Astronomers have discovered that a huge, searing-hot planet orbiting another star is loaded with an unusual amount of carbon. The planet, a gas giant named WASP-12b, is the first carbon-rich world ever observed. The discovery was made using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, along with previously published ground-based observations.Meanwhile, private space flights are go:
"This planet reveals the astounding diversity of worlds out there," said Nikku Madhusudhan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, lead author of a report in the Dec. 9 issue of the journal Nature. "Carbon-rich planets would be exotic in every way -- formation, interiors and atmospheres."
It is a small but significant milestone. The unmanned demonstration mission wants to prove that Dragon is able to deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The reason for all the excitement is that the working capsule really points the world firmly in the direction of greater involvement by the private sector in providing trips to space. More competition means lower prices. Lower prices mean better access. After the retirement of the shuttle, Dragon would be able to deliver crew and cargo to the ISS on top of a Falcon 9 rocket.