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Yesterday β€” May 15th 2021Space | The Guardian

China lands unmanned spacecraft on Mars for first time

State-run media says landing β€˜spectacularly conquered’ a new milestone; it joins US Perseverance rover which landed in February

An unmanned Chinese spacecraft has successfully landed on the surface of Mars, Chinese state news agency Xinhua has reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the US to land on the red planet.

The official Xinhua news agency said the lander had touched down on Saturday, citing the China National Space Administration.

Related: Tianwen1 probe sends back its first picture of Mars

Related: China launches first module of new space station

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Before yesterdaySpace | The Guardian

Europe’s Jupiter spacecraft enters crucial testing phase

May 14th 2021 at 01:00

Critical sequence of tests begins in space simulator to prepare Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer for its journey to the great gas giant


The European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) has begun a critical sequence of tests to make sure it can function correctly in the hostile conditions of outer space.

Having been assembled by Airbus Friedrichshafen, Germany, the 6.2 tonne spacecraft has now arrived at Esa’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands, where it is being prepared to enter the Large Space Simulator. Once inside, the air will be pumped from the chamber to replicate the vacuum of space. Then it will be heated and cooled to precisely mimic its varying distance from the Sun as it journeys through the solar system to arrive at the gas giant planet Jupiter, five times further from the Sun than the Earth.

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Space race 2: Russian actor bound for ISS in same month as Tom Cruise

May 13th 2021 at 13:30

Hollywood star is aiming to be first to shoot a feature film in space, but Russia has launched rival bid

The space race appears set for a relaunch following the news that Russia is to send an actor and director to the International Space Station in October, with the ambition of making the first feature film in space.

The crew are scheduled to begin their expedition on 5 October 2021. While on the space station they could encounter some fellow film-makers: Tom Cruise and the director Doug Liman, who are also due to travel there in October to make a movie.

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Nasa spacecraft leaves asteroid Bennu with a belly full of space rock samples

May 10th 2021 at 19:06

Osiris-Rex has been flying around the ancient asteroid since 2018 and collected nearly a pound of rubble last fall

With rubble from an asteroid tucked inside, a Nasa spacecraft fired its engines and began the long journey back to Earth on Monday, leaving the ancient space rock in its rearview mirror.

The trip home for the robotic prospector, Osiris-Rex, will take two years.

Related: Nasa’s Mars helicopter in first powered, controlled flight on another planet

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Starwatch: your best chance of the year to see Mercury at night

May 10th 2021 at 01:00

Observers in the northern hemisphere can start tonight to look for the elusive target

This May offers observers in the northern hemisphere their best chance of the year to see the planet Mercury in the evening sky.

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β€˜Irresponsible’: Nasa chides China as rocket debris lands in Indian Ocean

May 9th 2021 at 07:28

US agency accuses Beijing of failing to meet expected standards regarding its space debris

Remnants of China’s biggest rocket have landed in the Indian Ocean, ending days of speculation over where the debris would hit and drawing US criticism over a lack of transparency.

The coordinates given by Chinese state media, citing the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO), put the point of impact west of the Maldives archipelago.

Related: Chinese rocket’s chaotic fall to Earth highlights problem of space junk

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Footage shows debris from China’s largest rocket falling to Earth – video

May 9th 2021 at 07:14

The remnants of China’s largest rocket plummeted back to Earth, plunging into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, according to Chinese state media and people in Oman and Jordan who captured footage of its light in the sky.

Most of the rocket debris burned up in the atmosphere, according to theΒ China Manned Space Engineering Office

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Chinese rocket’s chaotic fall to Earth highlights problem of space junk

May 8th 2021 at 02:00

China has played down fears that its Long March 5B rocket could hit a populated area or a plane in flight but there is no shortage of problem debris in orbit

Sometime this weekend the upper stage of a Chinese Long March 5B rocket will plunge back to Earth and most of it will burn up on re-entry – but perhaps not all.

Military experts in the US expect the booster stage to come down on Saturday or Sunday, but have warned it is difficult to predict where it will land and when and how much material might hit the ground – or if it could knock a plane out of the sky.

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US military has β€˜no plan’ to shoot down debris from falling Chinese rocket

Defense secretary is hopeful rocket will crash in the ocean; Aerospace Corp said it expects debris to hit the Pacific near the equator

The US military has no plan to shoot down the remnants of a large Chinese rocket expected to plunge back through the atmosphere this weekend, the defense secretary said on Thursday.

Speaking with reporters, the US defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, said the hope was the rocket would land in the ocean and that the latest estimate was that it would come down between Saturday and Sunday.

Related: SpaceX returns four astronauts to Earth in darkness

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Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin plans space sightseeing jaunt for July

May 6th 2021 at 04:43

New Shepard rocket-and-capsule combo aims to fly six passengers 62 miles above Earth into space

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, aims to launch its first suborbital sightseeing trip on its New Shepard spacecraft on 20 July, a moment that could usher in an era of private commercial space travel.

