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Mars lander preview

A preview of NASA's Phoenix Mars lander mission and the science objectives to dig into the arctic plains of the Red Planet are presented here.


Phoenix animation

Project officials narrate animation of Phoenix's launch from Earth, arrival at Mars, touchdown using landing rockets and the craft's robot arm and science gear in action.


Dawn launch delay

Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters, explains why the agency decided to delay launch of the Dawn asteroid probe from July to September.


Endeavour rolls to VAB

Shuttle Endeavour is transported from its hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building for joining with a fuel tank and boosters for launch on STS-118.


Welcome home, Atlantis

The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft touches down on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15 on July 3, delivering Atlantis back to its homeport after a two-day coast-to-coast ferry flight.

 Landing | Tow

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Orbital Express test mission could resume after all

Posted: July 10, 2007

Senior military leaders have decided to postpone shutting down the Pentagon's Orbital Express mission to give U.S. Air Force officials a chance to propose additional demonstrations, the mission's program manager said Tuesday.

Air Force Lt. Col. Fred Kennedy said he received orders late last week to put a hold on plans to decommission the mission's two satellites.

Orbital Express is managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's primary research and development division.

The U.S. Defense Department is reviewing additional tests that could be added to the mission, which wrapped up three months of operations in late June. Earlier demonstrations included refueling, part replacements, and advanced rendezvous and docking techniques.

Kennedy told Spaceflight Now he expects to receive the results of the review Thursday. A decision on whether to extend the mission could also come Thursday.

The two craft were scheduled to be turned off on Saturday after separating to a distance of 1,000 kilometers, or about 600 miles.

Orbital Express consists of ASTRO, a robotic servicing satellite built by Boeing Phantom Works, and NextSat, which fills the role of a client satellite and supply depot.

ASTRO still contains more than 300 pounds of propellant. That is enough fuel to continue operating the mission for the foreseeable future, Kennedy said.

Both ASTRO and NextSat are designed to work for up to one year in orbit.