It's a sight captured by many a late-night stargazer: a shuttle streaking through the dark sky on its way to orbit. Last night, a gorgeous predawn launch of the space shuttle Endeavour marked the last scheduled night launch ever for the retiring NASA vehicle, even as NASA looks forward to a new age of commercial spaceflight. All four of the remaining shuttle flights are slated for the daytime, SPACE.com reports.
The 13-day mission's highlight involves bringing a huge new window to the International Space Station, so that residents of the orbital outpost can better direct the robotic arm and maybe even snap some prettier Twitpics. The window's addition in the new node would bring the space station to about 90 percent completion.
Readers curious about how the new space age might look can consult PopSci's January issue that covers the impending commercial space rush.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.