FROM Jonathan McDowell
SpaceShipTwo Investigation Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed on Friday during a test flight. The idea behind Richard Branson’s company is to send regular, non-astronauts into space, where they can experience weightlessness. We get the latest on the investigation and what might have gone wrong.
Frustrated Space Efforts Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched an unmanned rocket on Friday that blew-up moments after takeoff. It was just one rocket-related mishap to occur in the past few days. Over the weekend, the European Space Agency tried to put two global positioning satellites into orbit. They didn’t blow up, but they did end up in the wrong orbit. And this morning, the US Army tested its new Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which exploded four seconds after launch. Photo Credit: SpaceX
News from Space Could American astronauts get to the International Space Station using a big trampoline? That’s the suggestion tweeted by Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin. Yesterday, Russia announced it would no longer sell the US government rocket engines for military satellites AND would not allow the US to use the International Space Station beyond the year 2020, when the current agreement expires.
Lab Rats: Outer Space Edition SpaceX is scheduled to launch a rocket tomorrow to carry supplies to the International Space Station. Since the space shuttles were mothballed, the US has relied on Russian rockets. But now, just as Ukraine is causing a diplomatic rift with Russia, Space X is providing a domestic and privately-owned alternative. Also, we hear about a year-long “space twins” experiment with astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly.
Meteor Crashes to the Earth in Russia's Ural Mountains Today a huge asteroid is passing close to Earth without incident, but a smaller one streaked across the sky over Russia, creating an ongoing shock wave, causing extensive damage and injuring 980 people before crashing into the City of Chekyabinsk in the Ural Mountains.
The Mars Landing and 'Seven Minutes of Terror' On Sunday evening in Pasadena — Monday morning in Times Square — a scientific laboratory is schedule to land on the surface of Mars.With Mars roughly 154 million miles away, the landing can't be controlled from Earth. The Mars rover " Curiosity " is designed to slow down from 13,000 miles an hour to zero in just seven minutes — automatically. If that mind-boggling scenario works, the most complex laboratory ever sent into deep space will try to determine if life might possibly have existed on Mars. Nobody knows if they'll find what they're looking for.Why has NASA spent $2.5 billion on such a risky expedition? Will this weekend's scheduled landing help resolve the fundamental question: are we alone? NASA centers around the country, including NASA Headquarters in Washington, will be open for landing events. Many science centers also are opening for events focused on the Curiosity landing. To find events near you, visit: http://go.nasa.gov/QtmuY7
SpaceX Dragon Docks on the International Space Station A NASA astronaut on the International Space Station said today, "We've got a dragon by the tail." That would be the Dragon capsule launched by Space X , to make history as the only private company to accomplish an orbital rendezvous. Jonathan McDowell is an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He writes about the space program at Jonathan's Space Report .
Dark Energy and the Nobel Prize in Physics Ever since Albert Einstein, astronomers had wondered if gravity would slow the expansion of the Universe and make it collapse on itself in the so-called "Big Crunch." But in the late 1990's, two groups of scientists discovered that it's working the other way. The Universe is expanding faster and faster, and the cause is "Dark Energy." The latest Nobel Prize in Physics has gone to astronomers Saul Permutter , Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess , who are responsible for that discovery. Jonathan McDowell is an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
As the Space Shuttle Era Ends, What's Next for NASA? After 30 years and an investment of some $200 billion, the Space Shuttle Program ended this morning when Atlantis touched down at Cape Canaveral. As one era of space exploration comes to an end, what's in store for the next one?
As the Space Shuttle Era Ends, What's Next for NASA? The Shuttle Atlantis touched down at 5:57 this morning East Coast Time: the last of 135 shuttle missions carrying 330 astronauts, 14 of whom lost their lives. NASA has plans for a big new rocket, but American astronauts will ride vehicles made by the private sector and other countries, at least for the next few years. We get a report from Cape Canaveral and talk with a veteran astronaut and others about America's future in space.
Thirty Years of Technological History Come to an End Just before 11:30 today East Coast Time, the voices of NASA were heard describing the launch of a Space Shuttle for the last time. As Atlantis took to the skies at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA marked the "sentimental journey into history." What did shuttle accomplished in 30 years? Was it a scientific success or a magnificent failure? We talk to one of the first women to work at NASA, who hoped to set foot on another planet. Is America's dream of space exploration out of date? Is it time to transfer the energy, imagination and resources into the problems we face here on Earth?
Errant Missile Launch or Plane Illusion? Millions of people have seen the video shot from a Channel 2 helicopter Monday night that looked a lot like missile launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Pentagon says it probably was only a plane but is not releasing any details. Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who produces Jonathan's Space Report, agrees with the conclusion.
Obama's Vision for US Space Exploration George W. Bush cancelled the Space Shuttle program. Now Barack Obama wants to cancel Bush’s plan for going back to the Moon—at least for the moment. That’s provoked a battle over the budget for NASA featuring a public relations blitz by Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell—heroes of space exploration 40 years ago. Today, President Obama’s in Florida pushing his vision .
Obama's Vision for US Space Exploration George W. Bush cancelled the Space Shuttle program. Now Barack Obama wants to cancel Bush's plan for going back to the Moon, at least for the moment. That's provoked a battle over the budget for NASA featuring a public relations blitz by heroes of space exploration 40 years ago, who warn that the cancellation means an end to America's domination of space exploration. Some members of both political parties agree. But supporters say the President's budget has been the victim of lousy public relations. In Florida today, he outlined a plan to explore new worlds with new, privately developed technology, with the ultimate goal of getting humans to Mars. Can space entrepreneurs do it cheaper and faster than government scientists and engineers? What about jobs in California, Texas, Alabama and Florida?
Space Shuttle Heads Back to the Space Station It's too soon to tell if the space shuttle suffered much damage after today's launch because Discovery 's big-dish antenna has failed to provide pictures. That's expected to be resolved when the crew reaches the space station tomorrow. The mission won't feature as much live TV as we've come to expect, with 13 astronauts planning three space walks and other chores. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Jonathan McDowell writes about the space program at Jonathan's Space Report . Segment image: Space shuttle Discovery lifts off. Photo: NASA
Space Panel Finds It Too Costly to Send Men to the Moon, Mars NASA has big plans to send humans back to the Moon and Mars , but lacks the money to meet its goals, according to a blue-ribbon committee formed to advise President Obama. The President appointed former Lockheed Martin Chairman Norman Augustine to head the review of America's space program. His Human Space Flight Plans Committee has released its executive summary , which concludes that NASA is on an "unsustainable trajectory." Astronomer Jonathan McDowell is with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Trump's travel ban and the long-term agenda The Trump Administration's revised travel ban may be good news for some visa holders and others, but it's still being challenged as unconstitutional. Some reporters call it the beginning of a long-term effort to change the demographic make-up of the United States.
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?
Further revelations into Russian involvement in 2016 election Last week's failure to "repeal and replace" Obamacare was an early setback for the Trump Administration. There may be long-term danger of a different kind in multiple investigations into ties with Russia among campaign workers, the White House staff and the Chief Executive himself. We look as some of the threads they're following.
'Do-or-die' time on healthcare bill President Trump has demanded a House vote today on replacing Obamacare…whatever the details might be. Despite his campaign promise that nobody would lose health insurance, that's possible for 24 million people if he were finally to sign this bill into law.