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American Astronaut Scott Kelly Is Getting Ready For A Year-Long Space Station Mission

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The average stay for any astronaut in space is about six months. After this time, space missions are usually over as astronauts return back home to Earth. NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly has started training to spend a year-long journey aboard the International Space Station orbiting the Earth in 2015. If successful, Kelly will set the record for the longest American spaceflight and the longest spaceflight in history.

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SpaceX’s Launch Delayed Again

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Space flight is tricky business and it does not always come easily. SpaceX – the private space transport company founded by PayPal and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk – seems to be finding this out the hard way. In 2010, SpaceX was the first private company to ever launch and successfully retrieve a spacecraft from orbit. The launch of its new Falcon 9 rocket and unmanned Dragon spacecraft – part of its plan to be able to provide cargo and staff transport to the International Space Station – has been delayed once again.

Initially planned for April 30 then pushed back to May 7, the launch is now planned for an as-yet-unspecified future date. The shift to May 7 was partially caused by the software for remote-controlling the Dragon capsule in orbit being too sensitive. As Musk told Wired last week, “essentially Dragon got scared and ran away, when it shouldn’t have.” The ISS crew does need to be able to tell the spacecraft to retreat if that becomes necessary during its approach but, obviously, hypersensitivity can be just as dangerous as its lack.  SpaceX has not confirmed that this same software issue is to blame for the latest delay, but Wired thinks it is likely the culprit.

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See Stunning Star Trails Captured Aboard The International Space Station

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What’s the best thing about living on the International Space Station? Most people would probably say weightlessness, but in reality, it’s probably the view.

Humanity’s handful of permanent astronauts have the best view available. Any time they look out their window there’s something spectacular going on. Anyone who’s ever stood in the wilderness outside the city and looked up at a clear, starry night sky has gotten a little taste of what they experience up there on the ISS, but just a taste. This video does a good job of capturing the whole, starry enchilada. Watch…

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Space Debris Becoming A Big Problem Faster Than Expected

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Maybe it was the hubris of scientists who didn’t think that leaving their junk in space would cause issues. I mean, with all that space up there who could blame them? Unfortunately, that junk is going to become a bigger problem real soon if action isn’t taken.

The International Space Station had to be shifted last month in order to protect it from a piece of debris smaller than the palm of your hand. The ISS is roughly the size of a football field which you would think would be able to withstand a hit from a 4 inch object, but with the amount of vital systems exposed to outside interference, that one piece of debris, traveling faster than a speeding bullet, could essentially take the whole system down. Scary, huh?

And that’s not all. The chance that a launching rocket will collide with space junk is now at about 1% according to experts talking to NewsOK, with roughly 19,000 objects smaller than 4 inches and 500,000 objects between zero and ten centimeters taking up permanent residence in our atmosphere. That’s one out of every 100 launches that has potential to be taken down by a bolt or screw that has gotten left up there. With the prospect of human space flight rearing its head, this is something that could not only cost NASA millions of dollars in equipment, but also many human lives could easily be lost.

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NASA Won’t Let You See The First Ever Sci-Fi Movie Shot In Space

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In 2008, Richard Garriott joined the ranks of a handful of independently-funded “space tourists”.  The British-American video game designer raised $30 million to fund his 12-day trip to the International Space Station.  His trip is the focus of a new documentary opening today (January 13), “Man on a Mission”.  Garriott wasn’t satisfied just to be filmed while on his cosmic journey, though.  While on the space station, he realized the fantasy of tons of science fiction nerds:  he made a science fiction movie set and filmed in space.  Unfortunately, you may never see it because NASA is resisting its public release.

Gariott’s eight-minute short film is called “Apogee of Fear” and stars two NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut.  Space.com has a run-down of the plot of “Apogee of Fear”:  The film opens with Gariott departing the space station and waving to the astronauts, who immediately begin to express how glad they are to get rid of him.  They begin to miss him after a bit and start squabbling, but their arguments are interrupted when the cosmonaut announces that they are using oxygen at an unusual rate.  

The most obvious reason?  Aliens.  So the crew goes off to search the space station for their stowaway.

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Watch A Comet Fly Past Earth, As Seen From Space

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Space programs have produced a lot of remarkable inventions and scientific discoveries, but one of the most incredible things they have given us is a new visual perspective on our world and universe. The photos astronauts, satellites and probes send back to Earth are sometimes remarkable and often stunning, both of which are true for a new video and photo set released by NASA. The photos and video show the comet Lovejoy rising up over the horizon, looking like something straight out of Contact or Armaggedon.  Check out the video created from over 100 still photos taken from the International Space Station while it was orbiting Earth on December 21:

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