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Aquarius Program at FIU / USF Research & Innovation

Sixty feet beneath the water’s surface in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary sits one of the world’s three undersea research laboratories.

And as you read this, the Aquarius Reef Base is home to an international crew of researchers, including Dominic D’Agostino, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine.

U.S. Air Force

Sonic booms surprised residents across central Florida  Sunday morning due to the landing of a top-secret military space plane at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

The X-37B is a classified, un-crewed Air Force space plane that touched down at Kennedy Space Center's shuttle landing facility. Not much is known about the 29 foot long robotic spacecraft, its space missions or what it delivered into space.

Could there be life under the icy surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus?

Scientists have found a promising sign.

NASA announced on Thursday that its Cassini spacecraft mission to Saturn has gathered new evidence that there's a chemical reaction taking place under the moon's icy surface that could provide conditions for life. They described their findings in the journal Science.

Updated at 10:25 a.m. ET

Poised on the brink of ushering in a new era, NASA's historic launch pad in Florida will need to wait another day for its milestone. At the last minute, the private space company SpaceX scrubbed its Saturday launch, which would have marked the first time the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A was used in over half a decade.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a fellow Democrat and a fellow Shuttle astronaut, took to the Senate Floor Thursday to honor the memory of former Senator John Glenn.

Updated 5 p.m. ET

The first American to orbit the Earth has died. John Glenn was the last surviving member of the original Mercury astronauts. He would later have a long political career as a U.S. senator, but that didn't stop his pioneering ways.

Glenn made history a second time in 1998, when he flew aboard the shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space.

Glenn was 95 when he died; he had been hospitalized in an Ohio State University medical center in Columbus since last week.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

(Originally aired Sept. 27, 2016)

Few states have as close a tie to the U.S. space program than Florida, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a growing number of would-be rocket scientists at the University of South Florida.

SpaceX

An explosion has rocked the SpaceX launch site in Florida.

NASA says SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when the blast occurred Thursday morning. The test, considered routine, was in advance of a planned Saturday launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The same technology sending astronauts to space could be used here on Earth.

That’s the message from NASA’s Technology Transfer Program, which is reaching out to Florida health care companies and executives. Kennedy Space Center’s Mike Lester said NASA has more than 1,400 patents that companies can commercialize, including more than 40 health care patents.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Update at 5:20 p.m. ET: Space Lettuce Tastes 'Awesome'

Monday morning on the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren and astronaut Kimiya Yui of Japan sampled the "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce, the first plant grown in space. The trio first sanitized the leaves and then dressed them with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. According to Kelly, the lettuce tasted "kind of like arugula." Lindgren was unequivocally pleased, taking a big bite of one of the leaves and declaring: "That's awesome."

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.

New images of Pluto have arrived from a NASA space probe, and they're already allowing scientists to update what we know about the dwarf planet — such as its size. NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to send photos and data about Pluto back to Earth.

The possibility of humans colonizing outer space may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but British astronomer Chris Impey says that if the U.S. were pumping more money into the space program, the sci-fi fantasy would be well on its way to reality.

Mike Massimino is one of the last people to ever see the Hubble Space Telescope in person.

From inside his orbiting space shuttle, the telescope first appeared on the horizon as a star, says Massimino, who was an astronaut on the final mission to service the space telescope in 2009.

In space, all they have is instant.

"For an instant coffee, it's an excellent instant coffee," says Vickie Kloeris, who manages the space station's food supply for NASA. Astronauts are allotted up to three freeze-dried cups (pouches, actually) a day, and Kloeris says it's "extremely popular."

But, she adds, "Can it compete with brewed espresso? No."

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

A Russian rocket has carried a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut to the International Space Station, where they will live for a full year, twice as long as people usually stay.

No American has remained in space longer than 215 days. Only a few people have ever gone on space trips lasting a year or more — the longest was 437 days — and they're all Russian cosmonauts. The last year-plus stay in space occurred nearly two decades ago.

After spending nearly six months on the International Space Station, an astronaut and two cosmonauts have landed safely back on Earth. While in orbit, they traveled almost 71 million miles, NASA says.

Cmdr. Barry Wilmore of NASA and flight engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) touched down in Kazakhstan on Thursday morning, local time.

Astronauts at the International Space Station have ventured outside to perform a challenging cable installation on their orbiting platform.

Spacewalkers Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore have 400 feet of cable to install as well as two sets of antennas.

As part of a series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

You may recognize retired astronaut Leland Melvin from his famous 2009 NASA portrait with his two dogs, Jake and Scout. Or maybe you've seen him on the Lifetime channel hosting Child Genius.

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 has successfully launched another resupply mission to the International Space Station months after a competitor in the private space-launch business suffered a catastrophic lift-off that resulted in the unmanned rocket's destruction.

Update at 6:46 a.m. ET. Launch Scrubbed:

Early on Tuesday, SpaceX scrubbed a scheduled launch, citing technical problems. The next possible attempt is Friday at 5:09 ET, NASA said.

Our Original Post Continues:

NASA is building a new space telescope with astounding capabilities. The James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, will replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope and will provide unprecedented views of the first galaxies to form in the early universe. It might even offer the first clear glimpse of an Earth-like planet orbiting a distant star.

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.

Signs of water currents and sediments are seen in the latest photos NASA's Curiosity rover sent home from Mars, the space agency said Monday. The images suggest "ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes," NASA says.

In the huge Gale Crater where Curiosity has been exploring, the water and sediment flow might have been massive enough to build a mountain — the 3-mile-high Mount Sharp — NASA researchers say. But they acknowledge that they're still working to solve the mystery of how the mountain formed in a crater.

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