Russia has been sending Soyuz capsules into space since the late 1960s. As spaceships go, they're simple, cheap, and dead nuts reliable, but the design is old enough that taking a Soyuz capsule much beyond Earth orbit isn't really an option. We've just heard that Russia has finalized the design for a new spacecraft that will be able to take humans all the way to the Moon.
For the past year, two spacecraft the size of washing machines have been orbiting the Moon in formation, mapping out gravitational anomalies by precisely measuring the distance between them. Now they're all done, and to celebrate, NASA is about to slam 'em both into a lunar mountain at a couple thousand miles an hour.
Mars has been the hot hypothetical destination for space tourists in recent months, but a new commercial space travel company called Golden Spike wants to open up the Moon to science and tourism instead, by offering round trip tickets to the lunar surface for governments, businesses, and people with an obscene amount of money.
We've known since February that the leading candidate for NASA's next major manned mission is a station located at the L2 Earth-Moon Lagrange Point out beyond the far side of the moon. The latest rumors suggest that this mission was probably approved by the Obama administration, and now that he's been reelected, it has a good chance of actually happening.
Moon rocks are really rare things, and pretty much all of the samples collected by lunar missions are in the hands of the world's governments. But there is another source, and it has coughed up this big lunar rock which will hit the auction block in New York next month.
You've got to give credit to China: when it decides to do something, it really pulls out all the stops. Just a month after throwing house party for its brand new space station, China has announced that it's planning to send a lander and a rover to the Moon by the end of next year.
Paleoselenologists are pretty sure that the Moon formed when a rogue planet about the size of Mars smacked into Earth billions of years ago. New models suggest that the rogue planet was not actually destroyed in the impact, and we don't know where it went. We also don't know where it is now. And it could strike again at any moment. RUN!
So here's a huge bummer: turns out the moon, that thing we all swoon over at night, might be toxic to humans. The atmosphere up there was never too conducive to human survival, but now it appears the moon itself is poisonous to humans.
Pluto may never again be considered a proper planet, but at least it won't be lonely. The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted another moon orbiting the dwarf planet — raising Pluto's satellite count to five — as Hubble was checking out the plutoid for a Pluto-bound NASA mission.
On Saturday, May 5, photographers all around the world were presented with a bright, tempting target in the much anticipated "supermoon," which occurs when the moon's elliptical orbit brings it closer to the Earth while full. In other words, it's the largest the moon can look to us terrans, though whether or not our earthbound eyes can actually detect the difference is up for debate. Thankfully, cameras allow us to choose how we want to see and present the world, so here's a collection of photos that show the supermoon as it should be: massive. Check it out in our gallery below.