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NSRC 2020

Articles previously published in The Space Review:

June 2008:

A skeptic’s guide to space exploration

What drives humans to pursue space exploration? Jeff Foust reports on a recent speech by Neil deGrasse Tyson where the astrophysicist took on that question, as well as some widely-held beliefs of space advocates.
Monday, June 30, 2008

Cry havoc

Is NASA a “fascist” organization? And what exactly does that mean? Dwayne Day critiques some of the more extreme rhetoric about the space agency that has emerged from the blogosphere.
Monday, June 30, 2008

How to know when an engineering project is failing

Glitches in the development of the Orion spacecraft and Ares 1 problem have raised questions in some quarters about whether there are more serious problems with those efforts. Eric Hedman says that open and frequent communications for any major project are key to both their progress and their perception by outsiders.
Monday, June 30, 2008

Review: Space on the Mall

This week NASA is taking part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, while another exhibit on the future of space exploration finds a temporary home at the National Air and Space Museum. Jeff Foust offers a review of both.
Monday, June 30, 2008

Long waves and space development

The early, hyperactive years of the Space Age benefited from the superpower competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. However, Nader Elhefnawy argues, long-term economic cycles also played a role, and can also explain the sluggish progress since then.
Monday, June 23, 2008

Paper dragon: the Pentagon’s unreliable statements on the Chinese space program

For years the US Defense Department has issued annual reports on China’s military efforts, some of which have included claims about space weapons technology of dubious validity. Dwayne Day reviews those claims and suggests that these are signs that the Pentagon does not put a high priority on producing these reports.
Monday, June 23, 2008

Financial risk analysis and the space industry revisited

Entrepreneurial space companies offer the potential for tremendous payoffs if their innovative technologies achieve a market breakthrough, but also carry high risks of failure. Taylor Dinerman examines how the challenge of assessing financial risks of these companies may be as difficult as the technology itself.
Monday, June 23, 2008

In defense of the knights

Stephen Ashworth responds to a recent essay critical of space solar power, arguing that developments in areas like low-cost space access will make the technology economically feasible in time.
Monday, June 23, 2008

The Vision for Space Exploration and the retirement of the Baby Boomers (part 3)

Everyone agrees on the importance of low-cost space access, but previous efforts to achieve it, from the space shuttle to the X-33, have failed. Charles Miller and Jeff Foust argue that the right approach is to focus on the broader industry, not a specific program.
Monday, June 16, 2008

Financial risk analysis for the space industry

Parts of the space industry are mature enough that investors and insurers know what they’re getting into. However, as Taylor Dinerman notes, new ventures and new markets are much harder to understand, requiring a different kind of risk mindset.
Monday, June 16, 2008

University students prove they are up to the challenge

Earlier this month several teams of college students descended on a remote region of Utah to test their designs for Mars rovers. Kevin Sloan and Alex Kirk report on how the teams and their rovers fared.
Monday, June 16, 2008

Nothing ever happens on the Moon

While some space-related sci-fi series strive for realism, they can fall short in areas like plot and characters. Dwayne Day encounters this in his review of the latest installments of the Japanese anime series Moonlight Mile.
Monday, June 16, 2008

Review: SpaceShipOne: An Illustrated History

Four years ago this week, SpaceShipOne soared into the history books as the first non-governmental manned spacecraft to reach space. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers new details about the development and testing of this vehicle.
Monday, June 16, 2008

Knights in shining armor

Interest in space solar power has grown in the last year, in large part because of a study of the concept performed by a Defense Department office. Dwayne Day argues, however, that this enthusiasm is largely misplaced, given the lack of clout possessed by this office as well as the significant technical challenges space solar power still faces.
Monday, June 9, 2008

Space policy questions and decisions facing a new administration

The next president will face a number of major issues related to space policy upon taking office next January. Eligar Sadeh examines those issues as discussed at a forum earlier this year.
Monday, June 9, 2008

Senator Schumer and the European missile defense sites

How important are European missile defense sites given Iranian missile and weapons development? Taylor Dinerman draws historical analogies to the early Space Age to make his case.
Monday, June 9, 2008

When we stayed at home to leave Earth

The Discovery Channel kicked off this week a six-hour documentary about the space program featuring “never before seen footage”. Robert Pearlman notes that while that description is not entirely accurate, “When We Left Earth” does offer footage like you’ve never seen before.
Monday, June 9, 2008

