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Space-X's Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017.
AP Photo/Matt Hartman

Bill Radke talks to Tim Fernholz, reporter at Quartz and author of Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race, about Seattle's role in the private space industry.

Fuca Pillar at Cape Flattery, the northwest extremity of the Olympic Peninsula. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Washington.
Flickr Photo/NOAA Photo Library (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8D9zXL

Bill Radke talks to Jenny Waddell, research coordinator at the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. She was on the exploration ship that went hunting for a meteorite on Monday. The team livestreamed the mission. It was the first ever to search for a meteorite in the ocean.

Scientists Capture First Birth Of A Planet

Jul 2, 2018

An international team of scientists has discovered a young planet — just 5 or 6 million years old — forging its own path through space and likely growing along the way.

The scientists captured a photograph, which they say is the very first direct image of the birth of a planet still forming around a star.

It's a major finding for those of us on Earth, a 4.5-billion-year-old planet.

The newly discovered planet may be young, but it's huge: many times the size of Jupiter, which could fit 1,300 planet Earths inside.

On the evening of March 7, a bright flash, a tremendous boom and a rumble like an earthquake alarmed people in coastal Washington state. Next week, scientists will attempt an underwater recovery of the shattered meteorite that caused all that.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

President Trump Monday announced his intention to create a "space force" that would oversee the military's activities off-world.

"When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space," Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council, which oversees the nation's space policy. "We must have American dominance in space. So important."

Photo courtsey of NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Pluto has long been misunderstood. In 2006 it was declared 'not a planet.' A decision planetary scientist Dr. Alan Stern calls B.S. (bad science).

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

SpaceX has launched NASA's planet-hunting satellite TESS into outer space Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral.

Tess — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — will spend two years searching for planets near bright, nearby stars. The satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch window was narrow — just 30 seconds — and TESS was to be deployed into orbit about 48 minutes after launch.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

As predicted, China's Tiangong-1 space lab fell from the sky on Sunday evening.

The city bus-sized craft, which almost entirely burned up as it re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, broke into small pieces as it plummeted over the South Pacific Ocean. The derelict spacecraft has been slowly falling out of its original orbit for several years.

Will private rockets destroy the ozone layer?

Mar 23, 2018
Space-X's Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017.
AP Photo/Matt Hartman

Private space companies like Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's Space-X are sending rockets into the upper atmosphere.

Does more activity in space mean more pollution for Earth? That's a concern of listener Laurie McQuaig of Seattle.

She asked us to investigate the issue, so reporter Katherine Banwell took the question to local science and tech expert. Alan Boyle. He says there's no need for concern at the moment — yet.

The Crab Nebula was one of the first objects that NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory examined with its sharp X-ray vision.
Flickr Photo/ NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (CC BY NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/249nNXy

As an undergrad at MIT, Emily Levesque discovered the three largest stars in the known universe. She was drawn to the project because of a long-seeded fascination with black holes.

That inspiration came from a book she read when she was eight — “A Wrinkle in Time,” which has now been released as a grand production for the big screen.

A Chinese space lab the size of a city bus will soon be falling back to Earth, and no one knows exactly where bits of it might crash down.

Flickr Photo/ sharkhats (CC BY-NC 2.0)/ https://flic.kr/p/qFaSB8

Bill Radke talks to aerospace and science editor for Geekwire, Alan Boyle, about some mysterious bursts of radio waves coming from three billion light-years away and what he explains what you should do if you find see bits of a space lab falling from the sky

An iridescent streak lit up the sky over Southern California on Friday night, stopping traffic and leading some residents to marvel and others to worry about a UFO or even a nuclear bomb attack. In reality, it was a SpaceX rocket lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara, Calif., carrying 10 satellites for the Iridium constellation. They will be used in mobile voice and data communications.

This week, the skywatchers will experience a flashy double feature: The Geminid meteor shower — one of the year's best — will coincide with an unusually close encounter by an asteroid.

That asteroid? It's called 3200 Phaethon, discovered by a NASA satellite in 1983. With a diameter of about 3 miles, it's the third-largest near-Earth asteroid classified by the space agency as "potentially hazardous."

Between last year's historic November supermoon and August's partial solar eclipse, a lunar event that's coming on Dec. 3 has taken a bit of a back seat. But 2017's first and only visible supermoon is nothing to sneeze at.

