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Watch NASA’s Moon Launch Tonight From the East Coast

NASA is set to launch a rocket tonight at 11:27 pm EDT that will carry a robotic probe to the moon from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia–and it should be visible across a large portion of the North American eastern coast. The car-sized, scientific orbiter called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is…

Was that America? The shuttle Discovery, as seen from afar.

By Chris Combs  for Breaking Orbit This is how it ended: We drove a few more miles, parked the car, stopped in at Cosmic Coffee for a cup of joe, and watched a bright speck sear its way out of sight. About a year ago, my partner, Rachel, and I had heard the nearly thirty-year-old…

Last Chance to Vote for Discovery’s Wakeup Songs

The space shuttle Discovery is slated to launch on its final mission this week, and that means voting will soon close on NASA’s Space Rock contest. —Image courtesy NASA As we reported back in August, it’s been a tradition since the Apollo program to rouse slumbering astronauts with music selected either by flight controllers or…

Remembering Space Bat

It’s almost Halloween, and it’s almost the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery. These two events have me thinking about Space Bat. It’s been more than a year since Discovery lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with a small bat clinging to its external fuel tank. —Image courtesy NASA The animal, according to…

Mars Rovers’ “Ancestor” Celebrates 35 Years

August 20, 1975: A Titan 3/Centaur rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the Viking 1 spacecraft, the first NASA mission to put a lander on Mars. Moments after touchdown on July 20, 1976, Viking 1 sent the first-ever picture taken from the surface of the red planet: A portrait of the artist as a…

Final Space Shuttle Launches Delayed

NASA announced today that they’ve officially decided to postpone the final two space shuttle launches, pushing Discovery’s launch to November and the [supposed] last-ever shuttle launch featuring Endeavour to February 2011. For followers of the intrepid space agency, news of the delay—or any delay, really—will surely come as no surprise. Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off…

Space Shuttle Discovery on Its Way!

Intrepid “shuttle geek” Susan Poulton is winging back home today after witnessing the space shuttle Discovery’s successful predawn lift-off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. —Image courtesy NASA Look out for further Poulton pictures and ruminations from the scene, but in the meanwhile, here’re a few details on STS-131. Marking the fourth to the last shuttle…

Tiny Solar Sail Pitched to Clean Up Space Junk

From huge patches of plastic in remote corners of the ocean to piles of consumer electronics in rural Nigeria, trash has a way of accumulating even in places few of Earth’s 6.8 billion people have ever been. Space is no exception: Even though the first satellite went into low-Earth orbit a little over 50 years…

To Keep an Eye on the Weather, NOAA GOES P

—Image courtesy NOAA Next week NASA will launch the latest in a series of satellites run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration designed to track extreme weather events from space. Known as the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, or GOES, each craft carries a letter designation until it arrives in orbit, when it is renamed…

We Just Can’t Get Enough Sun

After hunkering down to survive D.C.’s “snowpocalypse” this past week, I was definitely ready for some sun. —Image courtesy United Launch Alliance/Pat Corkery via NASA Luckily, NASA obliged me with Thursday’s launch of their latest space probe, the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The SDO is a semi-autonomous craft that will orbit Earth, taking continuous observations of…

STS-130 Launch Coverage: Second Attempt

By Susan Poulton for Breaking Orbit Fueling of the space shuttle is complete and it stands ready for a second launch attempt at 4:14am ET. We just returned from the crew walk out and they are now getting strapped into their seats on the shuttle. Their faces never seem to look any less excited on…

Chandra Marks 10th Birthday With Space Puffball

Shortly after the Chandra X-ray Observatory opened its eye for the first time in 1999, the orbiting probe snapped its first picture of a supernova remnant about 190,000 light-years away that’s lovingly called 1E 0102.2-7219—or E0102 for short. —Image courtesy NASA/CXC/SAO Yesterday, ten years to the day after the probe’s July 23 launch, the Chandra…

D’oh! So Close!

—Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls Actually, I’m not talking about the space shuttle Discovery, which has been yet again postponed from its planned liftoff, this time to Sunday night. I’m talking about the lush full moon that was shining down on Discovery as it sat on the Florida launch pad on Wednesday, March 11. The moon…

Next Mars Rover Held Up Until 2011

The fevered race to pick a landing site and a new name for the Mars Science Lab seems to have come to a screeching halt today, as NASA announced that the mission will have to wait until fall 2011 to launch. —Image courtesy NASA/JPL Citing technical issues and a too-tight testing schedule, NASA officials told…

Mission Underway and Amazing Launch Video

Image Courtesy NASA We’re on day three of the STS-126 mission, and the space shuttle has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS). Today, the crew transferred the Leonardo module from the shuttle to the ISS and began preparing for the first spacewalk of the mission tomorrow. The astronauts who will be conducting the…