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SCIENCE
August 16, 2002 | From Times Wire Services
NASA lost contact with a $159-million spacecraft Thursday, when the robotic probe was to have left Earth orbit on a years-long journey to explore several comets. The mission's operations team was seeking to regain communication with the Contour spacecraft, which was supposed to automatically fire its solid-rocket motor at 1:49 a.m. PDT to boost itself out of the orbit.
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 1, 2014 | By Joe Mozingo
Wearing a nitrogen-powered jet pack, Dale Gardner stepped from the space shuttle, alone and untethered, 224 miles above Earth. Armed with a 5-foot probe called a stinger, Gardner drifted toward a wayward satellite, the Westar 6, which was spinning slowly, 35 feet away. When he got close enough Gardner inserted the stinger into the orbiter's spent rocket nozzle and brought it to a halt. "I got it," he exclaimed. The mission to salvage the Westar and another communications satellite, the Palapa B-2, in November 1984 marked a high point of the space shuttle program, feeding a growing sense of NASA's infallibility that would end just a year later, when the Challenger exploded just after launch over Florida.
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SCIENCE
July 30, 2012
1960 USSR - Marsnik 1: Rocket failed USSR - Marsnik 2: Rocket failed 1962 USSR - Sputnik 22: Exploded in Earth orbit during Cuban missile crisis; debris triggered U.S. early warning radar systems. USSR - Mars 1: Radio failed at 65.9 million miles. USSR - Sputnik 24: Achieved Earth orbit only. 1964 U.S. - Mariner 3: Cover of craft never detached from rocket. U.S. - Mariner 4: First Mars success; returned 21 photos.
NATIONAL
August 4, 2012 | By Amy Hubbard
The history of Mars exploration provides strong evidence of human stubbornness. It was a case of "if at first you don't succeed, try -- and fail -- repeatedly. " The former Soviet Union was the original pioneer in exploring the Red Planet. A broadcast clip from History.com catches the flavor of the late-1950s and early '60s space race with the launch of Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957: "The first artificial Earth satellite in the world has now been created.  This first satellite was today successfully launched in the USSR.
SCIENCE
June 23, 2012 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
NASA led the way for Americans in space, but now the U.S. space agency is actively encouraging companies to take over primary responsibility for getting in and out of Earth's orbit. Last month, a capsule built and operated by SpaceX completed a nine-day cargo-hauling mission to the International Space Station, becoming the first private-sector spacecraft to make such a journey. But it won't be the last. Ed Mango, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, is charged with helping companies develop vehicles that could ferry astronauts - and eventually, perhaps, civilians - on routine trips to space.
SCIENCE
August 17, 2002 | USHA LEE McFARLING, TIMES STAFF WRITER
A NASA spacecraft on a four-year mission to probe the heart of two comets has apparently broken into two pieces, according to astronomers who believe they captured an image of the wounded spacecraft. The $159-million Contour spacecraft had been incommunicado since early Thursday when its solid-propellant rocket motor was scheduled to fire and boost the space probe out of Earth's orbit.
NATIONAL
August 4, 2012 | By Amy Hubbard
The history of Mars exploration provides strong evidence of human stubbornness. It was a case of "if at first you don't succeed, try -- and fail -- repeatedly. " The former Soviet Union was the original pioneer in exploring the Red Planet. A broadcast clip from History.com catches the flavor of the late-1950s and early '60s space race with the launch of Sputnik on Oct. 4, 1957: "The first artificial Earth satellite in the world has now been created.  This first satellite was today successfully launched in the USSR.
NATIONAL
February 2, 2010 | By Mark K. Matthews and Robert Block
President Obama outlined a dramatic new mission for NASA on Monday, getting the agency out of the rocket-launching business in favor of an aggressive expansion of research and development that would steer the agency away from the launch pad and instead put its engineers in the laboratory, where they would design futuristic vehicles capable of going beyond the moon. As expected, his budget plan would cancel NASA's Constellation program and its goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.
OPINION
March 22, 2010 | By Louis Friedman
It is an old saying in Washington: "The president proposes, but Congress disposes." Congress may well dispose of the president's plan for NASA, but if all they do is try to protect the special interests of their own congressional districts, then we will again have a human spaceflight program with no rationale except to protect vested interests. Twenty-seven members of Congress (two-thirds of them from Alabama and Texas) have written to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden saying: "The termination of the Constellation programs is a proposal by the president, but it is Congress who will accept or reject that proposal.
SCIENCE
January 14, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
An ill-fated 14.6-ton Russian spacecraft built to explore the Martian moon Phobos is expected to crash back to Earth this weekend, Russian officials said. Exactly where and when Phobos-Ground will strike, nobody knows. But scientists say it could fall as far north as London or as far south as Patagonia, leaving most populated portions of the planet at risk. Most of the craft will burn up as it reenters the atmosphere, and because the majority of Earth's surface is covered by water, chances are the space vehicle won't crash on land.