The term "supermoon" is popular vernacular. Its scientific name is perigee syzygy. University of Arizona professor Gurtina Besla says the phrase means two specific things in reference to the moon's placement and phase.

Astronaut Scott Kelly has been in orbit longer than any other person in history.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter


Astronaut Scott Kelly has been in orbit longer than any other person in history: more than 500 days in total. During that time, he stockpiled lots of interesting information and experiences, some of which are included in his book, “Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery.”

Astronomers have spotted some kind of outer space rock that's the first visitor from outside of our solar system that they've ever observed.

The discovery has set off a mad scramble to point telescopes at this fast-moving object to try to learn as much as possible before it zips out of sight.

NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

Bill Radke talks with astrophysicist Michael Landry about an historic collision of two neutron stars, known as a kilonova.

It's the first time scientists have observed this type of cosmic event both through electromagnetic and gravitational waves. Landry is head of the LIGO Hanford Observatory.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET Sept. 14

The Cassini spacecraft's final moments are a few hours away. Early Friday morning, it will slam itself into Saturn's atmosphere.

Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

Jeannie Yandel talks to University of Washington associate professor Joe Janes about the Golden Records, a NASA project that compiled sounds and images from earth to send up with NASA's Voyager spacecraft in the hopes of it reaching extraterrestrial life.

Museum goers test out their eclipse glasses on Monday, August 21, 2017, at the Pacific Science Center before the start of the solar eclipse, in Seattle. KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Jeannie Yandel talks to KUOW producer Matt Martin about his experience viewing the total solar eclipse in Oregon. We also hear from Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's chief scientist, about what it was like to view the eclipse from the air in a plane. 

Flickr Photo/ Kevin Hale (CC BY-SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/5aVZD3

What will the eclipse be like for those in the Puget Sound region?  

The time is almost here. On the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, many in America will collectively raise their heads to the sky to witness the first total solar eclipse in the region in 38 years. This time around, Oregon is ground zero and the state is preparing for a phenomenon that has been embraced by people from all over the world. Here are some key things to know before the solar eclipse completely covers our lives.

If you're lucky enough to be in the path of totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse over North America, you will get at best about 2 ½ minutes to view the moon nearly covering the disc of the Sun.

Crumbs may seem harmless here on Earth, but they can be a hazard in microgravity — they could get in an astronaut's eye, or get inhaled, causing someone to choke. Crumbs could even float into an electrical panel, burn up or cause a fire.

That's part of the reason why it was a very big deal in 1965 when John Young pulled a corned beef sandwich out of his pocket as he was orbiting the earth with Gus Grissom.

"Where did that come from?" Grissom asked Young.

"I brought it with me," Young said.

The final scramble is on to see the total eclipse on Aug. 21 in the Northwest. Most hotels and campgrounds in the path of totality are booked.

But for those willing to do some research, or pay handsomely, there are still eclipse adventures to be had.

Twenty years ago Tuesday, a plucky little probe named Pathfinder landed at Ares Vallis on the surface of Mars.

It didn't land in the traditional way, with retrorockets firing until it reached the surface. No, Pathfinder bounced down to its landing site, cushioned by giant air bags. It was a novel approach, and the successful maneuver paved the way for a similar system used by the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2003.

The Apollo 11 command module, which took the first moonwalkers to lunar orbit and back in 1969, is undergoing a painstaking restoration, in preparation for an unusual national tour later this year.

If all goes to plan, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will beam new images of Saturn and its rings to Earth early Thursday, sharing data collected Wednesday from its first dive through the gap between the planet and its striped belt of ice and rock particles.

Today's dive also marks the start of the final phase in the craft's 13-year visit to Saturn. Days ago, it used the gravity of Saturn's moon Titan to bend its path toward its eventual destruction on the planet.

The private company SpaceX has announced that it plans to send two passengers on a mission beyond the moon in late 2018.

If the mission goes forward, it would be the "first time humans have traveled beyond low Earth orbit since the days of Apollo," as NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce told our Newscast unit.

The two private citizens approached the company about the idea and have already paid a sizable deposit, CEO Elon Musk told reporters in a conference call. These private individuals will also bear the cost of the mission.

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