The big rockets of our day get all of the fanfare during a launch, but often they're accompanied by tiny stowaways known as CubeSats, which hitch a ride and drop into orbit. They're convenient and able to get us into space cheaply, roughly the size of a Rubik's Cube and weigh only three pounds.
The dust has settled on the final round of NASA's Commercial Crew integrated Capability program project, and three winners have been given funding for the next round of American-made space taxis: Boeing, who received $460 million; SpaceX with $440 million; and the Sierra Nevada Corporation, with a paltry $212.5. The companies will use it as seed money to create commercial spacecraft that U.S. astronauts will fly aboard.
At noon today, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) was released from a companion aircraft and sent off into Earth's orbit. That's big news for black hole and space enthusiasts: The technology strapped to it will make the hunt for celestial objects significantly easier, both in the Milky Way and farther abroad.
Dear intrepid lunar explorers: NASA politely asks that, when you travel to the moon, you refrain from messing with the American flag.
Google’s Lunar X Prize promises $20 million to whoever’s first to get a privately funded robot to the moon. But the folks at NASA don’t want any of the stuff they left up there getting messed up in the process, so they've offered a few handy guidelines for what to stay away from while you’re up there. (We’re looking at you, non-autonomous moon robots.)
The amateur rocketeers at Copenhagen Suborbitals are getting closer and closer to orbit, testing a new bi-liquid fuel combination for a hand-built, donation-funded, non-profit rocket. The group tested its alcohol- and liquid oxygen-powered TM65 rocket over the weekend, the largest amateur bi-liquid rocket in the world.
Just one half-second before liftoff, computers aborted the launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket early this morning, delaying the dawn of the commercial space age at least until Tuesday. After all nine engines ignited, launch control detected abnormally high pressure inside the center engine and terminated the countdown.
NASA’s J-2X rocket engine is on the test stand and ready for its second round of tests, building on last year’s successful test-firings that by some metrics were the most successful rocket engine firings NASA has ever undertaken. The J-2X will provide upper-stage power propelling NASA’s next-gen Space Launch System (SLS) from the upper atmosphere out into deep space after the first stage is jettisoned.
Early this morning, North Korea attempted to put a satellite into orbit--or, at least, that's what the DPRK claims, though hardly anybody actually believes that the aim was solely to launch a weather satellite. The rocket carrying the satellite failed to move into its second phase and exploded into dozens of pieces, which fell into the Yellow Sea in between the Korean peninsula and mainland China. Those are being quickly scooped up by the Chinese and South Koreans, who will try to figure out what North Korea was really up to.