NASA’s Real ‘Hidden Figures’

n the 1960s, Mercury astronauts Alan ShepardGus GrissomJohn Glenn and others absorbed the accolades of being the first men in space. Behind the scenes, they were supported by hundreds of unheralded NASA workers, including “human computers” who did the calculations for their orbital trajectories. “Hidden Figures,” a 2016 book by Margot Lee Shetterly and a movie based on the book, celebrates the contributions of some of those workers.

Beginning in 1935, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), a precursor of NASA, hired hundreds of women as computers. The job title described someone who performed mathematical equations and calculations by hand, according to a NASA history. The computers worked at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia.


Read the full article from, authored by Dr. Elizabeth Howell, here.


Image Credit: NASA

Astronaut, NC State grad Christina Koch named to Time 100 Most Influential List

Astronaut Christina Koch, who graduated from North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham and NC State, was named to the Time 100 Most Influential People list.

“Let’s face it — Christina didn’t need us to succeed. So we just feel lucky to be part of that,” said Dr. Stephen Reynolds, a professor of physics who served as Koch’s academic advisor at NC State.

Koch made history by taking part in the first all-female spacewalk and setting a record for longest single spaceflight by a woman.

Read the full article here.


Image Credit: NASA

NASA to perform second SLS Green Run test

WASHINGTON — NASA will carry out a second hotfire test of the Space Launch System core stage, a move that makes it more likely the vehicle will miss its scheduled launch date of late this year.

NASA announced late Jan. 29 that it will re-run the static-fire test of the core stage’s four RS-25 engines no earlier than the final week of February at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. That test is the last step in the Green Run test campaign that started one year ago.

Read the full article here.

Image Credit: SpaceNews/Jeff Foust



35 Years Ago: Remembering Challenger and Her Crew

The year 1986 was shaping up to be the most ambitious one yet for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. The agency’s plans called for up to 15 missions, including the first flight from the West Coast launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Other important missions included the launch of two planetary spacecraft with very tight launch windows, an astronomy mission to study Halley’s Comet, and the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. The first mission of 1986, STS-61C, delayed from December 1985, flew between Jan. 12 and 18. The next flight, designated STS-51L, marked the 25th in the program and the 10th for space shuttle Challenger.  During the six-day mission, the seven-member crew was to deploy a large communications satellite, deploy and retrieve an astronomy payload to study Halley’s Comet, and the first teacher in space would conduct lessons for schoolchildren from orbit.


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NASA will test-fire its 1st SLS megarocket for moon missions today. Here’s how to watch.

NASA will attempt to fire the engines on its Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket for the first time today and you can watch the fiery action live online.

As part of a critical test before the rocket behemoth  lifts off for the first time, the agency plans to ignite the four main engines on its heavy-lift core booster this at about 5 p.m. EST (2200 GMT) today, Jan. 16. The test, which is designed to simulate the core stage’s performance during launch, will take place at the agency’s Stennis Space Center, in Mississippi.

You can watch the test live here and on the homepage, courtesy of NASA, beginning at 4:20 p.m. EST (1920 GMT). You’ll also be able to watch the test directly from NASA here.

Read the whole article here.

Image Credit:

What Would NASA Imagery Experts Pack for the Moon?

We are one step closer to landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon, and we want to know: What would you take with you to the Moon? 🌙

We are getting ready for our Green Run Hot Fire test, which will fire all four engines of the rocket that will be used for the Artemis I mission. This test will ensure the Space Launch System — the most powerful rocket ever built — is ready for the first and future missions beyond Earth’s orbit to the Moon.

Read the full article here.


Image Credit: Marv Smith, Lead Photographer, NASA Glenn Research Center

Next high-flying SpaceX Starship test could blast off Friday

Just in time to distract from the chaos in Washington, DC, SpaceX is working toward another high-altitude test flight of its next-generation spaceflight system.

The latest prototype of Elon Musk’s Starship, which is identified by the serial number SN9, underwent a brief test firing of its Raptor engines at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas, development facility on Wednesday. The test is part of a series of checks, which may include another static fire, leading up to a launch that could come as soon as Friday.


Read the full article here.


Image Credit: Republic World

ROBERT WINGLEE (1958–2020)

We are devastated to announce that Robert Winglee, director of Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium and of the Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline, has passed away.  He quite suddenly had a heart attack on December 24 and did not recover.

Robert was passionate about sharing his love of space and space science with others, and his impact went far beyond Seattle or the Pacific Northwest.  We invite you to join us in remembering him.  Please share your memories of Robert using #WingItLikeWinglee on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

A celebration of his life will be held in the new year — we’ll share details when they’re available.


Robert Winglee also served on the National Space Grant Foundation board from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2015. We sincerely thank him for his service to the organization.


Original Article

Credit: Washington Space Grant Consortium

Dark Storm on Neptune Reverses Direction, Possibly Shedding a Fragment

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope watched a mysterious dark vortex on Neptune abruptly steer away from a likely death on the giant blue planet.

The storm, which is wider than the Atlantic Ocean, was born in the planet’s northern hemisphere and discovered by Hubble in 2018. Observations a year later showed that it began drifting southward toward the equator, where such storms are expected to vanish from sight. To the surprise of observers, Hubble spotted the vortex change direction by August 2020, doubling back to the north. Though Hubble has tracked similar dark spots over the past 30 years, this unpredictable atmospheric behavior is something new to see.

Equally as puzzling, the storm was not alone. Hubble spotted another, smaller dark spot in January this year that temporarily appeared near its larger cousin. It might possibly have been a piece of the giant vortex that broke off, drifted away, and then disappeared in subsequent observations.


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Saturn and Jupiter to almost ‘kiss’ this winter solstice

Saturn and Jupiter will appear to almost kiss this winter solstice, although not because of some cosmic mistletoe hanging overhead.

Rather, the two gas giants will look as though they’re very close in the night sky in an event known as a “great conjunction,” which happens roughly every 20 years. In reality, Saturn and Jupiter will be hundreds of millions of miles apart from each other.

This year’s great conjunction will be exceptionally close — just a tenth of a degree apart, or one-fifth of a full moon’s diameter. The last time Saturn and Jupiter looked this cozy was July 16, 1623, back when the famous Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was alive, according to, a Live Science sister site.

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