Review: The Universe in a Mirror

The Hubble Space Telescope has survived a long series of technical and programmatic challenges to become perhaps the most revered telescope or spacecraft in history. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides a new history of the space telescope and its place in astronomy.
Monday, June 9, 2008

The so-so space debate

Last Friday representatives of the three remaining major presidential candidates gathered in Washington to discuss space policy. Jeff Foust reports that the discussion ended with many of the questions about the candidates’ policies left unanswered.
Monday, June 2, 2008

How to become a presidential hero

What’s the best way for a presidential candidate to distinguish himself or herself on the campaign trail? Greg Zsidisin contends that one way it to proclaim themselves as both a supporter of space exploration and a reformer of NASA.
Monday, June 2, 2008

China and Taiwan together on the space station

Relations between China and the US, as well as China and Taiwan, have been a source of tension for some time. Taylor Dinerman suggests that one way to improve those relations would be to invite both countries to participate on the ISS.
Monday, June 2, 2008

Blocked sale exposes the neglect of Canada’s space program

Last month the Canadian government blocked the acquisition of its largest space company, MDA, by an American firm. Chris Gainor argues that the decision now puts the spotlight on the government and its neglect of Canada’s space program.
Monday, June 2, 2008


May 2008:

A second chance at Mars

Mars can be a hostile world, and getting spacecraft to that planet has never been an easy task. However, as Jeff Foust reports, the recent successful landing of Phoenix demonstrated that sometimes even on Mars there are second chances.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The losing hand: tradition and superstition in spaceflight

The high-tech world of spaceflight would seem to have little room for rituals and superstitions, but that turns out to be far from the case. Alan Murphy examines some of those traditions and why they’re adopted.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another headache the ISS doesn’t need

NASA and its international partners on the ISS have been trying to deal with a problem with a critical joint that rotates some of the station’s solar panels. Taylor Dinerman reviews the problem and examines its implications for the future of the orbiting outpost.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

There is a better way forward (part 2)

NASA’s current exploration architecture, including the Ares 1 and 5 rockets, has come under criticism from some corners because of technical, financial, and schedule issues. In the conclusion of his two-part article, Stephen Metschan discusses one alternative to the current approach as well as why his team continues to press ahead with the concept.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Announcing the 2008 Space VidVision Contest

Getting people to express their opinions about space sometimes requires embracing new approaches and techniques. Greg Zsidisin announces a new contest for people to create online videos about the future of human spaceflight.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

There is a better way forward (part 1)

NASA’s current exploration architecture, including the Ares 1 and 5 rockets, has come under criticism from some corners because of technical, financial, and schedule issues. In the first of a two-part article, Stephen Metschan argues that the root of these problems is that Ares does not take enough advantage of existing shuttle infrastructure.
Monday, May 19, 2008

ATV Evolution: is Europe ready?

Last week European officials proposed converting the Automated Transfer Vehicle into a spacecraft capable of carrying people to and from the ISS. Irina Kerner describes the obstacles, as much political as technical, this concept faces.
Monday, May 19, 2008

Space World remembered

Although there are still a number of space magazines being published today, there are others no longer in existence that left a legacy. Thomas J. Frieling recounts the history, and the demise, of one such publication.
Monday, May 19, 2008

NASA and space solar power

What role should NASA have in the development and promotion of space solar power? Taylor Dinerman suggests that the space agency’s role will have to be limited given all the other projects it’s grappling with.
Monday, May 19, 2008

Reassessing scramjets and spaceplanes

To some, scramjet technology offers few near-term prospects for developing low-cost reusable spaceplanes. Ajay Kothari argues that the issue is not with scramjets themselves, but in the types of vehicles they’re used.
Monday, May 19, 2008

Tom Swift, where are you?

In the early years of the Space Age one source of inspiration for would-be rocket scientists was a new series of Tom Swift books. Anthony Young recalls the effects those books had on him, and the need for something similar today.
Monday, May 19, 2008

Propellant depots: an idea whose time has (almost) come

On-orbit propellant depots has for years been an interesting concept, but one that was still far in the future. Jeff Foust reports on why some people believe that the depots’ time has nearly come.
Monday, May 12, 2008

Notes on the state of the RLV industry in 2008 (part 2)

While some RLV companies have faded away over the years, a few have managed to survive, if not yet prosper. Taylor Dinerman takes a look at what set two of those companies apart.
Monday, May 12, 2008

Why the Moon?

