If you were to take a 22-pound rock and fling it 620 miles straight up … you would have superpowers. And an anger management problem. The gravitational force the rock would experience at that altitude is still about three-quarters of what it would be on the surface. That means our planet is constantly begging every single satellite we’ve put into orbit to come back like some kind of crazed ex. An object like the ISS must maintain an astounding steady speed of 17,000 miles per hour just to stay in its 200-plus mile orbit. Any less and it’ll crash down to Earth. Any more, and it escapes our gravitational pull and rockets away into space. The ISS is, in fact, constantly losing altitude – requiring the craft that dock with it to give it regular boosts … just not too much of a boost.

Isaac Newton likened this phenomenon to a cannon perched atop a very high mountain. If the cannon were capable of firing its ball fast enough, the ball could fall toward the ground, but miss it entirely. Similarly, another great mind once said the knack to flying “lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” That’s what every single craft in orbit must perpetually do: Suck at hitting the ground.

4 Things About Space Travel You’re Picturing Totally Wrong

With giant Saturn hanging in the blackness and sheltering Cassini from the sun’s blinding glare, the spacecraft viewed the rings as never before, revealing previously unknown faint rings and even glimpsing its home world. This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006.


NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Space X Plans a Private Mission for Two Around the Moon

This has become quite the month for space related announcements!

Yesterday, Elon Musk teased that his agency SpaceX would be making an announcement this afternoon.

An unofficial voting poll was created by NASA asking people to guess what the announcement would be about. Out of the four options given on the poll, ‘Falcon Heavy rocket’ won a majority of 46 percent votes and 'Space Suits - Not Pink’ won the second highest number of votes, with 38 percent. 

Most of the people who took the pool were wrong.

Instead, SpaceX announced today that they have been approached to fly two private citizens, who have already paid a “significant deposit” for a trip around the moon late next year. 

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New video up! This time on my first week in Mission Control at NASA Johnson Space Center, a little about SpaceX Dragon and being in the backrooms, and loads of caffeine.*

*Slightly longer than usual due to fangirling