space exploration

This week, NASA and the commercial company SpaceX are set to launch two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in a new capsule. This is the first launch by NASA of astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, but it's happening in the middle of a pandemic.

Here are some of the ways that the coronavirus will, and won't, change the plans for the space agency's latest launch.

Astronauts have been quarantining since before it was cool.

NASA is at a critical juncture in its push to get people back to the moon by 2024, with key decisions expected within weeks.

This effort to meet an ambitious deadline set by the Trump administration last year faces widespread skepticism in the aerospace community, even as the new head of human spaceflight at NASA insists that it can succeed.

From a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, Elon Musk's SpaceX launched its latest rocket test into the Florida sky. Less than two minutes later, it exploded — just like the company hoped it would.

The explosion itself wasn't so much the success as was what came just before it. That's when the Crew Dragon, a capsule meant to carry astronauts into space, separated from the rocket. That separation was the goal of Sunday's test.

Florida hasn’t given up on landing the command center for the nation’s newest military branch, Space Force.

Mini Mercury skipped across the vast, glaring face of the sun Monday in a rare celestial transit.

After a record-breaking 780 days circling the Earth, the U.S. Air Force's mysterious X-37B unmanned space plane dropped out of orbit and landed safely on the same runway that the space shuttle once used.

It was the fifth acknowledged mission for the vehicle, built by Boeing at the aerospace company's Phantom Works.

Speaking into gusts of wind at the SpaceX launch facility in Cameron County, Texas, on Saturday night, CEO Elon Musk talked up the space travel giant's newest innovation, the SpaceX vehicle Starship.

Musk spoke in front of a 50-meter, 200-ton Starship prototype, calling it "the most inspiring thing that I've ever seen."

He described unique design features of the vehicle and outlined plans to fast-track production of a Starship fleet. His hope, Musk said, is "to reach orbit in less than six months."

NASA could miss a 2024 deadline set by the White House to land humans on the moon. Funding is at the heart of the delay.

On the face of it, NASA's newest probe sounds incredible. Known as Dragonfly, it is a dual-rotor quadcopter (technically an octocopter, even more technically an X8 octocopter); it's roughly the size of a compact car; it's completely autonomous; it's nuclear powered; and it will hover above the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.

Nicole Stott / Courtesy

A space suit made out of hundreds of textile fabrics with hearts, stars, drawn space rockets and planets made by kids and cancer patients from over 45 countries will be on display at the R House Wynwood art gallery starting this weekend. 

Fifty years ago, two astronauts became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Like many explorers, they documented their accomplishment in photographs. The images they took are some of the most enduring of the 20th century, traveling from Life magazine to MTV to Twitter.

For most of us, the photos brought back by Apollo 11 are iconic and a little difficult to comprehend. But for astronauts, they represent something more: hours of training, risks taken and the many people on the ground who worked to make the journey possible.

NASA

On the morning of July 16, dozens of technicians and flight controllers piled into the firing room at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to count down the launch of Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket. Among the sea of people was JoAnn Morgan –KSC’s first female engineer and the only woman in that firing room.

As NASA was testing its rockets during the Apollo program, it was standard policy to actually lock technicians and launch directors inside the firing room block houses for the hours-long tests.

There was one problem.

Updated at 1:49 p.m. ET

Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, is preparing to enter the stock market by the end of 2019, through a merger with an existing company.

It would be the first spaceflight company to be publicly owned; Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX are both privately held.

When a rocket carrying the first module of the International Space Station blasted off from Kazakhstan in November of 1998, NASA officials said the station would serve as an orbiting home for astronauts and cosmonauts for at least 15 years.

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