space stories

Nowadays, it's almost like we take space travel for granted. Spectacular pictures come back from telescopes and space probes, and we give them a glance, maybe say "wow," and then move on to the latest news about the iPhone 5 or whatever. Over the last half century, though, our knowledge about our universe (and particularly our solar system) has increased exponentially, thanks to the development of spacecraft capable of making it to other planets and then sending back pictures when they get there. It hasn't been easy, but as milestone after milestone has been reached, our perception of our place in the cosmos has expanded.
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.