February 18, 1996 |
NASA launched a spacecraft on a three-year voyage to an asteroid that may contain clues to the birth of the solar system. A Delta rocket blasted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with the probe, called NEAR, for Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous. The NEAR spacecraft is on a 1.3-billion-mile trip to Eros. It should reach it in February 1999 and will orbit for nearly a year, flying as close as 10 miles to its rocky surface.
August 23, 1997 |
More than 600,000 signatures from 81 countries--plus toddlers' scrawls, baby footprints and pet paw prints--were attached to NASA's Cassini spacecraft Friday for launch to Saturn. "This is really not done for extraterrestrials who are going to find it, because that's very unlikely," said Charles Kohlhase, manager of science and mission design for the Cassini project. "It's done for the people who are signing," he explained. "Some can't journey into space, so they send their signature . . .
October 25, 1998 |
A spacecraft that is equipped with an ion engine and can think for itself rocketed away from Earth on Saturday on a quest to test technologies straight out of "Star Trek." NASA's Deep Space 1 soared through clouds aboard an unmanned rocket, bound for an asteroid 120 million miles away. "This is a terrific beginning," said Marc Rayman, chief engineer and deputy mission manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
November 21, 1999 |
China today completed its first unmanned test of a spacecraft meant to carry astronauts, a breakthrough that could mean a manned mission is just months away. China is striving to become the third country, after the United States and the former Soviet Union, to send human beings into outer space. Its space program is a symbol of national strength in a mostly rural land where farmers make an average of $260 a year.
November 19, 2001 |
Jupiter's moon Io is the most volcanically active world in the solar system. Several spacecraft that have orbited Io in past years have captured pictures of different volcanoes ejecting huge plumes of gas and particles. In early August, NASA's Galileo spacecraft captured a shot of the biggest volcanic plume ever seen. Gas and dust from the volcano rise about 310 miles above the surface.
April 10, 1991 |
It's a small world. As the space shuttle Atlantis prepared for a scheduled landing this morning at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, it passed close enough to the Soviet space station Mir for astronauts and cosmonauts to see each other's spacecraft. The close encounters Tuesday were virtually near misses on the space scale, although there was never any danger that the two would collide.
July 6, 2011 |
Saturn's Great White Spot, a recurring storm on that planet that has intrigued scientists since it was first observed in 1876, is a windy, towering cloud of ammonia and water spewing out super jolts of thunder and lightning. Now astronomers and NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, have captured the most detailed views to date of the phenomenon. The luminous storm, which may be the gaseous planet's main mechanism for dissipating heat, occurs about once every Saturnian year, the equivalent of about 30 Earth years.
February 15, 2011 |
A NASA spacecraft has begun beaming back dozens of raw images from a comet purposely hit by an earlier probe, and officials say they plan to make the pictures public throughout Tuesday morning. The repurposed Stardust spacecraft locked eyes with the Tempel 1 comet on Valentine's Day, coming within 112 miles about 8:39 p.m. and snapping a budgeted 72 images along the way. Its views were arriving on Earth about every 15 minutes. Tempel 1 is the subject of an ambitious experiment.
April 19, 2011 |
With NASA's fleet of aging space shuttles set for retirement at the end of the year, the space agency is looking for a new way to carry astronauts. On Monday, NASA handed out $269.3 million to four companies to privately develop rockets and spacecraft for what could be the next step in manned spaceflight. The winners included Hawthorne-based rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, and Boeing Co., which develops spacecraft in Huntington Beach and uses rocket engines made by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in Canoga Park.
June 1, 1990 |
The Soviet Union said that it launched an unmanned spacecraft to ferry equipment, food and drinking water to cosmonauts stranded since February in the orbiting Mir space station. A special Kristall module, aboard a Proton rocket launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome, is scheduled to dock with Mir on June 6, the official Tass news agency said. Insulation on a Soyuz spacecraft carrying cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyov and Alexander Balandin to Mir was damaged during its launch Feb. 11.