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SpaceX launches Dragon cargo spacecraft to ISS
Posted: Fri, Apr 18 6:23 PM ET (2223 GMT)
A Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft Friday on a mission to ferry cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The Falcon 9 v1.1 lifted off at 3:25 pm EDT (1915 GMT) and released the Dragon cargo spacecraft into low Earth orbit about ten minutes later. There were no technical issues with the countdown and the weather, which had been forecast to be poor, held off long enough for the launch to take place. The Dragon is scheduled to be grappled by the ISS's robotic arm at 7:14 am EDT (1114 GMT) Sunday and be berthed to the station. The launch also allows NASA to proceed with plans to perform a spacewalk on Wednesday to replace a failed backup computer on the station's exterior. The launch was also designed to test the ability of SpaceX to reenter the Falcon 9's first stage and have if softly splashdown in the Atlantic. Initial data indicated that the first phases of reentry went well, but SpaceX was waiting for additional data collected by aircraft. In addition, heavy seas at the landing site hampered efforts by recovery ships to be in position to recover the stage if it did make it to the ocean intact.
Astronomers discover Earth-sized planet in star's habitable zone
Posted: Fri, Apr 18 6:09 AM ET (1009 GMT)
Astronomers announced Thursday the discovery of a planet approximately the size of the Earth orbiting in the habitable zone of its star. The planet, Kepler-186f, is near the outer edge of the habitable zone of the M-class star it orbits. The planet is about 10% larger than the Earth based on its radius, but astronomers noted they do not know the planet's mass, and thus its density. The planet is the first world about the size of the Earth found in a planet's habitable zone, although scientists cautioned that does not mean the planet is Earth-like since it receives only about one-third the flux from its star as the Earth does from the Sun. Astronomers detected the planet in transits observed by NASA's Kepler spacecraft; observations by the Gemini and Keck telescopes ruled out other phenomena, like a background star or stellar companion, that could have caused a signal like that detected by Kepler.
SS/L to build two JSAT satellites
Posted: Fri, Apr 18 5:48 AM ET (0948 GMT)
Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) has won a contract from a Japanese company to build two direct broadcasting satellites, the companies announced Thursday. SS/L...
Soyuz launches Egyptian satellite
Posted: Thu, Apr 17 6:42 AM ET (1042 GMT)
A Soyuz rocket successfully launched an Egyptian remote sensing satellite on Wednesday. The Soyuz-U rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 12:20...
Cassini images show potential formation of new moon of Saturn
Posted: Wed, Apr 16 5:41 AM ET (0941 GMT)
Images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show what scientists believe may be the formation of a tiny new moon on the edge of the Saturn'...