Former Florida senator and new NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is hailing a "new day" for space exploration as the United States seeks to return to the Moon and to go beyond. 

Nelson, who flew aboard space shuttle Columbia in 1986, will become the agency’s 14th administrator. During his Senate confirmation hearing, he said there’s a lot of excitement going on at NASA, both from far away and close-up.

Since the Civil War, servicemembers have participated in U.S. elections by mail, giving voters away from home a chance to cast a ballot. Election supervisors are making provisions for another group of traveling voters to participate in the November 3 election — astronauts more than 250 miles above the Earth.

Rocky Raybell / Flickr

A celestial event that astronomy fans have been anticipating for years, Monday’s solar eclipse will block out the sun in a path that crosses the nation from Oregon to South Carolina.

While the First Coast isn’t in the path of total darkness,  it should still be something to experience, experts say.

Thursday on “First Coast Connect,” we spoke with former State Senator Tony Hill about an event Friday to honor Jacksonville native and civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson. We also heard about the tragedy of babies being born to opioid addicted mothers and the treatments available, and University of North Florida assistant professor of physics Jack Hewitt told us about NASA’s announcement Wednesday. 


Made in Space

When parts break on the International Space Station, astronauts can get instant replacements thanks to onboard 3-D printers. In this “Business Brief,” analyst John Burr tells WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo those 3-D printers are made by a company called Made in Space, and it has a growing operation in Jacksonville.

NASA astronaut web page

NASA is looking for astronauts to help blaze a trail to Mars. The space agency started accepting applications Monday.

To be considered, applicants must be U.S. citizens with at least a bachelor’s degree in science, math or engineering.

Competition is expected to be intense: Of the more than 6,000 people who applied for NASA’s last astronaut class in 2013, only eight made it.

It’s cold and lifeless and smaller than Earth’s moon, it’s three billion miles away, but tiny Pluto is Page 1 news. As Jim Ash reports, NASA scientists are crossing their fingers ahead of Tuesday’s close encounter by the New Horizons spacecraft.


A nonprofit dedicated to providing accessible dental and primary medical care plans to honor former NASA Astronaut Dr. Norman Thagard in Jacksonville this Tuesday.

The commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Thagard’s return from the Russian Mir 18 mission will serve as a fundraiser for Community Health Outreach.

Thagard grew up in Jacksonville, and this will be his first public appearance here since he returned from space.

Sen. Bill Nelson's office

Investigators continue looking into what caused a SpaceX rocket to explode after takeoff from Cape Canaveral on Sunday. In Jacksonville on Wednesday, Florida Senator Bill Nelson said he’s confident in the investigation.

On Monday, Nelson called for a thorough review of the incident and warned the gravity of the investigation should not be underestimated. He then met with officials from NASA and SpaceX.

At his Jacksonville office, Nelson said he’s sure the results will improve space travel.

Coast Guard Monitoring Rocket Debris

Jun 29, 2015

The Coast Guard is monitoring the debris field of a rocket that exploded during take-off on Sunday.

The debris from is floating north more than 150 miles off the coast of Florida, and it is not expected to impact beaches over July Fourth weekend.

St Johns County spokeswoman Sarah Hand says while it’s not likely debris will land along the first coast, beach-goers should keep their eyes open.  

“It’s best to stay away from any debris or any perceived debris and immediately call SpaceX or the Coast Guard,” she said.

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket experienced what the private space launch company calls "some type of anomaly in first-stage flight" about two and a half minutes into its flight.

NASA commentator George Diller confirmed that "the vehicle has broken up."

Pieces could be seen raining down on the Atlantic Ocean over the rocket's intended trajectory. More than 5,200 pounds of cargo, including the first docking port designed for NASA's next-generation crew capsule, were aboard.

Gregory Todaro / WJCT News

“If all the ice melts — and that’ll happening if we keep doing what we’re doing — the oceans come up 75 meters. That’s about 250 feet,” Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center, told the crowd Friday morning.

“This’ll convert downtown Jacksonville skyscrapers into hazards to navigation,” he said.

