Space News & Blog Articles

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Celestron Advanced VX 8 Edge HD telescope: Full review

This portable telescope setup is ideal for intermediate amateur astronomers who want to get serious.

'Blade Runner' at 40: Director Ridley Scott's dystopian masterpiece continues to reverberate today

Director Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" celebrates its 40th anniversary in June 2022.

Don't miss Venus meet the moon before dawn on Sunday in gorgeous photo opportunity

A gorgeous photo opportunity will greet skywatchers on Sunday (June 26) when the slim crescent moon meets Venus in the early morning sky.

Extreme microbes in salty Arctic water could aid search for life on Mars

Never-before-seen microbes living deep beneath the permafrost at one of the coldest and saltiest water springs on Earth could provide a blueprint for life on Mars.

NASA to launch 3 sounding rockets from Northern Territory in boost for Australian space efforts

NASA to launch three rockets from the Arnhem Space Centre in the Northern Territory of Australia

Stunning Mars photos by the Curiosity rover show ancient climate shift

The Curiosity rover might be spotting signs of the Martian climate drying up in ancient times.

LightSail 2 celebrates 3rd space birthday as end of mission approaches

LightSail 2 is now marking three years of spaceflight, but is unlikely to celebrate a fourth anniversary.

China launches 4 satellites with 2 rockets in 2 days

China is continuing its quest to carry out more than 50 orbital launches this year with a pair of missions lifting off within just over 24 hours of each other.

NASA eyeing late August for launch of Artemis 1 moon mission

NASA officials have declared the Artemis 1 moon rocket's most recent "wet dress rehearsal" a success and are hopeful the mission can get off the ground as soon as late August.

More Rocket Launches Could Damage the Ozone Layer

There are few things in this world that brings feelings of awe and wonder more than a rocket launch. Watching a literal tower of steel slowly lift off from the ground with unspeakable power reminds us of what humanity can achieve despite our flaws, disagreements, and differences, and for the briefest of moments these magnificent spectacles are capable of bringing us all together regardless of race, creed, and religion.

The nation was in love with the Saturn V in the 1960s and 70s as it successfully sent 24 men to the Moon with 12 of them walking on its surface. From the 1980s to the 2000s, the Space Shuttle captivated our hearts and imaginations. But after the Space Shuttle retired in 2011, there were no rocket launches that really grabbed us until SpaceX started launching stuff into orbit and especially when they started landing their own rockets on ocean barges or landing pads.

The Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket launch vehicle lifts-off with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., at 9:32 a.m. EDT July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex Pad 39A. (Credit: NASA)

The Space Shuttle Discovery and its seven-member STS-120 crew head toward Earth-orbit and a scheduled link-up with the International Space Station on October 23, 2007. (Credit: NASA)

The real showstopper has been watching SpaceX launch people back into space from American soil, as the private space company has made seven crewed launches into orbit using their Crew Dragon spacecraft, the most recent being Crew-4 to the International Space Station. To go with their crewed missions, SpaceX also frequently launches their Starlink satellites into orbit, along with military payloads, as well. Overall, SpaceX launched 31 rockets into orbit in 2021, and has already reached 26 launches for 2022, which is on pace to absolutely shatter last year’s mark. The pioneering company is also preparing to launch its Starship prototype sometime in the future, which they hope to eventually bring people to Mars.




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NASA Says It’s Satisfied With Rehearsal for SLS Moon Rocket Launch

NASA says it’s finished with having to do full-scale dress rehearsals for the first liftoff of its moon-bound Space Launch System rocket. But it’s not finished with having to make fixes.

“At this point we’ve determined that we’ve successfully completed the evaluations and the work that we intended to complete for the dress rehearsal,” Thomas Whitmeyer, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for common exploration systems development, told reporters today.

NASA’s assessment came after a dress rehearsal that reached its climax on June 20 with the loading of the 322-foot-tall rocket’s supercooled propellant tanks. The rehearsal, which followed some less-than-fully-successful trial runs in April, marked a milestone for launch preparations because it was the first time that the team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida had fully loaded all of the tanks and proceeded into the terminal launch countdown.

Mission managers had hoped to get as far into the countdown as the engine start sequence at T-minus-9.34 seconds. But during this week’s rehearsal, launch controllers encountered a hydrogen leak in a quick-disconnect attachment that’s part of the fueling system. The team tried to fix the leak by warming up the attachment, and then cooling it back down to realign a seal, but the fix didn’t work. In the end, the count was stopped at T-minus-29 seconds.

Even though the rehearsal at Launch Complex 39B ended slightly earlier than originally planned, NASA officials said they were satisfied with the objectives that were achieved — including practicing the procedure for unloading propellant from the rocket. “Our Artemis launch team has worked quickly to adapt to the dynamics of propellant loading operations,” Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis launch director at Kennedy Space Center, said in a news release.

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'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' episode 7 teases the return of an epic character

'Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' episode 7 teases the return of an epic character in a nuanced episode that is great for additional viewing.

See the rare alignment of 5 planets and the moon in this stunning night sky photo

The rare sight of five bright planets lining up with the moon wowed skywatchers around the world Friday and you can still see it this weekend.

Astronaut cosplays as 'Gravity' spacefarer in epic space station shot

Samantha Cristoforetti channeled her inner Sandra Bullock in a space station nod to "Gravity."

Harmful pig poop lagoons mapped from space (images)

North Carolina State University scientists are using satellite images to monitor the expansion of the state's swine waste lagoons.

