Life on the International Space Station may never be the same. The crew is now unpacking the latest cargo delivery, which includes the station's first-ever 3D printer.
"Having that on-demand capability is a real game-changer," says Niki Werkheiser, NASA's 3D Printing in Zero-G project manager.
Astronauts will test how the printer performs in microgravity. Samples will be brought back to Earth, to confirm that the technology works the same as on the ground.
If it's successful, the ISS crew will no longer have to rely on resupply missions to bring them the tools they need.
And down the line, a 3D printer would also be a key part of deep space exploration missions.
"We won't be able to launch every single thing that we might ever need with us," Werkheiser says. "So we'll have to have sustainable technologies that allow the astronauts to be able to adapt and use whatever resources are available to them for living and operations."
Say what you will about the science. The movie "Gravity" makes you feel like you're in space.
Of course, only a few people know that feeling firsthand. NASA astronaut Michael Massimino is one of them.
Massimino flew on two Hubble Space Telescope servicing missions. And he has logged more than 30 hours across four space walks.
That's exactly what the movie's main characters are doing when everything goes wrong.
So, what's it really like to spacewalk?
"You have to be methodical about what you do. You don't want to move too quickly," Massimino says. "You have to be very, very slow. You have to think about what you're doing. Work with your teammates, both outside the spaceship, inside the spaceship and the people on the ground."
Massimino admits it can be scary. But he adds, "I can't think of anything better to do for a living than go out and spacewalk and work out there in the beauty of space."
Find out what Massimino thinks of the movie, and George Clooney in particular, in the full interview above.
It will take two days for Endeavour to get from the Los Angeles International Airport to its final home at the California Science Center.
No other space shuttle has ever traveled on city streets before. Preparing the roads have been a big "Endeavour," pardon the pun.
Still, it's hard to imagine such a huge object on the road. So we used Google Earth to get a better idea.
The first American woman in space has passed away at the age of 61. Sally Ride broke barriers and inspired people to reach for the stars.
And in death, Ride may have become a role model for another reason. The obituary posted on her organization's website noted Ride's partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy. It's believed to be the first public acknowledgment of their same-sex relationship.
A 2009 article on the same site described Ride and O'Shaughnessy as "good friends" and "co-authors." But it also reveals some of their romantic story. They met at age 12 through tennis. O'Shaughnessy went on to play professionally. And through the years, they stayed in touch.
Ride's sister, Bear, tells the website Buzzfeed that the relationship was never hidden. She says most people also did not know about Sally Ride's pancreatic cancer because she was a "very private person."
Some will argue that Ride's orientation is unimportant, that she should be remembered solely for her scientific and educational accomplishments. To that I say, name one openly gay astronaut.
Sally Ride was a trailblazer for women into the final frontier. Let's not limit her now.
What a week it has been for space geeks. And it's only Tuesday!
First we had a rare annular solar eclipse. Well, some of us did. Here in Hong Kong, the clouds refused to cooperate...
Now, SpaceX has sent its Dragon capsule on a path to the International Space Station. The Falcon 9 rocket lit up the dark Florida sky as it carried Dragon up into orbit.
Afterward, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted, "Falcon flew perfectly!! Dragon in orbit, comm locked and solar arrays active!! Feels like a giant weight just came off my back."
Musk also wrote, "Huge appreciation for @NASA, without whom we could not even have started, let alone reached this."
NASA has invested about $800 million toward developing space cargo transportation in the private sector. In addition to SpaceX, NASA also has a partnership with Orbital Sciences Corporation. Orbital could have its test launch to ISS late this year or early 2013.
SpaceX has now done what no other company has attempted. But big tests remain. And if all goes well, SpaceX will make history on Friday by berthing with the ISS. Success there would truly be a "giant leap" for commercial spaceflight.
What a week, indeed!
My grandpa loves the Angry Birds. He can play it for hours. And he is not alone. The popular game has been downloaded 700 million times by people young and old.
Now Rovio is releasing Angry Birds Space. The Finnish firm has pulled out the stops to promote its latest offering.
Rovio teamed up with NASA for what it calls the first-ever game announcement from space. (For those of you still unsure why these birds are so angry, take a moment to watch astronaut Don Pettit.)
Part of me had hoped the crew of space shuttle Atlantis would go rogue and refuse to return to Earth. Maybe just for a short joyride, a few extra orbits and the proud proclamation, "You'll never clip our wings!"
But the astronauts landed right on schedule. It marked a safe and successful close to NASA's 30-year shuttle program.
Space fans around the world are experiencing mixed emotions with this milestone. Some say it's a sad day for America, left without a way of lifting humans into orbit. They remark with irony that Russia has now won the space race, as U.S. astronauts will be forced to buy rides on Soyuz. FULL POST