US Air Force Pilot Wally Funk is Headed to Space. Finally!

Funk, who was born in 1939, began flying before her 20th birthday. In 1961, she volunteered for a Women in Space program to train privately with a team of medical experts from NASA’s astronaut program. The women went through the same training as men who were in the Mercury 7 program. Funk and 12 other women completed the training, which was called Mercury 13, but their program was canceled before any of the women could officially join NASA.

Russia plans its own space station in 2025

As tensions simmer between Russia and a number of Western countries on the ground, the head of the Russian space agency has announced work has begun on a space station of its own. The International Space Station (ISS) was launched in 1998 by the Russian and US space agencies and has been hailed for its exemplary co-operation involving numerous countries. But Russian officials have indicated they could pull out of the ISS in 2025.

What if The Heart of The Milky Way Isn’t Actually a Black Hole Like We Thought?

What if the center of our galaxy isn’t a black hole after all? What if it’s a core of dark matter? According to a new and fascinating study, those observed orbits of the galactic center, as well as the orbital velocities in the outer regions of the galaxy, might actually be easier to explain if it was a core of dark matter at the heart of the galaxy, rather than a black hole.

Japanese space capsule carrying pristine asteroid samples lands in Australia

For the second time ever, humanity has brought asteroid samples down to Earth. A small capsule bearing pristine pieces of the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu touched down early this afternoon (Dec. 5) within the remote and rugged Woomera Prohibited Area, about 310 miles (500 kilometers) northwest of the South Australian capital of Adelaide. The samples were snagged millions of miles from Earth by Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission, which studied the 3,000-foot-wide (900 meters) Ryugu up close from June 2018 to November 2019.

Hayabusa2’s predecessor was the first to haul space-rock samples home, delivering pieces of the stony asteroid Itokawa in 2010. But the original Hayabusa (Japanese for “peregrine falcon”) returned less than 1 milligram of material. Hayabusa2’s bounty is expected to exceed 100 mg (0.0035 ounces), and its samples come from a very different kind of asteroid — a primitive “C-type” space rock rich in water and carbon-containing organic compounds. “The materials that formed the Earth, its oceans and life were present in the primordial cloud from which our solar system formed. In the early solar system, these materials were in contact and able to chemically interact within the same parent objects,” Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) officials wrote in an overview of Hayabusa2. “These interactions are retained even today in primitive bodies (C-type asteroids), so returning samples from these bodies for analysis will elucidate the origins and evolution of the solar system and the building blocks of life,” they added.