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This week in The Space Review…

Discoverer

Things that almost go boom

In early 1959, crews were preparing for what was to be the first orbital launch attempt from Vandenberg Air Force Base when things went wrong, with nearly tragic results. Dwayne Day examines the near-explosion on the pad and how it shaped the Air Force’s space engineering processes.
Monday, June 17, 2024

Artemis Accords lift off

Ten countries have signed the Artemis Accords so far this year, as many as signed all of last year. Jeff Foust reports on what is driving the growing interest in the document outlining best practices for responsible space exploration.
Monday, June 17, 2024

The rush to return humans to the Moon and build lunar bases could threaten opportunities for astronomy

A new surge of government and commercial space activity is opening up the Moon for exploration and development. But, Martin Elvis warns, that activity would interfere with aspects of the Moon that make it an ideal outpost for astronomy.
Monday, June 17, 2024

Reviews: space documentaries of the past and present

The history of spaceflight offers plenty of material for makers of documentaries, but so does the frenzied modern era. Jeff Foust reviews two documentaries screened at a recent film festival, one on Apollo 13 and the other on the commercial space race of today.
Monday, June 17, 2024


Previous articles:

National Reconnaissance Program crisis photography concepts, part 3: Axumite

During the Cold War, the NRO explored options for obtaining reconnaissance photos rapidly in a crisis, most of which relied on existing launch systems. Joseph Page discusses one concept that would have instead involved a “Franken-rocket” launched from a fighter jet.
Monday, June 10, 2024

Hubble limps along

NASA announced last week it is changing how it operates the Hubble Space Telescope after one of its three remaining gyros malfunctioned. Jeff Foust reports on efforts to keep the telescope running as long as possible as the debate about a private servicing mission reached a crescendo.
Monday, June 10, 2024

Challenges for India’s emerging commercial launch industry

An Indian startup successfully carried out a suborbital test of a launch vehicle last month. Jatan Mehta cautions that, despite this milestone, Indian companies face many obstacles entering the commercial launch industry.
Monday, June 10, 2024

Prospects for orbital data centers

There is a growing interest among some companies in setting up power-intensive data centers in orbit. Lawrence Furnival examines some of the technical and financial issues regarding the concept.
Monday, June 10, 2024

Star-crossed liner

After years of delays, Boeing and NASA appeared ready to finally launch astronauts on the company’s Starliner spacecraft, until they ran into another set of problems. Jeff Foust reports on the latest delays for a program that has suffered more than its share of problems.
Monday, June 3, 2024

Power politics transcends space security

There has been little progress at the United Nations on space security issues, as seen in a pair of recent Security Council debates. Ajey Lele argues that space security is being held hostage to geopolitics among China, Russia, and the United States.
Monday, June 3, 2024

Space Resources 2024: In search of the Grand Bargain

Two meetings earlier this year examined governance issues regarding space resources. Dennis O’Brien offers his notes from those meetings and the potential for coming to agreement on a regime covering their use.
Monday, June 3, 2024

Review: USS Hornet Chronological Pictorial History

The World War II-era carrier USS Hornet played a role in space history by serving as the recovery ship for Apollo 11 and 12. Dwayne Day reviews a book about the carrier that includes rare photos of its work on those missions.
Monday, June 3, 2024

Starlink’s disruption of the space industry

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the first SpaceX launch dedicated to its Starlink constellation, which now has more than 6,000 satellites in orbit. Jeff Foust reports on how Starlink has, over those five years, had impacts from business to geopolitics.
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Columbia retold, and untold

A recent four-part documentary examined the shuttle Columbia accident and its aftermath. Dwayne Day discusses how that show overlooked one key aspect of it: the investigation into the accident that uncovered its technical and other causes.
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Ed Dwight: The first Black astronaut?

When Ed Dwight flew on a Blue Origin suborbital flight earlier this month, it was billed as the fulfillment of a quest that started more than six decades ago. John Logsdon examines Dwight’s role as what many have called the first Black astronaut candidate.
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Why planetary protection matters to the future of space exploration

Some have argued that planetary protection protocols, designed to prevent humans from contaminating other worlds and vice versa, are outdated. Dylan Taylor argues that planetary protection remains vital even in a new era of space exploration.
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Russian research on space nukes and alternative counterspace weapons (part 2)

In the second part of his examination of Russian research into counterspace weapons, Bart Hendrickx examines work on alternative concepts like plasma and electromagnetic pulse weapons.
Monday, May 20, 2024

Architecting lunar infrastructure

What sort of infrastructure is needed on the Moon to enable visions of a lunar economy? Jeff Foust reports on a DARPA study that brought together companies to develop an ecosystem of lunar services, although who will pay for it is less certain.
Monday, May 20, 2024

Assigning an identification to a satellite

Objects in satellite catalogs can be lost and recovered, making it a challenge to identify which object came from which launch. Charles Phillips describes one approach that uses one aspect of an object’s orbital elements to help identify it.
Monday, May 20, 2024

Review: Weapons in Space

The Strategic Defense Initiative was a controversial program decades ago to develop a space-based missile defense system. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides a new history of SDI and lessons it offers to today’s debates about missile defense and anti-satellite weapons.
Monday, May 20, 2024

Russian research on space nukes and alternative counterspace weapons (part 1)

US government officials revealed in February that Russia was developing a nuclear anti-satellite weapon of some kind, but offered few details. Bart Hendrickx examines the state of Russian research on the potential use of nuclear weapons in orbit as anti-satellite devices.
Monday, May 13, 2024

Is it time for space to come out from under the FAA’s wings?

As commercial launch activity continues to increase, the FAA office regulating launches is straining to keep up. Jeff Foust reports that some in industry, as well as an FAA advisory committee, think part of the solution is to move that office out of the FAA.
Monday, May 13, 2024

Spaceplanes: why we need them, why they have failed, and how they can succeed

Launch vehicles that can take off from and land on runways have long been a dream for space engineers and enthusiasts, but have never gotten off the ground. John Hollaway describes why they remain essential and how they might be developed.
Monday, May 13, 2024

Review: Alien Earths

Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets over the last three decades, a remarkable menagerie of worlds. Jeff Foust reviews a book by one scientists that describes the efforts to both search for exoplanets and look for one that may be inhabitable or inhabited.
Monday, May 13, 2024

Europe looks to end its launcher crisis

Ongoing space access problems forced Europe to use a Falcon 9 to launch a pair of Galileo navigation satellites recently. Jeff Foust reports that the “launcher crisis” plaguing Europe shows signs of ending.
Monday, May 6, 2024

