Spaceflight Insider

News Archive / Author: Jim Sharkey

Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.

Articles By Jim Sharkey

  • PUFFER: An origami-inspired robot may go places rovers can’t

    March 24th, 2017

    JPL is developing a small, origami-inspired robot that may serve as a scout for the next rovers to explore another planet. The new design could revolutionize the manner in which future space exploration missions are carried out.

  • GRACE mission reaches 15-year mark

    March 20th, 2017

    The twin satellites of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission have been collecting data about how water moves and is stored around Earth 15 years – three times longer than originally planned. GRACE, a joint effort between NASA and two German agencies, was launched on March 17, 2002.

  • NASA’s Jupiter moon mission named ‘Europa Clipper’

    March 12th, 2017

    NASA announced on Thursday, March 9, that the space agency's upcoming mission to study the habitability of Jupiter's frozen moon Europa will be named the "Europa Clipper". The name harkens back to the wooden clipper ships that sailed Earth's oceans in the 19th century.

  • NASA’s Kepler provides new data on TRAPPIST-1

    March 11th, 2017

    Last month, researchers announced that TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star approximately 40 light-years from Earth, hosts seven planets that are probably rocky, including three in the habitable zone. On Wednesday, March 8, NASA released new data from Kepler's investigations of the dwarf star to the scientific community.

  • Blue Origin to launch Eutelsat satellite on New Glenn rocket

    March 8th, 2017

    French-based satellite provider Eutelsat Communications announced on March 7, 2017, at the Satellite 2017 Convention in Washington, D.C., that it had signed a contract with Blue Origin for a launch on the New Glenn rocket, which is expected to begin flights in 2020.

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne completes testing of Orion spacecraft auxiliary engines

    March 6th, 2017

    Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed hot-fire acceptance testing of eight auxiliary engines that will be used on the first flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The flight, called Exploration Mission (EM) 1, is scheduled to launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 2018.

  • NASA’s flyby of Europa mission begins design phase

    February 27th, 2017

    A NASA mission to investigate the habitability of Jupiter's moon Europa, scheduled for launch in the 2020s, recently completed a major NASA review. NASA's Europa multiple-flyby mission successfully completed its Key Decision Point-B review on February 15, allowing the mission to continue in its preliminary design phase, known as "Phase B", beginning on February 27.

  • Dawn spacecraft finds evidence of organic materials on Ceres

    February 19th, 2017

    NASA's Dawn spacecraft has detected evidence of organic materials on Ceres, a dwarf planet that is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

  • OSIRIS-REx begins search for Earth-Trojan asteroids

    February 15th, 2017

    On Feb. 9, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft began searching for an elusive type of near-Earth object known as Earth-Trojan asteroids. The spacecraft, currently on a two-year outbound journey to the asteroid Bennu, will spend nearly two weeks looking for evidence of these small bodies.

  • Curiosity rover findings raise new questions about ancient environment on Mars

    February 8th, 2017

    While NASA's "Curiosity" Mars rover has discovered considerable evidence that there was once liquid water on the Red Planet's surface, a recent study has posed a new question: How was the surface of Mars warm enough to keep the water unfrozen?

  • Audit of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission warns of potential delays

    February 7th, 2017

    In a report issued on Jan. 30, 2017, NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) voiced concerns about issues that could delay the planned July 2020 launch of the space agency's next Mars rover. An optimal 20-day window for a journey from Earth to Mars occurs once every 26 months. Missing the 2020 launch date would result in increased costs while waiting for the next launch opportunity.

  • Next SpaceX launch may be one of the last expendable F9 boosters

    January 28th, 2017

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — When SpaceX launches the EchoStar 23 satellite on Falcon 9 rocket, the company won't attempt to land the booster's first stage. The stage will consume too much fuel lifting the 12,125-pound (5,500-kilogram) satellite toward orbit to have enough in reserve for even an at-sea landing. Elon Musk stated as much in a tweet on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

  • NASA’s Curiosity rover studies possible mud cracks

    January 19th, 2017

    Researchers with NASA's "Curiosity" mission have recently been using the Mars rover to study slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges that may have begun as cracks in drying mud more than 3 billion years ago.

  • NASA delays contract awards for asteroid mission spacecraft

    January 17th, 2017

    NASA is delaying contracts and other awards for its Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), originally planned for early this year, by a few months because of uncertainty about the space agency's budget.

  • Two 2017 NASA missions set to study edge of space

    December 30th, 2016

    Above Earth's atmosphere is a layer of charged particles that have been split into positive and negative ions by the Sun's harsh ultraviolet radiation. This area is called the ionosphere. In 2017, NASA plans to launch two satellites to study this region: the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) and the Global Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD).