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Vote Now! Top Space Stories of the Week - Oct. 23, 2011

A Falling Satellite, Vampire Star & Russian Rocket Takes Flight

Aaron M. Geller

This week we anticipated the fall of the ROSAT satellite, watched a Russian rocket launch and thought about the possibilities of taking a vacation to space in just some of the stories that came from space this past week.

Vote for your top space story of the week:

First Commercial Spaceport Hangar Dedicated in New Mexico

Virgin Galactic/Mark Greenberg

The operating hub for public space travel is being dedicated here today (Oct. 17), home base for pay-per-view suborbital treks out of Earth's atmosphere. [Full Story]

'Doomsday' Comet Elenin Zips by Earth in Pieces

Michael Mattiazzo

We can all breathe a sigh of relief: The so-called "doomsday comet" Elenin made its closest flyby of Earth Sunday (Oct. 16), and no cataclysms ensued. [Full Story]

Virgin Galactic's Private Spaceship Makes Safe Landing After Tense Test Flight

Virgin Galactic/Clay Center Observatory

Virgin Galactic's private suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle encountered an anomaly during a recent test flight that sent it hurtling toward the ground uncontrolled. Its feather re-entry system kicked in to allow a safe landing. [Full Story]

Despite Slow Start, Space Tourism Biz Begins to Fire Up

Bill Deaver/Deaver-Wiggins and Associates

Paying customers thought they'd be flying to suborbital space with Virgin Galactic by now. Why is the space tourism industry taking so long to get off the ground? [Full Story]

How Mysterious Vampire Stars Drain Life from Neighbors

Aaron M. Geller

New observations of extra bright, blue stars may hold the key to explaining how the stellar objects which according to astronomers shouldn't be able to exist, actually manage to keep shining. [Full Story]

Astronomers Spot Birth Of Alien Planet for First Time

Karen L. Teramura, UH IfA

Astronomers have discovered the youngest exoplanet ever found, spotting the alien world as it's coalescing from the dusty disk around its parent star, a new study reports. [Full Story]

Tiny World 'Snow White' Has Water Ice and Maybe Atmosphere

NASA

Astronomers have found water ice and possibly a wispy methane atmosphere on a dwarf planet known as "Snow White." [Full Story]

NASA Sets Guidelines to Preserve Apollo Moon Landing Sites

Apollo 11/NASA

NASA has begun drafting guidelines to protect the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 landing sites, listing them as off-limits, and including ground-travel buffers and no-fly zones to avoid spraying rocket exhaust or dust onto aging, but historic, equipment. [Full Story]

Russian Rocket Launches From South America in Space First

S. Corvaja/ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE

A Soyuz rocket blasted off this morning from South America, lofting to orbit the first two pieces of Europe's Galileo global positioning system. [Full Story]

Doomed German Satellite to Fall to Earth This Weekend

German Aerospace Center

A defunct German satellite fell to Earth late Saturday (Oct.22), with experts predicting that up to 30 big pieces of the junked spacecraft could hit the planet. But exactly when and where the satellite will fall remains a mystery. [Full Story]

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