The Space Reviewin association with SpaceNews
 

NSRC 2020

Articles previously published in The Space Review:

June 2018:

Managing space traffic expectations

As expected, the president signed a new space policy directive last week regarding space traffic management. Jeff Foust reports on what the policy covers, and what the next steps are in the administration and in Congress to implement it.
Monday, June 25, 2018

Space guardians

While the president seeks the formation of a Space Force and others a Space Corps within the Air Force, there is another option. Anna Gunn-Golkin describes how a “Space Guard” could carry out many functions analogous to the Coast Guard, providing services that go beyond defense.
Monday, June 25, 2018

American dominance in space and the Space Force

Last week, President Trump directed the Pentagon to establish a Space Force as a separate branch, even though such an effort requires an act of Congress. Vidvuds Beldavs says the move may spark new worries about the weaponization of space.
Monday, June 25, 2018

The populists versus the (rocket) billionaires

Commercial spaceflight has benefitted from the roles taken, and investment provided, by a handful of billionaires. However, A.J. Mackenzie uses a recent essay to warn of the the potential of a backlash to their efforts.
Monday, June 25, 2018

Review: Into the Extreme

NASA engineers are focused on the technical details of the spacecraft and related systems they develop for human spaceflight. A new book examines that work from a sociological, and academic, perspective.
Monday, June 25, 2018

Still waiting on space tourism after all these years

This week marks the 14th anniversary of the first suborbital spaceflight by SpaceShipOne, but space tourism, suborbital or orbital, has still failed to take hold. Jeff Foust reports that, despite the delays, some in industry remain confident that the market for commercial human spaceflight will take hold, eventually.
Monday, June 18, 2018

Keep dreaming, young lady, keep dreaming

It’s been 35 years since Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, but for decades before her flight women sought to become astronauts only to be turned down. Dwayne Day looks at some historical records to examine the views of allowing women to become astronauts in the early years of the Space Age.
Monday, June 18, 2018

Interconnectivity, disruption, and the Event Horizon Study

It’s often difficult for space industry market forecasts to accurately predict the effects of truly disruptive launch and other technologies. Aaron Oesterle discusses those challenges that are being addressed by an ongoing study by the Space Frontier Foundation and Deloitte.
Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: Catching Stardust

This summer two spacecraft missions will arrive at asteroids with plans to collect samples for eventual return to Earth. Jeff Foust reviews a book that discusses the importance of asteroid and comet science, including returning samples, while also addressing the threats and opportunities such objects offer.
Monday, June 18, 2018

How blockchain technology can track humanity’s lunar heritage sites

One challenge for future human lunar exploration is keeping track of past exploration sites in order to preserve their heritage. Roy Balleste and Michelle L.D. Hanlon describe how the blockchain can be used to help create a database of those sites to aid in efforts to protect them.
Monday, June 11, 2018

Settling into the new job

It’s been more than a month and a half since Jim Bridenstine was sworn in as NASA administrator, and perceptions about him are already changing. Jeff Foust reports on an interview Bridenstine had with reporters that dealt with topics ranging from his views on climate change to the role of commercial capabilities versus NASA-run programs.
Monday, June 11, 2018

The Earth, space settlement, and the hard drive analogy

In a recent interview, Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Red Mars trilogy about humans living on Mars, dismissed the idea of actual human settlements there or elsewhere beyond Earth. John Strickland takes issue with Robinson’s assessment and argues that establishing a human presence beyond Earth remains critical to civilization’s future.
Monday, June 11, 2018

The origin of civilian uses of GPS

Many articles today claim that the civilian use of GPS started only after an off-course Korean airliner was shot down by the Soviets in 1983. Richard Easton argues that GPS, from its beginnings long before that incident, planned to have civilian applications.
Monday, June 11, 2018

Review: On Gravity

Everyone is familiar with gravity, but few understand how this fundamental force works. Jeff Foust reviews a short book that seeks to be more advanced that popular books on the subject without becoming a weighty textbook.
Monday, June 11, 2018

Bezos and humanity’s future beyond Earth

At the International Space Development Conference last month, Jeff Bezos accepted an award, saved a TV series, and also discussed his vision of humanity living and working in space. Jeff Foust describes the scene that linked the richest man in the world with one of the legendary space visionaries of the 20th century.
Monday, June 4, 2018

