Space

New Horizons spacecraft wakes up to greet Pluto next year

New Horizons spacecraft wakes up to greet Pluto next year

It may be routine procedure, having been performed many times before, but it is symbolically one giant leap for mankind, particularly space exploration. Waking up to Russell Watson's "Where My Heart Will Take Me", long associated with space exploration and even Star Trek, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft became fully activated in preparation for its meetup with the smallest and farthest "former" member of our solar system, Pluto. It marks the near culmination of a journey that has so far lasted nearly nine years and three billion miles, the farthest any space mission has traveled to reach its target.

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Orion replay: behind-the-scenes, on the ground

Orion replay: behind-the-scenes, on the ground

Over the past 24 hours, NASA's Orion spacecraft had a weather delay, a rocket valve glitch, and a successful launch. The Delta IV Heavy rocket took off at 7:05 AM Eastern Time, reaching low-Earth orbit in around 20 minutes. What you're about to see is the liftoff replay and a set of behind-the-scenes images you would not have seen in the live feed - on the ground, at the launch site, and behind the control boards at NASA as the rocket took off, then as the craft landed in the Pacific Ocean.

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NASA image shows bizarre circular mound on Mars

NASA image shows bizarre circular mound on Mars

We've seen quite a few pictures snapped beyond our own world -- there's the recent Europa image, for example -- and the newest shot from Mars is no different. What is unique is the natural structure it shows: a circular mound in an otherwise smooth landscape. NASA posted the image yesterday with a statement pondering what the feature might be, and it is leaning toward volcanism as being the cause. As always, we've the rest of the details available after the jump.

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Orion launch scrubbed over rocket valve glitch

Orion launch scrubbed over rocket valve glitch

NASA has been forced to scrub today's Orion launch, though over technical issues with the rocket rather than the inclement weather conditions which caused numerous hiccups this morning. The team at Cape Canaveral had hoped to begin Orion's first test flight at 7:05 ET today, but were stalled by gusting winds. Issues with the fill and drain valves on the Delta IV Heavy rocket were what finally killed today's chances, however, though the next window isn't far off.

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Weather stalls NASA Orion launch

Weather stalls NASA Orion launch

NASA's launch plans for the Orion spacecraft today have been hit with unexpectedly strong winds, leaving the first flight of the new capsule on hold as weather conditions are monitored. Orion was meant to blast off from Cape Canaveral at 7:05am EST today, but an automatic shutdown was triggered when systems caught strong winds whistling past the launch platform. A second attempt less than an hour later was similarly blocked by NASA's safety-conscious systems.

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NASA talks the path to send humans to Mars

NASA talks the path to send humans to Mars

NASA has been working to develop the technology that will eventually be used to send humans to Mars and other places in the solar system. The goals of the mission to Mars and others were outlined in the US National Space policy that was issued in 2010. NASA says that astronauts living aboard the ISS are helping to prove many of the technologies and communications systems that will be needed for deep space missions, such as putting people on Mars.

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Japan’s Hayabusa 2 takes off to blow a hole on an asteroid

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 takes off to blow a hole on an asteroid

No, there is no asteroid hurtling down towards earth, so no need to break out into an Aerosmith song just yet. The Japanese space agency JAXA has just launched its Hayabusa2 explorer Wednesday to embark on a six-year journey of exploration, research, and blowing up a creator on an asteroid's face. The created crater will allow the ship to gather rock materials inside the crater for further study back on earth, without causing the asteroid to actually start hurtling towards a planet, like Earth.

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Jeff Bezos envisions millions living, working in space

Jeff Bezos envisions millions living, working in space

Space is a hot topic, and more than a few are anticipating our future on distant planets. Elon Musk has extensively commented on that future, and his SpaceX is putting in quite a bit of effort to help usher it in. Also dreaming of space is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who envisions millions of people one day living and working in space, something he recently discussed at the latest Ignition conference. "We are really evolved to be pioneers," he said.

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NASA polishes Orion for first test flight Dec 4th

NASA polishes Orion for first test flight Dec 4th

NASA is readying the first flight of its new Orion spacecraft set to take place this week, as it refines the technology that is expected to one day take astronauts to Mars. Due to blast off on Thursday, December 4, Orion - and the mighty United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket it will sit atop - won't be manned this time around, but instead used as a test-bed to see how well it will cosset future human passengers from dangers like radioactivity, heat, and more.

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We could fuel astronauts with human waste says research

We could fuel astronauts with human waste says research

Future astronauts and planetary colonists may end up breathing and watering plants with human waste, not to mention traveling in vehicles powered by it, if one research team has its way. NASA tasked the group at the University of Florida with figuring out what to do with the inevitable outcome of astronaut's freeze-dried meals, preferably something more productive than simply flushing it away into the nearest black hole. While the initial goal was lightening the load for space-faring folk, though, the research could have new implications down on Earth, too.

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