Boeing’s Starliner, an important milestone for commercial spaceflight

As soon as Monday night Boeing will launch its CST-100 Starliner on its first crewed flight. Wendy Whitman Cobb discusses why this long-delayed flight is nonetheless a key development for commercial spaceflight.
Monday, May 6, 2024

The rising flood of space junk is a risk to us on Earth

A piece of debris jettisoned from the International Space Station hit a house in Florida in March. Thomas Cheney describes how space debris can play a growing risk not just in orbit but also on the ground, testing international space law.
Monday, May 6, 2024

Review: The Asteroid Hunter

Last September NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully returned samples from the asteroid Bennu, seven years after its launch. Jeff Foust reviews a book by the mission’s principal investigator that describes the long effort to develop the mission and how it overcame obstacles along the way.
Monday, May 6, 2024

NASA looks for an MSR lifeline

Mars scientists hoped they would have a better idea of when and how they would get samples back from Mars after NASA completed an internal study of the Mars Sample Return program. Instead, as Jeff Foust reports, NASA is now turning to industry for help on how to reduce the costs and accelerate the schedule of MSR.
Monday, April 29, 2024

Lazy Cat on a mountaintop

In the 1970s, US intelligence analysts were concerned about Soviet lasers intended to illuminate American satellites. Dwayne Day examines how the CIA attempted to study those efforts with a telescope in Iran, only to be thwarted by the revolution there.
Monday, April 29, 2024

China’s interest in the far side of the Moon: scientific, military, or economic?

China is scheduled to launch later this week Chang’e-6, the first mission to attempt to return samples from the far side of the Moon. Carlos Alatorre explores what is driving the country’s efforts to go to lunar farside and bring back samples.
Monday, April 29, 2024

Review: Who Owns the Moon?

Some argue that the Outer Space Treaty, drafted at the height of the Cold War, is outdated in an era where there are more countries and companies operating in space. Jeff Foust reviews a book that tries to make that case, turning to history and treaties in other fields.
Monday, April 29, 2024

The ongoing triumph of Ingenuity

NASA sent its final commands to the Ingenuity Mars helicopter last week, three months after the helicopter’s final flight. Will Pomerantz describes the remarkable achievements of Ingenuity and its influence on future missions.
Monday, April 22, 2024

NASA’s strategy for space sustainability

Earlier this month NASA announced a new Space Sustainability Strategy that outlines how the agency would address the growing threats posed by orbital debris. Jeff Foust reports on the strategy, which initially emphasizes getting a grasp on the problem rather than technological solutions.
Monday, April 22, 2024

Tintin, the first man in space and on the Moon

Years before Yuri Gagarin went into orbit or Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, the Belgian cartoon character Tintin did the same. Anusuya Datta looks at Tintin’s exploits and how the cartoonist Hergé was able to make the journey realistic.
Monday, April 22, 2024

Review: Still As Bright

The Moon continues to compel our interest, both individually and as a society, even as our knowledge of it changes. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a history of our studies of the Moon intertwined with the author’s own experiences with our celestial neighbor.
Monday, April 22, 2024

Lunar rover racing

Astronauts on the first Artemis landing missions will be on foot, but later on could have their choice of vehicles to roam across the lunar terrain. Jeff Foust reports on the latest milestones in the development of lunar rovers with commercial and international partners.
Monday, April 15, 2024

FARRAH, the superstar satellite

Decades ago, FARRAH was not just the name of a famous actress but also of a classified satellite program. Dwayne Day examines what is known about FARRAH (the satellite) after a model of it appeared at a museum.
Monday, April 15, 2024

Zero-gravity regulations

A “learning period” that has restricted regulation of commercial human spaceflight in the US for nearly two decades could soon be ending. David Gillette and Emma Rohrbach argue that the learning period supported innovation in ways that could be extended to other fields.
Monday, April 15, 2024

Nukes in space: a bad idea in the 1960s and an even worse one now

In the early 1960s, the United States and Soviet Union tested nuclear weapons in space, with disastrous results for many satellites in orbit at the time. Michael Mulvihill discusses those tests and why they show the perils of a potential Russian nuclear ASAT weapon.
Monday, April 15, 2024

GAMBIT vs KENNEN: The persistence of film reconnaissance in the digital age

While the US started operating electro-optical reconnaissance satellites in the mid-1970s, it continued to launch film-return satellites for another decade. Dwayne Day examines why those systems overlapped based on newly declassified documents.
Monday, April 8, 2024

A North Korean satellite starts showing signs of life (part 2)

Recent observations showed a North Korean satellite launched last year has changed its orbit, demonstrating it is operational. Marco Langbroek shows how those observations indicate that the maneuvers are being commanded by a specific facility in North Korea.
Monday, April 8, 2024

Strategic implications of China winning the space rescue race (part 2)

In the concluding part of their examination of space rescue capabilities, Benjamin Johnis and Peter Garretson offer some space rescue scenarios and policy recommendations to ensure US leadership in this emerging area.
Monday, April 8, 2024

Review: The Music of Space

Sound may not travel through the vacuum of space, but music is at the heart of many movies and shows about spaceflight. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the history of space soundtracks as well as real music in space.
Monday, April 8, 2024

A space telescope’s cloudy future

NASA’s fiscal year 2025 budget request released last month proposed delays and cutbacks for a number of science missions, including the long-running Chandra and Hubble space telescopes. Jeff Foust reports on how astronomers are worried that the proposed cuts to Chandra in particular could threaten the future of both the telescope and X-ray astronomy.
Monday, April 1, 2024

Touching space

Europe’s Euclid space telescope launched last year includes an artwork featuring the literal fingerprints of hundreds who worked on the mission. Artist Lisa Pettibone describes the creation of that piece and the value of combining art and science.
Monday, April 1, 2024

Strategic implications of China winning the space rescue race (part 1)

As human activities grow in space, there will be requirements to rescue personnel just as on Earth. Benjamin Johnis and Peter Garretson describe why it is vital for the US military to start examining its roles in space rescue now before China establishes its rules.
Monday, April 1, 2024

Review: Our Moon

Next week, millions across North America will watch a total solar eclipse, which means they’ll be watching the Moon. Jeff Foust review a book that offers an expansive exploration of the Moon and its effects on our planet and ourselves.
Monday, April 1, 2024

Lessons from the first CLPS lunar landing missions

With the first two commercial lunar lander missions by US companies in the books, NASA and industry are taking stock of what worked and what didn’t. Jeff Foust reports on those analyses as NASA charts the future of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
Monday, March 25, 2024

