Space

Rosetta’s comet-harpooning lander is on its way down

Rosetta’s comet-harpooning lander is on its way down

A spacecraft harpooning a comet: it should be something out of a science fiction movie, but it's actually a mission underway right now, with the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe set to grapple with a chunk of hurtling space rock. The mission officially began back in 2004 when Rosetta and the Philae lander started their journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenk, but cranked up the excitement in the early hours of this morning as spacecraft and rock came together. Philae shared a last-minute photo on Twitter - which you can see after the cut, as well as live video of the action itself - and then began its careful journey down fourteen miles to the surface.

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Rosetta/Philae to land on orbiting comet tomorrow

Rosetta/Philae to land on orbiting comet tomorrow

A full decade in the making, tomorrow will likely be the first time we land on a comet. At around 4:30pm Central European time (about 10:30 EST stateside), the Philae lander is set to touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Should it be successful, the robotic Philae is the first craft built by humans to ever land on a moving comet. Philae is set to detach from its Rosetta spaceship about six hours ahead of landing on Comet 67P.

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Elon Musk confirms army of micro-satellites in the works

Elon Musk confirms army of micro-satellites in the works

One can say a lot of things about Elon Musk, but no one can deny that the man has vision and imagination. Confirming in public, at least to the Internet, a rumor that has been floating around since Saturday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO revealed that his space-faring company is indeed working on small-sized satellites. Unlike the more ambitious goal of propelling humans into space, this endeavor has a more philanthropic bent, aiming to bring Internet to more people. Kind of like Google's Project Loon, but with satellites.

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Google takes over NASA’s Moffett Field for aviation, robotics

Google takes over NASA’s Moffett Field for aviation, robotics

In an interesting agreement, Google will take control of NASA’s Moffett Field. the 60-year agreement will see Google invest up to $200 million in the property. Though they’re operating and investing in the air strip, which previously used by Google as a private airstrip, NASA will ultimately retain ownership. According to NASA, Google’s Planetary Ventures LLC branch, a shell company for investment purposes, will dole out $1.16 billion over the contract, and reduce NASA’s operating cost by $6.3 million annually.

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Elon Musk working to bring the world affordable internet via satellites

Elon Musk working to bring the world affordable internet via satellites

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is said to be working with a former satellite executive from Google in a venture that aims to provide affordable internet to the globe. This comes from sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, who added that while nothing has been finalized, the current talks are around the construction of a satellite factory needed to produce some 700 units needed for the project.

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Scientists find young star with small planets orbiting

Scientists find young star with small planets orbiting

How did we come to encircle the sun? Why do we orbit as we do, and why are other planets circling the big orange globe with us? Those are questions we may understand to some degree, but a new finding may shed light on how it all really began. A young star has been discovered with some very small planets beginning to form around it, with their orbit already being decided. It may not be the birth of our universe, but it’s very similar.

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Astronauts trap GoPro in floating water orb on ISS

Astronauts trap GoPro in floating water orb on ISS

This week NASA posted a video on its YouTube page of astronauts playing with a GoPro and an orb of water they had floating around. Like magic, they trapped the action camera in the sphere of water while it was recording, showing what the world looks like from inside of a water bubble, as well as what a GoPro looks like when encased and floating. As you'd expect, this took place on the International Space Station, and was part of a look at water surface tension as experienced in a microgravity environment.

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Orbital to rent rockets to keep ISS resupply going

Orbital to rent rockets to keep ISS resupply going

Astronauts on the International Space Station won't go hungry, despite the Antares resupply rocket exploding last week, with Orbital Sciences planning to outsource launches while it brings forward its next-gen rocket plans. The incident shortly after takeoff on Monday last week, which saw Orbital's third resupply mission to the ISS unexpectedly curtailed though thankfully with no loss of life, has forced the company to "accelerate" its upgrade of the medium-class launcher's main production system, it announced today. Still, there should be no extra cost or delay to NASA, Orbital insists.

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Virgin Galactic backers said wavering after spaceship crash

Virgin Galactic backers said wavering after spaceship crash

Virgin Galactic is pushing ahead with construction of its second SpaceShipTwo craft, following the first's disastrous crash last Friday, though some early ticket holders are already backing out and requesting refunds. The second space ship - which will carry serial number two - is around 65-percent built, Virgin Galactic said today. Meanwhile, outspoken company founder Richard Branson has accused "self-proclaimed experts" of drawing conclusions about the craft's safety when "a lot of whom know nothing about what they talk about," following early statements by the National Transportation Safety Board about initial findings.

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Virgin Galactic crash investigation finds early aero oddity

Virgin Galactic crash investigation finds early aero oddity

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo unexpected deployed its "feathering" system shortly before crashing, the National Transportation Safety Board investigators have said of the incident on Friday last week, which saw one pilot killed and another seriously injured. "About nine seconds after the engine ignited, the telemetry data told us that the feather parameters changed from lock to unlock," NTSB acting chairman Christopher Hart revealed during a press briefing today, something which took place on the fateful test flight at Mach 1.0 - the speed of sound - but which should not have happened until around Mach 1.4.

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