Mid-Week Roundup: SpaceX Confirms Landing Attempt, OSC Can’t Kick Its Russian Habit and More

SpaceX has finally confirmed that it will indeed be attempting to land the Falcon 9 first stage on its autonomous drone ship following Friday’s CRS-5 launch to the International Space Station.  The complete description is posted on their website’s update page here.

America’s Russian engine addiction continues unabated. Orbital Sciences has selected the RD-181 derivative of the Russian engine family as the new powerplant for the Antares booster. Aviation Week has the story.

In another unsurprising move, the Google Lunar XPrize has moved the completion date for its lunar landing contest back a full year, with the deadline now being set for December 31st 2016.  A launch vehicle confirmation must be issued by the previous December 31st 2015 date however. Also, Astrobotic Technology Inc takes home the first milestone prizes.

Finally, NASA’s Curiosity Rover has detected two unexplained spikes in methane levels during the past year, leaving scientists pondering a number of possible explanations. The NASA press release is here.

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