July 25, 2017

NASA might privatize one of its great observatories

July 22, 2017

Management of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope could be turned over to an academic institution or private operator in 2019 once the space agency’s funding for the observatory runs out, a senior NASA manager said this week.

Sierra Nevada confirms ULA will launch first two Dream Chaser cargo missions

July 22, 2017

Sierra Nevada and United Launch Alliance have announced the most powerful version of the Atlas 5 rocket, with five strap-on boosters and a twin-engine upper stage, will send the first two Dream Chaser cargo missions to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral in 2020 and 2021, a schedule that still must be confirmed by NASA.

Opportunity rover peers into ‘Perseverance Valley’

July 21, 2017

NASA’s Opportunity rover, now showing nearly 28 miles on its odometer since landing on Mars, recorded a panoramic view last month of its next scientific destination, a valley that may have been carved by water, an icy or muddy debris flow, or ancient Martian winds.

Study teams comb through NASA’s wish list for new telescope

July 21, 2017

Scientists outlining four concepts for a powerful new space telescope that could launch in the 2030s this week said improvements in optics, detectors and access to huge new rockets like NASA’s Space Launch System could revolutionize the way astronomers observe potentially habitable planets, black holes, and the earliest galaxies in the universe.

Propulsive landings nixed from SpaceX’s Dragon spaceship

July 19, 2017

SpaceX’s upgraded Dragon capsules will not return astronauts to Earth for powered landings as originally envisioned, company boss Elon Musk said Wednesday, a design change that raises questions about the space transport firm’s plans to send commercial landers to the surface of Mars.

Pioneering probe for gravitational wave observatory ends mission

July 19, 2017

The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, now sailing around the sun on a trajectory away from Earth, was deactivated Tuesday after a nearly 18-month mission testing previously-untried lasers, vacuum enclosures, exotic gold-platinum cubes and micro-thrusters needed for a trio of gravitational wave observatories set for launch in the 2030s.

Europe’s lightweight Vega launcher nears 10th flight

July 18, 2017

A solid-fueled Vega rocket has been stacked on a launch pad in French Guiana for liftoff Aug. 1 with two Israeli-built satellites — one developed in partnership with the French space agency for environmental research, and another to gather intelligence for the Italian military.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser on the move in California

July 17, 2017

An atmospheric test model of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft, a cargo carrier for the International Space Station that will take off on top of an Atlas 5 rocket and land on a runway, is undergoing braking and steering checks in California ahead of a flight test later this year, the company said Monday.

Jupiter images thrill, inspire public participation

July 15, 2017

Processing images from the camera aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter has turned into a cottage industry of sorts, as rank amateurs, accomplished artists and experienced researchers turn relatively drab “raw” images into shots ranging from whimsical to spectacular and everything in between.

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