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SpaceX Reboots Plan to Send Tourists Around the Moon—and It’s About to Name the First Passenger

In a tweet posted late yesterday, SpaceX said it has signed a passenger to fly around the Moon aboard its next-generation launch system. Details are scarce, but the announcement suggests the Elon Musk-led rocket company is still intent on delivering private individuals, rather than just cargo and professional astronauts, into space. Read More >>

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Researchers Just Launched a Prototype of Humanity’s First ‘Interstellar Spacecraft’

Last year, extraterrestrial exploration venture Breakthrough Initiatives announced an ambitious plan to send tonnes of tiny spacecraft to our nearest neighbouring star system, Alpha Centauri. The project, called Breakthrough Starshot, is focused on launching lightweight ‘nanocraft’ to the stars at rip-roaring speeds. Recently, the project took a big leap toward achieving its ultimate goal by successfully sending six test craft into Low Earth Orbit. Read More >>

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Saturn’s Moon Titan May Have the Perfect Landing Spot For Spacecraft

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is a giant nightmare beach. While its electrically charged sand wouldn’t make for a relaxing holiday, new research suggests the planet might not be as hostile to robotic visitors as we think. Although its lakes are full of ultra-cold liquid methane and ethane, they could be placid enough for future space probe to land on. Still not great for swimming, though. Read More >>

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SpaceX to Fly a Recycled Spacecraft for the First Time Tonight

SpaceX is gearing up to get its proverbial ass to Mars. For the first time tonight, the aerospace company will launch an already-used Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station (ISS), carrying 6,000 lbs (2,721 kilograms) of supplies and science experiments. The spacecraft will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and naturally, NASA TV will be broadcasting the whole thing live starting at 10.15pm BST. The launch itself is set to begin at 10:55pm. Read More >>

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This Is Our First ‘Sound’ From the Creepy Void Inside Saturn’s Rings

Today, Cassini prepares to once again boldly go where no spacecraft has gone before: into the gap between Saturn and its rings. While we’re all excited to see the the results of Cassini’s second dive, astronomers are still parsing through the findings from her first. And some, including a soundscape generated from the emptiness, are pretty freaky. Read More >>

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Saturn Looks Haunted in Cassini’s First Grand Finale Photos

Good morning, Cassini! Today, at about 8:00am BST, NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California’s acquired the orbiter’s signal for the first time since it began its series of Grand Finale dives. The photos it took from the space between Saturn and its rings, which have just been released, are nothing short of breathtaking. It’s classic Cassini, making the previously impossible look easy. Read More >>

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Small Satellites Could Be Playing a Dangerous Game of Bumper Cars in Space

Space is full of all sorts of junk that can cause problems, including some of the stuff we send up there with good intentions. Take CubeSats. These nanosatellites, which weigh less than three pounds, were first sent into space in December 2006, and have become increasingly popular in the years since as a cost-effective option for telecommunications companies looking to spread wifi and brand recognition. The thing is, there are so many of them now that experts are concerned about them bashing into each other—or worse. Read More >>

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Most Relatable Spacecraft in the Solar System Is Taking a Nap

Naps are empirically great. Sadly, our gig economy world frowns upon R&R; as an adult, it’s not socially acceptable to curl up and take a nap at work, no matter how tired or hungover or burdened with ennui you are. Instead, we reward children, who do little besides breathe and create turmoil, with the gift of “nap time.” Thankfully, a hard-working someone — or, rather something — out there is finally getting a well-deserved snooze. Read More >>

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NASA Just Flew a Spacecraft Closer To Jupiter Than Ever Before

We’ve never seen Jupiter quite like this. NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew closer to the giant planet than any spacecraft ever, revealing stunning images and gathering detailed information about the planet for NASA scientists. Read More >>

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Here Is Your First Look at Virgin Galactic’s New SpaceShipTwo

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, Virgin Galactic has unveiled a brand new version of SpaceShipTwo. Read More >>

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How to Go to Space, Explained in the Simplest Way Possible

Do you want to know how to go to space? But is the technical explanation way too complicated for you and all those terms and laws of physics and complicated maths just too damn confusing? Don’t worry! This truly hilarious video from MinutePhysics and XKCD will explain how to get to space using only the 1000 most commonly used words in our language. That is, it will be the simplest (and funniest) explanation of space travel you’ve ever heard. Read More >>

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Here’s an Early Look at Russia’s New Manned Spacecraft

While NASA and its commercial partners try hard to develop several new American spacecraft in order to get American astronauts into Earth’s orbit and beyond, Russia is working on its own new craft, too. Read More >>

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We Can Thank Plutonium for Everything We’ve Learned About Pluto

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 favourite serendipitous fact of all has to do with how we’ve powered the entire New Horizons mission, using none other than plutonium. Read More >>

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Interplanetary Spacecraft, Ranked

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 favourite of those craft, ranked for your pleasure. Read More >>