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Submission + - North Korea accused of testing an ICBM with missile launch into space (

MarkWhittington writes: Reuters reported that North Korea launched a long-range missile that is said to have placed a satellite into space. The launch happened much to the consternation of North Korea’s neighbors, South Korea and Japan, as well as the United States. Pyongyang claimed that the missile launch was part of that country’s peaceful space program. But, other countries are pretty sure that the launch was a test of an ICBM capable of placing a nuclear weapon on any target in the world, particularly the United States.

Submission + - Millennial women are using the Tinder app to drum up support for Bernie Sanders (

MarkWhittington writes: Some young women are using their Tinder apps for a purpose that they were not intended, which is to try to persuade young men to support Bernie Sanders for president. Tinder, which is part of the Match Group Inc., is not amused and is locking these young women out of the app. Tinder is for setting up cheap, semi-anonymous hookups and not for politicking, thank you very much.

Submission + - NASA announces that Pluto has icebergs floating on glaciers of nitrogen ice (

MarkWhittington writes: The most recent finding from New Horizons show that ice bergs have broken off from the hills surrounding the Sputnik Planum, a glacier of nitrogen ice, and are floating slowly across its surface, eventually to cluster together in places like the Challenger Colles, informally named after the crew of the space shuttle Challenger, which was lost just over 30 years ago. The feature is an especially high concentration of icebergs, measuring 37 by 22 miles. The icebergs float on the nitrogen ice plain because water ice is less dense than nitrogen ice.

Submission + - Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, dies at 85 (

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in the Palm Beach Post, Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, has died at the age of 85. He flew as lunar module pilot on board Apollo 14, which flew to and from the moon between January 31, 1971 and February 9, 1971. His crewmates were Alan Shepard and Stuart Roosa. Apollo 14 was the return to flight for the moon landing program after the near disaster of Apollo 13 in April 1970 and explored the Fra Mauro highlands on the lunar surface

Submission + - How Audi is using the Apollo moon landing to sell cars (

MarkWhittington writes: As the Verge noted, Audi’s Super Bowl commercial takes on an Apollo moon landing theme. The commercial depicts a retired astronaut, identified only as “the Commander,” who is quietly remembering the time he and two other men rode a Saturn V to the moon. Finally, his son or grandson takes him on a drive in the new Audi R8. The Commander smiles for the first time in what must be in a while, for the R8 is so sporty and high tech, it is the closest thing there is to flying to the moon in a vehicle that roars down the highway on four wheels.

Submission + - Congressional panel told NASA has no plan for the Journey to Mars (

MarkWhittington writes: Testimony at a hearing before the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space suggested that NASA’s Journey to Mars lacks a plan to achieve the first human landing on the Red Planet almost six years after President Obama announced the goal on April 15, 2010. Moreover, two of the three witnesses argued that a more realistic near term goal for the space agency would be a return to the moon. The moon is not only a scientifically interesting and potentially commercially profitable place to go but access to lunar water, which can be refined into rocket fuel, would make the Journey to Mars easier and cheaper.

Submission + - Russia begins work on a lunar lander (

MarkWhittington writes: Whether and when Russia will try to send cosmonauts to the moon is an open question. The Putin government has heavily slashed spending on the Russian space program, a measure brought on by declining oil and gas revenues. But, as Popular Mechanics reported, Russian engineers have gone ahead and have started to design a lunar lander for the eventual Russian lunar surface effort. When money is going to be forthcoming for such a vehicle is unknown, though Russia could partner with another country with lunar ambitions, such as China or the European Union.

Submission + - India and France form partnership to land on Mars (

MarkWhittington writes: The Economic Times noted that France has entered into an agreement with India to facilitate space cooperation with a plan to land a probe on Mars in the near future. India has already demonstrated that it is a space power to be reckoned with. The South Asian country recently orbited the Mangalyaan around the Red Planet, studying its atmosphere. Before the Mars mission, India orbited the Chandrayaan-1 around the moon. India plans to land the Chandrayaan-2 on the lunar surface sometime in 2017.

Submission + - NASA to test communications modem that uses photonics on the ISS (

MarkWhittington writes: ?Space Daily reported that NASA is preparing to test a new kind of communications modem that works with a new technology called photonics. The idea is that like most microchips and circuits use electrons to work, a device using photonics uses light. If the technology can be made to work, it will change just about every form of technology, from computers, to telecommunications, to medical imaging. The User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) will serve as a terminal on board the International Space Station for NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, or LCRD experiment.

Submission + - Will SpaceX's Elon Musk really send people to live on Mars? ( 1

MarkWhittington writes: Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, was at the StartmeupHK Festival in Hong Kong recently where he opened his mind about both his and his company’s future. He not only suggested that he would take a personal journey into space within the next few years, but that his lifelong dream of setting up a colony on Mars would be set into motion in 2025, less than ten years from now

Submission + - Neil degrasse Tyson locked in rap war with B.o.B. over flat Earth (

MarkWhittington writes: In what has to be the weirdest rap battle in history, an Atlanta rapper named B.o.B. released a “diss track” called “Flatline” that called out celebrity astrophysicist and media personality Neil deGrasse Tyson for his belief that the Earth is round, Rolling Stone reported. The musical salvo elicited a response in the form of another diss track called “Flat to Fact” launched at B.o.B. by Tyson and his nephew, rapper Stephen Tyson.

Submission + - The death of the Challenger and the birth of the commercial space launch industr ( 2

MarkWhittington writes: At 73 seconds after the launch of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, the O-rings that separated the solid rocket booster segments failed due to the cold weather, sending a shot of flame that ignited the external fuel tank, destroying the spacecraft and the seven astronauts inside. The Challenger disaster was searing because it took place before the eyes of the world, on live television. The moment, when the Challenger became a flying funeral pyre for seven human beings, including Christa McAuliffe, was when everything changed.

Submission + - "The X Files" and the new conspiracy (

MarkWhittington writes: “The X-Files” is back for the 21st Century with a crazier Mulder, an edgier Scully, and a reboot of the conspiracy that puts the premise of the entire nine-season run of the original series in the 1990's and early 21st Century on its head. The new series also has a bigger and better special effects budget.

The first episode, “My Struggle,” starts when a crazy internet talk show host, kind of a cross between Bill O’Reilly and Alex Jones, comes to Mulder and Scully with news of another unfortunate alien abductee named Sveta, who apparently is being snatched, made pregnant, and then has the resulting fetuses removed from her body a whole lot of times. The situation is just a set-up for the new version of the conspiracy

Submission + - NASA is developing robot astronauts to help explore deep space (

MarkWhittington writes: Space Daily reported that part of NASA’s strategy for exploring deep space will be to use humanoid robots, not only to prepare the way, but to assist human astronauts in exploring Mars, asteroids, and perhaps the moon. These robots will be able to perform repetitive tasks, such as building a habitat on a planetary surface in advance of human arrival. They would also act as scouts under the direction of human operators, exploring potentially dangerous territory before human astronauts follow. The space agency is doing some serious research and development to create these robot assistants in advance of sending humans beyond low Earth orbit.

Submission + - NASA's deep space habitat could support the Journey to Mars and a lunar return (

MarkWhittington writes: Back in 2012, when NASA first proposed building a deep space habitat beyond the moon, the Obama administration took a dim view of the idea. However, fast forward over three years alter, and the idea has become part of the Journey to Mars program. According to a story in Spaceflight Insider, the deep space habitat will be deployed in cis-lunar space in the 2020s to test various technologies related to sending humans to Mars. The DPH could also be part of an infrastructure that would support a return to the moon should the next administration decide to go that route.

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