The Space Reviewin association with SpaceNews
 

What is The Space Review?

The Space Review is an online publication devoted to in-depth articles, commentary, and reviews regarding all aspects of space exploration: science, technology, policy, business, and more. more info

Write for us!

Interested in contributing an article to The Space Review? Please read our submission guidelines.

RSS

Advertise here!

Related sites

spacetoday.net
Space news from around the web

This week in The Space Review…

SLS core stage

Seeking a bigger role for a big rocket

NASA continues to emphasize that the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket is an essential part of its plans to return humans to the Moon and go on to Mars. Jeff Foust reports that NASA is getting some criticism in Congress not for the vehicle’s delays but instead because NASA isn’t planning to make greater use of it.
Monday, November 18, 2019

My years working on black programs

While information is gradually being declassified about early reconnaissance satellite programs, there are few first-person accounts from those who worked on them. Robert E. Andrews offers his recollections on working on several such now-declassified programs, dating back to the late 1950s.
Monday, November 18, 2019

Cheers! Alcoholic beverages in space

A payload of wine on the latest cargo flight to the International Space Station is only the latest example of the intersection of spaceflight and alcohol. Chris Carberry explains why there’s likely to be more to come as humanity extends its presence in space.
Monday, November 18, 2019

Review: At the Edge of Time

What happened in the first few seconds, and especially the first fractions of a second, after the Big Bang remain a mystery to cosmologists. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines what scientists don’t know about the earliest moments in the universe and their struggles to learn more.
Monday, November 18, 2019


Previous articles:

Nuking the site from orbit: when the Air Force wanted a base on the Moon

A plot point in the new TV series “For All Mankind” features establishing a base on the Moon. Dwayne Day discusses how that was seriously considered by the Air Force in studies at the beginning of the Space Age.
Monday, November 4, 2019

Space exploration and nuclear proliferation

NASA is developing space nuclear power systems that could enable long-duration stays on the Moon and faster missions to Mars. But, Jeff Foust reports, NASA’s choice of fuels has raised concerns in the nuclear nonproliferation community.
Monday, November 4, 2019

Space weapons are proliferating fast: should we accept it?

More countries are talking about developing and testing anti-satellite systems. Taylor Dinerman argues that the US should accept space is a future battlefield and act accordingly.
Monday, November 4, 2019

Review: See You in Orbit?

Commercial space tourism may finally be emerging as several companies complete development of suborbital and orbital vehicles. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the long history of proposals to fly private citizens in space, with a particular emphasis on shuttle-era programs like Teacher In Space.
Monday, November 4, 2019

Coming together to go to the Moon

Last week, there was a lot of discussion at the International Astronautical Congress about both countries and companies partnering on NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the Moon. Jeff Foust reports that while there were signs of progress, funding issues could slow the agency down.
Monday, October 28, 2019

One scientist’s 15-year (and counting) quest to save Earth from asteroid impacts

Last month NASA announced it would proceed with development of a space telescope to search for near Earth asteroids outside of its usual set of planetary science missions. Three University of Arizona scientists explain why this is a major milestone for the researcher who has advocated for such a mission for 15 years.
Monday, October 28, 2019

A possible technique for giving names to nameless satellites

Some objects in orbit are missing from official government satellite catalogs even as they’re tracked by hobbyists. Charles Phillips discusses one approach to linking those observed but uncatalogued satellites with their real identities.
Monday, October 28, 2019

Review: Imagined Life

The last quarter-century has demonstrated that both exoplanets exist in large numbers and wider varieties, and that life can exist in places once thought inhabitable. Jeff Foust reviews a book by two scientists that speculates, based on that knowledge, what kind of unconventional life might exist on other worlds.
Monday, October 28, 2019

Blacker than blue: the US Navy and the Manned Orbiting Laboratory

In the 1960s the US Navy sparred with the National Reconnaissance Office over potential payloads to be flown on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory. Dwayne Day offers new insights into that dispute from a recently declassified document.
Monday, October 21, 2019

What happens when you leave empty seats at the table?

