Vote Now! Best Space Stories of the Week - May 5, 2013

SpaceShipTwo Goes Supersonic & More

ESA/PACS & SPIRE Consortia, T. Hill, F. Motte, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/IRFU – CNRS/INSU – Uni. Paris Diderot, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium

Last week Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo went supersonic in a test flight, the most powerful infrared telescope ever launched into space met its end, and Mars rover Curiosity went back to work. See the top stories of the last week here.

FIRST STOP: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Makes History with 1st Rocket-Powered Flight

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Makes History with 1st Rocket-Powered Flight

MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory

A private spaceship designed to carry space tourists made its first rocket-powered test flight today (April 29), exceeding the speed of sound as it paved the way toward commercial flights in the near future.[Full Story]

NEXT: Did Asteroid Impacts Spark Life's 'Left-Handed' Molecules?

Did Asteroid Impacts Spark Life's 'Left-Handed' Molecules?

National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

The mysterious bias of life on Earth toward molecules that skew one way and not the other could be due to how light shines in star- and planet-forming clouds, researchers say. [Full Story]

NEXT: World's Largest Infrared Space Telescope Shuts Down Forever

World's Largest Infrared Space Telescope Shuts Down Forever

ESA/PACS & SPIRE Consortia, T. Hill, F. Motte, Laboratoire AIM Paris-Saclay, CEA/IRFU – CNRS/INSU – Uni. Paris Diderot, HOBYS Key Programme Consortium

The most powerful infrared telescope ever launched into space has officially reached the end of its universe-observing life. The Herschel Space Observatory launched in 2009 and met its end in April 2013. [Full Story]

NEXT: NASA to Pay $70 Million a Seat to Fly Astronauts on Russian Spacecraft

NASA to Pay $70 Million a Seat to Fly Astronauts on Russian Spacecraft

NASA TV

NASA has signed a new contract that will keep its astronauts flying aboard Russian spaceships through the first half of 2017. [Full Story]

NEXT: Russian Space Junk Almost Destroys NASA Telescope in Orbit

Russian Space Junk Almost Destroys NASA Telescope in Orbit

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

A NASA telescope narrowly avoided a potentially disastrous collision with a piece of Russian space junk speeding around the Earth.[Full Story]

NEXT: Quantum Mechanics Trick May Detect Invisible Gravity Waves

Quantum Mechanics Trick May Detect Invisible Gravity Waves

S. M. Dickerson, Stanford University

Gravitational waves, or ripples in space and time, are predicted but have never been observed. Now scientists are proposing a new method to detect these cosmic wrinkles that relies on the quantum nature of atoms. [Full Story]

NEXT: Astronomer Sleuths Solve Civil War Mystery of 'Stonewall' Jackson's Death

Astronomer Sleuths Solve Civil War Mystery of 'Stonewall' Jackson's Death

From the collection of Donald Olson

By studying the position of the moon during a fateful Civil War battle, astronomers are solving the mystery of how Confederate general Stonewall Jackson died.[Full Story]

NEXT: Search for E.T. Should Extend Beyond 'Alien Earths,' Astronomer Says

Search for E.T. Should Extend Beyond 'Alien Earths,' Astronomer Says

NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Scientists need to keep an open mind when considering which alien planets may be capable of supporting life, a prominent researcher argues.[Full Story]

NEXT: On Mars, Curiosity Rover Back at Work After 'Spring Break'

On Mars, Curiosity Rover Back at Work After 'Spring Break'

NASA/JPL/MSSS/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer

The Mars rover Curiosity's month of freedom on the Red Planet is over.[Full Story]

NEXT: NASA Mulls Missions for Donated Spy Satellite Telescopes

NASA Mulls Missions for Donated Spy Satellite Telescopes

NASA

NASA is sorting through a variety of possible uses for a pair of powerful spy satellite telescopes that fell into the agency's lap last year. [Full Story]

NEXT: Houston Museum to Top Historic NASA Jet with Mock Space Shuttle

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