“A rose, by any other name”: Proposing a national naming competition for our lunar exploration program (part 2)

In the concluding portion of his two-part essay, Cody Knipfer examines the potential benefits, and drawbacks, of a naming competition for elements of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration campaign.
Monday, March 25, 2024

Preventing a “Space Pearl Harbor”: Rep. Turner leads the charge

Comments last month by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee led to revelations that Russia was developing some kind of nuclear antisatellite weapon. Brian Chow argues similar awareness is needed among policymakers about growing Chinese antisatellite capabilities.
Monday, March 25, 2024

“For All Mankind”: space drama’s alternate history constructs a better vision of NASA

Through four seasons, the television show “For All Mankind” has crafted a very different history of NASA and space exploration. Val Nolan describes how it also serves as a vehicle for telling very personal stories.
Monday, March 25, 2024

Accelerating Starship

SpaceX conducted the third integrated test flight of its Starship/Super Heavy vehicle last week, going further and faster than before. Jeff Foust reports on the company’s progress on the vehicle but also its need to move even faster in its development.
Monday, March 18, 2024

Texas Space Commissions, from Conestoga to Starship

The Texas state government has reestablished a space commission more than two decades after the previous one was shut down. Thomas Matula argues that a priority for the new commission should be to establish a launch site for the state’s growing space industry.
Monday, March 18, 2024

“A rose, by any other name”: Proposing a national naming competition for our lunar exploration program (part 1)

Names carry with them meanings, be they for people or spaceflight programs. In the first of two-part essay, Cody Knipfer looks at the history of how NASA has named its various programs and missions.
Monday, March 18, 2024

Review: Space: The Longest Goodbye

NASA and others have studied the effects of isolation and confinement in long-duration spaceflight. Jeff Foust reviews a documentary that examines the subject from the perspectives of astronauts and others interested in eventually going to Mars.
Monday, March 18, 2024

The difficult early life of the Centaur upper stage

The Centaur upper stage has become a key element for a series of launch vehicles, most recently the Vulcan. But as Trevor Williams describes, it suffered problems during its origins more than six decades ago.
Monday, March 11, 2024

India unveils its first set of Gaganyaan astronauts

The Indian government last month revealed the identities of the four test pilots who have been training for the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program. Jatan Mehta provides an update on the state of that program.
Monday, March 11, 2024

The psychological challenges of a long voyage to Mars

Going to Mars involves many technical challenges, but another set of issues involves how crews will work together in confined spaces far from Earth for years at a time. Nick Kanas examines some of those problems and potential solutions.
Monday, March 11, 2024

Review: The New World on Mars

SpaceX is developing Starship with the long-term goal of transporting people to Mars, but what happens once they get there? Jeff Foust reviews a book by a long-time Mars settlement advocate that tries to explain how and why people would live on Mars.
Monday, March 11, 2024

A North Korean satellite starts showing signs of life

Many in the West had written off a North Korean reconnaissance satellite launched last November as a failure. Marco Langbroek describes how the satellite appears to be alive after recent maneuvers.
Monday, March 4, 2024

Squinting at the universe

While current telescopes, on the ground and in space, are revealing new insights about the universe, astronomers have plans for even more ambitious observatories. Jeff Foust reports on the progress and problems those efforts face.
Monday, March 4, 2024

Taking stock of the US space program

The United States has by far the largest government space program, but is not without its challenges. Namrata Goswami examines the current states of government space policies and strategies, as well as problems and missed opportunities.
Monday, March 4, 2024

Ode to Engle and Truly

Richard Truly, a former NASA astronaut and, later, administrator, passed away last week. Emily Carney recalls his life from the perspective of seeing his first shuttle launch.
Monday, March 4, 2024

The phases of lunar lander success, revisited

Last week Intuitive Machines became the first company to land a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, but the spacecraft ended up on its side with limited power and communications. Jeff Foust reports on the landing and in what ways it can be considered a success.
Monday, February 26, 2024

The middle of No and Where: Johnston Island and the US Air Force’s nuclear anti-satellite weapon

During much of the Cold War a US Air Force unit operated a nuclear ASAT installation on distant Johnston Island. Dwayne Day examines the history of that facility as revealed in a newly uncovered set of images.
Monday, February 26, 2024

Cybersecurity for satellites is a growing challenge

As society makes greater use of space-based capabilities, those satellites become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Sylvester Kaczmarek discusses evolving space cyber threats and the need for global cooperation to address them.
Monday, February 26, 2024

Review: The Battle Beyond

Concerns about the prospects of space warfare grew earlier this month amid reports that Russia was developing some kind of nuclear ASAT. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the concepts of war in space using an approach likely best appreciated by those in the military.
Monday, February 26, 2024

Delivering a business case for rocket cargo

Some in the space industry have long believed that reusable rockets could tap a large market for high-speed point-to-point transportation. Jeff Foust reports on how the US military is exploring a “Rocket Cargo” program that could do just that, if it can overcome technical and other obstacles.
Monday, February 19, 2024

From Southwest Regional Spaceport to Spaceport America

New Mexico’s Spaceport America is facing a lull in activity when Virgin Galactic stops VSS Unity flights later this year while developing a new line of suborbital spaceplanes. Thomas Matula argues this shows the flaws in the approach the state took to develop the spaceport as compared to the original visions for the site.
Monday, February 19, 2024

The evolution of India’s weather satellite programs

On Saturday, India launched its latest geosynchronous orbit weather satellite. Ajey Lele describes the evolution of India’s weather satellites over the last several decades and whether the country’s current capabilities are sufficient.
Monday, February 19, 2024

Review: The Space Race

It’s been more than 40 years since Guy Bluford became the first Black American in space, the culmination of efforts dating back more than two decades. Jeff Foust reviews a new documentary that profiles some of the first Black men who sought to become NASA astronauts.
Monday, February 19, 2024

MSR at serious risk

Concerns about the budget and plans for NASA’s Mars Sample Return (MSR) program came to a head last week when JPL laid off more than 500 employees, citing budget uncertainty about the program. Jeff Foust reports on the issues that have put the future of MSR into question for some.
Monday, February 12, 2024

Nuclear Transit: nuclear-powered navigation satellites in the early 1960s

A precursor to GPS was the Transit series of navigation satellites, dating back more than 60 years. Dwayne Day discusses some of the early Transit satellites that used nuclear rather than solar power.
Monday, February 12, 2024

Lunar science is entering a new active phase with commercial launches of landers

The first lunar lander by Intuitive Machines is scheduled to launch this week, carrying NASA and commercial payloads. Jack Burns describes one of the NASA instruments on the IM-1 lander and the value of commercial access to the lunar surface.
Monday, February 12, 2024

Review: Dark Star

The Space Shuttle was the biggest effort to develop a spaceplane that sough to make spaceflight as routine as aviation. Jeff Foust reviews a new history of the shuttle program that puts the vehicle into that broader context.
Monday, February 12, 2024

Did a NASA study pull the plug on space solar power?

