Workers may have accidentally cut or crushed the section of foam that broke off Discovery's fuel tank during its launch two months ago -- a mishap that threatened the safety of the astronauts and grounded the shuttle fleet. That is the leading theory for the cause behind the disturbing loss of foam insulation that cast a cloud over Nasa's return to space, said Wayne Hale, the new manager of the space shuttle programme.
For the first time in history, Nasa is setting off on a collision course with a comet, in hopes of blasting a huge hole in the celestial snowball and gazing upon the original ingredients of the solar system preserved inside. It all begins with a planned Wednesday launch of Deep Impact, a copper-fortified, comet-busting spacecraft.
Nasa launched a messenger to Mercury on Tuesday, the first spacecraft in 30 years to head to the sun's closest planet. The probe, named Messenger, rocketed away in the pre-dawn moonlight on what will be a eight billion kilometre, six-and-a-half-year journey to Mercury. Messenger will view Mercury from all sides.