Space station prestige

Last week China announced it was working with the UN to open its space station to researchers around the world, even as NASA is looking for ways to end its support for the ISS in the mid-2020s; a sign of China’s ascendence at the expense of the US, some claimed. A.J. Mackenzie argues that, in fact, these developments show how relatively unimportant space stations are.
Monday, June 4, 2018

Gateway versus tollbooth

At the recent International Space Development Conference, NASA officials talked up plans to develop the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway as the next step in human space exploration. Jeff Foust reports that another conference attendee offered an alternative approach to human lunar exploration that has no need for the Gateway.
Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: Losing the Nobel Prize

In 2014, astronomers thought they had detected evidence to support the inflationary model of the Big Bang, only for their results to fall through. Jeff Foust reviews a book from one of the scientists involved in that work that describes those ups and downs, and how the pursuit of the Nobel Prize negatively influenced that and other research.
Monday, June 4, 2018


May 2018:

The summer of small launchers

Several companies developing small launch vehicles plan to perform their first commercial missions, or first launches overall, during the next few months. Jeff Foust provides an update on those companies’ plans and concerns about a “glut” of such vehicles on the market.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Does the Gateway make sense?

As NASA refines its plans for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, or simply the Gateway, some question whether that effort to create a human-tended facility in cislunar space makes sense. Eric Hedman lays out the arguments for and against it.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A step towards a “one-stop shop” for commercial space regulations

Last week, President Trump signed his second space policy directive, one addressing commercial space regulatory reform. Jeff Foust reports on what the policy does as a step towards creation of a single office responsible for commercial space issues.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: Gemini Flies!

The Gemini program hasn’t gotten the attention that Mercury or Apollo received, some space enthusiasts argue. Jeff Foust reviews a new book that starts an effort to rectify that with a detailed history of efforts leading up to, and including, the first Gemini mission to carry astronauts.
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Martian deadlines

Can setting a specific date as a goal for a human Mars mission provide the impetus to make it happen? Jeff Foust examines some perspectives on the issue based on discussion at a recent conference.
Monday, May 21, 2018

Sheriff Elon Musk? Who will govern human space habitats, and how

If humans are going to live and work in space, they will need governance models that could differ from how things work on Earth. Eytan Tepper argues that research needs to begin now on what paradigms for space governance would work best for future settlements beyond Earth.
Monday, May 21, 2018

WFIRST’s second chance

NASA’s 2019 budget request proposed cancelling WFIRST, the next large astrophysics mission after the James Webb Space Telescope. Jeff Foust reports that things are looking up for the mission, even if it is not out of the woods yet.
Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: Bringing Columbia Home

The search for debris from Columbia 15 years ago was critical to the investigation into the accident, but it was also an intensely personal effort for many of the people involved. Jeff Foust reviews a book co-authored by a shuttle launch manager that describes that work from his point of view, as well as many others involved.
Monday, May 21, 2018

SpaceX’s workhorse rocket takes flight

Friday marked the successful debut of the Block 5 version of the Falcon 9, which SpaceX says will be the last major upgrade of that rocket. Jeff Foust reports on the changes made to the vehicle to improve its reusability and its reliability, even as the company looks ahead to the BFR.
Monday, May 14, 2018

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway: an unneeded and costly diversion

NASA says development of the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is a key stepping-stone to human missions to the surface of the Moon. Gerald Black argues that the gateway is instead a diversion from that goal.
Monday, May 14, 2018

The legal and financial challenges of privatizing the International Space Station

A proposal by the Trump Administration to end federal funding of the ISS and potentially commercialize it has raised many questions about its feasibility. Kiran Krishnan Nair discusses both the legal obstacles to doing so, as well as the financial challenges involved.
Monday, May 14, 2018

Pondering the business case of ferrying customers for suborbital point to point

SpaceX plans to use its BFR vehicle for point-to-point suborbital passenger flights, but does that make economic sense? Sam Dinkin examines the logistical and financial issues for BFR passenger transportation.
Monday, May 14, 2018

Review: The Design and Engineering of Curiosity

Some have described NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover as the most complex machine sent into space. Jeff Foust reviews a book that goes into great technical detail about its complexities, from its development to the operations of the rover and its instruments on the Red Planet.
Monday, May 14, 2018

The measure of a man: Evaluating the role of astronauts in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program (part 3)

In mid-1967, the vice president attended a briefing on the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. Dwayne Day describes that meeting, as recalled by one of the program’s astronauts who attended, as concerns about the cost and effectiveness of the program grew.
Monday, May 7, 2018

Seeing shadows of rights: What is the intent of Congress in HR 2809?