NASA released last month a long-awaited economic assessment of space-based solar power, concluding that it would be far more expensive than terrestrial alternatives. Jeff Foust reports on how some in space solar power community are pushing back against those conclusions, concerned it will have a chilling effect on the field.
Monday, February 5, 2024

The Missing Link: Found

Jodrell Bank Observatory in England has been used for radio astronomy and, on occasion, listening for Soviet spacecraft. Dwayne Day describes how it was also used to help search for a “missing link” in Soviet spacecraft communications.
Monday, February 5, 2024

The case for a fleet of Martian helicopters

Ingenuity, whose mission ended last month, was a first-of-its-kind Mars helicopter with no guarantees more will follow soon. Ari Allyn-Feuer discusses how sending a large number of similar helicopters could advance Martian exploration in novel ways.
Monday, February 5, 2024

Review: NASA’s Discovery Program

NASA started its Discovery program more than three decades ago to fund a line of lower cost, higher risk planetary science missions. Jeff Foust reviews a NASA history of the program’s origins and how, over time, its missions became more expensive and risk-averse.
Monday, February 5, 2024

The sacred Moon: Navigating diverse cultural beliefs in lunar missions

The presence of cremated remains on the Peregrine lunar lander sparked controversy after the Navajo Nation expressed its objections. Deana Weibel examines the varying beliefs regarding the Moon and the challenges navigating them that entities planning lunar missions face.
Monday, January 29, 2024

The ingenuity of technology demos

NASA announced last week the the Ingenuity Mars helicopter’s mission had come to an end after it was damaged on a flight earlier this month. Jeff Foust reports on the success of Ingenuity and its implications for Mars exploration and future technology demonstrations.
Monday, January 29, 2024

Space-related incidents during Taiwan’s elections

A Chinese launch earlier this month had repercussions for an ongoing election in Taiwan. Ajey Lele discusses that incident and related ones in a contentious part of the world.
Monday, January 29, 2024

Review: Good Luck Have Fun

Relativity Space launched its first Terran 1 rocket last year, then promptly retired it to focus on a larger vehicle. Jeff Foust reviews a book where the company offers a look at the development of both the startup and the rocket.
Monday, January 29, 2024

The phases of lunar lander success

On Friday, Japan landed its SLIM spacecraft on the Moon, a day after Astrobotic bid farewell to its Peregrine lander. Jeff Foust reports on how the two missions have measured varying degrees of success amid problems they encountered.
Monday, January 22, 2024

Turnover and retention: an unspoken cost center affecting space companies

Many space companies struggle to fill open positions as the best workers seek new opportunities. Joseph Horvath argues that companies should instead look to other industries to find new employees.
Monday, January 22, 2024

What do Australians think about space?

Australia has established a space agency and is working to build up a space industry in the country, but what does the public there think about space? Four researchers describe the results of the first-of-its-kind opinion survey on space in Australia.
Monday, January 22, 2024

Review: Things That Go Bump in the Universe

The universe, once thought to be fairly static, is instead turning out to be dynamic and violent, with supernova explosions and gamma-ray bursts, among other phenomena. Jeff Foust reviews a book that tries to make sense of a chaotic cosmos.
Monday, January 22, 2024

Twenty years of chasing the Moon

In January 2004, President George W. Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration, which included a goal of landing humans back on the Moon by 2020. Jeff Foust reports on how, despite missing that deadline and recent setbacks, the effort to return to the Moon may be on firmer ground than at any time in the last two decades.
Monday, January 15, 2024

How we’re searching for alien life at previously unexplored frequencies

Many of the efforts in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence over the years have focused on radio searches in specific frequency bands. Owen Johnson describes a new project focused at much lower frequencies.
Monday, January 15, 2024

A unified theory of suborbital docking and refueling

Past studies have looked at doing suborbital refueling or docking for reusable launch vehicles. Francis Chastaing puts those studies together to offer a new approach.
Monday, January 15, 2024

Review: The Little Book of Aliens

The search for evidence of life beyond Earth has taken many paths of varying degrees of scientific rigor. Jeff Foust reviews a book by an astrophysicist who examines those approaches, from looking for biosignatures on other planets to observations of UAPs.
Monday, January 15, 2024

Success and setbacks

The first launch of a new rocket carried the first lunar lander developed by a startup. Jeff Foust reports on how ULA’s Vulcan finally soared while Astrobotic’s Peregrine unfortunately stumbled.
Monday, January 8, 2024

India’s mission for understanding the dynamics of the Sun

An Indian spacecraft, Aditya-L1, reached its orbit around the Earth-Sun L1 point over the weekend to carry out a mission of observing the Sun. Ajey Lele discusses the importance of the mission for both space science and India.
Monday, January 8, 2024

NewSpace, satcom, and heavy rockets

Last week, the commercial arm of India’s space agency ISRO announced it would launch a communications satellite not on one of India’s own rockets but instead with SpaceX. Aditya Chaturvedi examines the implications of that decision.
Monday, January 8, 2024

Review: Orbital

The International Space Station has been the setting for movies featuring conflicts and disasters. Jeff Foust reviews a novel that instead offers a day in the life of a fictional crew on the station.
Monday, January 8, 2024

Diamonds and DORIANS: program troubles, operations, cancellation, and legacy (part 3)

In the concluding part of their examination of American and Soviet military space station programs, Bart Hendrickx and Dwayne A. Day examine the factors that led to their downfall and the legacies of each effort.
Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The year new launch vehicles finally lift off

A new year brings with it new hopes for new launch vehicles. Jeff Foust reports on the launch vehicles making the first (or second) flights this year after extended delays.
Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The longstanding mystery of the moons of Mars and the mission that could solve it

Were the moons of Mars captured by the planet or created from collisions? Ben Rider-Stokes discusses that mystery and a Japanese mission that could provide a way to solve it.
Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Review: Inside the Star Factory

For the last year and a half, the James Webb Space Telescope has provided stunning images of the universe. Jeff Foust review a book that features stunning images of JWST taken during its long development.
Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Diamonds and DORIANS: MOL and Almaz enter active development (part 2)