Blue Origin also said it would offer one seat on the first flight to the winning bidder of a five-week online auction, the proceeds of which will be donated to the space firm’s foundation.

Related: Falling Chinese rocket to crash to Earth on weekend as US calls for β€˜responsible space behaviours’

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Eta Aquarids meteor shower 2021: Australia expecting to see spectacular display of shooting stars

May 6th 2021 at 01:50

The best time to look skyward will be from 2.30am to 3am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning – and you won’t need a telescope

Shooting stars will light up the early morning sky across Australia this coming weekend.

Those willing to brave the cold over the next few days will be rewarded with a spectacular show of streaking lights.

Related: Falling Chinese rocket to crash to Earth on weekend as US calls for β€˜responsible space behaviours’

Related: 'We’re back': rocket launch licence gives Australia's aerospace sector high hopes

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Elon Musk's Starship lands successfully for first time – video

May 6th 2021 at 01:46

SpaceX launches and successfully lands its futuristic Starship SN15 for the first time. The previous four test flights for the rocketship had ended in explosions for the vehicle that SpaceX founder Elon Musk hopes will eventually transport humans to Mars. This latest upgraded version of SpaceX’s full-scale, stainless steel, bullet-shaped rocketship reached a maximum altitude of over six miles (10km) before flipping and descending horizontally, and then going vertical again just in time for touchdown

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Debris from Chinese rocket could hit Earth at weekend, says expert

Communist party newspaper claims Long March 5B should easily burn up in atmosphere but expert warns pieces will reach Earth

The White House has called for β€œresponsible space behaviours” as a debris from a Chinese rocket, thought to be out of control, is expected to crash back to Earth on Saturday, US time.

The US Space Command is tracking debris from the Long March 5B, which last week launched the main module of China’s first permanent space station into orbit. The roughly 30-metre (100ft) long stage would be among the biggest piece of space debris to fall to Earth.

Related: β€˜Out-of-control’ Chinese rocket falling to Earth could partially survive re-entry

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β€˜Out-of-control’ Chinese rocket falling to Earth could partially survive re-entry

May 3rd 2021 at 22:55

Long March 5B is doing 27,600km/h in failing orbit, with eventual crash site unknown, after launching space station hub

Part of a huge rocket that launched China’s first module for its Tianhe space station is falling back to Earth and could make an uncontrolled re-entry at an unknown landing point.

The 30-metre high core of the Long March 5B rocket launched the β€œHeavenly Harmony” unmanned core module into low Earth orbit on 29 April from Wenchang in China’s Hainan province.

Related: China launches first module of new space station

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Starwatch: shooting stars from the tail of Halley’s comet

May 3rd 2021 at 01:00

The Eta Aquarids may not be the most spectacular meteors of the year but they are fun to see

This week, keep an eye open for the Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Shooting stars from this annual display can usually be seen between 19 April and 28 May. This year they are expected to peak in the pre-dawn sky of 5 May, but the morning before and after are worth a try too.

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Will Virgin Galactic ever lift off?

May 2nd 2021 at 08:00

It’s taken 17 years, with many setbacks and some deaths, and still Richard Branson’s space mission is yet to launch

Richard Branson was running almost 15 years late. But as we rode into the Mojave desert on the morning of 12 December 2018, he was feeling upbeat and untroubled by the past. He wore jeans, a leather jacket and the easy smile of someone used to being behind schedule.

Branson hadn’t exactly squandered the past 15 years. He’d become a grandfather, moved to a private island in the Caribbean and expanded Virgin’s business empire into banking, hotels, gyms, wedding dresses and more. But he was staking his legacy on Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company he formed in 2004. The idea was to build a rocketship with seats for eight – two pilots, six passengers – that would be carried aloft by a mothership, released about 45,000ft in the air and then zoom just beyond the lower limit of space, float around for a few minutes, before returning to Earth. He was charging $200,000 a seat.

Great motor burn, everybody! We’re going to space, Richard!

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SpaceX returns astronauts to Earth in rare night-time splashdown – video

May 2nd 2021 at 06:38

SpaceX safely returned four astronauts from the International Space Station on Sunday, making the first US crew splashdown in darkness since the Apollo 8 moonshot in 1968. The Dragon capsule parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, just before 3am, ending the second astronaut flight for Elon Musk’s company


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SpaceX returns four astronauts to Earth in darkness

May 2nd 2021 at 04:36

Capsule parachutes into Gulf of Mexico at 3am, the first night-time US crew splashdown since 1968

SpaceX safely returned four astronauts from the International Space Station on Sunday, making the first US crew splashdown in darkness since the Apollo 8 moonshot.

The Dragon capsule parachuted into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, just before 3am, ending the second astronaut flight for Elon Musk’s company. It was an express trip home, lasting just six and a half hours.

Related: Fifty years after Apollo, space is about to transform our life on Earth beyond recognition | Will Hutton

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