Aerospace

Stephanie Daniel / KUNC

The distance between space and earth is now a lot smaller for a group of northern Colorado kids.

About 400 Poudre High students packed into the school auditorium to see an alum, Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor. She is an astronaut and part of the Expedition 56/57 crew currently in orbit on the International Space Station (ISS). She's been stationed there since June.

Matt Bloom/KUNC

Bradley Cheetham was about to deliver his fourth or fifth presentation in one month. He’d given so many, he said, he’d nearly lost track.

Pacing back and forth in the hallway outside the Colorado School of Mines classroom, where a crowd of space industry bigwigs awaited him, he shared a few words about life as an entrepreneur.

“Honestly, entrepreneurship is a really hard job,” he said, laughing. “Space is a really hard job. Doing them together does not make either easier.”

H.A. Weaver et al / published in Science.

Standing in a hallway decorated with images of planets and other space objects, John Spencer is looking at a high resolution photo of Pluto hanging in front of him. It’s striking, a mostly gray sphere with dark maroon and golden hues. Spencer, a planetary scientist with the Southwest Research Institute’s who works out of their Boulder office, points out features.

"The North Pole is up here. This area up here is a vast plain of frozen nitrogen."

It’s hard to believe, but until July 2015, scientists like Spencer had almost no idea what Pluto looked like. That’s when the New Horizons spacecraft zoomed by the dwarf planet, capturing images and data that led to a vast reimagining of Pluto. Now, he and others are sharing what they’ve learned.

Application Another Step Forward For Colorado Spaceport

Dec 23, 2014
Paul Williams / Flickr - Creative Commons

Commercial space flight may be coming to Colorado as soon as 2016. Front Range Airport, just southeast of Denver International Airport will soon complete a spaceport application. From there, the Federal Aviation Administration will have six months to evaluate it, and make the final decision.

NASA/Radislav Sinyak

On Friday morning, NASA plans to launch the Orion spacecraft. It's seen as a first step in a possible human journey to Mars. 

Coloradans have a reason to be extra-interested in this mission, since local companies played a key role in building the spacecraft. Here's some key facts about the mission and upcoming launch.

NASA is about to launch a new spaceship into orbit, and Mallory Loe has never heard of it.

"I mean, technically, NASA doesn't have another spaceship, do they?" she asks incredulously during a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

She's hardly the only one who doesn't know about this new spacecraft. In fact, none of a half-dozen tourists NPR interviewed in the museum's lobby was aware of the Orion spaceship.

Earlier this week NASA announced that two private companies will build spaceships to take astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA hopes that both models will eventually be used by space tourists to get into orbit. Which got us wondering, which one would we rather fly in?

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Four billion years ago, Mars may have looked completely different. Water could have flowed across the planet's surface. There might have been life. To support these conditions, the planet's atmosphere must have been very different.

A NASA mission to investigate that atmosphere – and why it changed – is about to enter orbit around the Red Planet. Led by scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder, the mission, called MAVEN (short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN), consists of a satellite that will orbit the planet.

NASA

A University of Colorado Boulder led mission to Mars blasts off Monday morning. It’s the first time CU Boulder has led such a mission.

DigitalGlobe

A Longmont-based satellite imagery company recently announced it has chosen Westminster for its new global headquarters. The move is an about-face for DigitalGlobe, which had previously selected Broomfield after a months-long search.

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