Recent space activities, from placing tardigrades on a lunar lander to proposals for massive satellite constellations, have raised new questions about the ethics of spaceflight. Monica Vidaurri says it illustrates the need to have more, and more diverse, groups of people involved in the discussion of those activities.
Monday, October 21, 2019

Tailoring spacesuits

NASA made history last week with the first all-woman spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Jeff Foust reports that the achievement was a long time coming—too long, for many.
Monday, October 21, 2019

Can single-stage-to-orbit disrupt spaceflight?

Decades of efforts have shown how difficult it is to develop low-cost, reusable launch vehicles. John Hollaway argues that track record is no reason to give up hope for finding disruptive solutions that can offer affordable, routine space access.
Monday, October 21, 2019

Review: Light from the Void

Around the same time people celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, an important space telescope was marking 20 years in orbit. Jeff Foust reviews a book that highlights the science and imagery from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
Monday, October 21, 2019

Getting commercial crew flying, at last

Nearly two weeks after the head of NASA appeared to criticize SpaceX’s lack of emphasis on commercial crew, the two appeared to get back on the same page about the importance of that program. Jeff Foust reports on the progress both SpaceX and Boeing have made as they now hope to start flying people early next year.
Monday, October 14, 2019

How to make an urgent and affordable return to the Moon

A rush to return to the Moon may not be sustainable unless launch costs can be sharply reduced. Ajay Kothari examines how that can be done with emerging launch vehicles.
Monday, October 14, 2019

Modern monetary theory and lunar development

Governments have taken new approaches to stimulating their economies since the financial crisis a decade ago. Vidvuds Beldavs describes how similar approaches could be used to support long-term space development.
Monday, October 14, 2019

Review: The Number of the Heavens

The idea of parallel universes, or a “multiverse,” has gone from science fiction to a model accepted by many physicists. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines our changing knowledge of what constitutes the universe, and how other universes might exist alongside it.
Monday, October 14, 2019

Ekipazh: Russia’s top-secret nuclear-powered satellite

Interest in space nuclear power systems appears to be growing again in Russia, based on announcements of new projects. Bart Hendrickx discusses what is known about one such project, which may be used for electronic warfare in space.
Monday, October 7, 2019

God’s eye view: HEXADOR and the very high resolution satellite

A half-century ago, the NRO studied a plan to build satellites capable of producing very high resolution images that would otherwise only be possible form aircraft. Dwayne Day examines what we know about this program and why it was never developed.
Monday, October 7, 2019

The satellite industry catches a cold

The satellite industry has been the foundation of the overall commercial space industry, but has been suffering from depressed demand. Jeff Foust reports on initiatives to deal with a changing market to stimulate demand and deal with new competition.
Monday, October 7, 2019

On objections to space force naval rank

Brent Ziarnick revisits a recent essay on why the proposed US Space Force should use a rank structure like the US Navy, rather than the Air Force, addressing several criticisms and alternative structures.
Monday, October 7, 2019

Review: Ad Astra

The new movie Ad Astra came into theaters with high expectations, given its director and cast. Jeff Foust reviews the film and finds it as disappointing as many feared it would be.
Monday, October 7, 2019

Starships are meant to fly

On Saturday night, Elon Musk gave what has now become his annual update on development of the company’s giant next-generation launch vehicle, now called Starship and Super Heavy. Jeff Foust reports on the event in South Texas, including both SpaceX’s technical achievements and potential looming obstacles.
Monday, September 30, 2019

The highest glass ceiling

NASA repeatedly states that its Artemis program will land not just the next man, but also the first woman, on the Moon. Eric Hedman examines some of the implications of that effort to have women join the exclusive club of moonwalkers.
Monday, September 30, 2019

Review: Manned Lunar Landing and Return

At the beginning of the Space Age, many aerospace companies pitched NASA on spaceflight concepts, including human lunar landings. Dwayne Day reviews a book that uncovers a little-known proposal for those missions by one such company.
Monday, September 30, 2019

