In about a month, on July 14th at roughly 7:50am EST,the New Horizons spacecraft will make humanity's closest approach to Pluto. This will produce the best images we've ever seen of the dwarf planet, its odd system and bizarre collection of moons. In anticipation of this historic event, Emily Lakdawalla of Planetary.org has written a blog post describing exactly what and when to expect photos and other science data from the encounter. [more inside]
While talk of a moonbase or terraforming Mars has tended to dominate the discussion for the first step in human colonization of the solar system, another possibility exists: floating habitats above the cloud tops of Venus. [more inside]
An Antares rocket with the Orbital Sciences Corporation Cygnus CRS Orb-3 spacecraft bound for the International Space Station exploded today shortly after liftoff from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. [more inside]
It's official, Boeing's CST-100 and Space X's Dragon have been chosen to launch astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017, ending Russia's dominance as the sole provider of rides to the ISS, which they haven't been shy about using for leverage. Meanwhile, develop of the Space Launch System, designed for travel beyond low earth orbit, continues for its maiden launch in 2018. [more inside]
Venus Express, ESA's first spacecraft to the planet, has been having a good ol' time skimming the surface at an altitude of 81 miles , finding rainbows and investigating those holes in the planet's atmosphere.
On Thursday, NASA released the names and designs of three vehicles that could replace the space shuttle as means of sending our astronauts into space. [more inside]
Today at approximately 08:45am GMT, the Rosetta spacecraft entered orbit of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after a 10 year journey. Now in orbit 100km above the surface, Rosetta is already sending back amazing images of a rocky, rough rubber duck shaped comet. [more inside]
Ten years ago, the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft became the first to orbit the planet Saturn. After dropping off Huygens on the moon Titan, Cassini proceeded to spend its time exploring the Saturn system, watching the birth of a new moon, photographing water vents on Enceladus, discovering methane lakes on Titan, spotting hurricanes on Saturn, confirming aspects of general relativity and all sorts of other stuff. Enjoy these stunning photographs, explore the timeline of its exploration and marvel at the complex orbital mechanics that keep Cassini flying in Saturn's system with a tiny fuel supply.
Presented for your enjoyment and perusal: the Apollo 11 Flight Plan, and other fun reading material. [more inside]
The Rosetta spacecraft just woke up after a 32 month nap, some 500 million miles from Earth (interactive location tool) in preparation for its encounter with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. [more inside]
"In 'Somebody Will' I wanted to get across why I see sci-fi and fantasy fandom as a more positive, productive world than many of the hobbies and communities common in our culture. [...] The hardest part of the piece is singing it to the end without crying."[more inside]
Simultaneous video and selectively played audio of every Apollo lunar landing on one screen. (via Collect Space) [more inside]
As the Cygnus cargo spacecraft makes its initial demostration flight to the International Space Station, the question arises, what is the ISS for?
How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 "moon rocket" engine back to life - "The story of young engineers who resurrected an engine nearly twice their age." [more inside]
Dreams of Space. A blog featuring art from non-fiction children's space flight books 1945-1975. Lots of great graphics, from the realistic to the now fanciful. I must also point out the wonderful Czech pop-up book and A Trip to Outer Space With Santa.
It's been just over eight years since the Hugyens space probe separated from the Cassini spacecraft and drifted down to the surface Saturn's moon Titan. Along the way it provided video and sounds of its descent.
Now a 3D visualization of its landing, based on data from the spacecraft itself, has been created.
Now a 3D visualization of its landing, based on data from the spacecraft itself, has been created.
In 1964, Zambia joined the Space Race with help from Edward Makuka Nkoloso, an enthusiastic, if overly optimistic, primary school teacher (partial transcript, video very much of its time). Though the rocket never left Lusaka, and there was never any real support from either the Zambian government or UNESCO, Nkoloso's project caught the imagination of Spanish artist Cristina de Middel in her short film, The Afronauts. Middel explains, "The images are beautiful and the story is pleasant at a first level, but it is built on the fact that nobody believes that Africa will ever reach the moon. It hides a very subtle critique to our position towards the whole continent and our prejudices. It's just like saying strong words with a beautiful smile." via.
SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday morning, after a slightly problematic launch on Sunday. Following on the successful test flight in May, this mission marks the first official supply run to the ISS by a private company. [more inside]
Chilling amateur home video of the Challenger disaster "Obviously a major malfunction." Those words have always haunted me, but to hear them here, echoing across a PA system as shocked onlookers come to terms with what they have just seen, they carry even more power than they did when they were just an anonymous voiceover on a TV shot.
On Jan. 6, the NASA Johnson Space Center and the School of Earth and Space Exploration unveiled the Project Gemini Online Digital Archive. The archive contains the first high-resolution digital scans of the original flight films from the US Gemini space program.
