In a major announcement that will end the reliance on the Russians to launch Americans into space and could also determine which private company launches the first manned mission to mars, NASA on Tuesday afternoon awarded the human spaceflight contract worth $6.8 billion to both SpaceX and Boeing.
NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil, and one of the likely contenders is SpaceX, the private rocket company formed by PayPal and Tesla co-founder Elon Musk.
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking believes the recently discovered Higgs boson, also known as the “God particle,” has the potential to unravel the universe, at least theoretically, as he writes in the forward of a new book on space travel.
NASA says the space rock — known as 2014 RC — will pass closest to earth above New Zealand around 11:18 a.m. Sunday. The asteroid is estimated at roughly 60 feet wide. It was first discovered on August 31st by researchers near Tucson, according to NASA.
For the first time in 17 years, NASA Ames Research Center will open its normally well-secured gates to the public, allowing behind the scenes tours of the wind tunnels, laboratories, and even a simulated Martian landscape.
Officials say initial phase of the heavy-lift rocket project, known as the Space Launch System Program, will now move from formulation to development, something no other exploration class vehicle has done since the creation of the space shuttle. The first generation rocket will be the most powerful ever built, with 130 metric tons of lift, enough to carry an Orion spacecraft beyond low earth orbit.
The future of space exploration may involve soaring above moons in a mothership and deploying drone-like explorer to probe the surface.
A comet has never been followed from this close before, but a comet-chasing space probe has reached its destination after a more than 10-year journey.
Watch the sky for the next Supermoon as it shines this Sunday…
One of the first items on almost any amateur astronomer’s “to-do” list is completing the Messier marathon — looking at all 110 objects cataloged by Charles Messier. Messier himself began the first marathon 250 years ago.