SpaceX abort system can carry astronauts to safety in five seconds

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SpaceX is a step closer to manned flights after a successful test of a launch pad abort system. Photo: Space X
SpaceX is a step closer to manned flights after a successful test of a launch pad abort system. Photo: Space X

When the rocket you are about to ride has 3.9 million pounds of thrust under the seat, it’s comforting to have an exit strategy should something go wrong.

The private company SpaceX recently had a successful test of a launch abort system as it moves closer to having manned flights on its manifest.

Astronauts inside a Dragon spacecraft can be propelled a third of a mile away from the rocket in five seconds in the event of an emergency. SpaceX already has had seven successful unmanned cargo missions to the International Space Station and hopes to start carrying astronauts into space by 2017.

Flatworms in space might hold key to human immortality

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Flatworms are headed to the International Space Station and their sacrifice in the name of research gets a salute on the Kentucky Space mission patch.
Flatworms are headed to the International Space Station. Their sacrifice in the name of research gets a salute on the Kentucky Space mission patch. Photo: Kentucky Space

Flatworms are the darlings of the molecular biology field. What scientist doesn’t love a species that can lose an organ or body part — even its head — and grow it back?

It’s quite a trick. We’ll see if they can do it in space.

About 150 planarian flatworms, creatures that are happiest living in rivers or under a log, have first-class tickets aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship, which will take them to the International Space Station for an experiment that could unlock the key to human immortality.