space stories

The Dawn spacecraft has only been orbiting Vesta for a few months now, but it's been taking scads of pictures and streaming them straight back to Earth. Among the highlights are these spectacular oblique images of the asteroid's dramatic topography. Check out some of our favorites from the most recent imagery release in the gallery below.
Photographer Vincent Fournier has spent the last ten years capturing the lonely mechanical emptiness of space programs all over the world. He's been to Russia, China, Africa, the U.S., and just about everywhere else, and his pictures are a striking (and oftentimes strange) take on technology. We've picked out 14 of our favorite images in the gallery below, but there are lots more on Vincent's website. Also below is a short documentary which follows Vincent to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where he talks about how and why he does what he does.
Stop me if you've heard this one before, but a major NASA project is years behind schedule, billions over budget, and at serious risk of cancellation. A new appropriations bill might give the James Webb Space Telescope enough money to get it off the ground by 2018, but only at the expense of other NASA research.
When a Russian Progress resupply capsule crashed on the way to the ISS last month, the worry was that a design flaw could mean the grounding of the only way to get astronauts to the station. Russia has now identified the cause of the crash, and while it's not a flaw in the design, it's something almost as bad.
Solar sails harness the pressure of the solar wind to propel spacecraft across the solar system essentially for free, without the need for engines or fuel. An electric solar sail works more or less the same way, except without the sail: all you need are a bunch of wires.