The House last month passed a commercial space bill that provides a streamlined approach to oversight of commercial space activities. Michael Listner argues that the bill may take liberties with common interpretations of the Outer Space Treaty and whether spaceflight is a fundamental right.
Monday, May 7, 2018

How should NASA return to the Moon?

NASA’s plans to use commercial lunar lander missions, and to cancel a rover mission under development for several years, attracted criticism in recent weeks from some scientists. Jeff Foust reports on the fate of Resource Prospector, one of the first big issues for new NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Monday, May 7, 2018

Engineering Mars commercial rocket propellant production for the Big Falcon Rocket (part 3)

In the final part of his study of producing propellant on Mars for SpaceX’s proposed Big Falcon Rocket, Steve Hoeser examines some of the ways to generate the power needed for those propellant production processes.
Monday, May 7, 2018

Review: Life on Mars

One of the driving factors in the exploration of Mars has been the research for past or present life there. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the long history of those efforts, from groundbased telescopes to landers and rovers on the Martian surface, and the many false positives along the way.
Monday, May 7, 2018


April 2018:

Space commerce traffic management

Changes in space policy are giving more powers to a small office within the Department of Commerce, the Office of Space Commerce. Jeff Foust reports on how those policy changes are taking shape even as the administration seeks to give space traffic management responsibilities to that office.
Monday, April 30, 2018

Engineering Mars commercial rocket propellant production for the Big Falcon Rocket (part 2)

In the second part of his engineering study, Steve Hoeser examines various approaches to producing oxygen and methane propellant on Mars and their power requirements.
Monday, April 30, 2018

A new era of planetary protection

NASA has long had a “planetary protection officer,” but the agency recently hired a new one as part of a reorganization of that office. Jeff Foust reports on what the new planetary protection officer sees as key issues facing both agency missions to potentially habitable worlds and those by private ventures.
Monday, April 30, 2018

Space law 2018: nationalists versus internationalists

The recent Space Symposium conference included sessions on space law. Dennis O’Brien describes how those sessions illustrated a divide between development of domestic space laws versus implementation of international treaties.
Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: Chasing New Horizons

New Horizons was not just the first spacecraft to fly by Pluto, it was also a triumph for a group of scientists who battled bureaucracies for decades to get the mission launched. Jeff Foust reviews a book co-authored by the mission’s principal investigator that provides the inside story on the mission.
Monday, April 30, 2018

The Bridenstine era begins at NASA

On Monday, Jim Bridenstine will be formally sworn in as NASA’s next administrator. Jeff Foust describes the end of the long, contentious confirmation process for Bridenstine, and what it means for the agency now that he’s finally running it.
Monday, April 23, 2018

Engineering Mars commercial rocket propellant production for the Big Falcon Rocket (part 1)

SpaceX’s plans for round-trip missions to and from Mars using its BFR will require the use of propellants made on Mars for the trip home. In the first of a three-part article, Steve Hoeser discusses potential ways to manufacture methane and oxygen using Martian resources.
Monday, April 23, 2018

The challenge of agile launch

Small launch vehicles are proliferating, but can they meet military needs for launching payloads on short notice? Jeff Foust reports on a new competition announced by DARPA to promote responsive launch systems, provided they can overcome regulatory hurdles.
Monday, April 23, 2018

Vanguard’s sixty-year spaceflight heritage

The Naval Research Laboratory hosted an event last month to mark the 60th anniversary of the launch of Vanguard 1. Richard Easton discusses how the event traced the launch of that pioneering satellite to modern-day space programs.
Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Dream Missions

The history of spaceflight has been filled with visions of giant space stations, elaborate Mars expeditions, and massive launch vehicles; dreams that usually fail to become reality. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines those concepts and why they remain dreams to this day.
Monday, April 23, 2018

Kneeling before a sovereign

Some space companies proposed developing orbital facilities for so-called “sovereign clients,” nations without human spaceflight programs of their own. Dwayne Day discusses how those efforts have suffered delays, just like so many other new space markets proposed over the last few decades.
Monday, April 16, 2018

The next era in exoplanet searches

As NASA’s Kepler mission nears its end, another exoplanet hunter is ready for launch this week. Jeff Foust reports on how the TESS mission will carry on the search for exoplanets, particularly those relatively close to Earth.
Monday, April 16, 2018

Space traffic control: technological means and governance implications

The growing amount of both operational satellites and space debris has created growing concerns about the risks of collisions and the need for better tracking and coordination. Nayef Al-Rodhan argues that true space traffic management will require new international accords to ensure proper collection and sharing of information.
Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Rocket Men

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 8 mission. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a well-written, but familiar, account of that first human journey to lunar orbit.
Monday, April 16, 2018

So, what about Mars?

