Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Israel plans to land unmanned spacecraft on moon in February
An Israeli non-profit group plans to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon in February in the first landing of its kind since 2013. The craft, which is shaped like a round table with four carbon fiber legs, is set to blast off in December from Florida’s Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, said Ido Anteby, chief executive of the SpaceIL non-profit.
Fossils of early giant dinosaur discovered in Argentina
Scientists have unearthed in northwestern Argentina fossils of the earliest-known giant dinosaur, a four-legged plant-eater with a medium-length neck and long tail that was a forerunner of the largest land animals of all time. Researchers said the dinosaur – named Ingentia prima, meaning “the first giant” – was up to 33 feet (10 meters) long and weighed about 10 tons, living about 210 million years ago during the Triassic Period.
New Zealand’s Rocket Lab to open second launch pad in United States
Rocket Lab, a Silicon Valley-funded space launch company, planned to open a second launch site in the United States to complement its remote New Zealand pad, the firm said on Wednesday. Rocket Lab said it was considering four sites on both the East and West coasts and would make a final decision in August.
NASA commercial crew program for space station faces delays, report says
Plans to launch the first NASA astronauts since 2011 to the International Space Station from the United States look set to be delayed due to incomplete safety measures and accountability holes in the agency’s commercial crew program, according to a federal report released on Wednesday. SpaceX and Boeing Co are the two main contractors selected under the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s commercial crew program to send U.S. astronauts to space as soon as 2019, using their Dragon and Starliner spacecraft respectively.