Tag: NASA

Trump signs bill authorizing NASA funding, Mars exploration

BY DARLENE SUPERVILLE WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Tuesday that updates NASA’s mission to add exploration of Mars and authorizes $19.5 billion in spending for the U.S. space agency for the current budget year. It’s the first time in seven years that there has been an authorization bill for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA, said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a chief sponsor of the bill. Cruz joined several astronauts and other lawmakers in the Oval Office to watch Trump sign the bill. Last week, Trump sent Congress a...

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SpaceX says it will fly 2 people to moon next year

BY MARCIA DUNN – AP AEROSPACE WRITER CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA’s Apollo heyday close to half a century ago. Tech billionaire Elon Musk – the company’s founder and chief executive officer – announced the surprising news barely a week after launching his first rocket from NASA’s legendary moon pad. Two people who know one another approached the company about sending them on a weeklong flight just beyond the moon, according to Musk. He won’t identify the pair or the...

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NASA weighing risk of adding crew to megarocket’s 1st flight

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is weighing the risk of adding astronauts to the first flight of its new megarocket. NASA’s human exploration chief said Friday that his boss and the Trump administration requested the feasibility study. The Space Launch System will be the most powerful rocket ever built when it flies. It’s intended for moon and Mars travel. NASA is shooting for an unmanned test flight in late 2018. Putting people on board would delay the mission and require extra money. The space agency’s William Gerstenmaier says if adding astronauts to the first flight means delaying beyond...

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NASA’s Jupiter-circling spacecraft stuck making long laps

BY MARCIA DUNN – AP AEROSPACE WRITER CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Jupiter-circling spacecraft is stuck making long laps around the gas giant because of sticky valves. It currently takes Juno 53 days to fly around the solar system’s biggest planet. That’s almost four times longer than the intended 14-day orbit. After repeated delays, NASA decided late last week to scrap an engine firing that would have shortened the orbit. Officials said the maneuver is too risky because of the valve problem. Only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, Juno has been circling the planet since July. NASA...

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7 Earth-size worlds found orbiting star; could hold life

BY MARCIA DUNN – AP AEROSPACE WRITER CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — For the first time, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a single nearby star – and these new worlds could hold life. This cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, according to NASA and the Belgian-led research team who announced the discovery Wednesday. The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter. Three are in the so-called habitable zone, the area around a star where water and, possibly life, might exist. The others...

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SpaceX aborts approach to space station, delivery delayed

BY MARCIA DUNN AP AEROSPACE WRITER CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A navigation error forced SpaceX to delay its shipment to the International Space Station on Wednesday, following an otherwise smooth flight from NASA’s historic moon pad. SpaceX’s supply ship, the Dragon, was less than a mile from the orbiting outpost when a problem cropped up in the GPS system. The approach was aborted, and the Dragon backed away. NASA said neither the station nor its six-person crew was in any danger, and another attempt would be made Thursday. "As a pilot it is sometimes better to accelerate and...

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NASA aims to measure vital snow data from satellites

DENVER (AP) — Instrument-laden aircraft are surveying the Colorado high country this month as scientists search for better ways to measure how much water is locked up in the world’s mountain snows – water that sustains a substantial share of the global population. A NASA-led experiment called SnowEx is using five aircraft to test 10 sensors that might one day be used to monitor snow from satellites. The goal: Find the ideal combination to overcome multiple obstacles, including how to analyze snow hidden beneath forest canopies. "It would be, I would say, a monumental leap in our ability to...

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NASA astronaut Sellers dies at 61

WASHINGTON (AP) — Piers Sellers, a climate scientist and former astronaut who gained fame late in life for his eloquent commentary about the earth’s fragility and his own cancer diagnosis, has died. He was 61. Sellers died Friday morning in Houston of pancreatic cancer, NASA said in a statement. Sellers shared his astronaut’s perspective on climate change in Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary, "Before the Flood," released this fall. He told DiCaprio that seeing the earth’s atmosphere as a "tiny little onion skin" from space helped him gain a fuller understanding of the planet’s delicacy. He also wrote a New York...

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Geminids meteor shower peaks Tuesday amid full moon

The Geminids meteor shower hits its peak on Tuesday, but a full moon will outshine the celestial show this year. NASA says the Geminids are one of the best and most reliable meteor showers. At its peak, 120 meteors can be seen per hour under perfect conditions. This year, the peak coincides with a full moon and that could make all but the brightest meteors invisible to the naked eye. NASA says sky watchers looking to see the shower should head somewhere away from city lights to a spot with a wide open view of the sky. Meteors can...

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Japan launches much-needed supplies to space station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A Japanese capsule blasted off with much-needed supplies for the International Space Station on Friday, a week after a Russian shipment was destroyed shortly after liftoff. The Russian rocket accident and the grounding of one of NASA’s commercial suppliers make this delivery all the more urgent. The spacecraft should arrive at the station Tuesday. "Have a safe flight," French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said in a tweet from the space station. "Looking forward to your arrival!" The capsule – called Kounotori, or white stork – contains nearly 5 tons of food, water and other supplies,...

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