Review: Zwicky: The Outcast Genius Who Unmasked the Universe

Those who remember the late astronomer Fritz Zwicky today may only know him for his abrasive reputation and, perhaps, early studies of dark matter. Jeff Foust reviews a biography of him that reveals that, while he was difficult to work with, he was also a brilliant man with contributions in astronomy, aerospace, and beyond.
Monday, September 30, 2019

Keeping satellites from going bump in the night

In early September, an ESA satellite maneuvered to avoid a potential collision with a SpaceX Starlink satellite, triggering a new debate on space traffic management. Jeff Foust reports on the lessons from that event and planning for a future with many more satellites in orbit.
Monday, September 23, 2019

“The slaughter of the innocents” redux

Decades ago, cost overruns with the shuttle led to cuts in space science programs. Roger Handberg fears history could repat itself as NASA seeks funding to keep a human lunar landing in 2024 on track.
Monday, September 23, 2019

America’s incoherent Moon strategy is weakening its space leadership

President Trump has given mixed signals about the importance of returning humans to the Moon versus a long-term plan for sending people to Mars. Namrata Goswami argues that confusion weakens America’s global position in spaceflight, particularly against China.
Monday, September 23, 2019

The long night: Project Van Winkle comes to an end

Historians have benefitted from records and even hardware from Cold War-era reconnaissance satellite programs that the government has declassified in recent years. Dwayne Day describes the forethought more than a half-century ago that made some of that possible.
Monday, September 23, 2019

Solving the commercial passenger spaceflight puzzle (part 3)

In his final installment, Mike Snead turns to history to show one concept of a reusable spaceplane and how it could have led to an airworthiness-certified vehicle years ago, and how a similar approach could be used today.
Monday, September 16, 2019

Intersections in real time: the decision to build the KH-11 KENNEN reconnaissance satellite (part 2)

Developing the KH-11 reconnaissance satellite required not only technical breakthroughs but also political legerdemain. Dwayne Day tracks the debates in the late 1960s and early 1970s about which form of near-realtime spy satellite would go forward.
Monday, September 16, 2019

The curious case of the transgressing tardigrades (part 3)

In the final installment of their analysis of the legal issues involved with the undisclosed inclusion of tardigrades on the SpaceIL lander, a group of experts examines some of the broader issues about commercial space activities raised by this event.
Monday, September 16, 2019

Chandrayaan 2’s Moon illusion

As the search for Chandrayaan 2’s lunar lander continues, so does speculation about what caused the lander to lose contact just a couple kilometers above the surface. Ajey Lele discusses what we know and what could have gone wrong in those critical moments.
Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: Fire in the Sky

The threat posed to the Earth by asteroid impacts has become increasingly clear in recent decades, but many people are only now becoming aware of it. Jeff Foust reviews a book by an author who, intrigued by a fireball he saw a few years ago, dived deep into the history and science of asteroid impacts.
Monday, September 15, 2019

Intersections in real time: the decision to build the KH-11 KENNEN reconnaissance satellite (part 1)

The idea that reconnaissance satellites can return high-definition images in near real time is taken for granted today, but took technology advancements and political persistence to make possible. Dwayne Day examines the efforts by the CIA in the 1960s to develop such spacecraft.
Monday, September 9, 2019

Solving the commercial passenger spaceflight puzzle (part 2)

In the second part of his analysis of commercial spaceflight passenger safety, Mike Snead examines how the airworthiness certification system developed for aircraft could be applied to crewed spacecraft.
Monday, September 9, 2019

Schrödinger’s lander

On Friday, India attempted to land its Vikram spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, but contact was lost with the spacecraft during its descent. Jeff Foust reports on the uncertain status of the lander and the lessons it and other setbacks offer for future missions to the Moon.
Monday, September 9, 2019

Review: Atomic Age Declassified: Spies in Space

More details are coming to light about the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program of the 1960s. Dwayne Day reviews a recent documentary that offers a new overview of that program and its ultimate cancellation.
Monday, September 9, 2019

Will LandSpace be China’s SpaceX?

