Iddo Genuth writes "Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of West Palm Beach, Florida has successfully completed the third round of its Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine (CECE) testing for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). CECE is a new deep throttling engine designed to reduce thrust and allow a spacecraft to land gently on the moon, Mars, or some other non-terrestrial surface." NASA is also set to launch a new satellite on Tuesday — the Orbital Carbon Observatory — that will monitor the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. On the research front, NASA has announced this year's Centennial Challenges. $2 million in prizes are available for a major breakthrough in tether strength (one of the major obstacles for developing a space elevator), and another $2 million is being offered to competitors who are able to beam power to a device climbing a cable at a height of up to one kilometer.