Vote Now! Top Space Stories of the Week - Nov. 6, 2011

A Black Hole's Maw, Manned Mars Mission Tests and China Goes to Space

NASA/ESA

This week we looked at a never-before-seen image of a black hole's maw and pondered possibilities of aquatic life on Mars in just some of the stories that came from space this past week.

Vote for your top space story of the week:

Boeing to Build Private Space Taxis in Old NASA Shuttle Hangar

Boeing

Aerospace giant Boeing has inked a deal to use an old space shuttle hangar at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to build the private company's new spaceship designed to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. [Full Story]

Virgin Galactic Picks Air Force Pilot to Fly Private Spaceship

Virgin Galactic

The private spaceflight company Virgin Galactic has picked its first commercial astronaut pilot to help fly a passenger-carrying space plane to the edge of space and back. [Full Story]

Fast-Spinning Star Is Brightest & Youngest Ever Seen

NASA/GSFC

Astronomers have discovered the brightest, youngest and farthest pulsing star, called a pulsar, yet, a dazzling object 27,000 light years away from Earth. It is one of 10 new spinning stars discovered by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. [Full Story]

Dusty Cloaks Around Huge Black Holes Could Be Smashed Planets

NASA/ESA

Fat doughnut-shaped dust shrouds that obscure about half of supermassive black holes could be the result of high speed crashes between planets and asteroids, according to a new theory from an international team of astronomers. [Full Story]

Bright Space Explosion Reveals Surprising Ingredients of Galaxies

ESO/L. Calçada

An international team of astronomers has used the brief but brilliant light of a distant gamma-ray burst as a probe to study the make-up of very distant galaxies. [Full Story]

China Succeeds in First Space Docking by 2 Spaceships

CCTV

A pair of robotic Chinese spacecraft docked in orbit for the first time ever Wednesday (Nov. 2), marking a key step toward China's goal of building a space station and establishing a permanent manned presence in space by the end of the decade. [Full Story]

Ancient Mars Water May Have Flowed Underground

NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL

A new look at Mars observations suggests that evidence of clays that, scientists suspected, indicated a warm, wet environment on the Martian surface in ancient times may actually have been caused by heated, subsurface water. [Full Story]

6 Mock Mars Explorers Emerge from 520-Day Virtual Mission

ESA

After being isolated from the rest of the world for nearly a year-and-a-half, six volunteer astronauts will "return" to Earth today at the end of their mock mission to Mars. The hatch of the Mars500 habitat in Moscow is scheduled to be opened at 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT). [Full Story]

Hubble Telescope Catches Never-Before-Seen Look at Black Hole's Maw

NASA, ESA and J.A. Muñoz (University of Valencia)

The Hubble Space Telescope has directly observed a disk of matter being sucked into a huge black hole. [Full Story]

NASA's Giant Rocket to Use Existing Launch Platform, Shuttle Crawlers

NASA

NASA plans to use a launch platform meant for the cancelled Ares 1 rocket, and a space shuttle crawler transport for its new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. [Full Story]

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