With the current presidential candidates showing lukewarm interest, at best, at continuing the Vision for Space Exploration, developing a strong rationale for returning to the Moon becomes ever more important. Eric Hedman argues that it’s vital to play up the long-term benefits to society of exploration.
Monday, May 12, 2008

They’re no Jack Kennedys

As president, John F. Kennedy provided the nation’s infant space program with strong direction and a bold goal. However, Jeff Brooks notes, the Massachusetts Democrats currently in Congress don’t share Kennedy’s public support for human spaceflight.
Monday, May 12, 2008

All hail the mighty Skycrane

While one small helicopter company had an odd proposal in the 1960s to develop a giant helicopter to retrieve Saturn 5 stages, a much larger helicopter company took a different tack. Dwayne Day unearths a concept from that era of using a large helicopter to ferry missiles.
Monday, May 12, 2008

Review: To a Distant Day

The 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Space Age has triggered a wave of historical accounts about that era, but less about the prehistory of the Space Age. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides an overview of the decades of effort that led to the first satellite launches.
Monday, May 12, 2008

The Vision for Space Exploration and the retirement of the Baby Boomers (part 2)

With budgets likely to be constrained in the years and decades to come, how can NASA carry out the Vision for Space Exploration and other efforts? Charles Miller and Jeff Foust argue that the key is the development of cheap, reliable access to space.
Monday, May 5, 2008

Dead trees and the final frontier

In an era of online publications (like this one), are magazines an anachronism? Dwayne Day examines the strengths and weaknesses of space magazines as an introduction to a review of a number of these publications.
Monday, May 5, 2008

A quick guide to space news publications in print

Dwayne Day provides brief reviews of major space-related magazines currently published in the United States and elsewhere.
Monday, May 5, 2008

Point-to-point suborbital transportation: sounds good on paper, but…

Suborbital point-to-point spaceflight would seem to be a logical step between the current generation of suborbital vehicles under development and orbital RLVs. David Hoerr cautions that such vehicles face considerable technological obstacles to their development.
Monday, May 5, 2008

British perspectives on human spaceflight

The UK is considering a revision to a national space policy that currently doesn’t support human spaceflight. Jeff Foust reports on comments made by two prominent British scientists on opposite sides of the issue.
Monday, May 5, 2008

The new “Space Nexus”: another Apollo debacle?

As Congress gears up to reauthorize NASA, there is a natural debate about the future and long-term goals for the space agency. Greg Zsidisin worries that we could be in danger of repeating the same mistakes made over three decades ago.
Monday, May 5, 2008


April 2008:

A flower in the polar sky: the POPPY signals intelligence satellite and ocean surveillance

In the 1960s the US Navy developed the POPPY series of satellites designed to identify the location of Soviet radars and naval vessels. Dwayne Day examines the history of this satellite program, including new information on the role these satellites played in the Cold War.
Monday, April 28, 2008

Notes on the state of the RLV industry in 2008 (part 1)

While NASA has all but abandoned efforts to develop reusable launch vehicle technology, RLV efforts continue elsewhere in government and the private sector. Taylor Dinerman explores the status of those efforts, including some surprising new developments from a large aerospace company.
Monday, April 28, 2008

The satellite shootdown: the rest of the story

The intercept of USA 193 earlier this year required the cooperation of multiple agencies and the combination of data from various sources. Wayne Eleazer compares that to an earlier effort to create a “Space Test Range” during the SDI era.
Monday, April 28, 2008

Review: Shuttle Launch Experience

If you can’t get a chance to fly on the space shuttle in its final years, what’s the best way to experience what a shuttle launch is like? Jeff Foust reviews a highly-detailed simulator of a shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center’s visitor center.
Monday, April 28, 2008

The wisdom of NASA’s elders

What do NASA’s former leaders think about the agency’s plans to return to the Moon? Jeff Foust reports on what three former administrators recently said about that, as well as the best and worst decisions they made when they led the space agency.
Monday, April 21, 2008

