New Horizons Approaching Historic Flyby of Ultima Thule, 4 Billion Miles Away

Artist’s conception of New Horizons at Ultima Thule. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI Illustration/Steve Gribben

Excitement is building again for New Horizons team members and the public alike, as the spacecraft which previously visited Pluto is now only 21 days away from its next historic flyby, some 4 billion miles from Earth and one billion miles beyond Pluto itself.

The target is a small rocky body, a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) named ‘Ultima Thule’, and New Horizons is now closing in at a speed of almost one million miles per day, aiming for a New Years Eve flyby just after 12:33am EST on Jan. 1, 2019.



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'Dying All Tensed-Up': 30 Years Since the Troubled Secret Mission of STS-27

Atlantis roars to orbit on the morning of 2 December 1988, 30 years ago today. Photo Credit: NASA

Thirty years ago, at 9:30 a.m. EST on 2 December 1988, Atlantis rocketed into crystal-blue Florida skies to begin the second shuttle mission in the wake of the Challenger tragedy. Two months earlier, her sister Discovery had brought the fleet back to active service and the task of the five STS-27 astronauts—Commander Robert “Hoot” Gibson, Pilot Guy Gardner and Mission Specialists Mike Mullane, Jerry Ross and Bill Shepherd—was to deploy a classified payload on behalf of the Department of Defense. Although that objective apparently proceeded without significant incident, the mysterious flight of STS-27 earned a place in the history books, when the hands of fate unexpectedly turned against the astronauts and brought them within a hair’s breadth of disaster.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Debut on Demo-1 Pushed to NET Jan 17, 2019

NASA and SpaceX have agreed to move the target launch date of the uncrewed Crew Dragon Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station, to January 17, 2018. Image: NASA

NASA and SpaceX today pushed back the launch date for the debut orbital flight test of Crew Dragon to the International Space Station (ISS), from January 7, 2019 to Thursday, Jan 17, launching atop a Falcon 9 rocket from storied Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Teams Recover, Tow Floating Falcon 9 Rocket into Port Canaveral

A recovery boat tows in SpaceX’s CRS-16 Falcon 9 rocket, which launched a Cargo dragon to the International Space Station for NASA a couple days prior but missed its landing pad, instead ditching offshore. Photo: Jeff Seibert / AmericaSpace

ORIGINAL REPORT Dec 5, 2018: While Dragon CRS-16 heads to a Saturday rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS), laden with over 5,600 pounds of science experiments and supplies, SpaceX has been busy working to secure their floating Falcon 9 rocket, which launched Dragon flawlessly but missed its landing target back on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s ‘Landing Zone-1’ (LZ-1).

 – Read our FULL STORY on the launch and mission HERE!

In the 24 hours since, numerous support vessels and crews were called in to help safe and secure the booster for safe towing and recovery, while the U.S. Coast guard anchored nearby ensuring mariners were clear of the wayward rocket.

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SpaceX Flies Dragon CRS-16 to ISS, Lands Falcon Offshore After Grid-Fin Anomaly

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching NASA’s CRS-16 mission to the ISS aboard a Cargo Dragon from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral AFS, FLA. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

A major external payload to conduct laser-ranging observations of Earth’s forests, an investigation into muscle abnormalities in microgravity, first-time testing of liquid methane storage and transfer technologies and other experiments are among the cargo on SpaceX’s CRS-16 Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS), launched at 1:16 p.m. EST today (Wednesday, 5 December), from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Launch was postponed 24 hours from Tuesday, reportedly after mold was identified on food bars for an on-board rodent experiment.

CRS-16 becomes the first Dragon to fly atop a Block 5 variant of the Upgraded Falcon 9—a vehicle characterized by enhanced thrust on its Merlin 1D+ engine suite, strengthened landing legs to accommodate oceanic or ground touchdowns and better flight control systems—and will now follow a two-day rendezvous profile to reach the space station this weekend.

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NASA Outlines New Commercial Partnerships for Returning People to the Moon Within 10 Years

The moon rising as an American rocket launches a commercial satellite. Today NASA announced several commercial partnerships aimed at landing robotic and crewed missions on the moon in the coming years. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

Today NASA announced more plans to get back to the moon, this time to stay, because science, with the goal of having boots on the ground within 10 years. And the space agency, which still remains the only entity to have ever sent people to another world during the Apollo era, will be heavily involved with private industry to get it done.

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NASA's InSight Spacecraft Safely Lands on Mars After 'Seven Minutes of Terror'

The first image from InSight on Mars, showing dust on the lens cover and the horizon in the distance. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s InSight spacecraft has successfully landed on Mars, the space agency reported today. The lander touched down at 11:52:59 a.m. PST (2:52:59 p.m. EST). This is the first landing in six years, after the Curiosity rover landed in 2012. InSight, however, is not a rover – instead it will remain in one place and use its instruments to “peer down” into the deep Martian subsurface to study the planet’s origins and evolution.

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'A Dumb Decision': Remembering the Final Mission to Skylab, 45 Years Ago

Boosted aloft atop a Saturn IB rocket, and utilizing a special “milk stool” to raise its umbilical connections to the proper levels on the Pad 39B gantry, the third and final Skylab crew takes flight on 16 November 1973. Photo Credit: NASA

Forty-five years ago, in May 1973, America launched its first space station—Skylab—into orbit. Its mission appeared jinxed from the outset, with aerodynamic forces during ascent ripping away a protective micrometeoroid shield and one power-producing solar array and leaving the second array clogged with debris. Eleven days later, after an enormous amount of replanning on the ground, Skylab’s first crew triumphantly brought the station back to life. Their record-breaking 28-day mission was followed by another record-breaking 59-day mission, leaving only the third crew of Commander Gerry Carr, Science Pilot Ed Gibson and Pilot Bill Pogue to stage a marathon 84-day expedition, beginning on 16 November 1973. As NASA and its international partners celebrate 20 years of the International Space Station (ISS) era this month, we are also reminded of the spectacular success of the final voyage to Skylab; a mission forever remembered—somewhat unfairly—in the public mind for two things: the concealment of a sick bag and the first “mutiny” in space.

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NASA's InSight Spacecraft on Course for November 26 Landing

Artist’s conception of InSight descending through the Martian atmosphere. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On November 26, NASA’s InSight spacecraft will touch down in Elysium Planitia on Mars, where it will “peer” deep into the subsurface to study the planet’s interior geology. As of right now, InSight is on course for what hopefully will be a very successful landing.

Live Video of Landing on Mars
credit: NASA

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NASA & SpaceX Target Jan 7 For Uncrewed Test Flight of Crew Dragon to Space Station

Illustration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launching atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credits: SpaceX

Years in the making, NASA and SpaceX today announced January 7, 2019 as the target date to launch the highly-anticipated orbital flight test of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft (called Demo-1), which will roar towards low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) atop a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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