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Living in a bubble: inflatable modules could be the future of space habitats

The astronauts of the International Space Station welcomed the arrival of what we call the “Bigelow Bungalow”, officially known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) on April 10. If all goes to plan, the station’s robotic arm will install the module later this week. Although, according to NASA’s Kirk Shireman, it won’t be inflated […]

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The search for life beneath the ice: why we’re going back to Europa

Morgan Saletta, University of Melbourne and Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, University of Melbourne Last month NASA gave the “all systems go” for a new mission to Europa. But why go back? After all, we’re still sifting through the data from the Galileo probes fly-bys from more than a decade ago. The short answer: it’s all about life. […]

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Apollo 11: it was 45 years ago today

What a time to ‘have to’ go and buy milk. Mid-morning Monday, July 21 1969, and my mother sends me up the street to get some milk. No big deal, you might say. However, a few hours prior to then, at 6:17 AEST that morning to be precise, a fragile craft, called the Eagle, had […]

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The Right Stuff: astronaut biographies from Glenn to Hadfield

An enduring image of an ‘astronaut’ was created for the public by NASA, Time magazine, and Tom Woolf’s The Right Stuff. These caricatures of  the original seven American astronauts, the so-called Mercury-7, chosen to assert American supremacy over the communist threat of Sputnik have seemingly endured way past their use by date. A resurgence in […]

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Another step in China’s ‘Long March’ into space

The colorful and polished launch of Shenzhou 10 confirms that China has come of age as a spacefaring nation.  At 19:40 AEST on Tuesday June 11 (17:40 local time) three ‘yuhangyuan’, Chinese astronauts, embarked on China’s sixth crewed space mission. This second mission to Tiangong 1, the Chinese space station, is a credible step in […]

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Interstellar travel: how to spot a ‘starman’ going by

Massive objects moving at near light speeds do not occur naturally in the universe as we know it. If we detect such objects it is a reasonable to assume they are artificial artifacts from advanced intelligent life. This according to Garcia-Escartin and Chamorro-Posada, authors of a recent paper, is a low-cost, sure-fire way of searching […]

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The perils of space exploration: last flight of space shuttle Columbia

The 28th and last flight (STS-107) of the space shuttle Columbia was ten years ago. Launched on January 16, 2003 Columbia was destroyed at about 0900 EST on February 1, 2003 while re-entering the atmosphere after its 16-day scientific mission. The destruction of the shuttle killed all seven astronauts on board. An illustrious career Columbia […]

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Joy to the world: an ode to outer space at Christmas

  By Alice Gorman, Flinders University and Kevin Orrman-Rossiter, University of Melbourne Christmas – whether you’re religious or not – is a time when people gather their families together to reinforce the bonds that make us human. In the era of modern telecommunications, distance no longer separates people the way it once did. Whether you’re […]

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It is the year 2023 and humans have settled on Mars

Do you wish to become a Martizen, a citizen of Mars, anytime in the near future?  If you are serious about this then Dutchman, Bas Lansdorp, CEO of Mars One, is your man. Bas Lansdorp is a person with an audacious ambition.  Through his company, Mars One, he plans to establish the first human settlement […]

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Here be Dragons

On May 11, a Dragon will mate with the International Space station.  Rather than some mythical creature, this Dragon is of human artifice.  The Dragon’s rendezvous and berthing with the International Space Station presages a new chapter in human exploration of space. The significance of this event is Dragon is a reusable spacecraft, developed, and […]

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Who found the water on the Moon?

At just over two tonnes, the second stage of an Atlas V rocket makes for an unusual ‘kinetic probe’.  Nonetheless on October 9, 2009 NASA deliberately impacted a spent Centaur rocket into the lunar south polar crater Cabeus.  The target area was a permanently shadowed region within this crater.  The impact, not surprisingly, ejected a […]

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Chandrayaan-1, India’s lunar water finder, close to a Moon ending

India an emerging force in space exploration Sometime in later this year it is expected that India’s first lunar spacecraft is set to crash into the Moon.  Currently the 675kg spacecraft is silently orbiting the Moon.  Silently as since August 29 2009 radio contact has been lost with the craft. Now, every 2 hours or […]

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Curiosity about life on Mars

On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong uttered one of the most remembered quotes of the 20th century, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind….” Millions of people heard these words as they watched, via grainy black and white television images, Neil Armstrong step from the landing pad of the Lunar Module […]

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