China has seen a surge of space startups, many of which are developing launch vehicles. Chen Lan and Jacqueline Myrrhe visit one of those companies, LandSpace, which is in position to become the Chinese version of SpaceX.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The curious case of the transgressing tardigrades (part 2)

In the second part of their examination about the recent controversy about undisclosed microscopic life included on a lunar lander mission, a group of experts examines the regulatory issues in the United States that come into play in this incident.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Solving the commercial passenger spaceflight puzzle (part 1)

Despite decades of experience, human orbital spaceflight remains a risky endeavor. In the first in a three-part article, Mike Snead critiques one recent proposal to establish a system intended to improve human spaceflight safety.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Review: Space Settlements

Space colonies, or space settlements, rose and fell quickly in the 1970s but still capture the imagination today. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines those concepts with a focus on architectural and design issues.
Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The curious case of the transgressing tardigrades (part 1)

An Israeli spacecraft that crash-landed on the Moon in April carried a hidden payload: microscopic organisms called tardigrades, whose presence on the spacecraft wasn’t revealed until earlier this month. A group of space law experts examines the legal ramifications of this undisclosed payload.
Monday, August 26, 2019

Huge cash prizes and the abdication of public oversight

Last week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and others proposed a $2 billion prize for a human mission to the Moon. Casey Dreier explains that, while prizes can sound promising, they have significant flaws.
Monday, August 26, 2019

Revectoring the small launch vehicle industry

The space industry has long expected the vast majority of small launch vehicle startups to fail, a belief supported by problems suffered earlier this month by one high-profile venture, Vector. Jeff Foust reports that Vector’s problems don’t necessarily mean a shakeout is imminent for the rest of the industry.
Monday, August 26, 2019

Review: Spies in Space

A new book offers a history of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. Dwayne Day reviews the book and discusses both the once-classified details it reveals about the program and the questions it leaves unanswered.
Monday, August 26, 2019

Turning a corner on Mars

For decades, scientists have sought to bring back samples from Mars for study in terrestrial labs. Van Kane and Pat Nealon describe how those efforts are now picking up momentum with a series of missions that could return Martian samples within a little more than a decade.
Monday, August 19, 2019

Macron’s Space Force: Why now?

Last month, French government officials, including President Emmanuel Macron, outlined plans to take a more active military space role, including its own space force. Taylor Dinerman examines why France is taking the lead on such efforts among its European allies.
Monday, August 19, 2019

An “operationally ready” spaceport

Virgin Galactic took another step closer to commercial operations last week not with another test flight of SpaceShipTwo but instead updates to Spaceport America in New Mexico. Jeff Foust reports on the significance of what might seem to be a trivial milestone.
Monday, August 19, 2019

The future of commercial space transportation

Today, the term “commercial space transportation” usually refers to rockets for placing payloads into orbit. Dallas Bienhoff describes how that will soon expand to in-space transportation services, either in orbit around the Earth or for missions to the Moon.
Monday, August 19, 2019

Review: Heroes of the Space Age

As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 fades, so does the generation that made that mission possible. Jeff Foust reviews a book that profiles some of the “heroes” of the early years of human spaceflight.
Monday, August 19, 2019

Solar sailing, at long last

The Planetary Society announced last week that its LightSail 2 mission successfully changed its orbit using a solar sail. Jeff Foust reports on the accomplishment and the long path that led up to it.
Monday, August 5, 2019

China’s grand strategy in outer space: to establish compelling standards of behavior

China’s growing space activities have generated debate about what the country’s real goals are with those efforts. Namrata Goswami describes how those efforts are part of a grand strategy to make China the leader in setting standards of behavior in space.
Monday, August 5, 2019

The International Lunar Decade: A strategy for sustainable development

While there is growing interest in making use of lunar resources, the viability of those efforts is uncertain because of the lack of information about those resources. Vidvuds Beldavs describes how a coordinated effort modeled on the International Geophysical Year can help strengthen the case for using those resources in space or on Earth.
Monday, August 5, 2019

