Sunday: December 14, 2003  0001 GMT
Why astrobiologists look to Saturn's moon Titan
Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the best place in the solar system to study primordial soup -- the stuff from which life emerged. In January 2005, planetary scientists will get a closer look at Titan's version of soup when the European Space Agency's Huygens probe floats to the surface.
Atlas 3 'go' for launch
Devoid of any technical concerns, mission authorities Saturday morning gave approval for Monday's countdown and launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket to deploy the U.S. Navy's 11th UHF Follow-On communications satellite into Earth orbit.
A giant cocoon discovered around massive young star
Astronomers have discovered a giant envelope or disk of glowing gas more than half a light year across, illuminated by shockwaves caused by winds travelling at up to 220,000 miles/hour. The disk is orbiting a massive star 20,000 light years from Earth. This is the first time such a disk has been found emitting its own light.
Saturday: December 13, 2003  0239 GMT
Has XMM-Newton cast doubt over dark energy?
In a survey of distant clusters of galaxies, European Space Agency's XMM-Newton observatory has found puzzling differences between today's clusters of galaxies and those present in the Universe around seven thousand million years ago. Some scientists claim that this can be interpreted to mean that the 'dark energy' which most astronomers now believe dominates the Universe simply does not exist.
Sunstorm electron clouds surrounding Earth studied
Using an orbiting camera designed to block the light from the sun and stars, an international team of solar physicists has been able for the first time to directly image clouds of electrons surrounding Earth that travel from the sun during periods of solar flare activity.
Friday: December 12, 2003  0340 GMT
Atlas rocket to boost U.S. Navy satellite into orbit
The last in a long line of communications satellites for the U.S. Navy heads for space Monday night aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket. Launch from Cape Canaveral is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. EST (0238 GMT).
GALEX observatory captures galaxies galore
The most sensitive and comprehensive ultraviolet image ever taken of the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest large neighbor galaxy, has been captured by NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer. The image is one of several being released to the public as part of the mission's first collection of pictures.
ICESat spacecraft captures Earth in 3-D
NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) is sending home important scientific data and spectacular 3-D views of Earth's polar ice sheets, clouds, mountains, and forestlands. The data are helping scientists understand how life on Earth is affected by changing climate.
125 personnel added to external tank activities
In support of space shuttle external tank return-to-flight activities, Lockheed Martin as filled 125 new positions over the past several months, with recent college graduates making up about half of that number.
Thursday: December 11, 2003  1405 GMT
Spaceflight Now interviews station's resident crew
The International Space Station's Expedition 8 crew -- commander Michael Foale and flight engineer Alexander Kaleri -- talked this morning with Spaceflight Now's Steven Young. The live interview is presented here in its entirety.
   WATCH THE INTERVIEW [1.6MB QuickTime file]
Earthlike planets might be common, model indicates
Astrobiologists disagree about whether advanced life is common or rare in our universe. But new research suggests that one thing is pretty certain -- if an Earthlike world with significant water is needed for advanced life to evolve, there could be many candidates.
Delta 4-Heavy goes vertical
The first Boeing Delta 4-Heavy rocket was erected vertically at pad 37B around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, one day after rolling horizontally to the Cape Canaveral complex. See a collection of images documenting the rocket's lift.
Galaxy shows key evidence for furious star formation
Astronomers have discovered a key signpost of rapid star formation in a galaxy 11 billion light-years from Earth, seen as it was when the Universe was only 20 percent of its current age. Using the Very Large Array radio telescope, the scientists found a huge quantity of dense interstellar gas -- the environment required for active star formation -- at the greatest distance yet detected.
New national security mission to fly on Atlas 5
International Launch Services has received authorization to begin operations for the launch of a new payload for the National Reconnaissance Office on a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket. The launch is set for early 2006 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Wednesday: December 10, 2003  1805 GMT
Boeing's big booster journeys to the launch pad
Inching along at barely a walking pace, Boeing's first Delta 4-Heavy rocket was carefully driven from an assembly hangar to its Cape Canaveral launch pad Tuesday afternoon where it will undergo seven months of tests before blasting off on a qualification flight.
Japan's star-crossed Mars mission ends in failure
A stricken Japanese Mars probe lost its last chance at success Tuesday, as the deadline for a remedy to its problems came and passed with no solution in sight. Nozomi continues to speed toward a close fly-by of the planet later this week.
Extensive destruction powers solar explosions
Large-scale destruction of magnetic fields in the sun's atmosphere likely powers enormous solar explosions, according to a new observation from NASA's Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) spacecraft.
Proton rocket launches with navigation payload
Topped with a trio of Russian navigation satellites, a Proton rocket blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome today. The Breeze M upper stage will deploy a trio of Uragan spacecraft into orbit for the Glonass satellite navigation constellation.
Tuesday: December 9, 2003  0109 GMT
Odyssey studies changing weather, climate on Mars
Mars may be going through a period of climate change, new findings from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter suggest. "One explanation could be that Mars is just coming out of an ice age," a mission scientist says.
Trail of black holes, neutron stars points to collision
An image of an elliptical galaxy by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed a trail of black holes and neutron stars stretching more than fifty thousand light years across space. The trail of intense X-ray sources is evidence that this apparently sedate galaxy collided with another galaxy a few billion years ago.
Interstellar hydrogen shadow observed
More than a year before Cassini arrives at Saturn, the spacecraft has made the first in situ observations of interstellar pickup ions beyond the orbit of Jupiter. By observing these pickup ions, researchers can better understand the interstellar medium, the low-density gas and dust that fill the space between stars.
Monday: December 8, 2003  0001 GMT
Details of Saturn become visible to Cassini spacecraft
One year since last sighting Saturn, and less than eight months before reaching the planet, the cameras on NASA's Cassini spacecraft have caught another glimpse of the ringed planet, growing more detailed with time. The image shows details in the rings and atmosphere not seen a year ago, as well as five of Saturn's icy moons.
Photo gallery: Last week's Atlas launch revisited
This new collection of images shows the December 2 blastoff of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket carrying a classified cargo from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The gallery follows the first minutes of flight as seen from still and video cameras.
IN OTHER NEWS  Additional stories making news today
Endurance test on cryogenic engine successful -- India's space program has successfully conducted an endurance test for duration of more than 16 minutes on the indigenous cryogenic engine for Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV.

NASA engineering investigations get Navy input -- NASA's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance has signed an agreement with the Naval Sea Systems Command for each organization to participate in the engineering investigations and technical analyses of the other.
News Archive
Dec. 1-7: Atlas rocket successfully soars on secret mission; Atlas launch pad at Vandenberg getting extensive facelift; Mars Express snaps its first view of Red Planet; NASA scientists use radar to detect asteroid force; NASA cites progress in earthquake research.

Nov. 24-30: Japanese launch of spy satellites fails; Cheap method developed for solar system hunt; NASA successfully tests futuristic ion engine; Radiation monitoring device fails on Mars spacecraft.

Nov. 17-23: O'Keefe: time is right for new space vision; Shuttle Enterprise arrives at Smithsonian museum; Launch of Einstein's space experiment postponed; Feature story on Heavy-lifting version of Delta 4; Ulysses gives first 3-D observations of sun storms.

More news  See our weekly archive of space news.

Contact us
If you have a comment or question for Spaceflight Now, just send us an e-mail.