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Unmanned

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
During Wednesday’s historic landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European Space Agency's Philae lander suffered a setback that may cut its mission short. Due to equipment malfunctions, the unmanned, washing machine-sized lander failed to secure itself to the surface of the comet. In the 1/100,000 gravity, Philae bounced back into space twice, eventually landing in a hole about a kilometer (0.6 mi) from its designated landing area, where its batteries may not be able to charge properly. Read More
DARPA has submitted a request for information on how to turn existing military aircraft into "aircraft carriers of the sky." Ideally, the successful response would allow large manned aircraft to launch and recover multiple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), whilst requiring only minimal cost-effective adaptations to existing aircraft. Read More

Last month, ESA designated the spot where Rosetta’s Philae lander will touch down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as "Site J." However, the space agency didn't think that was zippy enough, so it's now known as "Agilkia," after an island on the Nile. Read More

NASA and Lockheed Martin announced on Thursday that they have completed final assembly and testing of the Orion spacecraft, which is designed to carry NASA astronauts on deep space missions. This clears the way for the first test flight in December as NASA prepares to re-enter the manned spaceflight business. Read More
Since its first flight in June 2002 and introduction to the US Navy in 2005, the ScanEagle UAV developed by Boeing subsidiary Insitu has received a steady stream of improvements, including a short-wave infrared (SWIR) camera and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and clocked up over 800,000 combat flight hours over land and sea. Now Insitu has announced the next generation of the platform in the form of the ScanEagle 2. Read More
At a press conference arranged only a few hours after the event, NASA released details of the explosion of the Antares rocket carrying the unmanned Cygnus supply ship to the International Space Station (ISS). The space agency said that the launch pad at Wallops Island, Virginia, where the 240,000-kg (530,000-lb) rocket went up in flames seconds after lift off has been cordoned off by firefighters until daylight because of the on-going hazards from fires, and scattered solid and hypergolic fuel from the Antares. Read More
An unmanned resupply mission to the International Space Station has suffered a catastrophic failure six seconds after launch from the Wallops Island launch facility, Virginia. All personnel have been accounted for with zero injuries, however damage was sustained to the launch site. Read More
A secret mission came to a public end this morning as the US Air Force’s top secret X-37B spaceplane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The unmanned reusable spacecraft touched down on the runway like a conventional aircraft this morning at 9:24 am EDT after a record-breaking 674 days in orbit. According to the Air Force, the automatic landing was monitored by the 30th Space Wing and occurred without incident. Read More

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

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