Bushnell gave a lecture about the consequences of sea level rise on the First Coast Friday morning at the UNF Adam W. Herbert University Center.

Republican Party of Florida

We speak with Jacksonville mayoral candidate, businessman and former Florida Republican Party chairman Lenny Curry.

David Ramseur and Dennis Carpenter of the Jacksonville chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution join us to discuss the new Florida historical marker in Jacksonville commemorating the 1777 Revolutionary War Battle of Thomas Creek.

Voices for Florida Girls

Voices for Florida Girls is a statewide membership initiative that supports the well-being of girls in our state by ensuring that they have the opportunity to succeed in life and reach their highest potential, particularly girls at risk. Instrumental in that effort is Jacksonville’s Dolores Barr Weaver Policy Center, which uses research, advocacy and training to advance the rights of girls and women in the justice and child protection systems. We speak with Dr.

newspapers, coins, etc.
Diocese of St. Augustine

  The city and Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine are both busy preparing for a joint celebration of the 450th anniversary of their founding. The Cathedral of St. Augustine is undergoing renovations ahead of the mega event this September. This week, workers on the cathedral’s altar discovered a piece of St. Augustine history from a more recent era.

Cathedral Basilica Rector, Father Thomas Willis, says he was in his office when his contractor, Brian Baker, brought in the unexpected find.

"Mr. Baker was totally excited about it," Willis says. 

Humanity has snapped detailed portraits of planets and moons throughout our solar system. But there's one missing from the album: Pluto.

Although Pluto was discovered in 1930, it has remained stubbornly hard to photograph. The Hubble Space Telescope has taken the best pictures, and frankly, they stink.

Bill Gulliford, Gov. Rick Scott, and the TDRS-L are in the headlines today.


Local author Chris Berman’s recent novel Red Moon was intended as fiction, but his prediction of an unmanned Chinese moon mission came to pass at the end of last year.

Tech Tuesday: The Science Behind ISON And The Star of Bethlehem

Nov 19, 2013

Scientists will likely take a break while Black Friday shopping this year to catch a glimpse of a comet hurtling close to the sun that will be visible to the naked eye.

The United Nations General Assembly may approve a plan soon for the world's space agencies to defend the Earth against asteroids.

Mary Justino Clay County Sheriffs Office PIO

Multiple pieces of  historic importance from NASA are slowly moving through Clay County.  

The transport started at 9:00 AM today and will take hours to complete.  The Clay County Sheriffs Office will be escorting various shuttle pieces from NASA and would like to let drivers know to expect delays along the transport route.

Phillip Whitley / St. Augustine Record

Some unique cargo made its way down First Coast waterways today.

A giant, orange external fuel tank from NASA's space shuttle program passed through the area en route from Kennedy Space Center to Green Cove Springs. The fuel tank and other space shuttle artifacts will eventually make their way to the Wing of Dreams Aviation Museum in Keystone Heights. NASA has more about the trek on its website.

By Jim Saunders and Carol Gentry

10/13/2010 © Health News Florida

Anyone who hasn't noticed the big difference between the world views of doctors and nurses could catch on just by looking at their  endorsements in the Florida governor's race.

To the Florida Medical Association, the overriding factor in the election of the next governor is protection against medical-malpractice lawsuits. Tort reform trumps every other issue, and FMA believes Republican Rick Scott can deliver it.

Astronomers have found three planets orbiting far-off stars that are close to Earth-sized and in the "habitable zone": a distance from their suns that makes the planets' surfaces neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.

One of the three planets orbits a star with the prosaic name Kepler-69.

Mark Garlick -Science Photo Library via New Scientist

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson says when President Barack Obama's proposed federal budget is released next week it will include about $100 million to jump start a program scientists say is the next step towards establishing a permanent space colony.

The plan is for NASA to capture an  asteroid with a robotic spacecraft and tow it back toward Earth where it can be placed in orbit around the moon.

Then, astronauts aboard an Orion capsule, powered into space by a new monster rocket, would travel to the asteroid.