Small satellite builders: a tale of two mergers

While Canada blocked the sale of MDA’s space business to a US company earlier this month, SSTL agreed to be acquired by EADS Astrium. Taylor Dinerman examines both deals and their strategic implications for Canada and the UK.
Monday, April 21, 2008

Obama’s modest proposal: no hue, no cry? (part 3)

As the presidential campaign grinds on, the various space advocacy and industry groups are determining what stand, if any, they should take on the candidates’ space positions. Greg Zsidisin concludes his analysis of the topic with a review of those groups’ positions and why the issue is so important.
Monday, April 21, 2008

Miles to go before the Moon

A subgenre of science fiction tries to tell stories about the near future of spaceflight. Dwayne Day reviews one such anime series and finds that what it offers in attention to detail it lacks in plot and character.
Monday, April 21, 2008

Review: To the End of the Solar System

In the early years of the Space Age, NASA pursued efforts to develop nuclear-powered rockets that held the promise of opening up the solar system. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examined the technology and policy issues associated with that ultimately failed effort.
Monday, April 21, 2008

The Vision for Space Exploration and the retirement of the Baby Boomers (part 1)

Even as space advocates seek to increase NASA’s budget, the agency itself and the Bush Administration have claimed that budgets that keep pace with inflation are sufficient for NASA to implement the Vision for Space Exploration. However, as Charles Miller and Jeff Foust argue, even that modest budgetary goal may be impossible to maintain given the fiscal pressures the nation will be facing in the years to come.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama’s modest proposal: no hue, no cry? (part 2)

While presidential candidate Barack Obama has proposed delaying NASA’s Constellation program to pay for an early education initiative, the response from the pro-space community has been surprisingly muted. Greg Zsidisin examines why, given the nature of such organizations, that may be the case.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Astrospies, corrected

PBS recently aired a Nova episode about military space station projects in the US and USSR during the Cold War. Dwayne Day identifies several errors in the program’s discussion of the Air Force’s MOL project.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Point-to-point suborbital spaceflight and military logistics

Although point-to-point suborbital spaceflight holds great promise for opening new markets, there’s little private-sector interest in funding the development of such vehicles today. Taylor Dinerman explains how the military could jumpstart this sector in much the same way it did the air cargo business decades ago.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Introducing the Committee for the Advocacy of Space Exploration

One thing the space advocacy movement has been missing for some time is an effective political action committee. Jeff Brooks announces the formation of a PAC for space exploration and how his organization will work to raise the profile of space policy in Washington.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Gumdrops and dragonflies

In preparation for an accident that fortunately never came, rescue crews practiced techniques to recover Apollo astronauts. Dwayne Day reveals the small but important role played by a large, ungainly helicopter to support those efforts.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Obama’s modest proposal: no hue, no cry?

Since late last year Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has proposed delaying NASA’s Constellation program for five years to help pay for an education initiative. Greg Zsidisin examines what Obama has proposed and what the candidate said to him about it in a recent town hall meeting.
Monday, April 7, 2008

So you want to be a rocket pilot

If the commercial human spaceflight market emerges as some anticipate, there will soon be demand for a new kind of job: commercial rocket pilot. Jeff Foust reports on how pilots can prepare for such work, and why at least one person things the occupation will be far less glamorous than one might expect.
Monday, April 7, 2008

They were warned

Last week members of Congress wrung their hands over the anticipated job losses at the Kennedy Space Center and elsewhere as the shuttle is retired. Taylor Dinerman argues that the solution is for Congress and the White House to act to provide additional funding to speed up the development of its successor, not to extend the life of the shuttle.
Monday, April 7, 2008

Never give a monkey your car keys

Should you challenge people making bizarre statements, or simply ignore them? That’s the question Dwayne Day grapples with as he recounts the reaction to an earlier essay about claims of evidence of alien life on the Moon.
Monday, April 7, 2008

Clarke and Kubrick glimpsed the future

The recent passing of Arthur C. Clarke came just before the 40th anniversary of the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Jim McDade uses these events as an opportunity for reflection on both that seminal work as well as our own prospects for the future.
Monday, April 7, 2008


March 2008:

One size may not fit all

As Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites continue the development of SpaceShipTwo, other companies are making headway in the commercial suborbital spaceflight market. Jeff Foust reports on recent developments by XCOR Aerospace and other companies, and how the diversity of technical approaches may be received by the market.
Monday, March 31, 2008