The role of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in supporting space property rights

Legal experts have debated if the Outer Space Treaty restricts the ability of private entities to claim property rights on celestial bodies. Wes Faires argues that it can, when considered through the perspective of another UN document.
Monday, August 5, 2019

Review: Origins of 21st-Century Space Travel

As NASA grapples with a new effort to return humans to the Moon, a study of the previous effort to do so can be instructive. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the development of the Vision for Space Exploration, and the years of behind-the-scenes studies that provided the foundation for it.
Monday, August 5, 2019

A new path for space investment?

A lot of money has flowed into space startups in recent years, but there have been few exits by companies that were acquired or went public. Jeff Foust reports on Virgin Galactic’s non-traditional approach to raising money and going public, and whether other companies will follow its lead.
Monday, July 29, 2019

How space technology benefits the Earth

There are many examples, both well-known and more obscure, of how space applications provide benefits, and produce profits, on Earth. Jeff Greenblatt and Al Anzaldua outline both those existing applications and those that may emerge in the near and long term.
Monday, July 29, 2019

The Apollo 11 50th anniversary at EAA AirVenture

One of the final commemorations of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 took place last week at the EAA AirVenture show. Eric Hedman provides an overview of how Mike Collins and others in attendance reflected on the mission.
Monday, July 29, 2019

Apollo as viewed from a jungle

When Apollo 11 returned to Earth 50 years ago this month, one young boy listened to the spacecraft’s return in a remote part of India. Ajay Kothari describes how that inspired him to pursue a career in aerospace, and how it can be an inspiration again for a return to the Moon.
Monday, July 29, 2019

Review: Escape from Earth

Some of the key figures in the early days of rocketry have largely faded from the popular histories of the era. Jeff Foust reviews a book about one such person who was a cofounder of both Aerojet and JPL.
Monday, July 29, 2019

And now, the next 50 years

As the Apollo 11 anniversary celebrations come to an end, some wonder when we will go back to the Moon. Jeff Foust notes that popular interest in Apollo today doesn’t necessarily translate into support for a return to the Moon or other human space exploration programs.
Monday, July 22, 2019

The big white bird: the flights of Helo 66

When many of the Apollo missions returned to Earth, the astronauts were recovered by the same helicopter. Dwayne Day tells the story of Helo 66 and its unfortunate fate.
Monday, July 22, 2019

Is ISRO’s “cryogenic curse” finally over?

On Monday, India successfully launched the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission on its GSLV Mark III rocket. Ajey Lele says the launch suggests India has mastered the cryogenic engine technology it had struggled with for decades.
Monday, July 22, 2019

Why the Space Corps needs to use naval rank

Most concepts for a separate Space Force or Space Corps assume that the new military branch will use the same rank structure as the US Air Force. Brent Ziarnick makes the case for naval ranks to help ensure a Space Corps takes on a different culture and mindset from the Air Force.
Monday, July 22, 2019

Advancing the jurisdiction of the US federal court system to address disputes between private space actors

The emerging commercial space industry brings with it potential for new disputes that could be difficult for current legal systems to handle. Michael Listner offers a proposal for how US federal courts could deal with cases involving companies from different countries.
Monday, July 22, 2019

Review: Reaching for the Moon

As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 winds down, so do the books about that mission and the early Space Age. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a concise and thoughtful history of that era of spaceflight.
Monday, July 22, 2019

An exploration shakeup

As NASA and the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, the agency got caught up last week in issues involving its effort to return humans to the Moon. Jeff Foust reports on the shakeup that led NASA to reassign two top officials in its human spaceflight program.
Monday, July 15, 2019

The NASA-Vatican relationship models a bridge between science and religion

Science and religion can often seem diametrically opposed to each other. Deana Weibel describes how NASA’s long-running relationship with the Vatican Observatory, one dating back to Apollo, can show how the two can work together instead.
Monday, July 15, 2019

