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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…

Discovery’s Last Ride

By Susan Poultonfor Breaking Orbit Space Shuttle Discovery rolled out to the launch pad for the final time tonight, with first motion out of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) coming 30 minutes early at 7:23pm ET, beneath a stunning sunset. Hundreds of employees gathered to watch the event and cheer on Discovery as they watched…

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: Launch!

By Susan Poulton for Breaking Orbit The space shuttle Endeavour successfully launched tonight at 4:14am ET after a last minute scare that the weather was not going to cooperate at the back up landing sites in Europe. They cleared up long enough for the shuttle to get off the ground and it was a spectacular…

STS-130 Launch Coverage: Weathering the Waiting Game

By Susan Poulton for Breaking Orbit If there’s one person in the press center who often gets the most attention it’s the representative from the 45th Weather Squadron. The group, including Kathy Winters, the Shuttle Launch Weather Officer, is responsible for monitoring all the local weather here and at the back up landing sites and…

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…

STS-130 Launch Coverage: Crew Departure

One of the more special moments in the marathon of launch events is crew walkout. The astronauts get suited up, wave goodbye to staff members and family and head for the van. Outside of a handful of NASA administrators who ride along in the van, the members of the press and other invited guests have…