NASA

Last mission to save Hubble telescope could launch a day early

Last mission to save Hubble telescope could launch a day earlyWashington  - The fifth and last mission to repair the ageing Hubble Space Telescope could launch a day earlier than planned, officials at the US space agency said Thursday.

The space shuttle Atlantis was to take off from its Florida launch site on May 12 and could likely take off at 2:01 pm (1801 GMT) on May 11, officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.

"I'm fairly confident that we can make a May 11 launch date," said LeRoy Cain, deputy manager of the Space Shuttle Programme.

ROUNDUP: Shuttle Discovery returns safely to Earth

Shuttle Discovery returns safely to EarthWashington  - The space shuttle Discovery landed safely at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Saturday.

Commander Lee Archambault guided the shuttle to a picture-perfect landing at 1914 GMT, ending the shuttle's 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

"Welcome home after a mission to bring the ISS to full power," the NASA ground crew said, adding a special welcome to astronaut Sandra Magnus, who returned to Earth after spending 129 days living aboard the ISS.

"Thank you very much. It's good to be back home," Archambault replied.

US space shuttle landing delayed due to bad weather

US space shuttle landing delayed due to bad weather Washington - The US space administration NASA on Saturday said that the landing of the space shuttle Discovery would be delayed by around an hour and a half due to poor weather.

Instead of the originally scheduled 1740 GMT, the spacecraft is now due to return at 1913 GMT to the spaceport at Cape Canaveral in in the US state of Florida, due to thick cloud cover at the earlier scheduled time.

The shuttle, with seven astronauts on board, is returning after a 13-day mission to install the fourth and last pair of sun sails on the international space station. (dpa)

ROUNDUP: Discovery undocks from expanded space station

Discovery undocks from expanded space stationWashington  - The space shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station Wednesday to head back to Earth after a week at the station on a milestone construction mission that has doubled the station's capacity.

The mission astronauts installed the fourth and final set of solar panels needed to double power capacity at the station so it can hold six instead of the current three long-term residents - possibly as early as May. The crew completed three spacewalks, including one to install the panels.

Discovery to undock from space station; TV comedian gets name vote

Discovery to undock from space station; TV comedian gets name voteWashington  - Discovery astronauts were preparing to undock from the space station later Wednesday to head back to Earth after completing a milestone mission that has doubled the station's capacity.

The mission astronauts installed the fourth and final set of solar panels needed to double power capacity at the station so it can hold six instead of the current three long-term residents - possibly as early as May.

Space station's final solar panel starts unfurling

Space station's final solar panel starts unfurling Washington  - The final solar panel at the space station began unfurling, as planned, on Friday, the final event in the years- long expansion of the energy capacity of the orbiter.

The panel, installed Thursday during a spacewalk by astronauts from the Discovery shuttle, started unfolding at 1506 GMT.

"Everything looking good so far," said a NASA official in Houston in the live webcast on NASA TV. She said the process would take some time, and be halted midway to allow the device to "warm in the sun" - necessary to avoid sticking.

Discovery on way to ISS with eye on space junk

Discovery on way to ISS with eye on space junkWashington - The space shuttle Discovery was on its way to the International Space Station on Monday as ground crews monitored a piece of space junk that could prompt a change of course.

A piece of an old satellite could require the ISS to perform an avoidance manoeuvre, forcing Discovery to slightly change course in order to arrive at the ISS on Tuesday.

ROUNDUP: Shuttle launch cancelled due to leak

Shuttle launch cancelled due to leakWashington - The launch of the space shuttle Discovery planned for later Wednesday was abruptly cancelled just hours ahead of blast off.

NASA called off the launch after it discovered a leak in a hydrogen vent line between the shuttle and its external fuel tank. The US space agency made the decision ahead of a planned 9:20 pm (0120 GMT Thursday) launch.

1ST LEAD: Shuttle launch stopped

1ST LEAD: Shuttle launch stoppedWashington  - The launch of the space shuttle Discovery planned for later Wednesday was abruptly cancelled just hours ahead of blast off.

NASA called off the launch after it discovered a leak in a hydrogen vent line between the shuttle and its external fuel tank. The US space agency made the decision ahead of a planned 9:20 pm (0120 GMT Thursday) launch.

Technicians had been filling the tank with fuel and would now have to completely drain it. A new launch time was set for 8:54 pm Thursday (0054 GMT Friday).

Shuttle launch stopped

Shuttle launch stoppedWashington  - The launch of the space shuttle Discovery planned for later Wednesday was abruptly cancelled just hours ahead of blast off.

