When you drive, the second most important thing you should keep your eyes on is the dashboard of your car (the first thing being the road). In space, however, it’s the controls that are the most essential for navigating and operating your spacecraft. From Gagarin to Scott Kelly, here’s a brief visual history of the…
Two years ago, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo, the space plane it hoped to use to send tourists into space, failed on a test flight and crashed in the desert. Now, it’s revealed a brand new version of SpaceShipTwo.
How did that tiny, complicated spiky tip on the Apollo modules transform into a usable tunnel for astronauts after they docked? Through a bit of engineering ingenuity still in use today.
Is NASA running out of plutonium? Scientific American looks into NASA’s dwindling supply of the stuff—most of it leftovers from Cold War-era weapons production—and what a jump in production might look like. As of now, they estimate there’s only enough left to power four new missions.
Our epic journey to Pluto has been filled with cosmic coincidences. Crossing Neptune’s orbit 25 years to the day after Voyager 2. Zipping by Pluto 50 years on the nose after our first Mars encounter. But my favorite serendipitous fact of all has to do with how we’ve powered the entire New Horizons mission—using none…
On July 14th, the New Horizons spacecraft will make history when it sails past Pluto, formerly known as the ninth planet. Even more incredible is how fast we got there. The spacecraft traveled 3 billion miles in nine and a half years. That’s about a million miles a day for almost ten years. How the heck did we do it?
We may be dirty monkeys at heart, but humans have done some pretty astonishing things in outer space over the past 50 years. We’ve launched dozens of interplanetary spacecraft, and explored most of the solar system with space robots who sent back pictures and scientific data. Here are our favorite of those craft,…
The Venus Express spacecraft was declared scientifically dead in December when, finally out of propellent, it decayed into an uncontrolled spin. After a few accidental communications when pure luck pointed its antenna at Earth, it let out one last bleat of full-volume noise.
These satellites first started looking at Earth-Sun interactions when green text on black backgrounds was stylish (with cutting-edge blink tags!) and pagers were a key part of pop culture, yet they're still bringing us new science today. That's just impressive!
Is Mars really the only planet solely inhabited by robots? Yes, but no. The truth behind this meme is an excellent opportunity to investigate just how adventurous our robotic explorers are in visiting all sorts of places we squishy humans haven't.
Engineers unfolded the James Webb Space Telescope's spine in the world's largest clean room in preparation for decking it with mirrors like a giant, glittering Christmas tree.
The hole that you are looking at is the "exit wound" from an aluminum bullet — 0.3 inches in diameter — fired at Kevlar-Nextel fabric that shields the European Space Agency's ATV freighter, which ferries supplies to the International Space Station.
NASA is currently accepting ideas for a mission to Europa — the moon voted most likely to harbour alien life. But thanks to recent budget cuts, it can only consider the most affordable solutions. The fine minds at Draper Labs may have just come up with the answer.
A spacecraft from 1978 resurfaced, today — and then it took our lunch money. This is not a story about time travel, though. It's a story about the internet, money, space, and, of course, lunch. And it's all true.
The countdown is on to rebuild communications with a spacecraft before it drifts past this summer. The craft has functional instruments, but NASA has no budget to reactivate the program. It's up to private donors and dedicated volunteers to recapture the abandoned spacecraft.
Once upon a time, NASA launched an inflatable disco ball into orbit. For nearly four years, Explorer 24 was used to determine atmospheric density in all its polka-dotted balloon glory.
As NASA prepares for the August 6 landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, its scientists have made the disturbing realization that communication will likely be lost during its harrowing seven minute descent to the surface. Engineers attribute the fault to a critical support satellite, Odyssey, which is currently…