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NASA spacecraft to enter orbit of large asteroid

WASHINGTON — After its nearly four-year trek, NASA engineers are expected to confirm this weekend that the US spacecraft Dawn has entered the orbit of Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system. Mission leaders estimate that Dawn was pulled into Vesta’s orbit around 0500 GMT Saturday and…

Atlantis heads to space station on final flight

Atlantis headed to the International Space Station Saturday after rocketing off its launch pad for a final time, marking the last liftoff of the US space shuttle program. The space shuttle, which lifted off shortly before noon Friday local time, is carrying a crew of four US astronauts on a…

Debris narrowly misses space station

MOSCOW — An unidentified piece of debris narrowly missed the International Space Station on Tuesday in a rare incident that forced the six-member crew to scramble to their rescue craft. The piece of space junk missed the fragile orbiter by just 250 metres (820 feet), the Interfax news agency quoted…

Less tax for taps? Tax breaks for small breweries in the works

SOUTH DEERFIELD, Massachusetts (Reuters) – Help may be on tap for independent beer brewers, who say a tax break could keep their businesses from running dry. A new congressional measure would cut taxes for the nearly 1,700 small craft breweries that pump out far fewer barrels of suds than do the multinational…

NASA spacecraft is first to orbit Mercury

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A NASA spacecraft began orbiting Mercury, becoming the first to fly around the solar system’s innermost planet, the space agency said. The craft, known as MESSENGER, began the orbit around 9:00 pm (0200 GMT) on a mission to circle the planet for one Earth year in an…

NASA spacecraft prepares to enter Mercury’s orbit

WASHINGTON – A NASA spacecraft is poised to enter the orbit of Mercury later Thursday, and it will circle for one Earth year in an unprecedented study of the tiny, hot planet that is closest to the Sun. The craft, known as MESSENGER, began its journey more than six years…

Unmanned US spacecraft returns after 7-month trip

Air Force unmanned reusable spacecraft returns to Earth after 7-month voyage The U.S. Air Force’s secrecy-shrouded X-37B unmanned spaceplane returned to Earth early Friday after more than seven months in orbit on a classified mission, officials said. The winged craft autonomously landed at at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the…

Student builds first human-powered aircraft

OTTAWA — A Canadian student inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s centuries-old sketches of an ornithopter said Friday he was the first to make a sustained flight in a human-powered, wing-flapping aircraft. Powered and piloted by engineering student Todd Reichert, the craft, dubbed Snowbird, flew 145 meters (476 feet) in 19.3…

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