Orbit

  • Space tourism has been long touted as 'coming soon', but the only opportunity to buy your way into space were rare private trips to the International Space Station with price tags of US$20 million. Now Orion Span has revealed Aurora Station space hotel, promising an ambitious 2022 opening date.
  • The gargantuan Stratolaunch dual-fuselage aircraft, with a wingspan of 385 ft (117 m), is one step closer to reaching the skies after it recently completed a second taxi test that saw it hit a speed of 46 mph (74 km/h) as it stormed down a runway in Mojave, California.
  • ​On this day 60 years ago, America became the second country to send a human-made object into low-Earth orbit, with the successful launch of its first satellite – Explorer 1.
  • Four years ago, the Dream Chaser's first glide and landing test ended in a crash after its landing gear failed to deploy correctly. Since then, the reusable spaceplane has undergone a complete refurbishment and finally achieved its first successful flight and landing on Saturday.
  • Thousands of exoplanets have been spotted by looking for “transits” as light from the host star dips when a planet passes in front of it. Now scientists have examined whether Earth could be detected by other civilizations using the same technique, and 68 known exoplanets are in prime positions.
  • ​Supermassive black holes lie at the center of most galaxies, but 750 million light-years away, 0402+379 boasts two of them – and one appears to be orbiting the other. The discovery is the result of 12 years of observation, marking the first time the phenomenon has been directly seen.
  • The world's largest plane has just rolled out of its giant hangar for the first time. The Stratolaunch aircraft, which boasts a wingspan greater than a football field, is designed to carry rockets into the stratosphere, where they are released before continuing on into space​.
  • Simulations suggested that the crowded TRAPPIST-1 system is due to come to a catastrophic climax in the next million years. But new research has found that TRAPPIST’s worlds orbit in what’s called a “resonant chain,” which keeps the system stable – and has been translated into a piece of music.
  • With an estimated 7,000 tonnes of debris in orbit around our planet, space junk is increasingly becoming a major problem. An innovative solution dubbed the Brane Craft has just been awarded US$500,000 from NASA to further develop the concept that is designed to scoop up this junk.
  • ​As of Monday, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has clocked an impressive 50,000 laps of the Red Planet. The spacecraft has been instrumental in NASA’s ongoing efforts to unravel the secrets of Mars, and it’s not done yet, with mission scientists anticipating years of mileage yet to come.
  • Mars and the far side of the Moon are on the itinerary for China’s space program, according to a new white paper released this week. The State Council Information Office document recaps the country’s space-faring achievements over the past five years, and outlines its goals for the next five.
  • While many people are taking it easy for the holiday season, ESA is gearing up for a very busy New Year. On January 19, the space agency will begin a complicated year-long maneuver to radically alter the orbit of the Trace Gas Orbiter around Mars using the Red Planet's atmosphere as a giant brake.​