NASA Stories September 9

It turns out that Titan, one of Saturn’s many moons, is a relatively optimal place to fly a drone. This is due to the fact that Titan’s atmosphere is four times denser than the Earth’s. So when NASA chose Titan as the next location to “search for the building blocks of life,” they decided to take advantage of that by using a drone instead of a typical rover.

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NASA Stories August 20

PHOTO DATE: August 11, 2020. LOCATION: Bldg. 9NW - SVMF. SUBJECT: Completed Blue Origin Lunar Lander Mockup in SVMF. PHOTOGRAPHER: Josh Valcarcel
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NASA plans to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, and the Artemis mission to do that will include a commercially developed lunar human landing system. In April, the agency awarded initial funding to three human landing system proposals that will compete to be selected for the mission.

SpaceX, Dynetics, and The National Team (Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper) were each awarded initial funding. Today, The National Team delivered on a major milestone in the process.

An engineering mockup of the Blue Origin-led human landing system has been delivered to the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

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NASA Stories August 14

In a surprise decision made in May, NASA abruptly replaced its associate administrator in charge of human spaceflight eight days before flying astronauts with a commercial partner for the first time in history. While NASA didn’t cite a specific reason for Doug Loverro’s resignation, the outgoing human spaceflight lead suggested a single mistake was made:

The risks we take, whether technical, political, or persona, all have potential consequences if we judge them incorrectly. I took such a risk earlier in the year because I judged it necessary to fulfill our mission. Now, over the balance of time, it is clear that I made a mistake in that choice for which I alone must bear consequences. 

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that federal prosecutors are investigating the incident:

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Remember the historic SpaceX rocket launch that sent NASA astronauts to the International Space Station earlier this summer? After the successful demonstration mission, SpaceX is almost ready to start sending astronauts to space regularly through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Today, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced the next date when SpaceX will send a crew to the ISS. NASA is targeting no earlier than October 23, 2020, for the upcoming SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

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NASA Stories August 12

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft left Earth on August 12, 2005, on a mission to study the atmosphere of Mars, and it showed us some incredible pictures of the Red Planet. To celebrate 15 years since the launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA today shared stunning photos of Mars viewed from above.

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NASA’s Perseverance rover lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on July 30, but the Countdown to Mars is really only just starting. The rover’s months-long journey to Mars will continue through February 2021, then the next decade of Martian science and astrobiological discovery can begin. In this Dispatches from NASA installment, Space Explored captures the week that the Mars 2020 mission took flight in photos and video.

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The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was still undergoing repairs from damage by Hurricane Maria three years ago when an auxiliary cable broke and took the telescope offline this week.

The observatory is managed by the University of Central Florida in partnership with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc. NASA also relies on the telescope to support the Planetary Radar Project.

The broken cable slashed through the 1,000-foot-wide reflector dish this week, creating 100 feet of damage throughout the telescope.

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NASA Stories August 10

NASA will soon return astronauts to the Moon using an all-new vehicle called Space Launch System. Using a rocket that has never flown before requires lots of testing, as you can imagine, and many of those tests are quite dramatic — even if NASA is just testing some new soap.

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NASA Stories August 3

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is more than just America’s space agency that runs the U.S. space program. NASA is a global symbol for space exploration, aeronautical and space research, and the universal effort to advance humankind.

Whether it’s the “meatball” insignia or the “worm” logotype, NASA symbolism including rocketry is a celebration of all things space for fans of all ages and expertise.

You don’t have to track down a gift shop in a NASA space center to find the best space swag to celebrate your inner astronaut. Affordable fashion chains regularly put together stellar collections of the coolest NASA merchandise, including these highlights:

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Law breaking boats weren’t the only surprises SpaceX experienced during an otherwise smooth NASA astronaut splashdown over the weekend. An issue involving a custom SpaceX app on the iPad also made a cameo appearance during the crewed return trip from the International Space Station to Earth.

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