When you drive, the second most important thing you should keep your eyes on is the dashboard of your car (the first thing being the road). In space, however, it’s the controls that are the most essential for navigating and operating your spacecraft. From Gagarin to Scott Kelly, here’s a brief visual history of the…
Two years ago, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo, the space plane it hoped to use to send tourists into space, failed on a test flight and crashed in the desert. Now, it’s revealed a brand new version of SpaceShipTwo.
How did that tiny, complicated spiky tip on the Apollo modules transform into a usable tunnel for astronauts after they docked? Through a bit of engineering ingenuity still in use today.
While NASA and its commercial partners try hard to develop several new American spacecraft in order to get American astronauts into Earth’s orbit and beyond, Russia is working on its own new craft, too.
Our epic journey to Pluto has been filled with cosmic coincidences. Crossing Neptune’s orbit 25 years to the day after Voyager 2. Zipping by Pluto 50 years on the nose after our first Mars encounter. But my favorite serendipitous fact of all has to do with how we’ve powered the entire New Horizons mission—using none…
On July 14th, the New Horizons spacecraft will make history when it sails past Pluto, formerly known as the ninth planet. Even more incredible is how fast we got there. The spacecraft traveled 3 billion miles in nine and a half years. That’s about a million miles a day for almost ten years. How the heck did we do it?
We may be dirty monkeys at heart, but humans have done some pretty astonishing things in outer space over the past 50 years. We’ve launched dozens of interplanetary spacecraft, and explored most of the solar system with space robots who sent back pictures and scientific data. Here are our favorite of those craft,…
NASA’s been studying the way bugs splatter for years. Those gooey speckles of black and red might be gross to you, but to aerospace engineers, they’re a riddle that’s plagued the industry for decades. Yes, bug guts.
Two weeks ago, SpaceX successfully tested the launch abort system for its new commercial crew capsule, which is designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017. The company has just released a first-person view video recorded by cameras mounted on the Dragon capsule, so you can take a virtual…
Forget a boring old rover and try nuclear-powered boats or quadcopter space drones. If we want to explore Saturn's moon Titan—with its liquid methane lakes and dense nitrogen atmosphere—we'll need exploration schemes that are just as unique as the alien moon itself.
With massive oceans buried under six kilometers of ice, Jupiter's moon Europa has long been a dream destination for astronomers. It's possible that those oceans, warmed by undersea volcanoes, could harbor microbial life. NASA's wanted a closer look for 15 years, and now they're getting it.
Space is big, humans are small, and spacecrafts, well, vary more in size than you might think. Redditor Heaney555 has compiled an a chart, to scale, of every rocket, spacecraft, and space station involved in human spaceflight. And man, Saturn V is huuuuuuuge—it's as long as the whole International Space Station.
NASA's MAVEN spacecraft hitched a ride on an Atlas V launch vehicle on November 18th of last year. Now, just over 10 months later, it's finally about to reach its objective: orbiting Mars. Watch along as it closes in on success. [Update: We have orbit!]
NASA's Orion spacecraft is this generation's moonshot: mankind's first-ever manned spacecraft built to go beyond the moon into deep space. It's equipped with a Launch Abort System that safely lands the craft if a problem occurs during liftoff. This week, NASA drop-tested the system. Falling from 13,000 feet never…
Cross section, cutaway, or x-ray illustrations, call it whatever you want, but they're the best way to understand how things work. They are fascinating. In this new Sploid series we will present some of the best cutaway drawings from around the world. The first collection includes 32 awesome spacecrafts.
Two and a half years is a long time to sleep—even for a machine. That's how long Rosetta has slumbered in its decade-long journey towards the comet where it will land. But in the dead of the night, at 2am PST tomorrow morning, Rosetta will awaken. Here's how its alarm clock works.
The European Space Agency has been collecting examples of "spacecraft-associated biology" in a small collection housed at the Leibniz-Institut DSMZ in Brunswick, Germany. 298 strains of "extremotolerant" bacteria, isolated from spacecraft-assembly rooms because they managed to survive the incredible methods used to…
This little spherical container may look more like a rejected R2-D2 prototype than a piece of cutting-edge technology, but is in fact the vessel in which the European Space Agency hopes to ship Martian samples back to Earth in.