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A new idea for space tourism: Balloon over rocket

October 23, 2013 2:25 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

The latest space tourism venture depends more on hot air than rocket science. World View Enterprises announced plans Tuesday to send people up in a capsule, lifted 19 miles by a high-altitude balloon. While it's not quite space, the plan requires approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial space.

Researchers evaluate electronic flight bags for Air National Guard pilots

October 16, 2013 8:06 am | News | Comments

When pilots encounter an in-flight emergency they consult with manuals, emergency procedures and other reference materials contained in their flight bags for information on how to respond. In the future, these cumbersome flight bags could be replaced by “electronic flight bags” consisting of a lightweight tablet computer loaded with electronic versions of documents that today are printed on paper.

Jupiter-bound craft running normally again

October 14, 2013 9:22 am | News | Comments

NASA's Jupiter-bound spacecraft hit a snag last week after it flew past Earth to increase its speed to barrel beyond the asteroid belt to Jupiter. The Southwest Research Institute, which leads the mission's science operations, now reports that Juno is out of "safe mode."

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SpaceX launches Canadian satellite from California

September 29, 2013 1:58 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

A SpaceX rocket launched from the California coast Sunday carrying a Canadian satellite intended to track space weather in what was billed as a test flight. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, shortly after 9 a.m. under clear skies.

Water for future Mars astronauts?

September 27, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

Within its first three months on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity Rover saw a surprising diversity of soils and sediments along a half-kilometer route that tell a complex story about the gradual desiccation of the Red Planet. Perhaps most notable among findings from the ChemCam team is that all of the dust and fine soil contains small amounts of water.

China unveils its first and unnamed moon rover

September 26, 2013 2:21 pm | News | Comments

Chinese scientists described the country's first moon rover on Wednesday and invited the global public to come up with a name for it. The rover has two wings, stands on six wheels, weighs 140 kg and will be powered by solar energy. It will soft-land on the moon after a launch aboard the spacecraft Chang'e-3 in December.

Computer mishap delays space station supply ship

September 22, 2013 7:17 am | by MARCIA DUNN - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A brand new commercial cargo ship making its orbital debut experienced trouble with a computer data link Sunday, and its arrival at the International Space Station was delayed at least two days. The rendezvous was aborted less than six hours before the scheduled arrival of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus capsule, packed with 1,300 lbs of food and clothes for the space station crew.

Second private company rockets toward space station

September 18, 2013 2:48 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer | News | Comments

A commercial cargo ship made its successful debut Wednesday, rocketing toward the International Space Station and doubling the number of NASA's private suppliers for the high-flying lab. The capsule named Cygnus—bearing 1,300 pounds (590 kg) of food, clothing and goodies for the astronauts—is due at the orbiting outpost on Sunday, following four days of testing.

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SpaceShipTwo successfully completes second flight test

September 6, 2013 3:09 pm | News | Comments

On Thursday, Virgin Galactic demonstrated the SpaceShipTwo’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time. The second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle marked the first high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism and achieved the highest altitude and greatest speed to date.

SpaceshipTwo successfully completes second flight test

September 6, 2013 3:04 pm | Videos | Comments

On Thursday, Virgin Galactic demonstrated the SpaceShipTwo’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time. The second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle marked the first high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism and achieved the highest altitude and greatest speed to date.

NASA aiming for moon again, this time from Va.

September 5, 2013 1:58 pm | by MARCIA DUNN - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

NASA is headed back to the moon, this time to explore its thin atmosphere and rough dust. The robotic spacecraft LADEE, will fly to the moon by way of Virginia's Eastern Shore. Liftoff is set for late Friday night from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

Terramechanics research aims to keep Mars rovers rolling

September 5, 2013 11:34 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

In May 2009, the Mars rover Spirit cracked through a crusty layer of Martian topsoil, sinking into softer underlying sand. The unexpected sand trap permanently mired the vehicle. The mission mishap may have been prevented by a better understanding of terramechanics, which describes the interaction between vehicles and deformable terrain.

Video: First microdrone crosses the Alps

September 5, 2013 10:17 am | News | Comments

Earlier this summer, a small drone managed something that even larger flying robots had not yet been able to do. Equipped with an HD camera, and in adverse conditions, it set off from Switzerland and crossed the Saint-Gotthard Massif towards Italy. The company behind this experiment has just released video of the record flight.