In the second part of their study of military space station programs, Dwayne Day and Bart Hendrickx examine the progress the US made on MOL and the USSR on Almaz in the late 1960s.
Monday, December 18, 2023

An extended mission for authorization

Industry and government in the US have been working for years to develop a procedure for “mission authorization” or the oversight of commercial spacecraft not currently licensed. Jeff Foust reports that dueling proposals from Congress and the White House may mean that debate is far from over.
Monday, December 18, 2023

SpaceX Starship in lunar development

EBesides serving as a launch vehicle, SpaceX is working on a lunar lander version of Starship. Thomas Matula discusses how Starship will be valuable not just for transporting large amounts of cargo to the Moon but also through providing infrastructure.
Monday, December 18, 2023

Space sensemaking and space domain understanding: enabling data-centric AI for space flight safety

The growing population of objects in Earth orbit, along with increasing threats, has become a major issue for satellite operators. Brien Flewelling discusses how automation and artificial intelligence can respond more quickly to a dynamic environment.
Monday, December 18, 2023

Review: Moonshot

Astronauts may seem like the closest people to perfection, but even they make mistakes. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers life lessons based on the mistakes and setbacks experienced by one former astronaut.
Monday, December 18, 2023

Diamonds and DORIANS: The Soviet Union’s Almaz and the United States’ Manned Orbiting Laboratory military space stations (part 1)

In the 1960s the Soviet Union and the United States embarked on efforts to develop military space stations. Bart Hendrickx and Dwayne Day examine the origins of both the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and Almaz programs.
Monday, December 11, 2023

Creating a Venus exploration program

External budget pressures and problems with some missions have put new pressures on NASA’s planetary science program. Despite those difficulties, Jeff Foust reports on how advocates for Venus exploration are seeking to build support for a long-term series of missions there.
Monday, December 11, 2023

Four key points regarding Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal from the Moon Agreement

Saudi Arabia announced early this year it would withdraw from the Moon Treaty, only about a decade after acceding to it. Michael Listner explores the reasons why an emerging space nation would seek to back out of that treaty.
Monday, December 11, 2023

Review: The Future of Geography

Many people argue that there is a new “space race” underway among the US, China, and others to control the Moon. Jeff Foust reviews a book that tried to make that argument but suffers from serious flaws.
Monday, December 11, 2023

Europe’s tentative step towards human spaceflight

After months of discussion, ESA member states agreed last month to start a commercial cargo program as a prelude to a potential human spaceflight effort. Jeff Foust reports on the new initiative and the challenges it faces.
Monday, December 4, 2023

All-UK astronaut mission shows that private enterprise is vital to the future of space exploration

The UK government announced this fall an agreement with Axiom Space that could lead to a private mission flown entirely by British astronauts. Simonetta Di Pippo discusses why this is an important milestone in the role of companies in human spaceflight in Europe and beyond.
Monday, December 4, 2023

Enter India, the fifth great space power

Successfully landing a spacecraft on the Moon helped raise the profile of India’s space capabilities. Daniel Duchaine argues that it also made India a global space power, and brings with it potential geopolitical ramifications.
Monday, December 4, 2023

Review: Dreamland

The secret aircraft testing base known as Area 51 has been the subject of fascination, and of conspiracies, for decades. Dwayne Day reviews a new book that offers the most authoritative look yet at the work performed at Groom Lake.
Monday, December 4, 2023

Europe turns to competition to improve its launch industry’s competitiveness

At a European Space Summit earlier this month, ESA member states agreed to both support existing launch vehicles and open the door to future competition. Jeff Foust reports on how government and industry officials in Europe are viewing the prospects for new competition for launch services.
Monday, November 27, 2023

Olimp and Yenisei-2: Russia’s secretive eavesdropping satellites (part 2)

Russia has two GEO satellites that are eavesdropping on commercial communications satellites. Bart Hendrickx examines who in Russia is operating those satellites and what their future plans might be.
Monday, November 27, 2023

Searching for the ice hidden on the Moon

India’s Chandryaan-3 lander marked the beginning of a new wave of missions focused on studying the Moon’s south polar region, thought to contain water ice. Paul Hayne describes how future missions will help better identify the presence and accessibility of that ice.
Monday, November 27, 2023

Oxygen for Mars

Any proposal for the terraforming of Mars requires the production of huge volumes of oxygen. John Strickland examines just how much effort would be required to create that oxygen.
Monday, November 27, 2023

Olimp and Yenisei-2: Russia’s secretive eavesdropping satellites (part 1)

A Russian satellite known as Luch has been drifting in the GEO belt for nearly a decade, eavesdropping on commercial communications satellites. Bart Hendrickx discusses what is known about that spacecraft and a similar satellite launched earlier this year.
Monday, November 20, 2023

Starship flies again

On Saturday, SpaceX launched its Starship/Super Heavy vehicle for a second time. Jeff Foust reports on the progress the company demonstrated with that launch and NASA’s concerns about the rate of that progress towards returning humans to the Moon.
Monday, November 20, 2023

Why you should care about life beyond Earth

One argument for space settlement has been to make life multiplanetary. Tyler Bender examines the threats to life on Earth that make it necessary to expand life beyond Earth to ensure its survival.
Monday, November 20, 2023

My suborbital life, part 10: Looking Up, WAY Up

In his final essay about his suborbital spaceflight, Alan Stern reflects on his accomplishment and what it means for the future of commercial spaceflight.
Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Something goes boom in the night: the explosion of a Cold War secret

A Soviet crewed launch to the Salyut-7 space station suffered a launch failure in the fall of 1983, with the launch abort system on the Soyuz spacecraft saving the crew. Dwayne Day and Asif Siddiqi describe what is now known about that failure and how the United States discovered it happened.
Monday, November 13, 2023

A small step forward for space-based solar power technology

Space-based solar power has been a topic of debate for decades without much progress on the feasibility of the technology required. Jeff Foust reports on a Caltech project that is wrapping up testing in orbit of three specific technologies needed for it.
Monday, November 13, 2023

Review: A City on Mars

There are plenty of books that have taken an optimistic view of the prospects of humans living and working permanently in space, but far fewer critical assessments. Jeff Foust reviews a book that does take a more skeptical view of space settlements based on the reasons for building them and the challenges they face.
Monday, November 13, 2023

My suborbital life, part 9: Anticipation, revealed

Before his suborbital spaceflight last week, Alan Stern had a number of questions about the experience. He returns with answers to them.
Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Big rockets for big science?

