1. The Mars InSight Lander is set to touch down on the Martian surface at around 3 p.m. ET today, preparing for "seven minutes of terror" after its nearly 300 million-mile journey. During the landing, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will rely on preprogrammed instructions since they won't have operational control of InSight. The lander, which will probe the deep interior of Mars for the first time, will be the first craft to land on the Red Planet since the Curiosity rover in 2012. You can watch the landing via livestream here beginning at 2 p.m. ET. -- FOX NEWS
2. Ethiopia is slated to launch its first earth observatory satellite in 2019, with the assistance of China. The satellite will launch from China but its command and control center will be in Ethiopia. China is footing $6 million of the $8 million-dollar weather-monitoring satellite's bill. ESSTI announced in 2017 that it would launch a satellite within three to five years. Ethiopia is one of many African countries (like Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco) upping their space satellite game. The satellites are reported to be for crop and weather mapping, but could be used for spying purposes. -- QUARTZ
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3. A streamlining of the licensure-to-launch process could cut the amount of wait time before rockets can fly into orbit to as little as three months. Presently 2,485 safety requirements must be met for license certification, but that would change, according to a new Safety Engineering and Analysis Center (SEAC) report submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Public safety audits would fall under the private company's responsibilities. “A feature of the audit is that it is also instructive, clearly pointing to the steps needed to achieve a higher level of maturity,” the report reads. -- SPACE NEWS
4. NASA announced that the first unmanned flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station will take place on January 7, 2019. The uncrewed flight, called Demo 1, will launch from Kennedy Space Center and will be followed by a June 2019 test of the emergency abort system. The Crew Dragon would be the first U.S. spacecraft to carry astronauts to the ISS since 2011, when NASA shut down the space shuttle program. Since then, the Russian fleet of Soyuz spacecrafts have been the sole means of reaching the ISS. -- SPACE.com
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5. The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is asking students worldwide to create a message that could be used to contact alien life. The contest, open to kindergarten students through college undergraduates, will begin with the release of Part 1 on Dec. 16 on the Observatory's website. The winners will return next November to the celebrate the 45th anniversary of the original "Arecibo Message" -- the agency's Nov. 16, 1974 attempted contact. Staff scientist Alessandra Abe Pacini said the goal is about student engagement and "promoting the unique capability of our AO." -- SPACE.com
6. The European Space Agency released video of the Progress MS-10 cargo ship launching and reaching orbit from the perspective of the International Space Station. The minute-long video is the compilation of 15 minutes of photos taken from the ISS.
7. As the the Department of Defense awaits its forthcoming budget -- highly based on the Trump administration's proposed billion dollar cuts -- its space strategy is being jeopardized, according to a SpaceNews report. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who must show a $700 billion rather than $733 billion dollar budget in Washington this week, said that cyber warfare, hypersonic weapons and space funding would be barred from cuts.
8. According to a new SurveyMonkey poll, Americans feel the future of space exploration may be sketchy, but that still wouldn't stop them from taking a free trip into orbit if given the opportunity. "Those most willing to grab a bag and launch are male millennials (57%) and men overall (42%). Women, on the other hand, were less enthusiastic about an immediate, albeit free, trip to space (27%)."
9. A Russian audit court has targeted the country's space program, Roscosmos, over financial discrepancies, including "stolen" billions. A 2017 report released by the Accounts Chamber found 151 irregularities in the space agency's accounts, totaling $11.9 billion.
10. A seven-minute video by an American Museum of Natural History astronomer Dr. Jackie Faherty informs viewers how a new Milky Way map changes the way we see the galaxy.
Written and curated by Angela Underwood in upstate New York. After years of covering local and state-level politics as a Gannett journalist and tackling topics such as health and nutrition, Angela now enjoys covering stories that are out of this world. Follow her on LinkedIn here.
Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies), Krystle Vermes (Breaking news editor at Inside, B2B marketing news reporter, host of the "All Day Paranormal" podcast), and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).