Jul 21, 2011, 1:58 a.m.
Shuttle heads back to Earth for last time
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The shuttle Atlantis astronauts fired their spaceship's braking rockets to leave orbit on Thursday, aiming to conclude the final U.S. space shuttle mission with a predawn landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle was targeted to land at its home base at 5:57 a.m. EDT (0957 GMT).
U.S. space shuttle spawned heart pump, fly by wire
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - As the United States prepares to end its space shuttle program, technologies developed to nurture the reusable spaceships through three decades of flight will live on in day-to-day use on Earth. Shuttle Atlantis and its four-member crew are due back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 5:57 a.m. EDT on Thursday after a mission to resupply the International Space Station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, currently orbiting about 250 miles above the planet.
Hubble detects a tiny fourth moon around Pluto
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a tiny fourth moon orbiting the distant icy dwarf planet Pluto, NASA said on Wednesday. The space telescope was searching for rings around the planetary oddball at the edge of our solar system when it came across P4, the temporary name for the newly discovered moon.
U.S. wants to talk outer space with China
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States wants to open a regular dialogue with China on outer space in an effort to create "rules for the road" and reduce the risk of misunderstandings, a U.S. defense official said on Tuesday. China is making major investments in space and, unlike in the United States, distinguishing between China's civil and military space sectors is difficult because "the two are essentially one," Gregory Schulte, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said.
NASA probe enters orbit around asteroid Vesta
HOUSTON (Reuters) - A robotic NASA science probe slipped into orbit around the potato-shaped asteroid Vesta on Saturday to begin a yearlong study of the second largest object in the asteroid belt. NASA's Dawn spacecraft relayed a signal to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to confirm that it had entered Vesta's orbit, about 117 million miles (188 million km) from Earth, the agency said early on Sunday.
U.S. astronauts gird for post-shuttle era
HOUSTON (Reuters) - Former chief astronaut Steve Lindsey announced his retirement on Thursday, the latest in a series of departures from the ranks of NASA's elite corps spurred by the end of the space shuttle program. For the U.S. space agency's newest astronaut recruits, however, the departure of veteran fliers means less competition for a dwindling number of assignments on the International Space Station.
Space shuttle prepares to depart station for last time
HOUSTON (Reuters) - The crew of NASA's final space shuttle mission closed the hatch to the International Space Station for the final time on Monday in preparation for the shuttle's last flight back to Earth. NASA is watching the path of Tropical Storm Bret off the Atlantic coast of Florida but it is not expected to interfere with Atlantis' planned landing at 5:57 a.m. EDT (0957 GMT) on Thursday.