The Orion spacecraft will replace the Space Shuttle as a part of the Constellation program, an effort to gain proficiency and experience operating away from Earth's environment and to land human explorers on the moon by 2020. The Orion will carry four to six astronauts and will be the NASA's primary vehicle for manned spaceflight missions. Orion's first scheduled flight will be in September 2014. NASA
The Ares I is a launch vehicle designed to carry the Orion into orbit. The 309-foot rocket has two stages: a five-segment solid fuel rocket and a J-2X rocket based on the design that propelled the original Apollo spacecraft to space. NASA
The Earth Departure Stage is a rocket stage designed to propel the Orion from Earth orbit to the moon. The Earth Departure Stage will be launched separately from the Orion module, atop an Ares V rocket, and retrieved by the Orion from orbit. NASA
The Mars Science Laboratory is a rover to be launched in 2011, designed to operate and conduct research on Mars for at least one Martian year (686 Earth days). The laboratory will analyze Martian soil and investigate the planet's likelihood of supporting microbial life. NASA
The Terrestrial Planet Finder is a proposed telescope intended to observe terrestrial planets orbiting distant stars, difficult because stars' light often overpowers smaller orbiting bodies from great distances. NASA
The Boeing X-37 is an unmanned spaceplane designed to test future launch technologies in orbit. The X-37 has been tested since 2004, but has yet to complete a fully successful mission. A test of the partially redesigned X-37B is scheduled sometime in 2009. NASA
NASA's Space Shuttle has been the United States government's spacecraft for human spaceflight missions since the early 1980's, but the Space Shuttle program is scheduled to be retired in 2010. The space agency began eliminating manufacturing jobs in May 2009 with only nine Space Shuttle missions remaining. John Raoux/AP/FILE
The James Webb Space Telescope is an orbiting telescope designed to replace the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope is scheduled to be launched after June 2013 and will see further than any ever used. NASA
Astronomers identify a giant cluster of galaxies 5.7 billion light-years from Earth. At its core new stars are being formed at a rate that could explain how supermassive black holes govern a galaxy's growth.
Astronomers peering deep into the heart of a cluster of galaxies some 5.7 billion light-years away have found that the cluster’s central galaxy is producing stars at an extraordinary rate – up to hundreds of times more stars per year than any of its siblings in a handful of other well-studied clusters.