March 11th, 2013
04:15 PM ET

Rocket leaps 24 stories, lands intact

When it comes to building and testing reusable rockets, innovative SpaceX is hopping along with an experimental vehicle called Grasshopper.

The commercial spaceflight company demonstrated that Grasshopper could land intact as part of a test series on Thursday in McGregor, Texas, a small town southwest of Waco.

This was the fourth try for the rocket, which stands 10 stories tall, and it successfully doubled its highest leap to date, rising 24 stories or 80.1 meters.

The prototype hovered for about 34 seconds and landed safely, making it easier and easier to imagine a future where a spacecraft doesn’t burn up when it re-enters Earth's atmosphere.

This is one small step for Grasshopper, one giant leap for space exploration’s pocketbook.

Check out the recently released video above to see the successful launch and landing.

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Filed under: In Space
February 1st, 2013
12:58 PM ET

NASA launches communications satellite

If you think the days of staring in amazement at NASA space launches are behind us, you’re wrong.

There are no space shuttles leaving the United States at the moment, but NASA is still launching three communication satellites into orbit. The first capsule, known as TDRS-K, launched on Wednesday at 8:48 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. TDRS stands for Tracking and Data Relay Satellite.

The next one, TDRS-L, is scheduled for launch in 2014. The manufacturing process for the final satellite in the trio, TDRS-M, will be completed in 2015.

NASA says these new satellites are designed with a higher performance solar panel, which should help improve power and return faster communications to the ground.

Take a look at the video above for an up-close view of the rumbling rocket, the take-off from base and a glowing stream of fire and smoke.

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Filed under: News
January 28th, 2013
02:30 PM ET

Iran sends monkey to space

Iran is getting in on space travel. Before it sends humans off the planet, the country's space agency decided to take a test ride with a monkey.

According to the state's semi-official Fars News Agency, Iran "sent a monkey to the orbit, brought it back to the Earth and retrieved the animal and the relevant data successfully."

The creature achieved an altitude of 75 miles, according to the news agency.

This monkey follows in the paw prints of smaller animals like a rat, turtles and worms, that had their own adventures aboard Iran’s Kavoshgar-3 rocket in 2010, the news agency said.

Iran isn't the only country that has used animals for space research. During the 1950s, for example, the Russians launched a mixed-breed dog, Laika, into orbit.

While today's news is a success for monkeys everywhere, Iran’s space agency says it will have its first manned space mission in the next five to eight years.

What’s better than surviving your first trip to space? Bananas. Lots of bananas.

Click on the above video to see the monkey strapped in and raring to go.

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Filed under: In Space

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