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Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko spins in this animation of 24 montages obtained by the Rosetta spacecraft between Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, 2014. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

Remember how breathless we felt when the Philae lander actually made it to the surface of its target comet a few weeks ago? Sure, the maneuvers didn’t go as planned, but the images the spacecraft obtained in its brief spurts of activity on the surface are still being shared and discussed eagerly by scientists (amid a controversial image release policy, to be sure.)

Well, the truck delivery for Philae — the Rosetta spacecraft, still doing maneuvers above — is going to do something special in February. The machine is going to scoot down real close to the comet, just before heating from the Sun could make it dangerous to do so due to gas and dust emissions.

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Expedition 42 commander Butch Wilmore holds up a 3-D-printed rachet, the first such tool made in space. Credit: NASA

Expedition 42 commander Butch Wilmore holds up a 3-D-printed rachet, the first such tool made in space. Credit: NASA

In the 1960s, we thought the best way of sending stuff between Earth and space was through a transporter. These days, turns out all it takes is an e-mail and a special 3-D printer. The first tool created in space, a rachet, was made last week on the International Space Station using plans beamed from Earth. Now, we get to see if it actually works.

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Homecoming view of NASA’s first Orion spacecraft after returning to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2014 after successful blastoff on Dec. 5, 2014.  Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

Homecoming view of NASA’s first Orion spacecraft after returning to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2014 after successful blastoff on Dec. 5, 2014. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – After a history making journey of more than 66,000 miles through space, ocean splash down and over 2000 mile cross country journey through the back woods of America, NASA’s pathfinding Orion crew capsule has returned to its home base at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“The Orion mission was a spectacular success,” said Jules Schneider, Lockheed Martin Program manager for Orion at KSC, during a homecoming event attended by space journalists including Universe Today on Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. [click to continue…]

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Weekly Space Hangout – Dec. 19, 2014: Methane on Mars!

Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)
Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba)
Alessondra Springmann (@sondy)
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SpaceX Falcon 9 erect at Cape Canaveral launch pad 40  awaiting launch on Sept 20, 2014 on the CRS-4 mission. Credit: Ken Kremer - kenkremer.com

A SpaceX Falcon 9 erect at Cape Canaveral launch pad 40 awaiting launch on Sept 20, 2014, on the CRS-4 mission in this file photo. The next Falcon 9 launch has been postponed to Jan. 6, 2015 to ensure the rocket is ready. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Due to technical problems encountered during a hot fire test of the first stage engines this week with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the planned Dec. 19 launch of the commercial rocket and NASA contracted Dragon cargo freighter to the International Space Station (ISS) on a critical resupply mission has been postponed a few weeks into the new year to Jan. 6 at the earliest “out of an abundance of caution,” SpaceX officials told Universe Today. [click to continue…]

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