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It's built for oversize cargo, but it also sports a smile: The Airbus BelugaXL took off on its first flight on Thursday, creating a unique sight as the jet with the bulbous upper half rolled down the runway.

The BelugaXL's paint job "features beluga whale-inspired eyes and an enthusiastic grin," the aircraft company says. That whale flew over southern France, soaring over the coast and mountainside.

Royce Bair / Flickr

Calling all planets that orbit around bright, nearby stars: NASA's new Tess spacecraft is looking to do a head count.

Twenty-five years ago, an event occurred that is seared into the memory of most Americans: About a minute after liftoff, the space shuttle Challenger blew apart, killing all aboard, including teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe.

The day started off innocently enough. It was unusually cold in Florida that day, but NASA managers decided to attempt a launch anyway. As a subsequent investigation made clear, the cold temperature made O-rings, which were intended to contain hot gases, fail on the solid rocket boosters.