The Space Shuttle Endeavour began its final journey at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to its permanent home, in the early morning hours October 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Over the next two days, the 170,000-pound (77,272 kg) shuttle will travel at no more than 2 mph (3.2 km per hour) along a 12-mile (19km) route from LAX to it’s final home at the California Science Center. NASA’s Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011 after 30 years and 135 missions.
Last night, SpaceX launched more than 1,000 pounds of supplies bound for the International Space Station on the first of 12 missions in its 1.6 billion USD contract with NASA. The Dragon capsule, propelled by a Falcone9 rocket, will join up with the station in three days bringing clothing, equipment and more science experiments.
UPDATE: Ars Technica is now reporting that one of the nine rockets on the Falcon 9 may have exploded before reaching orbit. Follow that story HERE.
After news earlier this week of the Curiosity rover petting and naming its new pet rock, Jake Matijevic, NASA released images today indicating that long ago, water probably flowed on the Martian surface.
Other notable images recently sent back from Mars include one from Curiosity’s older, but smaller rover sibling, Opportunity, that photographed small spherical objects, nicknamed “blueberries,” with it’s Microscopic Imager providing important evidence about long-ago wet environmental conditions.
Since NASA’s Curiosity landed on Mars on August 5, 2012, public excitement and speculation about what the rover will encounter continues to mount. To feed the appetite of the masses, we’ll continue to update our Curiosity gallery with NASA’s latest photos of the red planet, including panorama, composite and computer-generated images.
The next phase of the $2.5 billion mission, and by far the most daunting for Curiosity, will be reaching Mount Sharp. At a height of 3.4 miles, the highest peak of Mount Sharp is taller than Mt. Whitney in California. On its way, the rover will encounter dark dunes, degraded impact craters and other geologic features on the Martian surface of the planet. For updates follow @MarsCuriosity on Twitter.
UPDATE: Today at 9:56 a.m. eastern time, the SpaceX Dragon capsule was grabbed by a robotic arm from the International Space Station about 250 miles above northwest Australia. The Dragon is carrying 1,200 pounds of cargo for the Space Station crew including food, clothing and science experiments, one of which originated from Maryland’s own Paul Warren, an 11th-grader at Henry E. Lackey High School in Indian Head.
Led by CEO, and PayPal founder, Elon Musk, SpaceX is now the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. With its successful launch on Tuesday and subsequent docking later today, the Falcon 9/Dragon capsule has ushered in a new era in space travel now that NASA has retired its fleet of space shuttles.