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On Sunday, July 11, 2021, Richard Branson became the first person to fly into space on a self-funded ship. (WTTW News via CNN)

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson on Sunday became the first billionaire to ride his own rocket ship to space. But beyond being the ultimate joyride for billionaires, will commercial space travel take off as an industry accessible to the rest of us?

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Partial solar eclipse, June 10, 2021. (Bill Ingalls / NASA)

Chicagoans’ view of Thursday morning’s “ring of fire” solar eclipse was over before most people were awake.

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used its dual-camera Mastcam-Z imager to capture this image of “Santa Cruz,” a hill about 1.5 miles away from the rover, on April 29, 2021, the 68th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The entire scene is inside of Mars’ Jezero Crater; the crater’s rim can be seen on the horizon line beyond the hill. (Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS)

NASA’S Ingenuity helicopter takes flight on Mars. We get an update on the space agency’s most ambitious mission to date on the Red Planet from local astronomer and space enthusiast Mark Hammergren. 

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Support teams work around the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and Victor Glover, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, Sunday, May 2, 2021. (Bill Ingalls / NASA via AP)

SpaceX safely returned four astronauts from the International Space Station on Sunday, making the first U.S. crew splashdown in darkness since the Apollo 8 moonshot.

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A UIC professor has received a grant from NASA to search for "legacy wetlands." (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Huge swaths of the Midwest were drained to make way for agriculture. UIC’s Kimberly Van Meter is harnessing NASA imagery to hunt for the region’s lost wetlands, the first step toward strategic restoration.

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This image provided by NASA, astronauts from SpaceX join the astronauts of the International Space Station for an interview on Saturday, April 24, 2021. A recycled SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts has arrived at the International Space Station, a day after launching from Florida. The Dragon capsule docked autonomously with the orbiting outpost on Saturday. (NASA via AP)

The International Space Station’s population swelled to 11 on Saturday with the jubilant arrival of SpaceX’s third crew capsule in less than a year. It’s the biggest crowd up there in more than a decade.

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In this image from NASA, the experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity casts a shadow as it hovers above the surface of the planet on Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)

NASA’s experimental helicopter Ingenuity rose into the thin air above the dusty red surface of Mars on Monday, achieving the first powered flight by an aircraft on another planet.

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This combination of images from video made available by NASA shows steps in the descent of the Mars Perseverance rover as it approaches the surface of the planet on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

NASA on Monday released the first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a three-minute trailer showing the enormous orange and white parachute hurtling open and the red dust kicking up as rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface.

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The first image NASA’s Perseverance rover sent back after touching down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. The view, from one of Perseverance’s Hazard Cameras, is partially obscured by a dust cover. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Perseverance rover greeted its global audience on Twitter, beaming back to Earth the first image captured after touching down Thursday afternoon on Mars. 

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This Sept. 21, 2020 image shows the remains of an ancient delta in Mars’ Jezero Crater, which NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover will explore for signs of fossilized microbial life. The image was taken by the high resolution stereo camera aboard the ESA (European Space Agency) Mars Express orbiter. (ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin)

NASA prepares to land a rover on Mars designed specifically to detect signs of ancient life. Local astronomer and space exploration enthusiast Mark Hammergren tells us more about the mission.

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A rendering of the GLIDE spacecraft by Lara Waldrop.

A spacecraft designed by an Illinois researcher and professor will orbit Earth’s outermost atmospheric layer to better understand powerful bursts of radiation from the sun, also known as solar flares. Lara Waldrop tells us more.

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(NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory / Facebook)

An asteroid the size of an SUV buzzed past Earth over the weekend, coming closer to the planet than any other on record, according to NASA. 

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The Perseid meteor shower will peak Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. (Mike Lewinski / Flickr)

Be on the lookout for Perseids on Tuesday night and early Wednesday as the meteor shower hits its peak. Here’s how to maximize your chances of seeing these fireballs streak across the sky.

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In this May, 30, 2020 file photo, NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken walk out of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on their way to Pad 39-A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo / John Raoux, File)

Two NASA astronauts returned to Earth on Sunday in a dramatic, retro-style splashdown, their capsule parachuting into the Gulf of Mexico to close out an unprecedented test flight by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.

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(Credit: NASA / European Space Agency)

We journey to the sun’s surface and explore more from the world of science with University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin.

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe shows greater detail in the twin tails of comet NEOWISE, as seen on July 5, 2020. The lower, broader tail is the comet’s dust tail, while the thinner, upper tail is the comet’s ion tail. (NASA / Johns Hopkins APL / Naval Research Lab / Parker Solar Probe /Guillermo Stenborg)

The comet has been delighting sky gazers across the globe. Catch it now, because it won’t swing back our way for another 6,800 years.