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Satellites are used for a large number of purposes. Common types include military (spy) and civilian Earth observation satellites, communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, and research satellites.

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NASA Probe Sees Solar Wind Decline

The 33-year odyssey of NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has reached a distant point at the edge of our solar system where there is no outward motion of solar wind. Now hurtling toward interstellar space some 17.4 billion...

Super-Earth Atmosphere

A team of astronomers, including two NASA Sagan Fellows, has made the first characterizations of a super-Earth's atmosphere, by using a ground-based telescope...

Kepler Discovers

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star...

Pulverized Planet

Tight double-star systems might not be the best places for life to spring up, according to a new study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope....

Dark Asteroids

NASA is set to launch a sensitive new infrared telescope to seek out sneaky things in the night sky -- among them, dark asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth....

You see a lot of smiles around the E-1 Test Stand at John C. Stennis Space Center these days. Engineers involved in testing Aerojet's AJ26 rocket engine for Orbital Sciences Corporation's Taurus II space launch vehicle have good reason to smile.

In fact, they have several good reasons given that the partnership between NASA, Orbital and Aerojet is off to such an impressive start. Two successful tests of an AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of Orbital's Taurus II rocket recently wrapped up at Stennis. The two tests were so successful that Orbital engineers decided a planned third test was unnecessary. The AJ26 engine used in the testing was removed from the E-1 stand on Jan. 24, and will be returned to Aerojet in Sacramento, Calif. to be refurbished and used on an upcoming Taurus II mission.
The same day the engine was removed, the first flight engine was installed to begin regularly planned "acceptance testing" at Stennis. The AJ26 flight unit will be tested in February, and then delivered to Orbital at the Wallops Flight Facility launch site in Virginia for integration with the rocket's first stage core.

Orbital's Taurus II rocket will first be used to carry out commercial cargo supply mission to the International Space Station. Orbital is developing the cargo logistics system under the joint Commercial Orbital Transportation Services research and development project with NASA, and is scheduled to carry out the first of eight cargo missions under the Commercial Resupply Services contract beginning in early 2012.

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