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.
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.
Arecibo Observatory will be decommissioned.
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.
Green meteor lights up the night sky.
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.
Cosmonaut duo performs an almost 7-hour spacewalk.
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.
Satellites keep an eye on Hurricane Iota.
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.
Stratolaunch shares photos of a Mach 6 plane project.
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.
Researchers may have finally figured out a nebula puzzle.
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.
Rocket Lab launches 30 satellites and recovers rocket booster.
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.
Severe malfunction of a Vega rocket.
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.
DNA of "2001: A Space Odyssey" writer will fly to the moon.
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."