though the Kepler space probe had nothing to look forward to but the scrap heap. After the failure of two of its reaction wheels, the unmanned spacecraft was incapable of maintaining the precision pointing needed to hunt planets beyond the Solar System. Now, however, NASA’s Kepler team has demonstrated that space telescope can still detect exoplanets thanks the K2 mission concept maneuver.  Read More

Artist's impression of Rosetta signalling Earth (Image: ESA)

European Space Agency scientists and engineers started breathing again today as the comet-chasing Rosetta space probe confirmed at 18:28 GMT that it had awoken from its 31-month hibernation. The news was announced via the @ESA_Rosetta twitter account, which tweeted: "Hello, world!"  Read More

Artist's concept of Rosetta deploying the Philae lander (Image: ESA)

Like nervous parents, scientists and engineers at ESA are pacing the floor of mission control as they await word of whether or not the Rosetta spacecraft has survived 31 months of hibernation. The unmanned comet chaser was scheduled to reactivate itself today at 10:00 GMT, but the time required to complete the operation and the distance a radio signal must travel back to Earth means that the space agency will not know until at least 17:30 GMT if the probe is operating again or has become deep space scrap.  Read More

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo on its way to a record 71,000 ft altitude and Mach 1.4 (Pho...

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo (SS2) continues to inch toward a full suborbital test flight with its third supersonic test carried out Friday morning. The SS2 rocket engine fired for 20 seconds, pushing the suborbital spacecraft to an altitude of 71,000 ft (18 km) and a top speed over Mach 1.4, both of which were new records for SS2. The Reaction Control System, feather re-entry system, and a thermal protection coating were successfully tested during the flight.  Read More

An Antares launch vehicle boosts the Orbital Sciences Cygnus spacecraft on it's way to the...

Orbital Sciences Corporation today successfully launched the first of eight Cygnus cargo supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Orbital's Antares medium-lift rocket (originally called the Taurus II) carried the Cygnus into an initial orbit of 135 x 175 miles (220 x 280 km), inclined at 51.6 degrees relative to the equator. The Cygnus is flying solo now, with full communications and deployed solar arrays, carrying roughly 2,800 lb (1,300 kg) of cargo toward a January 12 rendezvous and docking with the ISS.  Read More

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