The next battlestar

NASA’s science program, already constrained by tight budgets, will soon have to take on the challenge of both a flagship outer planets mission and a Mars sample return mission. Taylor Dinerman questions whether the agency can handle two such major missions at the same time.
Monday, March 31, 2008

Killer birdie

KE-ASAT was a long-running, but little-known, effort to develop an antisatellite weapon. Dwayne Day reports on a mockup recently found that appears to be associated with the project.
Monday, March 31, 2008

Assessing the practicality of scramjet-powered, single-stage aerospaceplanes

To many the ideal low-cost, reusable launch vehicle is a scramjet-powered spaceplane. Mike Snead examines the technical issues and challenges associated with developing such vehicles.
Monday, March 31, 2008

Review: Beyond UFOs

To many, life on other worlds means aliens and flying saucers. Jeff Foust reviews a book that tries to move beyond those perceptions to provide a solid scientific review of astrobiology.
Monday, March 31, 2008

Too few or too many?

Last weekend’s failure of a Proton rocket is the latest complication for the commercial launch industry, which has seen manifests fill up and customers complain about schedules and costs. Jeff Foust reports on the differing points of view about whether there are enough—or even too many—launch services providers.
Monday, March 24, 2008

Messy battlefields

If there is ultimately warfare in space, it will likely create a large amount of debris. Taylor Dinerman writes that countries that depend on space assets, like the US, need to prepare for this possibility by making their spacecraft harder to intercept and harder to damage.
Monday, March 24, 2008

Planting a flag is only the beginning

So much attention has been given to implementing the Vision for Space Exploration that there has been little thought as to what will follow it. Jeff Brooks argues that making the case for the economic benefit of the Moon, Mars, and beyond is essential.
Monday, March 24, 2008

Letters: wrapping up the USA 193 debate

In the conclusion of their debate about the intercept of the USA 193 satellite last month, Yousaf Butt and Andrew Higgins make their final points on the physics of hydrazine and satellite reentry models.
Monday, March 24, 2008

ITAR’s failure

Current US export control regulations make it difficult for companies, particularly smaller ones, to compete on the international market. Taylor Dinerman makes the case for some degree of reform that will ease the regulatory burden on these companies.
Monday, March 17, 2008

The end of the golden age of Mars exploration?

While NASA is celebrating the continued successes of its current Mars missions, the future of its robotic Mars exploration efforts is uncertain. Jeff Foust reports on concerns some scientists are expressing about a possible break in the steady stream of landers and orbiters going to the Red Planet.
Monday, March 17, 2008

British space policy on life, the universe, and everything

The UK is reconsidering its long-standing opposition to human spaceflight. Michael Huang examines the debate the opposition to any change in British policy.
Monday, March 17, 2008

Letter: hydrazine redux

Yousaf Butt continues the debate on the technical merits of intercepting the USA 193 satellite by reexamining just how likely the hydrazine in the spacecraft’s propellant tank would have survived reentry.
Monday, March 17, 2008

Review: Human Missions to Mars

A long-term goal of human spaceflight is to send missions to Mars, but that is an approach fraught with technical challenges. Anthony Young reviews a book that examines in detail the issues associated with human Mars exploration.
Monday, March 17, 2008

Will we burn in heaven like we do down here?

How real is the threat of an arms race in space, and how effective would measures like treaties be in preventing one? Dwayne Day recounts a recent debate on the subject.
Monday, March 10, 2008

Investment in entrepreneurial innovation: why cooperate?

In the highly competitive world of business, why should companies work together to help develop a new industry? Paul Eckert explains why various companies and organizations are doing just that to help promote the entrepreneurial space sector.
Monday, March 10, 2008

Hoping for a reality tomorrow

Last week’s Goddard Memorial Symposium provided an opportunity not just to look back at the first 50 years of the Space Age, but to also look ahead to the next 50. Jeff Foust reports on what the administrator of NASA and the president’s science advisor hope today will be become the reality of tomorrow.
Monday, March 10, 2008

Space weapons agreements, treaties, and politics

Recent events have renewed the debate on the effectiveness of a treaty banning space weapons. Taylor Dinerman discusses the arguments made in opposition to such a treaty made by a senior State Department official last week.
Monday, March 10, 2008

Letter: The physics of reentering fuel tanks

What would have happened to USA 193’s fuel tank if the spacecraft has been allowed to reenter naturally? Andrew Higgins argues that, contrary to other claims, the tank would have likely survived reentry intact.
Monday, March 10, 2008

Review: The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter

If antimatter is the mirror image of matter, why is the universe dominated by matter? Jeff Foust reviews a book that takes readers on a journey through modern physics to try and answer that question.
Monday, March 10, 2008

China and the US: space race or miscommunication?

