NASA Readies OSIRIS-REx to Visit an Asteroid

NASA is about to embark on its first mission to sample an asteroid—and I’ll have a front-row seat to the launch! On Thursday, Sept. 8, at 7:05 p.m. (23:05 UTC) the launch window opens for the launch of OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s mission to visit the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, orbit and map it, collect a sample and…

Seeds in the Cosmic Wind: Carl Sagan on Space Exploration

Got the Monday back-to-work blues? Upset by bad news headlines? Concerned about a potential future President Trump? Take a couple of minutes and watch this. This video, published by The Royal Institution on YouTube in Dec. 2015 and shared again on Twitter today, features an adorable animation about spaceflight with narration taken from a lecture given by Carl…

Did NASA Purposely Cut Space Station Footage of a UFO?

Various news outlets today have run with a story about a supposed UFO spotted on live video streamed from the International Space Station, in which a bright object is visible “descending” into Earth’s atmosphere. The video* was shared on YouTube by a self-proclaimed UFO hunter—which basically means someone who stares at ISS feeds on their…

Take a Ride with Alan Shepard Aboard Freedom 7

55 years ago today, at 9:35 a.m. EST on May 5, 1961, NASA astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr. became the first American to travel into space with the launch of his Freedom 7 vehicle atop a Mercury-Redstone rocket. Shepard reached an altitude of 116.5 miles during his 15-minute suborbital flight before splashdown in the Atlantic,…

Ride Shotgun With John Young During His Apollo 16 Grand Prix

Take a ride across the Moon with Apollo 16 commander John Young in this video, a stabilized version of NASA 16mm film footage captured during the first EVA of the mission on April 21, 1972. In what’s called the “lunar Grand Prix” Young pilots the Lunar Roving Vehicle, or LRV, across the dusty terrain of the…

NASA Astronaut Returns to Earth After Historic “Year in Space”

With a smile and an energetic thumbs-up, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly exited the Soyuz TMA-18M capsule shortly after landing on the remote steppe of Kazakhstan at 10:26 p.m. Central time March 1, 2016. It was the return of the Expedition 46 crew, which included Russian cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko, the latter of whom shared…

Pale Blue Dot: Our Valentine from Voyager 1

If you’re in love with space exploration then you’ll fall for this: a picture of Earth (and five other planets) taken from the Voyager 1 spacecraft after it passed the orbit of Pluto in 1990, 26 years ago today. That image of our planet from almost 4 billion miles away inspired Carl Sagan to write his…

NASA’s First Fallen: Remembering the Tragedy of Apollo 1

This is a reprint of a post from 2013, updated for the 2016 date. Today marks the 49th anniversary of one of the worst tragedies to befall NASA and human spaceflight: the fire that broke out in the Apollo 204 (later renamed Apollo 1) command module during a test exercise at Kennedy Space Center in…

Astronaut’s Green Thumb Grows the First* Flower in Space

Say hello to the first* flower unfurled in space! This picture, shared on Jan. 16, 2016 by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, shows a plant that has – thanks to some TLC from Kelly – managed to produce the first-ever zinnia blooms in low-Earth orbit and in fact the first flower grown outside of Earth’s biosphere. (Edit: read disclaimer below.)