SpaceX Success, Russian Launch Failure – The third time was a charm for SpaceX’s static fire of the Falcon 9 rocket, with a successful 2-second test of the nine engines, clearing the way for a launch next week for a NASA demonstration mission. SpaceX said preliminary he data analysis showed the engine test firing went as expected. An earlier try on Friday and then again Saturday morning ended in a-computer controlled abort.-Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today
NASA Ejects Nanosatellite From Microsatellite in Space – On Dec. 6 at 06:61 GMT, NASA for the first time successfully ejected a nanosatellite from a free-flying microsatellite. NanoSail-D ejected from the Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, FASTSAT, demonstrating the capability to deploy a small cubesat payload from an autonomous microsatellite in space. –NASA
Secret X-37B Mini Space Shuttle Lands – The X-37B mini space shuttle made a stealth landing during the early morning hours, landing at Vandenberg Air Force base at 09:16 GMT on Friday, Dec. 3.) The US Air Force’s first unmanned space plane successfully glided to a landing after nearly 225 days in space. –Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today
Revival on Jupiter Continues – It’s been 10 months since telescopic observers realized something was amiss on Jupiter. Last February the South Equatorial Belt, one of two dark stripes that sandwich the planet’s midsection, turned up missing. Whatever the cause, astronomers knew that a stormy “outbreak” in the months ahead would signal the belt’s eventual return. –Sky And Telescope
Inside Mercury’s orbit – Last summer, I wrote a piece on the search for small solar system objects that might, theoretically, circle the Sun inside Mercury’s orbit. Called vulcanoids, they are extremely difficult to observe, which is why it’s still not certain if they exist or not… –Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy
2010 XR close flyby – Apollo Near Easrth Asteroid (NEA) 2010 XR made a close earth approach 2010-Nov-29 20:14 with Earth distance ~ 0.0013 AU or 0.5 Lunar Distances (LD) Absolute magnitude H = 26.7 (or approximately 15m in diameter) Discovered December 2, 2010 by G96 Mt. Lemmon Survey.