NASA Astronaut Bresnik and Crewmates Return to Earth From Space Station

Russian Search and Rescue teams arrive at the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft shortly after it landed with Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Bresnik, Nespoli and Ryazanskiy are returning after 138 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 52 and 53 crews onboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Three crew members who have been living and working aboard the International Space Station returned to Earth on Thursday, landing in Kazakhstan after opening a new chapter in the scientific capability of humanity’s premier microgravity laboratory.

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Blue Origin Launches, Lands New 'Crew Capsule 2.0' in Latest Flight Test

New Shepard crew capsule 2.0 launching on flight test mission 7 on Dec 12, 2017. Photo: Blue Origin

Billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos and his Kent, Wash.-based company Blue Origin conducted a successful flight test of a new ‘2.0’ version of their New Shepard crew capsule on Tuesday, Dec 12, at the company’s west Texas launch site.

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Opportunity Rover Survives Worst Part of Another Martian Winter As It Continues Study of Ancient Gully

Winnemucca mesa, near the entrance to Perseverance Valley. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

As incredible as it is to believe, NASA’s Opportunity rover is still going strong on Mars, nearly fourteen years after landing in January 2004. And now once again, it has just passed the shortest daylight time of the Martian year, the worst part of the Martian winter, with pretty clean solar panels to boot. Unlike the newer Curiosity rover which uses nuclear power, Opportunity, and its now-dead twin Spirit, uses solar panels for energy. At the same time, the rover continues to study an ancient gully thought to have been carved by water in the distant past.

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SLC-40 Ready for Return to Flight, With Fourth ISS-Bound Dragon of 2017

The CRS-6 Dragon spacecraft is robotically detached from the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2015. Friday’s CRS-13 mission will reuse the pressurized module of the CRS-6 Dragon. Photo Credit: Terry Virts/Twitter/NASA

SpaceX stands ready to launch its fourth Dragon cargo mission of 2017 to the International Space Station (ISS) at 10:35 a.m. EST Friday, 15 December, marking the first use of Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in more than a year. The pad has been out of service since the Amos-6 explosion in September 2016 and its return to operational use is expected to free up historic Pad 39A at the neighboring Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for the long-awaited maiden voyage of the Falcon Heavy booster.

Meanwhile, at the space station, the incumbent Expedition 53 crew bade farewell to Orbital ATK’s OA-8 Cygnus cargo ship on Tuesday, 5 December, as U.S. astronaut Randy Bresnik, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky and Italy’s Paolo Nespoli prepare for their own return to Earth next week.

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'Like a Big Ol' Freight Train': 45 Years Since the Launch of Apollo 17

Apollo 17 launches into the night at 12:33 a.m. EST on 7 December 1972. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Forty-five years ago, the combined spacecraft of Apollo 17—the Command and Service Module (CSM), named “America”, and the spider-like Lunar Module (LM), dubbed “Challenger”—slipped smoothly into lunar orbit. In doing so, it represented the ninth time in four short years that humans had ventured from Earth, across a gulf of 240,000 miles (370,000 km), to reach the Moon. And for Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan, Ron Evans and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, they would be the last men to depart low-Earth orbit for the rest of the 20th century. Even today, as we head towards the end of the second decade of the 21st century, theirs is the most recent occasion that humans have journeyed to the Moon.

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Expedition 55 Crew Primed for March 2018 Launch to Space Station

The Soyuz MS-08 crew, from left, consists of Oleg Artemyev, Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel. The trio will spend approximately 5.5 months aboard the International Space Station (ISS), launching in March 2018. Photo Credit: Michael Galindo/AmericaSpace

Three experienced spacefarers, including an ex-teacher, a former soldier in the Soviet Army and a veteran “Hubble Hugger”, gathered before the media at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, 7 December, to discuss their upcoming voyage to the International Space Station (ISS). Two-time shuttle astronaut Drew Feustel, seasoned spacewalker Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev are slated to launch out of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft early next spring and return to Earth in late summer.

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SpaceX Says New Improved SLC-40 Ready for Launches Again Following CRS-13 Test Fire

FILE PHOTO: Falcon 9 v1.1 and CRS-3 Dragon payload undergoing a static “hot-fire” test on Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 ahead of its opening launch attempt. Photo Credit: SpaceX

Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) is back in business after supporting a successful Falcon-9 static test fire on Dec 6 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, where SpaceX is currently preparing the booster to launch an un-crewed Dragon spacecraft with about 4,800 pounds of goods to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. 

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All Fired Up! Voyager 1 Fires Up Thrusters For First Time in 37 Years

Artist’s conception of Voyager 1 reaching interstellar space. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is one of the greatest achievements in space exploration, becoming the first probe to reach interstellar space, after epic flybys of Jupiter and Saturn in 1979 and 1980. Since then, Voyager 1 has remained healthy although its thrusters have been dormant for the past 37 years; the last time they needed to be used was Nov. 8, 1980. But now, the thrusters have been successfully fired up once again, not bad for such an aging spacecraft.

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VIDEO: Watch the ISS Transit the Super Moon Sunday Night

The ISS transits the Super Moon Dec 3, 2017. Photo: John Kraus / AmericaSpace

Many people have seen the International Space Station (ISS) fly across the twilight sky like a bright star in the hours after sunset or before sunrise while it is still lit by the sun. But seeing it cross the moon is a real treat, usually requiring some planning.

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Remembering the Dogs of War: 25 Years Since Discovery Closed Out the Shuttle's Military Career

The STS-53 crew, aboard Discovery, during their mission, a quarter-century ago. From left are Guy Bluford, Michael “Rich” Clifford, Dave Walker, Jim Voss and Bob Cabana. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/SpaceFacts.de

Twenty-five years ago, the five-man crew of shuttle Discovery settled into orbit for a mission about which a cloak of secrecy would descend for the final time. All told, the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) delivered ten major payloads into orbit for the Department of Defense—including communications satellites, reconnaissance/intelligence sentinels and technology demonstrations—between January 1985 and December 1992. But on STS-53, that era of classified shuttle missions would draw to a close. “The fact that complex mutual objectives have been achieved by two federal organizations, chartered with often divergent goals,” said then-NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, “is a wonderful and remarkable demonstration of inter-agency co-operation at its best.” Veteran STS-53 astronaut Jim Voss took the time to respond to several questions about his mission for this commemorative AmericaSpace article.

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