space travel

Airbus’ Adeline jumps on the reusability rocket

Airbus’ Adeline jumps on the reusability rocket

Claimed to be already five years in the making, Airbus just revealed its own take on the idea of a reusable rocket that its chief rival in the space, SpaceX, has been preaching for years. Called Adeline, which is a more memorable form of its "Advanced Expendable Launcher with Innovative engine Economy" name, the rocket aims to address the weaknesses in SpaceX's implementation. In particular, instead of focusing on returning the full first stage of the rocket like SpaceX does, Adeline prioritizes the most important and most valuable part of that stage: the engine and avionics.

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After glitch, LightSail spacecraft finally unfurls its sails

After glitch, LightSail spacecraft finally unfurls its sails

The LightSail has finally deployed its solar sails after encountering glitches that if unsolved, could have scrapped the mission. LightSail was launched into space almost forty years after science fiction genius, Carl Sagan, first thought of the idea of a spacecraft that could sail by solar rays. The project is headed by the Planetary Society, which touts Bill Nye (the Science Guy) as its CEO. After encountering a software glitch that left the LightSail unresponsive and unable to send data back to earth, the ground team went into overdrive trying to solve the problem.

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Watch NASA prep LDSD flying saucer test here and now

Watch NASA prep LDSD flying saucer test here and now

This is not a test in science fiction, but a real release of one massive payload headed for space, courtesy of NASA. What you're about to see - as early as Wednesday of this week - is NASA's second flight of its saucer-shaped Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator. That's also known as LDSD. This craft was first launched aboard a giant helium balloon from the United States Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii all the way back in June of last year. This time, it's headed for a cool 180,000 feet above the surface of the earth.

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X37-B: Everything we know about this secret Air Force space mission

X37-B: Everything we know about this secret Air Force space mission

The United States Air Force X37-B Space Plane (one of two) takes off into orbit above Earth in its fourth secretive mission. The craft itself is not a secret - we know what it's capable of. The contents of the craft are not entirely secret - we know MOST of what's inside. What the United States Air Force is doing on this mission with the cargo they carry - that's the question here. With one of two X-37B space planes headed to space with, amongst other cargo, 10 minuscule "cubesats" and a real deal Solar Sail, we'll be interested to see what becomes of their testing and action.

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NASA greenlights SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for less risky missions

NASA greenlights SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for less risky missions

It may have so far failed at the promise of a reusable space rocket, but things are still looking good for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. While it won't be carrying humans any time soon, it has at least been certified by NASA for Category 2 space missions. These missions are described as "medium risk", as they only involve carrying satellites and less critical and less expensive cargo. It may not be the Category 3 that SpaceX ultimately wants, but it's still a big step forward in boosting credibility and clout.

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ISS astronaut holds weekly geography quiz on Twitter

ISS astronaut holds weekly geography quiz on Twitter

It's one thing to say you know your geography by identifying where a place is on a map, but could you recognize a location just from seeing a picture of it? What if the photo was taken from above from the International Space Station? If you're up to the challenge, it's time to start following US astronaut Scott Kelly of NASA on Twitter, where he's started a weekly game of asking people to identify what part of the world the space station is currently flying over, giving them only a photo and a single clue.

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Solar space sail imagined by Carl Sagan readies for test flight

Solar space sail imagined by Carl Sagan readies for test flight

Carl Sagan, creator of the original Cosmos series, proposed that a spaceship could use solar sails, powered by only the sun's rays, to glide through space. Now, the Planetary Society, co-founded by Sagan, and currently run by none other than Bill Nye, is planning a test flight for LightSail, a spacecraft based on his vision. LightSail is an incredibly small spacecraft, measuring in at only 10 x 30 cm, which is about the size of a loaf of bread. The small little box holds 32 square meters of mylar, which will unfold to create solar sails, designed to glide on energy from solar radiation in the same manner that a sailboat is powered by wind.

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Russian cargo ship to fall to Earth Friday morning

Russian cargo ship to fall to Earth Friday morning

Russian spacecraft, Progress 59, encountered a glitch last week before it could complete its mission to resupply the ISS. The error left the cargo ship unable to dock with the ISS. The spaceship is currently spinning out of control and hurtling toward Earth--Not to worry, the craft shouldn't actually impact Earth. Most of it will burn up from intense heat as it re-enters the atmosphere. The three-ton payload of supplied will burn up in its demise. The ship, and everything on it have been written off as a total loss. It is likely to fall to earth early Friday morning, U.S. time.

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Astronomers discover real Galaxy Far, Far Away

Astronomers discover real Galaxy Far, Far Away

If George Lucas was a prophet with Star Wars, this week's galaxy discovery might be what he was talking about. A set of scientists have used a set of three different telescopes to capture and calculate the age of the galaxy they call EGS-zs8-1. This galaxy is the furthest away from Earth that any galaxy has ever been discovered. The first image you're seeing in this article (minus the TIE fighter), was captured by NASA's Hubble space telescope back in 2013 and has only just now seen itself the subject of a paper that claims it as our most distant galaxy neighbor.

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Volcanic eruptions on the Super-Earth Diamond Planet

Volcanic eruptions on the Super-Earth Diamond Planet

It would appear that a planet-sized eruption of volcanic heat has occurred over the course of several years on the planet super-Earth 55 Cancri e. There a very hot, very life-unfriendly environment is boiling, and a series of researchers at Cornell University are bringing back information on how extreme this volcanism truly is. These researcher astronomers have used data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, finding a 3x change in temperature over the course of 2 years on the planet. It's getting very hot there, very fast.

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NASA Messenger mission comes to an end, crashes into Mercury

NASA Messenger mission comes to an end, crashes into Mercury

After ten years in space, NASA's Messenger probe purposefully crashed on Mercury. The probe spent four years in a strictly elliptical orbit, using boosts of power from its engine every couple of months, before it finally ran out of fuel. After orbiting Mercury 4,104 times, NASA decided to purposefully crash the probe into the planet's surface using a string of precisely modeled manuevers. When Messenger finally crashed, it hit Mercury at 8,750 mph (14,000 kph) which is about 12 times the speed of sound on earth.

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Pluto no longer just “a point of light”

Pluto no longer just “a point of light”

We're approaching Pluto as we speak. NASA's New Horizons probe is headed towards the most controversial of our planetary siblings, and this week they've shown some of the closest images we've ever bore witness to in the history of humanity. According to New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, "[these images] are just a little bit better than anything that's ever been obtained in history." Details are inbound. Details like a possible polar ice cap at one or both ends of this perpetually cold planetary body.

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