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August 23, 1997 | Associated Press
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 . . .
August 10, 2012 | By Scott Gold and Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Engineers said Friday that the Curiosity rover happened to catch a picture of its own ride crash-landing on Mars - a wink-of-an-eye serendipity that some dismissed as a statistical impossibility, but appears to have been confirmed by a thorough review of landing data. The final seconds of Curiosity's eight-month-plus journey to Mars called for a spacecraft to lower the rover to the surface using a "sky crane" - three ropes. The ropes were then cut, and the last of the spacecraft, known as the "descent stage," cast itself toward the horizon.
October 25, 1998 | From Associated Press
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 | From Associated Press
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.
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.
September 11, 2011 | By Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times
Shaking off a two-day delay that began with swirling winds on the coast of Florida, NASA launched its GRAIL mission to the moon Saturday, seeking a greater understanding of Earth's nearest neighbor through a promising dual-spacecraft technology. The Delta II rocket carrying the paired washing-machine-sized craft that make up the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory lifted off into a blue sky from Cape Canaveral, Fla., at 9:08 a.m. About 90 minutes later, NASA confirmed that GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B had separated from the rocket, unfurled their solar panels and begun a 31/2-month trip to the moon.
July 6, 2011 | By Daniela Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
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 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
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 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
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 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
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.
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