NASA is designing a spiffy new rocket, the Space Launch System, which will lob people and cargo to the moon, an asteroid and eventually Mars. [more inside]
Over 500 people have traveled into outer space. While many have written books about the experience, only a few have used more creative means to express what they saw and felt. Here are a few: [more inside]
Hey, remember the ISS, that space station the Space Shuttle helped build before the shuttle was retired? Turns out humans might have to vacate that nifty space station for a bit. [more inside]
On May 16, 2011, after one scrubbed attempt, the space shuttle Endeavour set off on her final mission, STS-134. Shuttle commander Mark Kelly had this to say after receiving a "go" from the launch poll:
On this final flight of space shuttle Endeavour, we want to thank all the tens of thousands of dedicated employees that have put their hands on this incredible ship and dedicated their lives to the space shuttle program. As Americans, we Endeavour to build a better life than the generation before, and we Endeavour to be a united nation. In these efforts, we are often tested. This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment, and exploration. It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore; we must not stop. To all the millions watching today, including our spouses, children, family, and friends, we thank you for your support.You've seen launches before, but NASA has uploaded a whole slew of angles that will truly amaze: Witness 4.4 million pounds of shuttle, fuel, and rocket boosters "twang" a full 18 inches as the main engines ignite. 1.2 million pounds of thrust push against a locked down stack, waiting for the solid rocket boosters to ignite. (The SRBs bring the total to 7 million lbs of thrust, enough to break all that binds her to the pad.) OTV Camera 71, a fantastic, short close-up. UCS-15 (TV-21A) provides a dead-on, close up shot of the launch. The South Beach Tracker shot offers a fantastic view as well. From 3.1 miles away at the Press Site, note the ~11 second delay before the piercing sound of the SRBs hits. And just released today, fantastic footage from the solid rocket boosters, including their trip to splashdown in the Atlantic ocean from 30 miles up. And finally, the classic NASA view, with some great data overlays by Spacevidcast. [more inside]
Introducing the Nautilus-X MMSEV, a manned deep space craft proposed by a team at NASA's Johnson Space Centre.
A space wardrobe - images of the National Air and Space Museum’s collection of spacesuits from throughout the history of American space exploration.
With only two missions remaining as they wind down the space shuttle, NASA has a program to make countless dreams of space travel come (partially) true: Fly Your Face in Space. [more inside]
Six would-be astronauts will this week begin a 520-day mock space voyage to simulate a mission to Mars. How will they cope with the huge psychological pressures? It's a project that may simulate a mission that's going nowhere.
“In all honesty, we don’t know when it’s coming back for sure” - The US Air Force's first launch of the X-37b reusable space vehicle has provoked much speculation, with some even wondering if the Pentagon is reviving Nazi space-bomber plans. But was the launch of spaceplane an attempt to mask the launch of another secret weapon?
Certainly you've read of the Space Shuttle's imminent retirement, but are you prepared for the secret robot "mini" shuttle, the X-37B? After a decade of checkered development under NASA, DARPA (with assistance from Scaled Composites' White Knight) and finally the U.S. Air Force, the first X-37B spaceplane, the Orbital Test Vehicle, is ready for an April 19th launch.
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Annual John H. Glenn Lecture took place at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Tickets were in high demand for the event, which featured the Apollo 11 astronauts - among others - discussing the past, present, and future of manned spaceflight. [more inside]
Images from The Complete Book of Space Travel illustrated by Virgil Finlay, including an analysis of the space-crew candidate.
"I said to myself, 'we are going to die.'" Space Shuttle commander Hoot Gibson on his reaction as he saw pictures from the Shuttle's robot arm of gouged and missing tiles along its underbelly. Shades of Columbia - but this was mission STS-27, over fourteen years earlier. Yet mission control discounted the reports from orbit, perhaps misled by the poor quality of the downlinked images that resulted from encryption demanded by the mission's secretive military profile. In the end, Atlantis made it back, but with visible damage along her right flank. But like most classified DoD missions of the time, little was reported, and NASA was arguably wary of drawing attention to the near-loss of only the second flight since the Challenger disaster. But if this near-miss had been better known, might NASA have been more concerned about indications of debris damage during the launch of STS-107?
Video of the destructive reentry into the atmosphere of the Automated Transfer Vehicle back from its trip to the ISS.
Project Nova: on the 9th of September three Cambridge engineering students launched a balloon equipped with a camera and tracking devices. It reached a height of 32km and took 857 photographs during its three hour flight, some showing the curvature of the earth. You can also download a KML file to follow the balloon's flight path in Google Earth.
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