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AP Photo/Gregory Bull

NASA's new Orion spacecraft returned to dry land in Southern California after a test flight that ended with a plunge into the Pacific Ocean.

Navy ship, the USS Anchorage, delivered the capsule to Naval Base San Diego and unloaded the 11-foot-tall cone around 10 p.m. PST Monday.

Orion made an unmanned flight Friday that carried it 3,600 miles above Earth to test the spacecraft's systems before it carries astronauts on deep space missions. During re-entry into the atmosphere, the spacecraft endured speeds of 20,000 mph and temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Space Florida is Riding on Orion

Dec 4, 2014

Orion, NASA's deep-space exploration spacecraft, remained on the launch pad Thursday as a series of delays pushed its scheduled maiden flight to Friday.

But the vessel sitting atop the massive Delta 4 rocket is expected to one day push man to the Moon, asteroids and Mars, and Florida's aerospace leaders believe the state will remain at the forefront of those efforts.

Update at 9:35 a.m. ET

NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day send astronauts to Mars, is stuck on terra firma for at least another day after the space agency's mission control was unable to satisfactorily resolve a number of issues before a 9:45 a.m. ET launch window closed.

Radislav Sinyak NASA/Rad Sinyak

At 7:05 a.m. Thursday, the unmanned Orion test vehicle is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket to begin a two-orbit, four-and-a-half hour mission called Exploration Flight Test-1.

Even with all the drama — and now the prolonged silence, possibly permanent — the European Space Agency's (ESA) mission to land a fridge-sized probe on a comet zipping at about 80,000 miles per hour, some 300 million miles from Earth, was a resounding success. This first ever comet landing has captivated the world as very few events in the history — certainly the recent history — of space exploration have.

M. S. Butler

Plenty of kids play in dirt and collect bugs. Maybe you used to bring home bugs in a jar. Maybe you still do.  Deby Cassill does. But, she’s the Associate Professor of biology at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

So, she spends her days getting a microscopic look at something many of us consider a pest and even something to step on.

She says there was a time when it was considered strange for her to play with bugs.

Hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, a man-made object was flung at a comet Wednesday — and now it's sticking to the rock as it hurtles through space.

"We are on the comet," Stephan Ulamec, Philae Lander Manager, announced Wednesday, marking a historic achievement.

Report: KSC Must Do More to Succeed as Spaceport

Oct 24, 2014

KSC has leased about half of the 23 facilities it no longer needs after the shuttle program's 2011 retirement, including giving SpaceX control of launch pad 39A. But in interviews with the auditors, six companies and KSC's closest government partner, Space Florida, continued to raise concerns about bureaucracy, high costs and potential mission conflicts that can hamper commercial operations at KSC. The companies have not abandoned the spaceport given limited options available today, but "this may change as the commercial space industry grows and additional non-Federal launch sites become available," the report says.

Jae C. Hong / AP Photo

NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil.

On Tuesday, the space agency announced it has picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in the next few years.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named the winners of the competition at Kennedy Space Center, next door to where the launches should occur in a few years.

Orion Makes A Move

Sep 12, 2014
Rad Sinyak / NASA

NASA has finished building the crew module of its newest spacecraft- Orion.

The spacecraft was moved out of the Kennedy Space Center facility Thursday where engineers have been getting it ready.

Orion’s cone-shaped crew module, stacked on top of a white service module, emerged from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on a special flat bed transporter.

It was moved to a new facility where it will be fueled up with ammonia and hyper propellants for its test flight slated for December.

The crew capsule can seat four astronauts.

Taisha Henry / WMFE

Escalating unrest in the Ukraine is adding urgency to NASA’s decision on the space craft that will replace the shuttle.

The space agency is expected to announce any day the space craft that will fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

Two candidates – Boeing’s CST-100 and Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser – rely on the Atlas V rocket to launch into space. But the rocket is powered by the Russian-built RD-180 engine.

Dale Ketcham of Space Florida says the Atlas V rocket is vital to American space flight.

A New Space Race To Replace the Shuttle

Aug 15, 2014
Photo by Taisha Henry.

For the first time in a generation American astronauts will fly into space aboard a new spacecraft beginning in 2017.

But it won’t be a NASA spacecraft. Instead three private space companies are competing to design and build it under a NASA contract.

When NASA announces the winner or winners in a few weeks, it will mark the start of a new era in human space flight.

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Anticipation is building for the unmanned Orion flight in December. The new capsule, designed to carry astronauts into deep space again, will be sitting on top of a huge Delta IV heavy rocket. Lockheed Martin is building the capsule in the renovated Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy. Florida threw $35 million at the project to make sure it was located here. The project employs about 150 people currently. The goal is to have a manned Orion launch in 2021. On my tour there last week, I saw the capsule under construction in the 1964 operations building, now named after Neil Armstrong and completely renovated. The Orion is the first capsule to be built at Kennedy. It the past, capsules were only inspected there after being manufactured elswhere.

It is Rocket Science: $100M for New NASA Rocket?

May 23, 2014

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, linked the plan to heightened tension with Russia in a news release. “Mr. Putin’s Russia is giving us some problems,” said Nelson, a senior member of the committee. “So we put $100 million in the defense bill to develop a state-of-the-art rocket engine to make sure that we have assured access to space for our astronauts as well as our military space payloads.”

NASA's Administrator Charles Bolden says that Russia's plan to end cooperation on the International Space Station after 2020 will not have an impact on the success of the orbital platform.

NASA's Ambitious Plan To Send Humans To Mars

Apr 21, 2014

The nation’s space agency is gearing up to put humans on Mars within the next two decades. NASA is testing a supersonic lander that can carry heavy loads, and just signed a 20-year lease on a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center.

Mike Gazarik is associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and he tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson that going to Mars is part of Americans’ pioneering spirit, and will also have benefits for life on Earth.

Earlier this week, physicists announced they'd seen evidence of ripples in the fabric of space and time from just moments after the Big Bang. Such ripples were predicted almost a century ago by Albert Einstein.

Einstein's theory of relativity is arguably the 20th century's greatest idea. But not everything he did was right: Some newly uncovered work from the brilliant physicist was wrong. Really, really wrong.

It's nighttime. You are hovering high off the planet looking down. Things are happening. Strange, beautiful, wonderful things.

The asteroid belt, a ring of rubble between Mars and Jupiter, has sometimes been written off as discarded leftovers from the solar system's start. But new research published in the journal Nature shows that the belt actually formed during an unruly later era, when planets themselves were on the move.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam calls citrus greening "as bad a situation as it could possible be for Florida signature crop." That's why the state's citrus farmers have spent more than $60 million of their own money over the last seven years to save their crops. Lake Alfred, in Polk County, is headquarters for intense research efforts to cure citrus greening.

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