SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday morning, May 19 at 4:55 A.M. EDT. If all goes well, SpaceX's Dragon capsule will be one step closer to ferrying astronauts up to orbit and opening the door for manned private spaceflight missions in the future. Update inside.
There's a lot of talk about what NASA's deep space manned missions will look like, and now a news article is giving us a sneak peek ahead of any official announcement: sending a crew of astronauts to land on a nearby asteroid, which would mean boldly going where no human has ever gone before.
An exact date has bounced around for the last couple of weeks, and NASA is finally giving SpaceX the go for a rendezvous between the company's Dragon capsule and the International Space Station. It's a landmark launch for SpaceX, and one that's poised to make history for the next generation of manned spacefaring efforts.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory took this image of a "particularly large and complex sunspot" that fired off a pair of two M-class solar flares. The flares didn't include coronal mass ejections (so we're not all gonna die), but it does make for a very pretty picture, especially at 131 Angstroms.
Opportunity landed on Mars in 2004. Its mission was scheduled to last 90 Martian days. It's obviously exceeded that, and just when we all thought it was time to say goodbye — just as we did with Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit — the little rover that could braved a fifth Martian winter to declare, yes, there's life on Mars, and its name is Opportunity.
U.S. aerospace company Alliant Techsystems supported NASA's shuttle program by manufacturing the space agency's Solid Rocket Boosters (or SRBs), the pair of which provided most of the initial thrust to carry the spacecraft aloft. Now, the firm is looking to put that know-how toward building a manned launcher of its own.
The best looks that we've been able to get at exoplanets are when they pass in front of or behind their parent stars. When that happens, sometimes, if we're lucky, we can get a brief hint atmosphere. For the first time, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has managed to observe a "super-Earth" directly, watching it glow in the infrared.
Mars Science Laboratory hasn't even managed to get to Mars yet, much less make a successful skycrane landing, but already NASA is hard at work on the next Mars-bound spacecraft: MAVEN, the the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolutio N orbiter, winner of this year's award for most strained space-related acronym.
While the Enterprise may be a space shuttle only in name — it's not actually capable of spaceflight — it was the prototype craft that made the rest of NASA's shuttle fleet possible. Even without the engines to get to orbit or the heat shields to survive the journey, Enterprise completed a series of crucial Approach and Landing Tests. The whole point of the shuttle program was that it would provide what no other space agency had before it: a reusable spacecraft to ferry humans to and from orbit. If we could launch a shuttle up like a rocket, Enterprise proved we could land one like a plane.
In the distant future, everybody will have a 3D printer and will print out their products directly from places like the Pirate Bays' Physibles collection. NASA too, is interested in 3D printers — and wants to print spacecraft to scour Mars for research data.