The launch had already been delayed for weeks to allow NASA time to examine valves that control the flow of gaseous hydrogen from the spacecraft's engine to its external fuel tank. A valve was found to be damaged after the space shuttle Endeavour's November flight, prompting NASA to delay Discovery's mission as a precautionary measure. (dpa)

NASA replaces suspect valves on space shuttle Discovery

NASA replaces suspect valves on space shuttle DiscoveryWashington  - NASA technicians on Wednesday removed three fuel valves from the space shuttle Discovery that they feared could break off and damage the craft during launch.

The valves control the flow of hydrogen from the engines to the external fuel tank. NASA planned to replace the valves with models that had flown on fewer missions, after a piece broke off a similar valve on the space shuttle Endeavour in November. There was no damage, but the incident raised fears that shuttles could be damaged in the future.

ROUNDUP: NASA's carbon dioxide satellite fails at launch

NASA's carbon dioxide satellite fails at launchLos Angeles  - A NASA satellite meant to help scientists get a clearer picture of how the Earth reacts to carbon dioxide failed to reach orbit after launching early Tuesday from an Air Force base in California, NASA said.

The 278-million-dollar Orbiting Carbon Observatory was meant to take about 8 million measurements every 16 days for the next two years to give researchers a clearer picture of how the carbon cycle affects climate and how net emissions vary by region.

Other "earths," where are you? NASA to launch Kepler camera

Other "earths," where are you? NASA to launch Kepler camera Washington - The search for extraterrestrial life will take another step in March, when NASA launches its Kepler satellite to systematically look for Earth-type planets orbiting other stars.

The Kepler mission, named after the 17th century German astronomer, is to be launched on March 5 and target 100,000 stars in the Milky Way galaxy that scientists believe could have planets orbiting in a "habitable" zone, NASA scientists said Thursday.

NASA reviews technology on space shuttle after launch postponed

NASA reviews technology on space shuttle after launch postponed Washington  - NASA was examining a valve on the space shuttle Discovery on Tuesday a day after pushing the launch back to February 19 at the earliest.

Discovery was originally aiming for a February 12 launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Researchers find methane on Mars - possible sign of life?

Researchers find methane on Mars - possible sign of life? Washington  - A team of NASA scientists has found proof of the existence of methane gas on Mars, again raising questions about the possibility of life on the red planet, the US space agency said Thursday.

Repair of popular Hubble space telescope delayed

Repair of popular Hubble space telescope delayed Washington  - NASA has postponed indefinitely the much- awaited repair mission to the Hubble space telescope because of added problems with the orbiting telescope's mechanisms, according to an announcement on its website on Tuesday.

After repeated delays, the Atlantis shuttle was to have launched the risky, precise mission on October 14. That launch has been cancelled.

The next shuttle launch will be of the Endeavour shuttle on November 17 to the International Space Station (ISS), a NASA spokeswoman confirmed.

Snow spotted in Martian clouds, NASA says

Snow spotted in Martian clouds, NASA says Washington  - The Phoenix Mars lander has found snow falling from clouds above Mars, NASA said Monday.

The snow evaporated before it reached the ground, Phoenix's instruments showed.

"Nothing like this view has ever been seen on Mars," researcher Jim Whiteway of York University in Toronto said. "We'll be looking for signs that the snow may even reach the ground."

Scientists also said they had found calcium carbonate - the main component of chalk - and possibly clay, both of which form only in the presence of liquid water.

Awful mood for NASA jubilee: Is China headed for the moon?

Awful mood for NASA jubilee: Is China headed for the moon?Washington  - NASA celebrates its 50th anniversary Wednesday, but the US space agency is hardly in the mood for partying.

Even NASA boss Michael Griffin, who is usually rather a cold technician, recently sounded the alarm. After all, the agency's greatest triumphs, notably the first moon landing, took place almost 40 years ago.

In public, Griffin restrains himself, but in private, he bluntly expresses his concern that US dominance in space could soon give way to China.

Solar wind at 50-year low, scientists say

Solar wind at 50-year low, scientists say Washington  - The solar wind is at a 50-year low, potentially opening up the solar system to more dangerous rays from outer space, researchers said Tuesday.

Data from the joint NASA and European Space Agency Ulysses solar mission show the cyclical wind - as the plasma and magnetic fields sent out by the sun are called - are at their lowest level since scientists first gathered information on the matter.

NASA moves space shuttle Atlantis to launch pad

NASA moves space shuttle Atlantis to launch padWashington  - US space agency NASA on Thursday moved space shuttle Atlantis to a coastal launch pad, in preparation for lift off on October 8.

The shuttle was set to be rolled out Tuesday from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, but the six-hour move was delayed because of two tropical storms brewing dangerously close to the Gulf of Mexico.

Atlantis' crew members are set for an equipment test Friday, with a launch targeted for October 8 as scheduled, a statement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

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