SCIENCE
July 30, 2012
1960 USSR - Marsnik 1: Rocket failed USSR - Marsnik 2: Rocket failed 1962 USSR - Sputnik 22: Exploded in Earth orbit during Cuban missile crisis; debris triggered U.S. early warning radar systems. USSR - Mars 1: Radio failed at 65.9 million miles. USSR - Sputnik 24: Achieved Earth orbit only. 1964 U.S. - Mariner 3: Cover of craft never detached from rocket. U.S. - Mariner 4: First Mars success; returned 21 photos.
SCIENCE
June 23, 2012 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
NASA led the way for Americans in space, but now the U.S. space agency is actively encouraging companies to take over primary responsibility for getting in and out of Earth's orbit. Last month, a capsule built and operated by SpaceX completed a nine-day cargo-hauling mission to the International Space Station, becoming the first private-sector spacecraft to make such a journey. But it won't be the last. Ed Mango, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, is charged with helping companies develop vehicles that could ferry astronauts - and eventually, perhaps, civilians - on routine trips to space.
SCIENCE
January 14, 2012 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
An ill-fated 14.6-ton Russian spacecraft built to explore the Martian moon Phobos is expected to crash back to Earth this weekend, Russian officials said. Exactly where and when Phobos-Ground will strike, nobody knows. But scientists say it could fall as far north as London or as far south as Patagonia, leaving most populated portions of the planet at risk. Most of the craft will burn up as it reenters the atmosphere, and because the majority of Earth's surface is covered by water, chances are the space vehicle won't crash on land.
WORLD
November 29, 2011 | By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times
  Russia's space program has a bad case of the Red Planet blues. As the NASA rover Curiosity, launched Saturday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., streaks toward Mars, Russia's Phobos-Ground probe is marooned in near-Earth orbit and largely unresponsive to commands from ground controllers. Russian officials acknowledge that the narrow ballistic window for the spacecraft to reach Mars has closed, making it another in a series of failures for the country's space research. Since the retirement of the last space shuttle in July, U.S. astronauts heading to the International Space Station need to hitch a ride with the Russians, but officials say Russia's space program is suffering from worn-out equipment, a graying workforce and inability to attract a new generation of young specialists.
SCIENCE
July 28, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Turns out the moon's not the Earth's only traveling companion. Space scientists have discovered an asteroid that's been following our fair planet for thousands of years, at least — and there may be many more where it came from, according to a recent study. If other so-called Trojan asteroids are found, they could turn out to be ideal candidates for a visit from astronauts, something NASA hopes will be possible within the next 15 years. Most of the asteroids in the solar system populate the belt of rocky debris between Mars and Jupiter.
OPINION
March 22, 2010 | By Louis Friedman
It is an old saying in Washington: "The president proposes, but Congress disposes." Congress may well dispose of the president's plan for NASA, but if all they do is try to protect the special interests of their own congressional districts, then we will again have a human spaceflight program with no rationale except to protect vested interests. Twenty-seven members of Congress (two-thirds of them from Alabama and Texas) have written to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden saying: "The termination of the Constellation programs is a proposal by the president, but it is Congress who will accept or reject that proposal.
SCIENCE
July 28, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Turns out the moon's not the Earth's only traveling companion. Space scientists have discovered an asteroid that's been following our fair planet for thousands of years, at least — and there may be many more where it came from, according to a recent study. If other so-called Trojan asteroids are found, they could turn out to be ideal candidates for a visit from astronauts, something NASA hopes will be possible within the next 15 years. Most of the asteroids in the solar system populate the belt of rocky debris between Mars and Jupiter.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 20, 2000
NASA on Wednesday released the first pictures from the Earth-orbiting Terra spacecraft, such as this view of ocean temperatures. All the pictures can be viewed at http://terra.gsfc.nasa.gov. The satellite was launched in December to provide daily information about the health of the planet. * Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II
NATIONAL
February 2, 2010 | By Mark K. Matthews and Robert Block
President Obama outlined a dramatic new mission for NASA on Monday, getting the agency out of the rocket-launching business in favor of an aggressive expansion of research and development that would steer the agency away from the launch pad and instead put its engineers in the laboratory, where they would design futuristic vehicles capable of going beyond the moon. As expected, his budget plan would cancel NASA's Constellation program and its goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.
SCIENCE
April 22, 2009 | Thomas H. Maugh II
After locating more than 340 planets orbiting other stars, astronomers have identified two that are the most similar to Earth so far. The most recently discovered one is almost twice as large as Earth, making it the smallest exoplanet -- for extra-solar planet -- found to date. The second one was found in 2007, but new observations have shown that it is the only exoplanet to date that orbits its star in the so-called habitable zone, where water remains a liquid.
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