(quote) Elon Musk’s SpaceX lands Starship spacecraft in first full successful test flight The flight comes after NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop Starship to land astronauts on the moon. Elon Musk’s SpaceX finally stuck the landing of one of its Starship spacecraft prototypes Wednesday, a key milestone in the test program and a dramatic statement coming just two weeks after NASA chose the vehicle to fly its astronauts to the surface of the moon. The Starship spacecraft, known as Serial Number 15 (SN15), lifted off from SpaceX’s launch site near the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas, firing its three Raptor engines to an altitude of about 6 miles. It then turned itself sideways in a “belly flop” maneuver and headed back to Earth before righting itself, reigniting its engines and touching down softly. “The Starship has landed,” John Insprucker, SpaceX principal integration engineer, said during the live broadcast. The flight was the fifth high-altitude test of a Starship prototype, and the first that ended without the rocket destroyed. Musk’s company is developing Starship to launch cargo and people on missions to the moon and Mars. The landing caps off a busy period for SpaceX that has seen the return of astronauts to Earth aboard a Crew Dragon and a milestone Starlink launch, not to mention Musk is hosting Saturday Night Live this week. Nailed it! Elon Musk’s SpaceX blasts its Starship SN15 rocket six miles into the sky before returning it safely to the pad – a month after the last prototype exploded after landing The Elon Musk-owned company launched SN15 around 6:24pm ET on Wednesday, following a day of delays and anticipation, from its testing facility in Boca Chica, Texas. SN15 ignited its three massive Raptor Engines that released out streams of white smoke from the base before fire blew out to shoot the rocket into the air. The prototype climbed through the sky until it reached six miles, hovered for a moment and then performed the infamous sideways flip, dubbed a ‘belly flop’ maneuver by Musk. ‘Starship landing nominal,’ Musk tweeted moments after his pride and joy made a safe and successful landing on the pad. The successful landing brings the billionaire one step closer to fulfilling his dream of sending the humans to Mars. 27 Apr 2021 – Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin challenges NASA over SpaceX moon lander deal

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NASA’s Perseverance rover just made breathable air on Mars
The Perseverance rover converted carbon dioxide into oxygen on Mars, marking the first time breathable air has been made on another planet, NASA announced Wednesday. A toaster-sized instrument called MOXIE – short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment – made the feat possible. read more

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China launches Chang’e-5 Moon sample return mission
A Long March 5 rocket launched China’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft Monday to kick off a 23-day mission to deliver the first lunar samples to Earth since the 1970s.

The mission aims to collect the youngest samples so far obtained from the moon and later land in Siziwang Banner, read more

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If you are a science nerd who is ever bored, NASA has a YouTube channel filled with videos that might tickle your fancy, and among them is a live feed from the International Space Station. Recently, the astronauts on the ISS were doing some routine maintenance on the station but as the camera rolled, a pinecone shaped metallic object moved past the space station before turning upward and shooting off into space.

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Photo courtesy NASA

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@sciencemagazine’s 2019 Breakthrough of the Year goes to the Event Horizon Telescope (@ehtelescope) global network of observatories for the first #realblackhole image. http://bit.ly/35zUtXz https://twitter.com/ehtelescope

Massive, ubiquitous, and in some cases as big as our Solar System, black holes hide in plain sight. The effect of their gravity on objects read more

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For nearly 15 years, Mars was what you might call the land of Opportunity, as the little Mars rover punched way above its weight and managed to roam the red planet well, well beyond its expected lifespan.

“I stand here with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude that the Opportunity mission is complete—and with it, the Mars Exploration Rover [MER] mission read more

the far side of the moon
Chang’e-4 lunar probe

CNBC Wed 2 January, 2019
technical challenge to land on Moon’s far side: no direct way to communicate with the spacecraft
China makes history as the first to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. The Chang’e 4 mission launched in early December. It took the spacecraft three days to travel to the moon, where it spent the last few weeks read more