After launching their smaller Falcon 1 last summer (the first privately-developed liquid-fuel rocket ever to reach orbit), SpaceX is now ready for the first test launch of its larger, more advanced Falcon 9 rocket today. A four-hour, weather-dependent launch window begins now, and you can watch the countdown live. Update: Looks like the test was successful.
When it becomes the successor to the illustrious Hubble later this decade, the James Webb Space Telescope's infrared eye will peer further into the edges of space (and time) than any telescope before it. But while the real thing is undergoing final construction at Northrop Grumman HQ, an exact 1:1 scale model has been touring the world, giving us a chance to get close to a realistic representation of an unconventional-looking spacecraft that will soon be the source of the most amazing images of the cosmos we've every seen.
We paid a visit to the JWST in Lower Manhattan's Battery Park city. Take a look at our photo gallery to see more:
Infrared images of Jupiter and the galaxy M82 are the first pictures from NASA’s flying telescope, which took to the skies late last week.
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, is a modified Boeing 747 jet with a hole in its side to make room for a diameter reflecting telescope 100 inches in diameter. The May 26 flight lasted six hours and reached 35,000 feet.
Charles Darwin's theories of evolution have revolutionized the way mankind understands its origin. Now, engineers suggest that the process of natural selection may have surprising implications for spacecraft as well. An ion engine designed to power future spacecraft has achieved its optimal design via software that simulates Darwinian evolution.
In late 2008, NASA's Phoenix lander dropped into deep hibernation at the onset of Martian winter, concluding a successful and long-running mission. But there was some hope that, despite not being built for such hostile temperatures, the craft would emerge from the thaw with a pulse. A final checkup from the Mars Odyseey orbiter circling overhead last week, however, has erased all hope--Phoenix's solar panels have been frozen off. It's dead.
Amateur astronomers on two continents have spilled some military secrets, finding clues that suggest that the Air Force's recently-launched, top-secret X-37B spaceplane is being prepped for advanced recon missions, the New York Times reports.
NASA has just announced the details of its next Mars mission, Curiosity, which will take off between November 25 and December 18, 2011. Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars between August 6 and August 20, 2012. The rover, also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, will study the Martian surface for conditions favoring the development of microbial life. NASA plans to let Curiosity explore Mars for a full Martian year, or two Earth years.
We've landed the robots, puttered about on the planet's surface, and, at long last, found the water. Now, NASA is getting back to basics on Mars with a plan to once again search for signs of life on the Red Planet, a focus that's been on the back burner since the 1976 Viking missions. But this time, NASA doesn't want to analyze Mars from Mars. This time the space agency wants to bring samples back home, and has a cleverly orchestrated scheme to do it.
On closer inspection, it seems that the Romulans haven't hijacked Voyager 2 after all. NASA has identified the problem that caused the space probe -- which is currently coasting somewhere 8 to 10 billion miles from Earth -- to start returning distorted patterns of data last month. Evidently a single memory bit in the memory of an onboard computer flipped from a zero to a one, a problem the space agency intends to fix tomorrow.