Smoke rises from a SpaceX launch site Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at Cape Canaveral, Fla. NASA said SpaceX was conducting a test firing of its unmanned rocket when a blast occurred.
Marcia Dunn / AP Photo

This story was updated at 12:37 a.m.

A massive explosion erupted at a SpaceX launch pad Thursday during a routine rocket test for a planned launch of a communications satellite.

There were no injuries, but the rocket and the satellite onboard were destroyed, SpaceX said in a statement.

Courtesy of Rob Felt/Georgia Tech

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite. In 1958, the United States followed with Explorer 1.

Today, there are more than 1,000 of these large satellites revolving around the Earth sending radio signals back to us, which get converted into pictures of the oceans, weather forecasts and even DISH TV.

Many of these satellites are the size of a 7,000-pound hippo and can take decades to design and build.

Fitrah Hamid / Georgia Tech

Thursday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":


NASA's Juno spacecraft is approaching Jupiter. It's scheduled to arrive at the giant planet Monday night.

One scientist who plans to forgo the fireworks that night in favor of watching the data feed in as the spacecraft enters Jupiter’s orbit is Georgia Tech's Paul Steffes, who’s been involved in the Juno Mission since its inception more than a decade ago.  

Wilbert Baan /

Earth's heat is stuck on high.

Thanks to a combination of global warming and an El Nino, the planet shattered monthly heat records for an unprecedented 12th straight month, as April smashed the old record by half a degree, according to federal scientists.


It's 100,000 laps around Earth and counting for the International Space Station.

The space station reached the orbital milestone — 17½ years in the making — Monday morning. NASA said these 100,000 orbits are akin to traveling more than 2.6 billion miles. That's equivalent to 10 round trips to Mars, or almost one way to Neptune.

Each orbit takes about 90 minutes; 16 orbits comprise a station day.

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory/NASA/ESA via AP

Mercury has begun a relatively rare move across the sun.

The solar-planetary ballet got underway just after 7 a.m. Monday on the East Coast with the smallest planet appearing as a tiny black dot on the face of the sun. The transit will last for a total of about 7½ hours. The last time it happened was 2006. It will happen again three years from now, but then not until 2032. NASA says the event occurs only about 13 times a century.

The entirety of Mercury's journey will be viewable to the eastern U.S. and Canada, as well as most of western Europe and South America.

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory/NASA/ESA via AP

Updated at 1:14 p.m. Thursday

Earthlings are in for a treat Monday as Mercury makes a relatively rare transit of the sun.

The solar system's smallest, innermost planet will resemble a black round dot as it passes in front of our big, bright star. The last time Mercury crossed directly between the Earth and sun was in 2006, and it won't happen again until 2019 — and then, until 2032. NASA says the event occurs only about 13 times a century.

Louis Mayo, program manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, considers it "a big deal."

NASA, File / Associated Press

To astronomers' relief, NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has won another reprieve.

The spacecraft — responsible for detecting thousands of planets beyond our solar system — slipped into emergency mode last week nearly 75 million miles from Earth. Ground controllers managed to stabilize the probe Sunday, and NASA announced the good news Monday.


Global warming is shifting the way the Earth wobbles on its polar axis, a new NASA study finds.

Melting ice sheets — especially in Greenland — are changing the distribution of weight on Earth. And that has caused both the North Pole and the wobble, which is called polar motion, to change course, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

Bigelow Aerospace via AP

Updated at 3:35 p.m. Thursday

Forget blowup air mattresses. Space station astronauts are getting their first inflatable room.

It's a technology demo meant to pave the way for moon bases and Mars expeditions, as well as orbiting outposts catering to scientists and tourists in just a few more years. Bigelow Aerospace is behind the experiment, which will get a ride to the International Space Station with another private space company.

An astrophysicist has discovered something even rarer than a double-black hole galaxy: a skinny black hole.

The University of Colorado's Julie Comerford reported her findings Tuesday at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in Kissimmee, Florida.