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Ion thruster: A new idea for nanosatellite micro-rockets

September 3, 2013 8:10 am | by Marcia Goodrich, MTU | News | Comments

Though nanosatellites already borrow several components, including cameras and radios, from terrestrial gadgets, propulsion systems have to be built from scratch. Researchers are working on electrospray ionic liquid “rockets”, but the microscopic needles they require are difficult and tedious to make. A researcher has found a way to let nature do the work, simplifying the fabrication process.

Space laser to prove increased broadband possible

August 29, 2013 12:07 pm | by Dewayne Washington, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.

NASA tests limits of 3-D printing with powerful rocket engine check

August 28, 2013 8:27 am | News | Comments

The largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA hsa ever tested blazed to life Thursday, Aug. 22 during an engine firing that generated a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. This test is a milestone for one of many important advances the agency is making to reduce the cost of space hardware.

California vies for new space industry

August 28, 2013 7:52 am | by Mihir Zaveri, Associated Press | News | Comments

As several new private ventures to take people on trips to space come closer to becoming reality, California lawmakers are racing other states to woo the new space companies with cushy incentives. They are debating a bill now in Sacramento that would insulate manufacturers of spaceships and parts suppliers from liability should travelers get injured or killed on a voyage, except in cases such as gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing.

ANA, Japan Airlines check 787s for wiring problem

August 14, 2013 4:55 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines are checking their Boeing 787 fleets for wiring problems unrelated to battery defects that plagued the aircraft earlier this year. ANA said Wednesday the departure of a 787 plane was delayed over problem wiring for a system to put out engine fires.

World's first pop-art satellite headed to space

August 12, 2013 1:37 pm | by John Rogers, Associated Press | News | Comments

If aliens ever target Earth, Jon Gibson and Amanda White are counting on them having an appreciation for pop art and a sense of humor. The duo has created an elaborate, Andy Warhol-like design that has been etched into a satellite's panel, transforming the spacecraft into a replica of an oversized electrical charging device. Is it the world’s first orbiting work of art? Possibly.

A year of Curiosity on Mars

August 7, 2013 3:06 pm | Videos | Comments

Curiosity Rover team members re-live the dramatic Aug. 6, 2012 landing and the mission's achievements to date in a recent event aired on NASA Television and the agency's website. In the year since inspiring millions of people worldwide with its one-of-a-kind landing in a crater on the Red Planet, Curiosity has achieved its primary scientific objective; finding evidence that ancient Mars could have sustained microbial life.

Japan launches talking humanoid robot into space

August 5, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan. The childlike robot was designed to be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata and will communicate with another robot on Earth, according to developers.

Japan launches talking humanoid robot into space

August 4, 2013 8:27 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japan has launched the world's first talking humanoid robot "astronaut" toward the International Space Station. Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said.

NASA technologist makes traveling to hard-to-reach destinations easier

August 1, 2013 7:48 am | by Lori Keesey, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Traveling to remote locations sometimes involves navigating through stop-and-go traffic, traversing long stretches of highway and a lot of  maneuvering. The same can be said for guiding spacecraft to far-flung destinations in space. A NASA technologist has developed a fully automated tool that gives mission planners a preliminary set of detailed directions for efficiently steering a spacecraft to hard-to-reach interplanetary destinations.

GOES-R satellite magnetometer boom deployment successful

July 30, 2013 9:23 am | by Rob Gutro and Kevin Mc Laughlin, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

The GOES-R Magnetometer Engineering Development Unit at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center completed successful boom deployment test at an ATK facility in Goleta, Calif. The magnetometer, which will deploy aboard the boom after launch, will provide measurements of the space environment magnetic field, which controls charged particle dynamics in the outer region of the magnetosphere.

Van Allen probes pinpoint driver of speeding electrons

July 25, 2013 7:08 pm | News | Comments

After studying data from a pair of NASA probes roaming the harsh space environment within the Van Allen radiation belts, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory believe they have solved a lingering mystery about how electrons within Earth’s radiation belt can suddenly become energetic enough to kill orbiting satellites.

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