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The top space stories of the week!

A robotic lander will take DNA samples of a famous sci-fi writer to the moon next year, the iconic Arecibo Observatory will be decommissioned and four astronauts successfully launched into space in a milestone mission. These are some of the top stories this week from Space.com. 

NASA, SpaceX Crew-1 mission had a successful launch. 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft lift off for the Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station.  (Image credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA)

On Nov. 15, 2020, four astronauts launched from the historic launch pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to reach the International Space Station. They flew as part of Crew-1, the first operational mission for SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule. The capsule, called Resilience, brought three NASA astronauts and one Japanese astronaut to the orbiting laboratory. 

Full story: SpaceX Crew Dragon launches 4 astronauts to space station in 1st operational flight for NASA

See also: Victor Glover becomes 1st Black astronaut to arrive at space station for long-term stay

Plus: SpaceX's Elon Musk says he's tested positive for COVID-19 on eve of NASA astronaut launch

Arecibo Observatory will be decommissioned. 

Arecibo Observatory's cable-suspended science platform, as seen before damage accrued in 2020. (Image credit: UCF)

On  Thursday (Nov. 19), the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced it will decommission the iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The news came as scientists awaited the verdict about the facility's future, which was being figured out following two major cable breaks earlier this year. NSF found ''no path forward'' to preserve the telescope without risking people's safety, an NSF official said during a Thursday press conference. 

Full story: Arecibo radio telescope, an icon of astronomy, is lost

See also: Losing Arecibo Observatory would create a hole that can't be filled, scientists say

Green meteor lights up the night sky. 

On Nov. 18, 2020, a bright green meteor streaked across the night sky near CSIRO’s research vessel Investigator, which is currently stationed in the Tasman Sea, off the southern coast of Tasmania, Australia.

On Nov. 18, 2020, a bright green meteor streaked across the night sky near CSIRO’s research vessel Investigator, which is currently stationed in the Tasman Sea, off the southern coast of Tasmania, Australia.  (Image credit: CSIRO)

A bright fireball streaked across the evening sky over the Pacific Ocean near Australia. Several eyewitnesses caught the event, but the only known footage of the meteor comes from a Australian science research vessel named Investigator. The shop's livestream camera caught the Wednesday (Nov. 18) event when it was stationed about 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of the Tasmanian coast. 

Full story: Watch a bright fireball explode over the Tasman Sea (video)

Cosmonaut duo performs an almost 7-hour spacewalk. 

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov, Expedition 64 commander, is seen at the base of the Poisk mini-research module during a Nov. 18, 2020 spacewalk outside the International Space Station that inaugurated the use of Poisk as an airlock.

Cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov, Expedition 64 commander, is seen at the base of the Poisk mini-research module during a Nov. 18, 2020 spacewalk outside the International Space Station that inaugurated the use of Poisk as an airlock. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Two Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk on Wednesday (Nov. 18) to prepare the space station for the removal of one of its modules, "Pirs," and to make room from a new science module, "Nauka." Expedition 64 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov conducted the 6-hour, 48-minute spacewalk. 

Full story: Cosmonauts prep space station for module removal on spacewalk out of new airlock

Satellites keep an eye on Hurricane Iota. 

A view of Hurricane Iota from the NASA/NOAA GOES-East satellite on Nov. 16, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/NOAA)

Satellites continue to monitor the ongoing tempests brewing in the Atlantic Ocean. The 2020 hurricane season has set new records for tropical storm activity, and NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are currently monitoring Hurricane Iota that struck Nicaragua and Honduras. The region was hit by another strong storm, Hurricane Eta, just weeks ago. 

Full story: Record-breaking Hurricane Iota churns toward Central America (satellite photo)

Stratolaunch shares photos of a Mach 6 plane project. 

An image tweeted by Stratolaunch shows half a prototype skin for he company's Talon-A reusable hypersonic vehicle.

An image tweeted by Stratolaunch shows half a prototype skin for he company's Talon-A reusable hypersonic vehicle. (Image credit: Twitter/Stratolaunch)

The company Stratolaunch shared pictures on Twitter of their reusable hypersonic vehicle being built in a manufacturing facility. In March 2020, Stratolaunch announced it would work to build planes that could fly at Mach 5, or five times faster than the speed of sound. The sleek Talon-A vehicle may fly as fast as Mach 6. 

Full story: Stratolaunch starts building Talon hypersonic plane for Mach 6 flights

Researchers may have finally figured out a nebula puzzle. 

The Blue Ring Nebula is believed to have formed after a stellar collision, which ejected a cloud of hot debris into space. These emissions appear to form a ring around the nebula's central star, as the outflow of material forms a cone shape and the base of one of the cones is oriented almost directly toward Earth.

The Blue Ring Nebula is believed to have formed after a stellar collision, which ejected a cloud of hot debris into space. These emissions appear to form a ring around the nebula's central star, as the outflow of material forms a cone shape and the base of one of the cones is oriented almost directly toward Earth. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Seibert (Carnegie Institution for Science)/K. Hoadley (Caltech)/GALEX Team)

Scientists have long wondered why an ultraviolet ring surrounds the star at the heart of the Blue Ring Nebula. The mystery has puzzled researchers for 16 years, but a new paper suggests it is caused by a stellar collision.

Full story: The dazzling Blue Ring Nebula puzzled scientists for 16 years — and now they finally understand why

Rocket Lab launches 30 satellites and recovers rocket booster. 

A Rocket Lab Electron booster launches the "Return to Sender" mission from New Zealand on Nov. 19, 2020.

A Rocket Lab Electron booster launches the "Return to Sender" mission from New Zealand on Nov. 19, 2020. (Image credit: Rocket Lab)

The company Rocket Lab launched 30 satellites on Thursday (Nov. 19) and the rocket's first stage was recovered after the flight in a reusability milestone. Rocket Lab's two-stage Electron booster launched from New Zealand on a mission called ''Return to Sender.'' Achieving reusability will likely bring company launch costs down. 

Full story: Rocket Lab launches 30 satellites, recovers booster in reusability milestone

Severe malfunction of a Vega rocket.

An Arianespace Vega rocket carrying two satellites for Spain and France lifts off from a pad at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on Nov. 16, 2020. The rocket failed eight minutes into flight, leading to the loss of both satellites.

An Arianespace Vega rocket carrying two satellites for Spain and France lifts off from a pad at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on Nov. 16, 2020. The rocket failed eight minutes into flight, leading to the loss of both satellites. (Image credit: Arianespace)

On Monday (Nov. 16), a European rocket suffered a major failure shortly after launch. After an Arianespace Vega rocket launched from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, the rocket veered off course. The failure also meant the loss of the satellites onboard for Spain and France. 

Full story: European Vega rocket suffers major launch failure, satellites for Spain and France lost

DNA of "2001: A Space Odyssey" writer will fly to the moon. 

Artist's illustration of Astrobotic's robotic Peregrine lander at Lacus Mortis on the moon. Peregrine's Mission One is scheduled to touch down in 2021.

Artist's illustration of Astrobotic's robotic Peregrine lander at Lacus Mortis on the moon. Peregrine's Mission One is scheduled to touch down in 2021. (Image credit: Astrobotic Technology Inc.)

One of the payloads that the robotic Peregrine lander will take to the moon in its 2021 launch is the DNA of an important science fiction writer. Peregrine is being developed for NASA by Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotics. The DNA samples belonged to the deceased writer Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote the screenplay for the epic 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Full story: Memorial spaceflight: Cremated remains flying to the moon on private lander in 2021

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