Comerford says only 12 galaxies are known to exist with two black holes in their midst. Normally galaxies have a single supermassive black hole at the center.

NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team

Need more office space? How about outer space?

NASA opened its astronaut-application website Monday. It's accepting applications through Feb. 18.

Contenders need to be U.S. citizens with a bachelor's degree in science, math or engineering. Expect intense competition: More than 6,000 applied for NASA's last astronaut class in 2013, with only eight picked. It's an elite club, numbering only in the 300s since the beginning.

NASA hopes to resume commercial shipments this week to the International Space Station, following months of frustrating delay.

The last successful U.S. supply run was in April.

An unmanned Atlas V rocket arrived at its Cape Canaveral, Florida, launch pad Wednesday. It's due to lift off Thursday with 7,400 pounds of station supplies. Shipper Orbital ATK considers it an early Christmas present for the crew.

The spacecraft that gave us the first close-up views of Pluto now has a much smaller object in its sights.

NASA's New Horizons is set to fire its thrusters Thursday afternoon, putting it on track to fly past a recently discovered, less than 30-mile-wide object out on the solar system frontier. The close encounter with the object known as 2014 MU69 would occur in 2019. It orbits nearly 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.

Flight controllers already have sent commands for the course change. In all, four maneuvers will be needed. Thursday's is the first.


SpaceX and Boeing are working to become the first private firms to send astronauts back to the International Space Station from the U.S. by 2017. 

One of the four astronauts tapped to help make that happen and to fly as a crew member on the next U.S. manned flight to the ISS is Georgia Tech graduate, NASA astronaut, test pilot and U.S. Air Force Col. Eric Boe.

Watch Live: Water Has Been Found On Mars

Sep 28, 2015
NASA/Greg Shirah

This story has been updated at 11:39 a.m. 

Scientists are reporting that Mars appears to have not only frozen water but flowing streams of salty water, at least in the summertime.

They say their latest observations "strongly support" the longtime theory that salt water flows down certain Martian slopes each summer.

Bryan Jones / bwjones/


Get ready for a rare double feature this weekend, starring our very own moon.

A total lunar eclipse will share the stage with a so-called supermoon Sunday night or early Monday, depending where you are. That combination hasn't been seen since 1982 and won't happen again until 2033.

When a full or new moon makes its closest approach to Earth, that's a supermoon. Although still 222,000 miles away, this full moon will look bigger and brighter than usual.

NASA, Civil Rights Movement On Same Trajectory In 1960s

May 1, 2015

The U.S space program and the civil rights movement may seem like vastly different subject matters for discussion in separate conversations, but during the 1960's NASA and the fight for civil rights were on the same trajectory.

NASA helped break down the color barrier as it went about figuring out how to overcome the barriers to space travel by hiring African-American scientists to join the ranks of space workers throughout the agency’s southern facilities in Texas, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.

NASA's spacecraft Orion is intended to eventually help ferry people to Mars.

NASA is planning to launch a new spacecraft tomorrow morning. It will be the first test flight for Orion, a vehicle that will eventually help humans get to Mars. That’s exciting for Georgia Tech aerospace engineering students, some of whom could be among the first to set foot on the red planet.

Jimmy Williams, a senior at Tech, says he has a “crazy dream” to ride on Orion someday.

“I would love to be Jimmy Williams, first man on Mars,” he says. “That would be a great honor.”

Fernbank to Host NASA Space Exhibit

Apr 2, 2013

The International Space Station is still in orbit, but astronauts will soon be landing in Atlanta.

Starting this Saturday, Fernbank Science Center will host NASA’s Destination Station, an exhibit celebrating space exploration and technology.



The Destination Station is an interactive walk-through exhibit and it will also be the center of a series of astronaut appearances around Atlanta.

The six-week-long exhibit is for all ages.

Joyce Gamble of the Fernbank Science Center:


NASA launched its newest X-ray telescope into space this week. The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array or NuSTAR for short will examine a number of black holes never seen by human eyes before, and a local astrophysicist will be paying close attention, because he helped plan the mission.