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The U.S. Senate has passed a bill that includes a bipartisan effort from Florida’s Senators to improve hurricane forecasts.

Yesterday, NASA announced that astronaut Scott Kelly will retire from the space agency as of April 1st. Kelly holds the U.S. record for the most time spent in space.

For nearly a full year, he zoomed along at 17,500 miles per hour — orbiting 230 miles above earth — on the International Space Station. And for those million or so of us who follow him on Twitter, Cmdr. Kelly's year in space gave us a mind-expanding view of planet Earth.

Kelly posted spectacular photos — awesome, in the true sense of the word. He called them, earth-art.

Dave Parkinson/Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

If you visit Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, you'll be lucky to catch a glimpse of the elusive clouded leopard, which is housed in a foliage-rich enclosure near the entrance to the zoo. The Clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa is the shy type, native to Southeast Asia. But the zoo just welcomed two new clouded leopard cubs. And staff provided this closeup of the male and female cubs.

Many Americans watched in shock as the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated over the Florida sky 30 years ago.

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL, was one of the viewers who had tuned in to the national broadcast. Then a U.S. representative, Nelson arrived back to earth only 10 days earlier after a six-day mission in space. 

It would be the final successful mission to space before the Challenger disaster.

SpaceX Sticks The Landing

Dec 22, 2015
SpaceX

SpaceX successfully launched and landed  a Falcon 9 rocket. It’s a historic event for the private space company.

About ten minutes after liftoff Monday night, a Falcon 9 rocket was safely back at Cape Canaveral.

It’s the first time the private space company SpaceX successfully recovered a spent rocket. Previous attempts to land the first stage on a barge were close – but ended in failure.

Need more office space? How about outer space?

NASA opened its astronaut-application website Monday. It’s accepting applications through Feb. 18.

It was a routine launch for the Atlas V booster, which was carrying a Mexican satellite into orbit as it lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Friday morning. But the rocket's expanding exhaust plume was anything but ordinary.

Scientists have caught Mars crying salty tears.

Photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show dark streaks flowing down Martian slopes. The streaks appear in sunny spots or when the weather is warm, and they fade when the temperature drops.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has announced he’s bringing his rocket company Blue Origin to Cape Canaveral, Florida, near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. It will not only launch rockets there, but the private space company plans to manufacture them nearby. Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with Pat Duggins of Alabama Public Radio.

NASA photo

The state’s aerospace authority is pressing ahead with plans for a commercial spaceport inside the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge at a site called Shiloh.

Space Florida is undeterred by Sen. Bill Nelson’s recent comments that the Shiloh spaceport won’t happen.

Frank DiBello, president and chief executive officer of Space Florida, says space companies are calling for a commercial spaceport free of government bureaucracy.

He says the Central Florida Democrat’s comments don’t complicate the agency’s position.

AP Photo

NASA is offering up wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia for public view after hiding it from the world for decades.

A new exhibit at Kennedy Space Center features two pieces of debris, one from each lost shuttle, as well as poignant, personal reminders of the 14 astronauts killed in flight.

It is an unprecedented collection of artifacts – the first time, in fact, that any Challenger or Columbia remains have been openly displayed.

Wikipedia

The Twitterverse is blowing up with claims that Florida has a "flesh-eating" bacteria but state health officials are trying to tamp down what they say is wrong information.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

The University of South Florida announced late Friday afternoon that the USF Forensic Anthropology Laboratory will find an alternate location to train students and law enforcement to process human remains in outdoor crime scenes.

The Facility for Outdoor Experimental Research and Training (FORT) program was proposed on Hillsborough County Sheriffs property in Lithia, but an outcry from residents about possible smells, groundwater contamination and property values prompted a change in plans.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

USF's Forensic Anthropology Laboratory is best known for its work at the Dozier School for Boys. Now, they're asking for approval to use a parcel of land in Lithia as a training ground for identifying real bodies in different stages of decomposition. 

Currently, students are using plastic skeletons to train on. USF Anthropology professor Erin Kimmerle, however, said that real bones aren't pure white like fake ones are. 

Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET.

SpaceX has delayed the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft by a day, after fast-approaching storm clouds moved into Cape Canaveral, Fla., according to the AP. In a tweet, SpaceX said the next opportunity for a launch will be Tuesday at 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Our original post continues:

Taisha Henry

NASA says it’s on schedule to fly astronauts to the International Space Station on private spacecraft beginning in 2017.

It will cost about $58 million a seat to get to low earth orbit.

It was NASA’s first update on its Commercial Crew Program since a legal complaint about the bidding process was resolved earlier this month.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden says if the space agency is going to focus on Mars, it must rely on private companies to take astronauts to the space station.

SpaceX

A shipment of much-needed groceries and belated Christmas presents finally arrived Monday morning at the International Space Station.

The SpaceX company's supply ship, Dragon, pulled up at the orbiting lab two days after its liftoff. Station commander Butch Wilmore used a robot arm to grab the capsule and its 5,000 pounds of precious cargo, as the craft soared more than 260 miles above the Mediterranean.

AP Photo

SpaceX called off its planned flight to the International Space Station early Tuesday because of rocket trouble.

The unmanned Falcon rocket was supposed to blast off before sunrise. But the countdown was halted with just over a minute remaining. The soonest SpaceX can try again is Friday morning.

Officials said the problem was with the motors needed for second-stage rocket thrust steering. If controllers had not aborted the launch, computers would have done so closer to flight time, NASA launch commentator George Diller said.

2015 Spending Bill Includes $18 Billion for NASA

Dec 11, 2014

That's $364 million more than the space agency got for the current fiscal year -- which ends on Sept. 30 -- and some $500 million more than it requested. Most of that increase is due to lawmakers increasing funding for the Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle designed to eventually take astronauts to Mars, a key congressional priority. The spending bill includes $3.25 billion for human exploration, up from the $2.78 billion the Obama administration had sought.

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