NASA's metal asteroid mission Psyche won't launch this year, faces go-or-no review

NASA's Psyche asteroid mission is facing an uncertain future after software testing issues forced an extended launch delay expected to last at least until July 2023.

SpaceX is now Constructing the Starship Launch Tower at Cape Canaveral

Remember Mechazilla, that tall launch tower at the SpaceX Starbase in Texas that will stack Starships and “catch” spent Super Heavy boosters? SpaceX began constructing an identical launch tower at Cape Canaveral in Florida, where Starships will also be launching from soon. This tower is taking shape alongside SpaceX’s Launch Complex-39A (LC-39A) facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Once complete, the launch tower will stand about 146 meters (~480 ft) in height, making it the second-tallest space-related structure on the East Coast, second to NASA’s massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB).

Like the launch tower at Boca Chica, the assembly process is moving rapidly and could be finished in just a few months. However, the crews have adopted a different building strategy based on the lessons learned from Boca Chica. When assembling Mechazilla, the construction crews stacked all nine of the tower’s prefabricated sections before integrating all of its hardware (like the tower’s “T-Rex” robotic arms). While this approach allowed for rapid assembly, it also led to several months of additional, highly complicated work.

For the launch tower at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX is taking a different approach to minimize the disruption to the surrounding launch complex. SpaceX has been assembling and outfitting the first six of the nine prefabricated tower sections for the past three months before stacking them together. These sections are already equipped with almost everything they’ll need to catch and stack Starships, such as railings, elevator shafts, walkways, fuel lines, and other preinstalled components. SpaceX is also busy assembling the launch pad’s orbital launch mount, where Starships and Super Heavy boosters are placed between launches.

The ground crews will still need to connect this hardware once the tower is assembled, but this post-stack work should take much less time. They are also making progress on the giant robotic arms (the two catching/lifting arms and the refueling arm) that will eventually be installed on the tower. The components for these “chopstick arms” are already arriving at the Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX will also need to install a new tank farm near the tower to accommodate its stores of liquid methane – the propellant used by the Starship and Super Heavy launch system – since LC-39A is not equipped for methane fueling.

A lot of work needs to be done before “Starbase Florida” is up and running, but they are making significant progress. In addition, the optimized process they are following for the launch tower’s construction will ensure that all the work around the launch pads will cause minimal disruption to their ongoing launch efforts – consisting of Falcon rockets regularly deploying new batches of Starlink satellites. As the busiest launch complex in the world, SpaceX also hopes to avoid disrupting NASA missions and other launch providers.

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Rogue rocket's moon crash site spotted by NASA probe (photos)

The grave of a rocket body that slammed into the moon more than three months ago has been found.

Recent Supernovae Produced Giant Cavities in the Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is a well-known feature in the night sky and is visible in small backyard telescopes. Orion is a busy place. The region is known for active star formation and other phenomena. It’s one of the most scrutinized features in the sky, and astronomers have observed all kinds of activity there: planets forming in protoplanetary disks, stars beginning their lives of fusion inside collapsing molecular clouds, and the photoevaporative power of massive hot stars as they carve out openings in clouds of interstellar gas.

But supernova explosions are leaving their mark on the Orion Nebula too. New research says supernovae explosions in recent astronomical history are responsible for a mysterious feature first formally identified in the night sky at the end of the 19th century. It’s called Barnard’s Loop, and it’s a gigantic loop of hot gas as large as 300 light-years across.

In 1894, American astronomer and astrophotographer E.E. Barnard published his observations of Orion in Popular Astronomy. Remarkably, he was experimenting with the lens from a “cheap, oil-projecting lantern”—in his words—that he used at the Lick Observatory. In his article, he explained what he’d found. “On my drawing, I have marked a portion of the nebulosity, from one degree to two degrees east of Tau, with dots, as it is so feeble at this point that I cannot be certain of it.” He added that “It is brightest near 56 and 60 Orionis.” (Barnard also acknowledged that he wasn’t the first to see it.)

E.E. Barnard’s drawing of the Orion Nebula from 1894. Barnard’s Loop is clearly visible just below Orionis 60 and 56. In those days, brighter stars were marked with larger circles, and Betelgeuse and Rigel are clearly marked as the brightest stars in the Orion constellation. Image Credit: E.E. Barnard, Popular Astronomy.

In our more modern times, we simply point our browsers and gorgeous images of Barnard’s Loop quickly pop up on our screens.

This is a Hubble image of the emission nebula Barnard’s Loop in Orion. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble.

Astronomers’ understanding of Barnard’s Loop has progressed along with our observational power and our growing knowledge of everything in nature.

This is a Hubble image of the emission nebula Barnard's Loop in Orion. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble
This image of the Orion Nebula shows the puzzling Barnard's Loop feature, a structure made of hot ionized gas formally identified in 1898. Orion A, Orion B, and Orion Lam are giant gas clouds where stars are born, though they're invisible to the naked eye. The white dots in the image's center are a group of cohesive stars all moving outwards from a point in their center. The blue star marker is the flux center of Barnard's loop and the orange star is the center of expansion for the OBP-B1 stars. The authors think that one or more stars in this group exploded as supernovae, and created Barnard's Loop, while also triggering active star formation. Image Credit: Michael Foley
The team's interactive tool allows users to rotate and manipulate the image to show the positions and velocities of different objects. Image Credit: Foley et al. 2022.

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Europe's veteran Mars orbiter gets upgrade to key instrument for seeking water

The European Space Agency is upgrading software on its venerable Mars Express orbiter to enable it to see beneath the surface of Mars and its moon Phobos in greater detail than before.


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