Vote Now! Best Space Stories of the Week – Jan. 12, 2014

Landmark Launch, Massive Solar Flare and More

NASA/Bill Ingalls

Last week Orbital Sciences launched a landmark private cargo mission to ISS, Einstein's theory of general relativity was tested, and the sun unleashed its first major solar flare of the year. See the best stories from last week here.

FIRST STOP: Will Commercial Space Travel Blast Off in 2014?

Will Commercial Space Travel Blast Off in 2014?

Virgin Galactic

SPACE.com surveyed a number of people savvy about commercial space travel, asking them what developments we should expect in the field this year.

[Full Story]

NEXT: 'Hand of God' Spotted by NASA Space Telescope (Photo)

'Hand of God' Spotted by NASA Space Telescope (Photo)

NASA/JPL-Caltech/McGill

Religion and astronomy may not overlap often, but a new NASA X-ray image captures a celestial object that resembles the "Hand of God."

[Full Story]

NEXT: Wow! Hubble Snaps Super-Deep View of Universe (Photos)

Wow! Hubble Snaps Super-Deep View of Universe (Photos)

NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team (STScI)

Religion and astronomy may not overlap often, but a new NASA X-ray image captures a celestial object that resembles the "Hand of God."

[Full Story]

NEXT: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Spacecraft Makes Highest Supersonic Test Flight Yet

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Spacecraft Makes Highest Supersonic Test Flight Yet

MarsScientific.com/Clay Center Observatory

Virgin Galactic launched its highest SpaceShipTwo test flight yet, a supersonic rocket-powered flight on Jan. 10. See how high the private spaceship flew here.

[Full Story]

NEXT: New Exoplanet Imager Snaps 1st Photos of Alien Worlds

New Exoplanet Imager Snaps 1st Photos of Alien Worlds

Processing by Christian Marois, NRC Canada

The Gemini planet imager sees first light.

[Full Story]

NEXT: International Space Station Gets Life Extension Through 2024

International Space Station Gets Life Extension Through 2024

NASA

NASA and White House officials are announcing plans today (Jan. 8) to keep the International Space Station running through at least 2024 — a four-year life extension for the largest spacecraft ever built.

[Full Story]

NEXT: Orbital Sciences Launches Landmark Private Cargo Mission to Space Station

Orbital Sciences Launches Landmark Private Cargo Mission to Space Station

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The commercial spaceflight company Orbital Sciences Corp. launched a robotic spacecraft from Virginia's Eastern Shore Thursday (Jan. 9) on a milestone flight: the company's first official cargo delivery to the International Space Station.

[Full Story]

NEXT: Sun Unleashes 1st Major Solar Flare of 2014 (Video)

Sun Unleashes 1st Major Solar Flare of 2014 (Video)

NASA/SDO

A massive solar flare erupted from the sun on Tuesday (Jan. 7), rising up from what appears to be one of the largest sunspot groups seen on the star's surface in a decade, NASA officials say.

[Full Story]

NEXT: Fast-Spinning Star Tests Einstein's General Relativity Theory

Fast-Spinning Star Tests Einstein's General Relativity Theory

Bill Saxton; NRAO/AUI/NSF

A fast-spinning star packed tightly with two white dwarf companions may provide the best insights yet into where Einstein's theory of relativity goes wrong.

[Full Story]

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.