When a chimpanzee landed on the Moon: the saga of Boris (part 2)

Last week, Dwayne Day explained how a tall tale he created about a mythical Soviet program to send chimpanzees to the Moon took on a life of its own on the Internet. This week, the story itself.
Monday, July 15, 2019

Fifty books about the Moon (which aren’t about Apollo)

While there’s an avalanche of new books about Apollo and the Moon, many others written years or decades ago are still excellent guides to the Moon. Ken Murphy offers his list of books about the Moon, and not necessarily Apollo, that have stood the test of time.
Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: Eight Years to the Moon

The story of Apollo is usually told through the lens of its most famous figures, from astronauts to politicians. Jeff Foust reviews a book that instead examines Apollo from the perspective of those working behind the scenes.
Monday, July 15, 2019

One small leap for Orion

NASA launched an Orion spacecraft last week, and it returned to Earth minutes later, just like the agency planned. Jeff Foust reports on the test of Orion’s abort system that took the spacecraft a step closer to flying people.
Monday, July 8, 2019

The first future MOL

Some in the US Air Force had plans in the 1960s for military space stations beyond the original Manned Orbiting Laboratory concept. John Charles examines how some of those proposals were depicted in art.
Monday, July 8, 2019

When a chimpanzee landed on the Moon: the saga of Boris (part 1)

No, the Soviets didn’t land a chimpanzee on the Moon, but it can be fun to craft such a tale as a clever inside joke. Dwayne Day describes what happens when that story takes on a life of its own on the Internet.
Monday, July 8, 2019

Apollo 11’s greatest hits and misses: a short reader’s guide

In the decades since Apollo 11, hundreds of books have been published about the mission and the overall race to the Moon. Thomas Frieling looks at some of the books that have stood the test of time, and a couple that haven’t.
Monday, July 8, 2019

Review: Chasing the Moon

Commemorations of the Apollo 11 50th anniversary are also appearing on television in the form of a number of documentaries. Jeff Foust reviews a companion book to one of the more ambitious documentaries that focuses more on personalities and policies than science and technology.
Monday, July 8, 2019

Top Secret DAMON: the classified reconnaissance payload planned for the fourth space shuttle mission

The NRO built a reconnaissance payload for the Space Shuttle that would have been on STS-4, but the program was cancelled before it flew. Dwayne Day provides new insights on that program and why it was grounded.
Monday, July 1, 2019

Déjà vu or sea change? Comparing two generations of large satellite constellation proposals

The “megaconstellations” of communications satellites under development by Amazon, OneWeb, SpaceX, and others come two decades after previous efforts to develop networks of communications satellites in low Earth orbit ran into financial difficulties. Stephen J. Garber and James A. Vedda compare the two generations to see if history will repeat itself.
Monday, July 1, 2019

The Eagle has crashed: the top secret UPWARD program and Apollo disasters

During planning for the Apollo landings, NASA turned to the NRO to develop a camera system based on reconnaissance satellites for mapping the Moon, including investigating any landing accidents. Dwayne Day examines what is known about the proposed system based on recently declassified information.
Monday, July 1, 2019

Astronomers and Apollo

It took tens of thousands of engineers, technicians, and others to get astronauts to the surface of the Moon 50 years ago. Jeff Foust describes how a few astronomers and other scientists also contributed, in some cases literally guiding the way.
Monday, July 1, 2019

Why the next Space Policy Directive needs to be to the Secretary of Energy

The first four space policy directives from the Trump Administration have dealt with everything from returning humans to the Moon to establishing a Space Force. Peter Garretson argues the next should deal with making use of the energy resources of space.
Monday, July 1, 2019

Reviews: Apollo 11 in graphic detail

As its 50th anniversary approaches, the Apollo 11 mission is being retold in a variety of media. Jeff Foust reviews two graphic novels that recount the mission, and the history of the Space Age, in a mix of text and illustrations.
Monday, July 1, 2019

Visit the Archive for additional articles.