A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon cargo capsule bound for the ISS launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL.   File photo.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon cargo capsule bound for the ISS launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. File photo. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com
Story/launch date/headline updated

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – SpaceX is on the cusp of launching the company’s fourth commercial resupply Dragon spacecraft mission to the International Space Station (ISS) shortly after midnight, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014, continuing a rapid fire launch pace and carrying NASA’s first research payload – RapidScat – aimed at conducting Earth science from the stations exterior.

Final preparations for the launch are underway right now at the Cape Canaveral launch pad with the stowage of sensitive late load items including a specially designed rodent habitat housing 20 mice.

Update 20 Sept: Poor weather scrubs launch to Sept. 21 at 1:52 a.m.
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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @cosmic_chatter)
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)
Ramin Skibba (@raminskibba)
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Space Station Extension May Cost More Than NASA Expects: Report

by Elizabeth Howell on September 19, 2014

The International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The International Space Station. Credit: NASA

NASA’s anticipated $3 billion to $4 billion annual budget for the International Space Station is “overly optimistic”, a new report from NASA’s Inspector General says.

Transportation costs will likely rise when NASA uses commercial spacecraft to access the station instead of Russian Soyuzes, the report said. Also, if international partners don’t commit to extending the station four extra years to 2024, NASA will need to pick up more of the financial burden.

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Lazy Giant Galaxies Gain Mass By Ingesting Smaller Neighbors

by Tammy Plotner on September 19, 2014

Some of the many thousands of merging galaxies identified within the GAMA survey. Credit: Professor Simon Driver and Dr Aaron Robotham, ICRAR.

Some of the many thousands of merging galaxies identified within the GAMA survey. Credit: Professor Simon Driver and Dr Aaron Robotham, ICRAR.

The Anglo-Australian Telescope in New South Wales has been watching how lazy giant galaxies gain size – and it isn’t because they create their own stars. In a research project known as the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey, a group of Australian scientists led by Professor Simon Driver at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) have found the Universe’s most massive galaxies prefer “eating” their neighbors. [click to continue…]

An artist concept of MAVEN in orbit around Mars. (Credit: NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center).

An artist concept of MAVEN in orbit around Mars. (Credit: NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center).

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter is oh-so-close to its destination after a 10-month journey. It’s scheduled to arrive in orbit Sunday (Sept. 21) around 9:50 p.m. EDT (1:50 a.m. UTC) if all goes well, but there are a few things that need to happen, in order, first.

One big obstacle is already out of the way. MAVEN controllers had expected to do final engine burn tweaks to put it on the right trajectory, but the mission is so on-target that it won’t be needed.

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