The rise of China as a major space power is seen by some in the US as a threat to American prestige, if not national security. Jeff Foust reports that, for some experts, the real concern is the misperceptions that exist in the two countries about each other’s projects and intents.
Monday, March 3, 2008

ATV, Cygnus, and Dragon

In less than a week ESA will launch its first ATV cargo spacecraft to the ISS. Taylor Dinerman compares and contrasts the capabilities and future potential of that vehicle with two similar vehicles being commercially developed in the US.
Monday, March 3, 2008

Sense, nonsense, and pretense about the destruction of USA 193

The flurry of media accounts about the intercept of the deorbiting satellite last month featured their share of inaccuracies and misinterpretations of the event. James Oberg attempts to debunk some of the biggest myths and misunderstandings associated with the satellite’s destruction.
Monday, March 3, 2008

Letter: responding to satellite shootdown

Yousaf Butt responds to a previous essay in The Space Review about last month’s satellite intercept, arguing that the US should release the analysis it performed on the hazards of the satellite’s reentry to justify the effort and expense involved with the intercept.
Monday, March 3, 2008

Blitzing Capitol Hill

Last month dozens of space activists came to Washington to lobby members of Congress to support the NASA budget and related initiatives. Alex Kirk offers an overview of the event and a discussion of the importance of targeted, specific pitches for support.
Monday, March 3, 2008

Raketen in Berlin

Germany’s war history has meant that its museums feature far less aerospace exhibits than their counterparts in the US and other countries. Dwayne Day provides a pictorial review of one example of this in Berlin.
Monday, March 3, 2008


February 2008:

Hale and farewell

Late last week NASA announced that shuttle program manager Wayne Hale was being reassigned to a new position within the space agency. Dwayne Day looks back at Hale’s role in the post-Columbia shuttle program and what implications his departure could have.
Monday, February 25, 2008

Satellite shootdown overcomes bureaucracy

The biggest challenge in last week’s intercept of a spy satellite by a missile may not have been the technology. Instead, Taylor Dinerman argues, it may have been the bureaucracy that had to be overcome within the Defense Department to make the attempt possible.
Monday, February 25, 2008

Seven generations: a re-evaluation of the Paine Report

NASA’s exploration program faces an uncertain future given the upcoming change in administrations. Alex Howerton looks back to a report completed over 20 years ago for guidance on how the nation should continue its space efforts.
Monday, February 25, 2008

John Glenn and the Flying Banana

Frank Piasecki may not be familiar to space enthusiasts, but he played a cameo role in the early years of the Space Age. Dwayne Day recounts how Piasecki’s unusual helicopter ferried the first American in space.
Monday, February 25, 2008

Review: Twilight War

Last week’s intercept of a failed spy satellite by a US missile has been seen by some as evidence of American plans for space weaponization. Jeff Foust reviews a timely book that critically examines the American policy of “space dominance” and the need for a treaty banning such weapons.
Monday, February 25, 2008

An interview with Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott, a famous computer game designer, will be the next commercial passenger to visit the International Space Station this fall. Sam Dinkin interviews Garriott to find out what training has been like so far and what his plans are for the flight and beyond.
Monday, February 18, 2008

Spysat down!