There is a growing push among developers of large science missions to make use of new heavy-lift launch vehicles that offer increased mass and volume at potentially lower costs. Jeff Foust reports on the benefits of that approach as well as its challenges.
Monday, November 6, 2023

The FCC’s authority in regulating orbital debris

The FCC last month issued its first-ever fine to a company for failing to properly dispose of a satellite after the end of its life. Leighton Brown and Paul Stimers discuss the FCC’s action and the agency’s legal basis for regulating orbital debris.
Monday, November 6, 2023

My suborbital life, part 8: Welcome to space!

On Thursday, Alan Stern successfully completed his first suborbital spaceflight with Virgin Galactic. He describes some of important, but little-discussed, aspects of the experience.
Saturday, November 4, 2023

My suborbital life, part 7: Of risk and reward

Some final thoughts from Alan Stern about risk and reward before he goes on his suborbital spaceflight.
Thursday, November 2, 2023

My suborbital life, part 6: Anticipation

With a day to go before his suborbital spaceflight, Alan Stern ponders what the experience will be like.
Wednesday, November 1, 2023

My suborbital life, part 5: Hi Five!

Alan Stern describes the symbolism behind the patches associated with his upcoming suborbital spaceflight as well as what mementos he is taking with him on the trip.
Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Roads not taken in satellite photo-reconnaissance: Part 2, the 1970s

The 1970s saw a new wave of proposals for satellite photo-reconnaissance that didn’t advance beyond the drawing board. Dwayne Day examines what is known about those concepts, from “crisis reconnaissance” to systems that took advantage of the shuttle.
Monday, October 30, 2023

Shaking up the commercial space station industry

While it is still years before commercial space stations start operations, there are already changes in the relationships of the companies involved in those efforts. Jeff Foust reports on the formation and potential breaking up of partnerships as those companies face new fiscal pressures.
Monday, October 30, 2023

Review: Deep Sky

Given the success of the mission and the stunning images it is producing, it’s little surprise the James Webb Space Telescope is the subject of an IMAX documentary. Jeff Foust reviews the film and compares it to another recent documentary about the mission.
Monday, October 30, 2023

My suborbital life, part 4: My research spaceflight training countdown to launch

Training for a suborbital research mission is different from what space tourists go through, as Alan Stern explains in his latest essay about his upcoming Virgin Galactic flight.
Saturday, October 28, 2023

My suborbital life, part 3: The suborbital revolution is here

In the third of his series of essays about his upcoming suborbital flight, Alan Stern describes how commercial suborbital vehicles can revolutionize research and education.
Friday, October 27, 2023

The launch industry strains launch licensing

As commercial launch activity increases, it puts pressure on regulators to keep up while maintaining safety. Jeff Foust reports on those tensions between companies and the US government that came up at a recent congressional hearing.
Monday, October 23, 2023

My suborbital life, part 2: Objectives, timeline, training

In the second of his essays about his upcoming suborbital flight, Alan Stern outlines the objectives of the mission and its second-by-second research timeline.
Monday, October 23, 2023

My suborbital life, part 1: Childhood’s end, perseverance pays

After decades of dreaming and striving to go to space, Alan Stern will go on a Virgin Galactic suborbital research flight next week. In a first in a series of essays, he describes his lifelong ambitions about spaceflight.
Monday, October 23, 2023

ISRO develops its agenda for the future

In the days before the Gaganyaan abort test, India’s prime minister announced ambitious new goals for the country, including landing an Indian astronaut on the Moon by 2040. Ajey Lele examines those goals and their feasibility.
Monday, October 23, 2023

ISRO prepares for human spaceflight

India’s space agency successfully tested a launch escape system for its Gaganyaan crewed spacecraft program on Saturday. Gurbir Singh discusses the importance of that test in the context of India’s human spaceflight ambitions.
Monday, October 23, 2023

Phil Pressel

Phil Pressel, who helped design the cameras used on the HEXAGON reconnaissance satellites, passed away last week at the age of 86. Dwayne Day offers an obituary of Pressel.
Monday, October 23, 2023

Roads not taken in satellite photo-reconnaissance: Part 1, the 1960s

During the 1960s there were many proposals for reconnaissance satellites that never got much beyond the concept stage. Dwayne Day examines what is known about some of those ideas for photo-reconnaissance space systems.
Monday, October 16, 2023

Commercial lunar landers prepare for liftoff

After years of development, the first commercial landers developed as part of a NASA program are finally ready for launch. Jeff Foust reports on the progress of those landers and whether they can beat the odds.
Monday, October 16, 2023

The brave new world of space

The new space race emerging among countries and companies draws comparisons to the original space race of the 1960s. Aditya Chaturvedi examines changing geopolitics amid the growing importance of space..
Monday, October 16, 2023

Maybe space shouldn’t be for all

Space advocates have long attempted to attract as wide an audience as possible to their positions. A.J. Mackenzie argues that approach should have some limits, as demonstrated by two recent events.
Monday, October 16, 2023

Getting a new civil space traffic management system on track

It’s been more than five years since a space policy document directed a transfer of US civil space traffic management work from the Defense Department to the Commerce Department. Jeff Foust reports that, after a slow start, Commerce is making progress on establishing its own space traffic management capability.
Monday, October 9, 2023

NASA’s Mars rovers could inspire a more ethical future for AI

The rise of artificial intelligence has stoked fears about the impact of the technology on the society. Janet Vertesi argues that an example of how NASA uses AI shows the future need not be dystopian.
Monday, October 9, 2023

With a tweet, America has joined the race to develop astroelectricity—hopefully!

A social media post last month from the Secretary of Energy appeared to show support for space solar power. Mike Snead argues it’s time for the US to get serious about this technology.
Monday, October 9, 2023

Review: A Million Miles Away

Many astronauts have written memoirs, but few have become movies. Jeff Foust reviews one such film that dramatizes the rise of a son of migrant farmworkers to shuttle astronaut.
Monday, October 9, 2023

Crisis in space: The 1973 Yom Kippur War and “crisis reconnaissance”

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, whose start took both the United States and Israel by surprise. Dwayne Day notes that surprise was exacerbated by decisions made years earlier that limited the ability of the US to obtain satellite reconnaissance of the region.
Monday, October 2, 2023

Secrets of ExoMars

Just a few days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, ESA announced it was cancelling its partnership with Roscosmos on the ExoMars mission. Brian Harvey describes how ESA, and its member states, have offered little explanation about how they reached that decision, and so quickly.
Monday, October 2, 2023

