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Short updates on Akatsuki and Chang'e missions

Emily Lakdawalla • January 06, 2015

A few recent newspaper articles provide some updates on the status of Japan's Venus mission, Akatsuki, and the service module of China's Chang'e 5 test vehicle, Xiaofei. In brief: Akatsuki still plans to attempt to enter orbit in December of this year, while Chang'e 5 T1 is headed to lunar orbit. Meanwhile, the Chang'e 3 mission has released an interesting image of M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy.

SpaceX Set to Retry Cargo Run, Rocket Stage Landing (Updated)

Jason Davis • January 05, 2015

SpaceX will attempt to launch a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station and land a used Falcon 9 rocket stage on an uncrewed spaceport in the Atlantic Ocean.

Planetary exploration in 2015: The Year of the Dwarf Planet

Emily Lakdawalla • December 31, 2014

Looking ahead to what we can expect from Earth's exploration of the rest of the solar system in 2015, there's an obvious theme: Dwarf planets.

Field Report from Mars: Sol 3875 – December 18, 2014

Larry Crumpler • December 30, 2014

Opportunity is continuing its drives along the rim of Endeavour toward Marathon Valley. Larry Crumpler tells us what to expect as the rover continues its journey.

Dawn Journal: History of Ceres

Marc Rayman • December 29, 2014

As Dawn looks toward the new world of Ceres, Mission Director Marc Rayman looks back on Ceres' discovery.

Video: Ride along with Orion as It Plummets Back to Earth

Jason Davis • December 19, 2014

A new NASA video provides an astronaut's-eye video of the final ten minutes of Orion's test flight.

A new Chang'e 3 and Yutu image archive

Emily Lakdawalla • December 19, 2014

A treasure trove of newly released images from the Chang'e 3 program includes a photo sequence of a waxing Earth and lots of high-resolution views of rover and lander on the Moon.

NASA Delays Asteroid Redirect Mission Concept Selection until 2015

Jason Davis • December 17, 2014

NASA's efforts to capture a near-Earth asteroid and tow it back to lunar orbit will have to wait a little bit longer for a final mission concept.

SpaceX to Attempt First-Ever Ocean Barge Rocket Landing

Jason Davis • December 17, 2014

Early next year, SpaceX will attempt what no agency or company has done before: land a used rocket stage on a floating ocean platform.

LightSail Completes Testing, Announcement Expected in January

Jason Davis • December 12, 2014

The Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft successfully completed testing to prepare it for a possible 2015 test flight.

Brief Venus Express update: Not quite dead yet

Emily Lakdawalla • December 11, 2014

Venus Express is still alive and talking to Earth, but may fall into Venus' atmosphere in January.

InSight assembly begins

Emily Lakdawalla • December 11, 2014

NASA's next Mars lander is becoming real, now under construction at Lockheed Martin.

China plans a Mars rover and orbiter for 2020 launch opportunity

Emily Lakdawalla • December 09, 2014

China is moving forward with plans to launch an orbiter and rover to Mars in the 2020 launch opportunity. The Mars program also includes plans for sample return in 2030.

First Look Photographs of Orion's Return to Dry Land

Jason Davis • December 09, 2014

NASA's Orion spacecraft is back on dry land following its offloading from the USS Anchorage late Monday night. Here are some selected photographs by Kevin Baird.

Ceres is round!

Emily Lakdawalla • December 05, 2014

Okay, so the fact that Ceres is round is not news. It's still thrilling to see Ceres begin to come into focus as a round world.

Orion Returns to Earth after Successful Test Flight

Jason Davis • December 05, 2014

NASA’s Orion spacecraft returned safely to Earth this morning after what looked like a flawless four hour, 24-minute test flight.

In Pictures: Orion's Scrub, from the Vehicle Assembly Building

Jason Davis • December 04, 2014

Here are some scenes from launch day, shot from the unique perspective of the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Orion Scrub Report: Sticky Hydrogen Valves

Jason Davis • December 04, 2014

Windy weather and stuck liquid hydrogen valves forced a one-day delay of the maiden voyage of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.

The New Horizons science mission to the Pluto-Charon system is about to begin

Emily Lakdawalla • December 03, 2014

It's been a long journey, but it's nearly over: New Horizons is just about ready to begin its science mission to Pluto, Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. I'll remind you of New Horizons' capabilities and simulate how Pluto will appear in optical navigation images.

Orion L-1 Report: Go for Launch

Jason Davis • December 03, 2014

The stage is set for NASA’s Orion spacecraft to launch on a two-orbit, four-hour shakedown cruise tomorrow morning. Patrick Air Force Base’s 45th Weather Squadron changed their forecast of an on-time launch to 70 percent—up from the 40 percent chances that marked the start of the week.

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