Happy Thanksgiving!



It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the States. And, unlike last year, Elon Musk isn’t preempting our national holiday of feasting, drinking and football watching by trying to launch a communications satellite into orbit. (Thanks, Elon!)

So, barring any particularly newsworthy event, there will be no updates on this site until Friday.

To my fellow Americans, my best wishes for a very happy and safe Thanksgiving with friends, family and whichever total strangers you meet standing in line all day at Best Buy or other retailer of choice.

To everyone else, happy Thursday. We’ll see you again when the sun rises over California on Friday.

Bill Whittle Discusses SpaceShipTwo Tragedy


Video Caption: There’s a demon in the skies over the Mojave Desert, and it’s taken another life and another vehicle. In his latest Firewall, Bill Whittle draws on his experience as a pilot to help unravel the psychology of the presumed pilot error behind the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

ISS Experiment Studies Solar System Formation


WEBSTER, Texas, Nov. 25, 2014 (NanoRacks PR) – The University of Central Florida’s experiment, NanoRocks, currently on board the International Space Station (ISS), is producing promising results. The experiment, studying solar system formation, was brought to the ISS through a NanoRacks’ partnership with Space Florida’s International Space Station Research Competition.

NanoRocks is one of seven competition winners to be flown to low-earth orbit through the NanoRacks-Space Florida program.

Continue reading ‘ISS Experiment Studies Solar System Formation’

PopSci’s Best of What’s New: Dragon V2, LDSD & Chang’e-3

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Popular Science has published its year end  Best of What’s New list. In the aerospace category, the list included two NASA-funded programs and China’s first landing on the moon.

SpaceX Dragon Version 2 – Grand Award Winner

Elon Musk debuted a model of the human-rated Dragon spacecraft at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., in May. The vehicle, being developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew program, could carry astronauts to the International Space Station by the end of 2016.

Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator

Divers retrieve the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator off the coast of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. (Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Divers retrieve the test vehicle for NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator off the coast of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. (Credit:

The LDSD project successfully flew a rocket-powered, saucer-shaped test vehicle into near-space in late June from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The goal of this experimental flight test, the first of three planned for the project, was to determine if the balloon-launched, rocket-powered, saucer-shaped design could reach the altitudes and air speeds needed to test two new breakthrough technologies destined for future Mars missions.

For more information about the LDSD space technology demonstration mission: http://go.usa.gov/N5zm


The Chang'e-3 lander and Yutu rover on the moon.

The Chang’e-3 lander and Yutu rover on the moon.

China’s Chang’e-3 spacecraft soft landed on the lunar surface in December 2013 and then deployed the Yutu rover to further explore the moon. The moon landing was the first for China, and it marked the first exploration of the lunar surface in nearly 40 years. China is aiming to return soil samples from the moon with its Chang’e-5 spacecraft.

ISS 3D Printer Creates First Product

ISS Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds up the first 3-D printed part made in space. (Credit: Made in Space)

ISS Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds up the first 3-D printed part made in space. (Credit: Made in Space)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Made in Space PR) — History was made on November 24th at 9:28pm GMT, when the first 3D printer built to operate in space successfully manufactured its first part on the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time that hardware has been additively manufactured in space, as opposed to launching it from Earth.

“When the first human fashioned a tool from a rock, it couldn’t have been conceived that one day we’d be replicating the same fundamental idea in space,” said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made In Space, Inc. “We look at the operation of the 3D printer as a transformative moment, not just for space development, but for the capability of our species to live away from Earth.”

Continue reading ‘ISS 3D Printer Creates First Product’

S3 to Begin Zero Gravity Flights in Switzerland


PAYERNE, Switzerland, Nov. 25, 2014 (S3 PR) –
In 2015, Swiss Space Systems (S3) will put the ZeroG experience within everyone’s reach. S3 is launching affordable zero gravity flights from more than 15 locations across the world including, for the first time ever, Asia, the Middle East and Central America. The ZeroG world tour has been modified and will now start from Switzerland, during the second half of 2015, before heading to Canada and the US in 2015. During the 1st semester of 2016, the tour will then start from Asia before heading to the Middle East and Europe in some of the destinations previously scheduled for 2015, with new destinations added to this new schedule.

Continue reading ‘S3 to Begin Zero Gravity Flights in Switzerland’

Zero G Coming Back in 2015*

Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity Kate Upton Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)

Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity
Kate Upton
Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)

After being grounded for much of 2014 due to having its jet’s engines repossessed, Zero Gravity Corporation is once again advertising parabolic flights opportunities for next year.*

Back by popular demand, the ZERO-G Experience® is returning to Tampa, FL and Washington, D.C.

ZERO-G will also be returning to Las Vegas, San Francisco, Cape Canaveral, and many more cities!

The Research Flight Program will take place in Cape Canaveral, FL from April 8, 2015 – April 10, 2015.

* Flight operations pending Federal Aviation Administration Part 121 approval

Basically, this means the aircraft has to undergo certification (FAA Part 121) once again before carrying passengers as a result of being grounded and getting a trio of new engines. Or maybe they got a new plane.

Carnegie Mellon Unveils Rover for Google Lunar X Prize Competition

William "Red" Whittaker with Andy the lunar rover. (Credit: CMU)

William “Red” Whittaker with Andy the lunar rover. (Credit: CMU)

By Byron Spice
Carnegie Mellon Univesity

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University today unveiled Andy, a four-wheeled robot designed to scramble up steep slopes and survive the temperature swings and high radiation encountered while exploring the moon’s pits, caves and polar ice.

“Every extraterrestrial robot carries some DNA from Carnegie Mellon, but Andy would be the first true CMU robot to make the leap from Earth,” said William “Red” Whittaker, professor of robotics and director of the Field Robotics Center. “This is the culmination of lots of work by lots of people and is the next step toward Carnegie Mellon becoming a spacefaring university.”

Continue reading ‘Carnegie Mellon Unveils Rover for Google Lunar X Prize Competition’

NASA Launches $5 Million Cube Quest Challenge



WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Registration now is open for NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, the agency’s first in-space competition that offers the agency’s largest-ever prize purse.

Competitors have a shot at a share of $5 million in prize money and an opportunity to participate in space exploration and technology development, to include a chance at flying their very own CubeSat to the moon and beyond as secondary payload on the first integrated flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Continue reading ‘NASA Launches $5 Million Cube Quest Challenge’

Science Takes off as XCOR Lynx Lands at American Geophysical Union’s 2014 Fall Meeting

Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)

Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)

MOJAVE, Calif., November 24, 2014 (XCOR PR) — XCOR Aerospace will be at the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual meeting – and taking its full scale Lynx® spacecraft model along for the ride. The model will be on display December 15-19 at the AGU Exhibit Hall in San Francisco.

XCOR’s Director of Payload Sales and Operations Khaki Rodway will be on site to present an overview of space-based research the AGU community will be conducting on Lynx. The session is titled Next Generation Instrumentation in Solar and Space Physics: Critical Measurements from Low-Cost Missions/Platforms.

Continue reading ‘Science Takes off as XCOR Lynx Lands at American Geophysical Union’s 2014 Fall Meeting’