An ambitious decadal survey for research in space

The National Academies published last month a new decadal survey for biological and physical sciences research in space. Jeff Foust reports on the study, which has an ambitious goal of increasing NASA funding of such work by a factor of ten.
Monday, October 2, 2023

How orbital refueling will unlock humanity’s potential in space

Several companies are pursuing technologies to enable satellites to be refueled in orbit. Manny Shar discusses why that technology is worth the effort.
Monday, October 2, 2023

Review: Elon Musk

Most people know of the founder of SpaceX, but how well do people know Elon Musk? Jeff Foust reviews a new biography that attempts to not just recount Musk’s life but also what makes him tick.
Monday, October 2, 2023

A capsule’s fall marks the start of Asteroid Autumn

On Sunday, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returned to Earth, dropping off a capsule containing samples collected from the asteroid Bennu. Jeff Foust reports on the success of the first part of NASA’s “Asteroid Autumn” that includes a launch and a flyby.
Monday, September 25, 2023

Honoring and dishonoring the dead in outer space

One of the customers on a Virgin Galactic suborbital flight earlier this month took with him fossils from two potential ancestor species to humanity, sparking outrage among some anthropologists. Deana Weibel explores the incident as well as the relationships between the living and the dead when it comes to spaceflight.
Monday, September 25, 2023

Hiding in plain sight: Is China’s spaceplane a co-orbital ASAT in disguise?

China has tested a spaceplane similar in concept to the American X-37B. Carlos Alatorre examines if that vehicle could be, or support the development of, an anti-satellite weapon.
Monday, September 25, 2023

Security dimensions of space economics and finance

The growing space economy creates new opportunities for financing companies, but also new risks. Jana Robinson warns how some Western funds may be helping finance Chinese and Russian space efforts.
Monday, September 25, 2023

Live, from orbit: the Manned Orbiting Laboratory’s top-secret film-readout system

The Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program in the 1960s would take high-resolution images, but how could those images be quickly returned to Earth? Dwayne Day examines proposals to include film-readout systems on MOL.
Monday, September 18, 2023

SpaceX launches a debate on monopolies

At a major space industry conference last week, much of the discussion was about the dominance SpaceX has in the launch industry today. Jeff Foust report on perceptions that SpaceX has a monopoly on commercial launch and implications for other companies developing competing satellite systems.
Monday, September 18, 2023

How to land a space gig

How do you get your foot in the door in the space industry if you’re not seeking a technical position? Daniel Duchaine describes his experience networking across companies, think tanks, and Capitol Hill trying to find a job.
Monday, September 18, 2023

Review: The Six

The first women to become NASA astronauts have been the subject of many books, articles, and other accounts over the 45 years since their selection. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a group portrait of those six women, who were more “trusted coworkers” than friends or rivals.
Monday, September 18, 2023

China, Article V, Starlink, and hybrid warfare: An assessment of a lawfare operation

Nearly two years ago, China complained about close approaches of Starlink satellites to its space station, claims that the US denied. Michael Listner argues that the format of a complaint was a “lawfare” maneuver by China as part of great power competition.
Monday, September 11, 2023

Putting the private into private spaceflight

A Virgin Galactic suborbital launch last week was remarkable not for what happened but what didn’t: a lot of publicity. Jeff Foust discusses how the low profile of the flight is a step on the long road to more routine spaceflight.
Monday, September 11, 2023

Key issues for the Japanese government regarding exploration and development of space resources

Japan is one of a few countries with a space resources law on the books and is planning a mission to prospect for water ice on the Moon. Akira Saito outlines some of the issues facing the Japanese government as it considers using lunar ice resources.
Monday, September 11, 2023

Review: Interstellar

Last month, a paper claimed to have found evidence for interstellar meteorites at the bottom of the Pacific, a claim other scientists have treated skeptically. Jeff Foust review a book by the scientist who is the lead author of that study and other efforts using science to look for interstellar visitors.
Monday, September 11, 2023

Soviet television reconnaissance satellites

The Soviet Union attempted to develop reconnaissance satellites that could electronically transmit images using television technologies starting in the 1960s. Bart Hendrickx examines those efforts and the setbacks they faced over the decades.
Tuesday, September 5, 2023

India is on the Moon, but needs to avoid the “Moon Race” trap

India successfully landed on the Moon for the first time last month with the Chandrayaan-3 mission. Ajey Lele says the mission is a major milestone for India’s space program, but should not be seen as part of a race with other nations.
Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The opportunities and challenges for science at NASA and ESA

Earlier this year, NASA and ESA selected new leaders of their respective science programs. Jeff Foust talked with those two people about their first few months on the job and their top issues.
Tuesday, September 5, 2023

It’s not easy being a Martian

The Fox reality TV series “Stars on Mars” wrapped up recently with one “celebronaut” crowned as winner. The series, Dwayne Day explains, also provided useful lessons for real missions to the Red Planet.
Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The international community is not prepared for a future in space

As more countries and companies undertake space activities, existing international agreements are put to the test. Austin Albin describes those challenges and proposes potential solutions.
Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Despite the Luna-25 failure, Russia is not a declining space power

Russia’s first mission to the Moon in nearly half a century crashed over the weekend, days before its scheduled landing, prompting a new wave of commentary abut the state of Russia’s space program. Daniel Duchaine cautions that, even with the failure of Luna-25, other, more worrisome aspects of its space activities continue to grow.
Monday, August 21, 2023

For smallsats, two ways to orbit

In some respects, it’s never been easier to get smallsats into orbit, even though the options for doing so are limited. Jeff Foust reports that, for most smallsat operators today, it’s a choice between hitching a ride with SpaceX or buying a launch from Rocket Lab.
Monday, August 21, 2023

The fault in our Mars settlement plans

Some in the space community say we’re ready to send humans to Mars now. Isabella Cisneros argues it’s time for a Red Planet reality check because of serious, often overlooked technical, societal, and other challenges such efforts face.
Monday, August 21, 2023

1569 and 2023

Space advocates have used a wide range of historical analogies over the years to justify their support for space development. Bob Werb offers a new one to explain what the public needs to know to better appreciate and support space activities.
Monday, August 21, 2023

Review: How Space Physics Really Works

For some people, inaccurate science can ruin a science fiction story. Jeff Foust reviews a book that used good examples from sci-fi to teach concepts associated with spaceflight.
Monday, August 21, 2023

Minding the space station gap

Even as the International Space Station is reaching its peak potential as a research outpost, its retirement is becoming a key issue. Jeff Foust reports on the issues discussed at a recent meeting about transferring work done on the ISS to future commercial space stations.
Monday, August 7, 2023

