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Virgin Galactic reaches space for first time

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, flew higher than it ever has before on Thursday, surpassing what the US Air Force considers the boundary of space, and marking the first manned flight to space from US soil since 2011. The brief, suborbital flight -- with two pilots on board -- was a key milestone for the company headed by British tycoon Richard Branson, who is striving to send tourists to space at a cost of $250,000 per seat. No spacecraft with people on board has taken off from US soil since the American…

NASA probe finds signs of water on nearby asteroid

ORLANDO: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered ingredients for water on a relatively nearby skyscraper-sized asteroid, a rocky acorn-shaped object that may hold clues to the origins of life on Earth, scientists said on Monday. OSIRIS-REx, which flew last week within a scant 12 miles (19 km) of the asteroid Bennu some 1.4 million miles (2.25 million km) from Earth, found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules - part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life - embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface.…

Nasa deep space probe reaches asteroid deemed potential Earth threat

Nasa’s deep space explorer Osiris-Rex flew on Monday to within a dozen miles of its destination, a skyscraper-sized asteroid believed to hold organic compounds fundamental to life as well as the potential to collide with Earth in about 150 years. Launched in September 2016, Osiris-Rex embarked on NASA’s unprecedented seven-year mission to conduct a close-up survey of the asteroid Bennu, collect a sample from its surface and return that material to Earth for study. Bennu, a rocky mass roughly a third of a mile wide…

NASA chooses nine companies to bid on flying to Moon

WASHINGTON: The US space agency on Thursday announced nine private companies, mostly start-ups, that will bid on $2.6 billion in contacts to build spacecraft to carry payloads to the Moon as early as 2019. The move is part of NASA's goal of sending people to the Moon in the next decade, for the first time since the Apollo era of the 1960s and '70s. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine described the announcement as "tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay." Of the group, the only well-known…

Mars InSight spacecraft lands on Red Planet

PASADENA, United States: Cheers and applause erupted at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Monday as a waist-high unmanned lander, called InSight, touched down on Mars, capping a nearly seven-year journey from design to launch to landing. The dramatic arrival of the $993 million spacecraft -- designed to listen for quakes and tremors as a way to unveil the Red Planet's inner mysteries, how it formed billions of years ago and, by extension, how other rocky planets like Earth took shape -- marked the eighth successful…

Anxiety at NASA as Mars InSight spacecraft nears Red Planet

NASA´s top scientists admitted to sleepless nights, sweaty palms, stomach aches and moments of pure terror as their $993 million Mars Insight spacecraft approaches a high-drama finale Monday: landing on Mars. Mars Insight´s goal is listen for quakes and tremors as a way to unveil the Red Planet´s inner mysteries, how it formed billions of years ago, and by extension, how other rocky planets like Earth took shape. The unmanned spacecraft launched nearly seven months ago, and is NASA´s first to attempt to touch down on…

NASA spacecraft nears red planet on mission to detect ‘marsquakes’

LOS ANGELES: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) first robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of a distant world hurtled closer to Mars on course for a planned touchdown on Monday after a six-month voyage through space. Traveling 301 million miles (548 million km) from Earth, the Mars InSight spacecraft was due to reach its destination on the dusty, rock-strewn surface of the Red Planet at about 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT). If all goes according to plan, InSight will streak into the pink…

NASA probes ‘drug-free’ policies, safety at SpaceX, Boeing

WASHINGTON: The US space agency has ordered a sweeping safety review of operations and workplace culture, including drug-free policies, at Boeing and SpaceX, two companies working to send astronauts to space, US media said Tuesday. The review was "prompted by the recent behavior of SpaceX's founder, Elon Musk, according to three officials with knowledge of the probe, after he took a hit of marijuana and sipped whiskey on a podcast streamed on the Internet," said the Washington Post, which first reported on the story.…

NASA wants people on Mars within 25 years

WASHINGTON: Deadly radiation from the cosmos, potential vision loss, and atrophying bones are just some of the challenges scientists must overcome before any future astronaut can set foot on Mars, experts and top NASA officials said Tuesday. The US space agency believes it can put humans on the Red Planet within 25 years, but the technological and medical hurdles are immense. "The cost of solving those means that under current budgets, or slightly expanded budgets, it's going to take about 25 years to solve those,"…

NASA’s Dawn asteroid mission ends as fuel runs out

WASHINGTON: Dawn, a NASA spacecraft that launched 11 years ago and studied two of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, has ended its mission after running out of fuel, officials said Thursday. Scientists have known for about a month that Dawn was essentially out of hydrazine, the fuel that kept the spacecraft's antennae oriented toward Earth and helped turn its solar panels to the Sun to recharge. When the spacecraft missed scheduled communications with NASA's Deep Space Network on Wednesday and Thursday, the…