The Pentagon announced last week it would intercept a dead spysat in a decaying orbit with a missile. Dwayne Day recounts what happened when another reconnaissance satellite fell from the sky and embarrassed the US.
Monday, February 18, 2008

Screening and training for commercial human spaceflight

As the commercial human spaceflight industry emerges, companies will be flying people who do not meet the same rigorous medical guidelines of government astronauts. Jeff Foust reports on the screening and training issues companies in the field are considering as they seek to maintain customer safety while maximizing the number of people who can fly.
Monday, February 18, 2008

Space myths 2

Conventional wisdom in the space field includes a preference for simple rockets and the development of airplane-like RLVs. Wayne Eleazer calls those concepts into question.
Monday, February 18, 2008

Review: Robots in Space

For decades people in the space community have argued the various merits of human versus robotic spaceflight. Jeff Foust reviews a new book that reexamines those issues and proposes a new paradigm for space exploration.
Monday, February 18, 2008

Recall and remembrance in Rocket City

A symposium and gala in Huntsville last month marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of Explorer 1. Dwayne Day reviews those events with an eye towards the inevitable struggle between history and celebration.
Monday, February 11, 2008

Somewhat as a clamor in the wilderness

Parts of the space community have been buzzing about criticism of NASA’s exploration architecture, and the space agency’s response to those critiques. Bob Mahoney looks to history to provide a guide to this debate and its significance to the future of the exploration effort.
Monday, February 11, 2008

All along the watchtower

A documentary airing this week promises new insights on a cancelled military space station project from the 1960s. Dwayne Day examines what we know—and have yet to find out—about the Manned Orbiting Laboratory project.
Monday, February 11, 2008

India and the US: partners or rivals in space?

India’s space program is evolving from one focused strictly on practical benefits to one that supports exploration and, perhaps, human spaceflight. Jeff Foust reports on Indian officials see the future of their space program, and what effect that will have on relations with the US.
Monday, February 11, 2008

Space policy optimists and others

The next president will have the opportunity to continue, alter, or terminate NASA’s current exploration effort. Taylor Dinerman describes discussion on this topic at a recent forum and its implications for human spaceflight in general.
Monday, February 11, 2008

Defending Constellation

Despite being in place for over two years now, NASA’s exploration architecture continues to attract criticism from those who have technical and financial concerns. Jeff Foust reports on how NASA administrator Mike Griffin responded to that criticism with a detailed defense of the effort.
Monday, February 4, 2008

Fire and grace

Last week, as part of the ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of Explorer 1, the US Space and Rocket Center opened its new Davidson Center, housing a Saturn 5 rocket. Dwayne Day reviews the new facility in a photo essay.
Monday, February 4, 2008

What to tell the next president about realizing America’s potential in space

Later this week space community leaders will meet in Washington for a two-day forum on space policy issues facing the next president. Mike Snead explains how this is an opportunity to discuss what changes are needed to make the US a “true” spacefaring nation.
Monday, February 4, 2008

Not-so-rare Earth?

Several years ago, the authors of the book Rare Earth argued that “complex” life in the universe was likely very uncommon. Taylor Dinerman argues that recent discoveries, particularly of extrasolar planets, put that hypothesis in question.
Monday, February 4, 2008

If we build it, will they come?

Will new markets drive the demand for low-cost launch, or will the development of low-cost launch vehicles stimulate the development of new markets? Eric Hedman examines this chicken-and-egg issue within the context of space-based solar power.
Monday, February 4, 2008


January 2008:

Call their bluff

Just over a year ago China shook up the space security field by testing an anti-satellite weapon. Mike Moore looks at the impact this test had on military space policy and argues that the US should use the test to see if China is sincere about desiring a treaty banning space weapons.
Monday, January 28, 2008

Some ORS for ORS

One of the challenges facing Operationally Responsive Space is how low-cost rapidly-launched small satellites can serve the needs of military forces not otherwise served by existing satellites or UAVs. Dwayne Day discusses whether and how ORS can find a niche among the various alternatives.
Monday, January 28, 2008

Virgin Galactic: marketing for the Earth?

Space tourism operator Virgin Galactic unveiled the new designs for the suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle and its carrier aircraft at a gala event in New York last week. Taylor Dinerman examines how the company is trying to balance space commercialization with environmental protection.
Monday, January 28, 2008

Canada’s space program in crisis

Earlier this month Canadian company MDA announced it was selling its space business to a US firm, ATK, shocking many Canadians. Chris Gainor laments the implications of this sale for Canada’s modest space efforts.
Monday, January 28, 2008

Monster chopper

The 1960s were full of grandiose visions of spaceflight, some more grandiose than others. Dwayne Day describes one such proposal from that era, for a gigantic helicopter that would have been used to recover rocket stages.
Monday, January 28, 2008

