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NASA Mecury Messenger Images are Awesome October 7, 2008

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Ever wondered what Mercury looks like up close?

NASA’s first probe since the 1970’s to visit Mercury has sent back some stunning images of the innermost planet in our solar system.

International Space Station Takes Shape March 5, 2008

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At least a decade behind schedule, the International Space Station is now really starting to take shape. At one point it was supposed to be up in space in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the ‘new’ world. Ah well…at least it’s coming together now and actually starting to look very very impressive.
It will still take a few more years and billions more, but it’s happening.

NASA STS-122 : Columbus Finally Reaches The Final Frontier February 7, 2008

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After many delays, NASA finally got Atlantis off the ground today.

Atlantis wasn’t travelling alone either. With this mission NASA is finally getting back to actually building out the Space Station — instead of just visiting it.

On board STS-122 is the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory.

“Today we are opening a new chapter for ESA,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, the European Space Agency director general. “Just as Columbus discovered the New World, with Columbus, we are discovering a whole new world.”

The Shuttle doesn’t dock with the Space Station until Saturday..but is should be an exciting event when the new module is actually attached to the station.

January 31, 1958 – US Explorer 1 Launched Beginning The Space Race January 31, 2008

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It was fifty years ago today that the US got its act together and launched its first satellite. Yes the US was behind the USSR with Sputnik but Explorer is not just a matter of historical Trivia. It was also the true beginning of the US Space Program’s Golden Era that a decade later landed the first man on the moon.

The satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral (now Cape Kennedy) in Florida at 10:48 P.M. EST on 31 January 1958 by the Jupiter-C vehicle–a special modification of the Redstone ballistic missile–that was designed, built, and launched by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) under the direction of Dr. Wernher Von Braun. Jupiter-C, a direct descendant of the German A-4 (V-2) rocket, was originally developed in 1955-1956 as a high-performance rocket for testing purposes.

NASA has put together a really tight site all about Explorer 1 – so get your fix of space history!

Virgin Galactic Shows Off SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo January 23, 2008

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If you’ve got the cash Richard Branson has got a sweet ride for you to get into orbit. Today Branson’s Virgin Galactic showed of designs for the successor to SpaceShipOne – the White Knight Two (WK2) mothership and the SpaceShipTwo transport

According to Virgin Galactic they’ve already had c 85,000 registrations of interest to fly. Already 80 of SpaceShipTwo’s first passengers have been through medical assessment and centrifuge training.

“The designs of both the mothership and the new spaceship are absolutely beautiful and surpass any expectations for the future of commercial spaceflight that we had when first registering the name Virgin Galactic in 1999,” Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic said in a statement. ”

Virgin Galactic will make further announcements regarding the progress of the launch system, development of its markets, the test flying program and start of commercial operations at Spaceport America in due course.

Check out the full pics of the craft (and they’re big) over on Virgin Galactic’s Press site.


NASA Takes A Step Back With Orion November 6, 2007

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Remember when the Shuttle was first rolled out? Wasn’t that cool? Futuristic?

Well NASA is now going backwards and is rolling out its next generation manned space transport and its a total throwback to the Gemini capsule days.

It’s a SAD SAD SAD day for Space science and the manned exploration of space.

Juno Set for Jupiter Flyby in 2016. October 11, 2007

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NASA is hard a work on its next Jupiter exploration craft called Juno.

This week NASA settled on an Atlas 5 model 551 rocket, provided by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, to launch the  $700 million Juno mission in August 2011.

According to NASA’s mission page:

Using a spinning, solar-powered spacecraft, Juno will make maps of the gravity, magnetic fields, and atmospheric composition of Jupiter from a unique polar orbit. Juno will carry precise high-sensitivity radiometers, magnetometers, and gravity science systems . Juno’s 32 orbits over 11 days will sample Jupiter’s full range of latitudes and longitudes. From its polar perspective, Juno combines in situ and remote sensing observations to explore the polar magnetosphere and determine what drives Jupiter’s remarkable auroras.

Personally I think this sounds VERY LAME – especially in comparison to what the Galileo probe accomplised with 1980’s era technology. Apparently NASA is really aiming low these days. What ever happened to the idea of long term orbits examining all of the Jovian system? Or like Galileo some kind of atmospheric probe?

NOPE. NASA may know the way to Jupiter – but the US Space Agency apparently has lost its adventurous ways.