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IPGP/Nicolas Sarter

NASA's newest Mars lander has confirmed that quakes and even aftershocks are regularly jolting the red planet.

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who was one of NASA's human "computers" and an unsung hero of the space agency's early days, died Monday. She calculated the flight path for America's first crewed space mission and moon landing, and she was among the women profiled in the book and movie Hidden Figures. She was 101.

Her death was announced by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The space capsule that will likely carry the first astronauts to the International Space Station from the U.S. since 2011 has arrived in Florida ahead of a planned flight as early as this spring.

NASA is working with private companies SpaceX and Boeing to launch astronauts to the station. Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle program, NASA has relied solely on the Russian space agency Roscosmos for rides to the station on its Soyuz capsule.

In Trump's NASA Budget, Florida Stands To Gain

Feb 11, 2020

The Trump administration is asking Congress for more than $25 billion to fund NASA next year. Florida stands to gain if the budget is passed by Congress. 

The budget is merely a request. Ultimately it’s up to Congress to appropriate the money.

The budget proposal for 2021 is a 12 percent increase from last year and fully funds NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft — two programs with large footholds at Kennedy Space Center.

NASA

Boeing safely landed its crew capsule in the New Mexico desert Sunday after an aborted flight to the International Space Station that threatened to set back the company’s effort to launch astronauts for NASA next year.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

Boeing's new Starliner capsule, on its maiden uncrewed flight to the International Space Station, has failed to attain its proper orbit after a flawless liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Fla., the company says.

Boeing says the capsule, which is carrying 600 pounds of cargo as a dress rehearsal for a possible mission with astronauts next year, has reached a stable orbit, but not at the correct altitude to dock with the station.

SpaceX has made an early holiday delivery to the International Space Station.

U.S. and European space agencies are preparing to launch a 10-year mission aimed at measuring how much the seas will rise by 2030.

There's a mole on Mars that's making NASA engineers tear their hair out.

No, they haven't discovered a small, insectivorous mammal on the red planet.

The mole vexing engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena is a scientific instrument known as the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3 — or just "the mole" — carried on NASA's InSight probe that landed on Mars a year ago.

Astronauts work on cosmic ray detector
NASA

Spacewalking astronauts ventured out Friday for the second week in a row to repair a cosmic ray detector, this time actually cutting into the $2 billion instrument.

The International Space Station’s Luca Parmitano sliced through eight stainless steel tubes, using hardware store-type bolt cutters. That set the stage to install new coolant pumps during the third spacewalk on Dec. 2.

Mini Mercury skipped across the vast, glaring face of the sun Monday in a rare celestial transit.

Composer Eric Whitacre said one of his guiding principles is for people to feel a part of something larger than themselves. 

NASA scientists and a former astronaut on Tuesday told a group of local students and future entrepreneurs that doing business in space can be on everyone's agenda.

They'll speak with members of the public on Wednesday as well.

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.

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