Debate and hopes for consensus at UN space resource meetings

The United Nations’ Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has started discussions about setting up frameworks for the use of space resources. Dennis O’Brien examines what is known about those closed-door meetings and prospects for reaching consensus.
Monday, August 7, 2023

Effect of upgrades to Starlink Generation 2 satellites on visual brightness

SpaceX has been working to reduce the brightness of its Starlink satellites to mitigate their effect on astronomers, but how effective has that effort been? Brad Young and Jay Respler discuss observations of newer Starlink satellites to see how those larger spacecraft compare to smaller versions.
Monday, August 7, 2023

Meanwhile, on Mars…

The show of the summer, at least for space enthusiasts, has been Fox’s “Stars on Mars” reality TV series. Dwayne Day updates the progress of the show and how, in some respects, it offers better drama than some dramatic series set on Mars.
Monday, August 7, 2023

Review: Cosmonaut: A Cultural History

The cultural impact of astronauts on American society is well documented, but how cosmonauts were treated in Soviet and Russian culture is less well known. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the public image of cosmonauts and “The Red Stuff.”
Monday, August 7, 2023

Nuclear space gets hot

The value of nuclear systems to provide power and propulsion in space has been recognized for years, but until recently there has been little progress on new capabilities. Jeff Foust reports on new efforts to develop space nuclear technologies.
Monday, July 31, 2023

The highs and lows of extreme tourism: The Titan accident and commercial expeditions to space and the deep sea

While commercial deep-sea and space travel seems novel, they are just part of a long line of journeys that mix tourism and research. Deana Weibel examines the connections between the space and ocean travel, and between tourism and research expeditions.
Monday, July 31, 2023

Should the loss of the Titan submersible impact space tourism?

The loss of the Titan has prompted discussions about parallels with space tourism, which is also lightly regulated for passenger safety. Dale Skran argues against a rush to regulate commercial human spaceflight because of what happened in the depths of the oceans.
Monday, July 31, 2023

Is China’s rise in space over? Indexing space power for the next space age

The 21st century has been marked in space by the rise of China as a leading space power. Daniel Duchaine examines if that rise can continue at the expense of other leading space nations.
Monday, July 31, 2023

Review: Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine

The James Webb Space Telescope continues to dazzle more than a year after the release of its first science images. Jeff Foust reviews a new documentary that reminds viewers of the technical obstacles that had to be overcome for it to become a scientific success.
Monday, July 31, 2023

The new era of heavy launch

Within the next few years, heavy-lift vehicles like New Glenn, Starship, and Vulcan will enter service. Gary Oleson describes how the combination of price and performance of those rockets could reshape the space industry.
Monday, July 24, 2023

The value of public interest in spaceflight

A survey released last week provided mixed messages for advocates of NASA, particularly on the public’s priorities for the agency. Jeff Foust examines the survey and just how important public support for NASA is for the agency to achieve its goals.
Monday, July 24, 2023

Another technique to identify “unknown” satellites

Some satellites are not listed in public catalogs, but there are ways to track and identify them. Charles Phillips describes one approach based on orbital elements to help identify some classes of satellites.
Monday, July 24, 2023

Access to Venus

The thick, hot, toxic atmosphere of Venus rules out any kind of human exploration of the planet for the foreseeable future. John Strickland examines what could be done, someday, to make Venus a more tolerable world to visit.
Monday, July 24, 2023

Smashing satellites as part of the Delta 180 Strategic Defense Initiative mission

In 1986, the Strategic Defense Initiative conducted an in-orbit test where two spacecraft collided with each other. Dwayne Day describes the development of that rapid, low-cost mission and the effect it could have had on arms control negotiations.
Monday, July 17, 2023

For Mars Sample Return, more serious repercussions

A Senate appropriations bill released last week would slash funding for NASA’s Mars Sample Return program and threaten it with cancellation. Jeff Foust reports on the new fiscal challenges that efforts to return samples from Mars have encountered.
Monday, July 17, 2023

The Chandrayaan-3 mission to the Moon is underway

India launched its second robotic lunar lander mission last week. Ajey Lele examines the mission and the lessons learned from India’s first, failed lunar lander mission.
Monday, July 17, 2023

Could a 500-year-old treaty hold the key to peace in space?

The growing number of countries involved in space exploration raises the risk of conflict among them. Daniel Duchaine explores some possible scenarios for avoiding conflict depending on how plentiful and valuable space resources turn out to be.
Monday, July 17, 2023

A crisis and an opportunity for European space access

The final Ariane 5 launched last week, temporarily depriving Europe of independent access to space because of launch failures and vehicle delays. Jeff Foust reports on how Europe reached that state and how it is turning to a commercial rival to get through a near-term crisis.
Monday, July 10, 2023

Don’t jeopardize national security in the name of competition

The Space Force is preparing for a new round of launch contracts that will open up opportunities for additional launch providers. Jonathan Ward, though, warns against one proposed congressional change to that approach that he fears could put key missions at risk.
Monday, July 10, 2023

Reality is underrated: Fox’s “Stars on Mars” takes off

Expectations were low about a reality TV series set on a fake Mars. However, Dwayne Day describes how he was pleasantly surprised by how the show and its cast of C-list celebrities have handled the challenges of life on “Mars”.
Monday, July 10, 2023

Review: Matariki: The Star of the Year

Many books about the night sky are written from the perspective of the Northern Hemisphere. Joseph T. Page II reviews a book that examines a familiar star cluster as perceived by the peoples of Oceana.
Monday, July 10, 2023

Spinning towards the future: crisis response from space

American intelligence agencies studied several proposals for “crisis reconnaissance” satellites in the 1960s and 1970s, but never built any of them. Dwayne Day discusses new details about one such proposal that came closer to development than any other concept.
Monday, July 3, 2023

Regulating a maturing commercial spaceflight industry

Virgin Galactic performed its first commercial SpaceShipTwo suborbital flight last week as Blue Origin prepares to resume New Shepard launches. Jeff Foust reports that, as commercial human spaceflight activity finally ramps up, the industry is facing new regulatory challenges.
Monday, July 3, 2023

What does the People’s Republic of China’s space program mean for Great Britain and the West?

China’s space capabilities, in both military and civil realms, have grown significantly in recent years. Four experts examine the implications of those developments for Western nations and lessons it offers those countries.
Monday, July 3, 2023

A subtle symphony of ripples in spacetime

Astronomers announced last week the discovery of a background of gravitational waves that pervades the cosmos. Chris Impey describes this discovery and its significance in understanding the evolution of the universe.
Monday, July 3, 2023

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