Space Archive

A failed lander and a working orbiter – everything we know about ESA’s ExoMars mission

Yesterday morning, the European Space Agency hoped to become the second entity in history to operate a robot on Mars. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. ESA’s Schiaparelli rover is on the surface of Mars, but all signs point to a hard landing and a broken robot. The good news, however, is that Schiaparelli was only one part of ESA’s ExoMars mission. Schiaparelli, which has been described …

Explore the galaxy in 3D with data from the Gaia satellite

Gaia is an interactive 3D map of the galaxy, coded by Charley Hoey and sourced from the eponymous mapping satellite’s data: click, drag and scroll/pinch to change the viewpoint. It took a long time to load even on my desktop PC, but the results speak overwhelmingly for themselves. The Gaia satellite by the European Space Agency is currently orbiting 1.5 million …

Orbital ATK returns to flight with successful Antares launch to the space station

The Orbital ATK Antares rocket – the same rocket that exploded on its way to the International Space Station two years ago – returned to flight today with a much-anticipated launch. Lifting off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, the Antares rocket is now on its way to deliver the Cygnus spacecraft filled with over 5,000 pounds of cargo to crew members aboard the …

Project Blue aims to snap the first picture of an exoplanet in Alpha Centauri

Exoplanets are the talk of the solar system this year, but as exciting as they are, their existence (as is often the case in astronomy) is more inference than direct observation. A new private effort known as Project Blue hopes to change that with a satellite built for a single purpose: to directly image an exoplanet in the Alpha Centauri system. “There’s this confluence of …

Rosetta goes out in a blaze of glory — and science

Let’s all take a moment and pour one out metaphorically for Rosetta, the pioneering spacecraft that gave our newly spacefaring race its first comet landing. The orbiter performed its final task early this morning, making a controlled crash into the comet’s surface, destroying itself in the process but gathering valuable data down to the last minute. This was a risky, fascinating and very successful mission, …

SpaceX fires its Raptor engine for Mars flights for the first time

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is set to deliver a keynote address at the 67th annual International Astronautical Congress tomorrow, where he’ll outline his plan for interplanetary colonization beginning with Mars. As a bit of a teaser, Musk posted a couple of images from the inaugural firing of the Raptor interplanetary engine, which is designed for use with Space’s Mars Colonial Transporter craft. Musk’s comments on …

SpaceX investigation suggests helium breach caused its Falcon 9 explosion

SpaceX has a few answers about what might have caused the explosion of one of its Falcon 9 explosion on September 1. The rocket blew up while going through pre-launch prep on a landing pad, and no one was injured, but SpaceX has had some difficulty figuring out the cause, and shared very little info before now. Today, an update on the SpaceX blog says …

Please support the "Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition" on Kickstarter

Today, I’ve launched a very special Kickstarter with two friends, Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad. A year in the making (and many more years on our minds), the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition is the first vinyl release of the stunning golden phonograph record launched by NASA in 1977 aboard the Voyager spacecraft, one of which is now traveling through interstellar space.  …

Grace Potter rocks out with NASA in new video on the women of America's space program

Share this inspiring video with every kid or teen you know who dreams of space. John Streeter of NASA Television has sent us some wonderful NASA TV videos over the years. I love this new one with Vermont-born rock and roll star Grace Potter, about some of the amazing women in the history of the American space program. I hope it inspires a little girl …

NASA’s asteroid-harvesting mission solicits proposals for its robotic spacecraft

Asteroid mining is coming soon to a planet near you: this planet, and in 2021, to be specific. But NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission has lots of work to do before that point. Today the space-faring organization issued an official “request for proposal” from four partners on how they would go about creating the robotic spacecraft that would perform the actual asteroid redirection in question. This …