Aug 31, 2009 | 5
The Indian space program joined an elite group last year when its first lunar probe entered orbit around the moon and began taking detailed observations. But the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) lost radio contact this weekend with the probe, Chandrayaan 1, and the mission came to an abrupt end after communications could not be reestablished.
"Our efforts to establish contact have failed. The mission has been terminated," ISRO spokesperson S. Satish told Reuters. "There was no point continuing with the mission."
Jul 13, 2009 | 19
The International Space Station has been a colossal undertaking among five space agencies whose final price tag will likely be in the vicinity of $100 billion dollars. (The U.S. construction costs alone are estimated to be $31 billion.) Just this year the station finally reached its full capacity of six crew members, but it is still under construction—space shuttle Endeavour sits at the ready today to deliver to the ISS pieces of a Japanese experiment module.
But the ISS program manager for NASA is warning that without a change in policy, all that work will go plunging into the ocean in 2016, just six years after the scheduled completion of the station. "In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and deorbit the spacecraft," Michael Suffredini told the Washington Post. The ISS's long-term funding from NASA terminates in 2015, the newspaper notes.
Jul 7, 2009 | 1
President Obama's nominees for NASA's top two slots will begin the confirmation process tomorrow with a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Both Charles Bolden [seated at right, meeting with Obama, in top photo], picked for the long-vacant administrator post, and Lori Garver [below], nominated for the number-two deputy administrator role, are expected to be confirmed by the full Senate in the coming days.
Jun 8, 2009 | 2
The rapidly ascending Chinese space program is setting its sights on a new target: Mars.
China plans to send an orbiter to the Red Planet on a Russian launch vehicle later this year, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The nation's first Mars probe, Yinghuo 1, will piggyback on the ambitious Phobos–Grunt mission, a Russian spacecraft that will seek to return soil samples from Phobos, the larger of Mars's two tiny moons.
Details on the orbiter's cost and scientific goals are scarce, with a Shanghai Aeronautic Bureau official telling the news agency: "(The major task) is to orbit and explore Mars and test data of Mars' atmosphere and surrounding environment. This is to create a better platform for future space exploration." A 2007 Xinhua report described a small probe: just 2.5 feet (75 centimeters) long and weighing 240 pounds (110 kilograms).
Apr 8, 2009
Two astronauts and a space tourist successfully returned to Earth this morning in their Soyuz capsule after spending time on the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who spent 178 days in orbit, Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov, who was on the ISS for more than 200 days, and tourist Charles Simonyi touched down at 11:16 local time (3:16 a.m. EDT) in Kazakhstan, NASA said.
During their ISS stints, Fincke, the Expedition 18 commander, and flight engineer Lonchakov conducted experiments on the effects of long space journeys on the human body and putting out fires in microgravity.
Feb 3, 2009 | 2
Iran says it launched a satellite last night as part of what officials there described as the country’s bid to develop a space program.
The satellite, named Omid, or “hope,” was “successfully sent into orbit” with a Safir 2 (or "ambassador") rocket, according to IRNA, Iran’s official news agency. The “data-processing” satellite project began nearly four years ago “as the first practical step toward acquiring national space technology,” says another IRNA report, noting that “its main objective is to prepare the grounds for promoting [a] national space industry in Iran.”
Dec 8, 2008 | 3
New images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the Red Planet's surface in extraordinary detail—and in three dimensions to boot. The photos, known as anaglyphs, come from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, billed as the most powerful camera ever placed in another planet's orbit.
NASA and the University of Arizona, one of the science partners in HiRISE, picked a great destination for such advanced equipment: the peaks and craters of Mars stand out in mind-bogglingly stark relief. (The University of Arizona says that the camera resolves features as small as 3.3 feet, or one meter.) You might find yourself, as this reporter did, leaving smudges on your computer screen as you try to touch the raised rim of a crater. A word of caution, though: don't try to view all 362 images in one sitting—scrolling through the massive high-rez landscapes can make one a bit carsick after a while. But for the privilege of a virtual tour of the Martian surface from the comfort of your home or office, a little nausea seems a small price to pay.
Dec 4, 2008 | 2
NASA announced today that it will delay the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) until late 2011, postponing the rover's sweeping mission by more than two years.
In a news briefing, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said that the agency was "not going to gamble on launch" in fall 2009. The agency says it needs more time to ready and test the equipment to ensure a successful mission, and the launch window to reach Mars requires a 26-month delay.
"The vast majority of the hardware has been built and completed," Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said at the press conference held at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. But there was no guarantee the MSL would be ready by next fall to land safely and carry out science experiments on Mars. This project, Elachi said, is much more complex than its predecessors. Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA HQ, added that MSL "literally dwarfs anything we've done before," with the rover weighing in at nearly a ton compared with about 400 pounds apiece for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.
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