Review: America’s Deep Space Pioneer

Fifty years ago this week, the US entered the Space Age with the launch of its first satellite. Jeff Foust reviews a new biography of William Pickering, one of the key people behind Explorer 1 and the early history of spacecraft missions to explore the solar system.
Monday, January 28, 2008

The dark side of space disaster theories

A new book by a noted space conspiracist argues that a string of NASA Mars mission failures in the 1990s were coverups to hide their secret activities. James Oberg debunks those claims by explaining how the authors misunderstood, inadvertently or deliberately, the technical causes for those failures.
Monday, January 21, 2008

The China gambit

A recent op-ed suggested that the United States allow China to join the International Space Station project for both practical and political purposes. Dwayne Day examines the benefits and issues of such a proposal.
Monday, January 21, 2008

Is a secret a lie if it just isn’t true?

Chinese rocket engineer Tsien Hsue-shen has attracted new attention and scrutiny after being given an award by a major magazine. Dwayne Day follows up on an essay last week about Tsien with new information about what the US government claimed to know about him and his alleged espionage.
Monday, January 21, 2008

Is space exploration worth the cost?

Recently the New York Times blog Freakonomics surveyed a number of experts to ask then whether human spaceflight was worth the cost, and why. One of those featured, David Livingston, offers the full version of his answer to that question.
Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: Mission to Jupiter

NASA’s Galileo spacecraft overcame delays and technical problems to become one of the most successful missions in the history of spaceflight. Taylor Dinerman appraises Galileo through a review the official NASA history of the mission.
Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: The Lunar Exploration Scrapbook

As NASA looks ahead to developing a new lunar lander as part of the Vision for Space Exploration, it’s worthwhile to look back at what was proposed and designed decades ago. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides a look at the landers, rovers, and other vehicles proposed for lunar exploration.
Monday, January 21, 2008

An interview with Steven Weinberg

Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg has been vocal in his criticism of NASA’s human spaceflight efforts. Sam Dinkin interviews Weinberg to learn more about his opposition to such efforts and what he feels the appropriate uses of space are.
Monday, January 14, 2008

The Vision’s critical year

Monday marks the fourth anniversary of President Bush’s speech announcing the Vision for Space Exploration. Jeff Foust examines the political, fiscal, and other issues that make 2008 a critical year for the future of the exploration program.
Monday, January 14, 2008

A dragon in winter

In a surprise move, Aviation Week selected Chinese engineer Tsien Hsue-shen as its person of the year for 2007, despite playing little direct role in the events that transpired last year. Dwayne Day reviews what’s known about Tsien, as well as some of the false allegations that have been published about him.
Monday, January 14, 2008

Is the shuttle delay good news for the AMS?

Continuing delays with the launch of the next shuttle missions are raising new questions about NASA’s ability to retire the shuttle fleet in 2010. Taylor Dinerman argues that this may give supporters of a scientific experiment denied a ride on the shuttle new hope for getting into space.
Monday, January 14, 2008

Secrets and signs

A long-running challenge for many observers has been to identify the missions of classified US launches. Dwayne Day and Roger Guillemette describe how a surprising amount of information about those missions can be found from an unlikely source: their patches.
Monday, January 7, 2008

It’s time to get our ORS in gear

Just how effective could low-cost, rapidly-deployed small satellites be for the US military? James Wertz responds to a recent article with his arguments about the potential utility and effectiveness of Operationally Responsive Space.
Monday, January 7, 2008

Space and the 2000 ship Navy

A new maritime strategy document calls for the creation of a multinational network of sensors and communications to enable better cooperation among the world’s navies. Taylor Dinerman examines the role space would play in such a strategy, and the institutional obstacles it faces within the Pentagon.
Monday, January 7, 2008

One day they will be gone

Recent documentaries like In the Shadow of the Moon have reminded us just how long it’s been since astronauts walked on the Moon. Anthony Young notes that it’s also a reminder of their mortality.
Monday, January 7, 2008

Review: Lives of the Planets

Even as spacecraft missions revolutionize our understanding of the solar system, books about it remain much the same. Jeff Foust reviews a book that tries to take a somewhat different approach to reviewing our knowledge of the solar system.
Monday, January 7, 2008


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