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NASA

Thursday's launch of the United Launch Alliance communications satellite lit up the sky over Northdale.
JULIO OCHOA / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

As rocket launches go, Thursday’s deployment of a communications satellite from Cape Canaveral was nothing too unusual.

NASA's Gerry Griffin at a recent visit to Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex.
BRENDAN BYRNE

After launching from Kennedy Space Center, flight controllers in Houston, Texas took over the operation of Apollo missions — keeping a watchful eye on the crew and vehicle as it made the nearly quarter-million mile trip to the moon.

Gerry Griffin was a flight director in Houston for the Apollo missions, leading a team of controllers on the ground. Griffin spoke with 90.7’s space reporter Brendan Byrne about the role the controllers played during the Apollo program and how the team handled the challenges and triumphs of the first moon missions.

In the past year or so, scientists have discovered more evidence for liquid water under the surface of Mars. They've found complex organic compounds — the building blocks of life. And they've found that methane levels in Mars' atmosphere vary with the seasons.

"Each of these things adds up to say that the probability of finding life on a world that's not our own is going up," says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "And Mars, I think, is that best opportunity in our own solar system to find life on another world."

Fifty Years After Apollo, NASA Targets Moon Once More

Jul 15, 2019
The firing room, mobile launcher and Vehicle Assembly Building all received upgrades ahead of NASA's next moon mission Artemis.
JIM HOBART / WMFE

By Brendan Byrne / WMFE

It’s been 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission sent the first humans to the moon. Five decades later NASA is on another moon shot, using much of the same technology and tenacity that got us there in the first place.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.
NASA

By Robin Sussingham and Stephanie Colombini 

Saturday July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, considered by many to be one of the most significant achievements in U.S. history.

This week on Florida Matters we talk with a filmmaker who produced a documentary about the historic event. 


SpaceX Launches Hefty Rocket With 24 Satellites

Jun 25, 2019
Launch of the Falcon Heavy Demo Mission in February 2018.
Official Space X Photos / Flickr

SpaceX launched its heftiest rocket with 24 research satellites Tuesday, a middle-of-the-night rideshare featuring a deep space atomic clock, solar sail, a clean and green rocket fuel testbed, and even human ashes. 

The countdown has begun. It's T-minus a month or so until the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 — and humanity's first and famous steps on another world.

Students assembling a rocket.
Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Anyone who has ever built and launched a rocket – from a child with a store-bought kit to the NASA scientists who put a human on the moon to Elon Musk – know it’s a saga of many failures and (hopefully) massive successes.

It’s also a story that the members of the University of South Florida’s Society of Aeronautics and Rocketry, or SOAR, are very familiar with.

Trump Targets Pell Grant Money For NASA's Budget Boost

May 14, 2019
NASA Twitter

The Trump administration wants to shift money for Pell Grants for college education to fund new spending, including a $1.6 billion bump for NASA to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024. 

As the partial government shutdown continues into its third week, federal workers in Florida are applying for unemployment to make up for lost pay.

As a partial government shutdown continues into its third week, NASA announced the delay of a test flight of SpaceX’s Commercial Crew capsule. The private company is assessing any impacts the partial government shutdown might have on upcoming launches.

That's one giant leap for China.

China state television announced Thursday that China's Chang'e 4 lunar explorer, which launched in early December, "became the first ever probe to soft-land on the far side of the moon." The probe touched down at 10:26 Beijing time, the China Global Television Network said.

New images of a mysterious world at the far reaches of our solar system show that it's shaped much like a snowman, with one large icy sphere attached to a smaller one.

The shape indicates that a rotating cloud of innumerable tiny objects must have coalesced into two balls that slowly spiraled closer and closer together until they gently touched, forming the object out beyond Pluto that scientists have nicknamed "Ultima Thule," which means "beyond the known world."

NASA tried a communications experiment with its latest mission to Mars, and it turned out spectacularly well.

On Nov. 26, as the probe known as InSight plummeted through the Martian atmosphere on its way to the planet's surface, two miniature spacecraft — known collectively as MarCO — relayed telemetry from InSight to Earth, assuring all those watching that the landing of the probe was proceeding successfully and was soft.

NASA

Senator Bill Nelson’s more than three-decades-long political career has come to an end. After a contentious election and chaotic recount, Governor Rick Scott will take over as Florida’s Senator next month.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET

Nearly two months after a rocket malfunction forced NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos to abort the launch of a Soyuz mission, a new crew blasted off on Monday for the International Space Station and arrived safe and sound.

Next U.S. Moon Landing Will Be By Private Companies, Not NASA

Nov 30, 2018
NASA

America's next moon landing will be made by private companies — not NASA.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday that nine U.S. companies will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface. The space agency will buy the service and let private industry work out the details on getting there, he said.

European Space Agency & Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research for OSIRIS Team

In our solar system family, Mars is Earth's next-of-kin, the next-door relative that has captivated humans for millennia. The attraction is sure to grow with Monday's arrival of a NASA lander named InSight.

When looking up at the stars, it's hard not to wonder what else — or even who else — could be out there. The resilience of franchises like Star Trek in pop culture prove we've always believed in the possibility of life beyond our own solar system. But it wasn't until about a decade ago that we were able to locate and identify those distant planets of our dreams.

United Launch Alliance

A NASA spacecraft is on its way to the sun after launching from Cape Canaveral on a Delta IV Heavy Rocket. It will be the closest object to ever whiz by the sun and stands to become the fastest human made object, clocking in at around 480,000 miles per hour.

NASA Twitter

A last-minute technical problem Saturday delayed NASA's unprecedented flight to the sun.

The early morning launch countdown was halted with just one-minute, 55 seconds remaining, keeping the Delta IV rocket on its pad with the Parker Solar Probe.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Stargazers can see Mars at its best this weekend. The sun, Earth and Mars directly align in what scientists call “Mars opposition” beginning Friday, with the red planet being the closest it’s been in 15 years on Tuesday.

Updated at 7:37 a.m. ET Friday

Every two years or so, the sun, Earth and Mars line up — and that's what is happening now. It's a celestial orientation known as Mars opposition. Leaving aside any significance this might have for astrologers, from an astronomical point of view there's one thing you can say for sure about this Mars opposition: Mars will be brighter in the night sky than it's been for 15 years.

An Italian team of scientists says it has strong evidence of a subsurface lake of liquid water on Mars. It's a discovery that adds to the speculation that there could once have been life on Mars — and raises the possibility that it might be there still today, since liquid water is an essential ingredient for life.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company shot a capsule higher into space Wednesday than it's ever done before.

A SpaceX rocket that flew just two months ago with a NASA satellite roared back into action Friday, launching the first orbiting robot with artificial intelligence and other station supplies.

The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to protect the planet from incoming asteroids that could wipe out entire regions or even continents.

Wikimedia Commons

Six years after last landing on Mars, NASA is sending a robotic geologist to dig deeper than ever before to take the planet's temperature.

Wednesday was the day astronomers said goodbye to the old Milky Way they had known and loved and hello to a new view of our home galaxy.

A European Space Agency mission called Gaia just released a long-awaited treasure trove of data: precise measurements of 1.7 billion stars.

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