With the new direction given to NASA to return humans to the Moon, some wonder what that means for the agency’s former “Journey to Mars” plans. Jeff Foust describes how sending humans to Mars remains a long-term goal, although one with perhaps even less detail than before.
Monday, April 9, 2018

On seeing the Earth for the first time

What would it be like to finally be able to see the Earth from the outside, as a world floating in the darkness of space? In an essay excerpted from his new book, Christopher Potter discusses those efforts to see the Earth as it truly is, from space.
Monday, April 9, 2018

SpaceShipTwo is a step closer to space

Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo made its first powered test flight last week. Jeff Foust reports on that achievement and its implications for both the company and suborbital space tourism.
Monday, April 9, 2018

Review: The Earth Gazers

Images of the Earth from space are commonplace today, but a half-century ago those first views of the Earth as a sphere in the void stunned society. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines imagery from space within the context of a history of spaceflight.
Monday, April 9, 2018

A tangled Webb of delays

NASA announced last week it was delaying the launch of its James Webb Space Telescope by another year, to May 2020. Jeff Foust reports on the causes of this latest delay and its implications not just on the program but on astrophysics research in general and on other large NASA programs.
Monday, April 2, 2018

Unlicensed swarms in space

Earlier this year an American company launched several small satellites despite lacking an authorization from the FCC. Ian Christensen discusses what steps industry can take to prevent such events from happening in the future and to avoid restrictive new regulations that could result.
Monday, April 2, 2018

Why use lunar propellant?

As NASA contemplates roles for its proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, some argue it should serve as a propellant depot to support future Mars missions. John Strickland examines how much benefit such a depot, using propellant derived from lunar ice, could provide over launching propellant from Earth.
Monday, April 2, 2018

Fifty years after the future arrived: the astronauts of 2001: A Space Odyssey

On this 50th anniversary of the premiere of 2001, Dwayne Day examines the movie from the perspective of the actors who played the two astronauts on the Discovery.
Monday, April 2, 2018

Review: Space Odyssey

Fifty years ago today, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey had its world premiere in Washington. Jeff Foust reviews a book that describes in great depth the epic production of this space epic.
Monday, April 2, 2018


March 2018:

The measure of a man: Evaluating the role of astronauts in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program (part 2)

As the Manned Orbiting Laboratory took shape in the latter half of the 1960s, the Air Force again revisited the M in MOL. Dwayne Day examines the rationales that studies from that time developed for having astronauts onboard a reconnaissance platform.
Monday, March 26, 2018

New vehicles, new companies, and new competition in the launch market

Despite the major impact SpaceX has had on the launch industry, most of the vehicles in commercial service today are little changed from those flying a decade ago. Jeff Foust reports how that will change over the next several years as other companies introduce next-generation launch vehicles and new companies get into the market.
Monday, March 26, 2018

Equitable sharing of benefits of space resources

Much of the criticism of the Moon Treaty has focused on the interpretation that it requires an international bureaucracy to share space resources with other nations. Vidvuds Beldavs argues that is not how the treaty should be interpreted, and that there are other mechanisms that can comply with the treaty while still supporting commercial space resource applications.
Monday, March 26, 2018

Confrontation or cooperation: US-China space relations

As the United States embarks on new human space exploration plans, it must decide what to do with one of the most intriguing, but also controversial, potential partners: China. Gentoku Toyoma makes the case for the two countries to work together in human spaceflight.
Monday, March 26, 2018

Reviews: Rocket Billionaires and The Space Barons

Two books published simultaneously last week examine the roles that Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have played in the commercial space industry. Jeff Foust reviews both books and finds they contain insights that will be of interest to both industry insiders and newcomers alike.
Monday, March 26, 2018

The measure of a man: Evaluating the role of astronauts in the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program (part 1)

A key reason for developing the Manned Orbiting Laboratory during the 1960s was the belief that humans were required to carry out the reconnaissance tasks planned for the station. Dwayne Day describes how Air Force officials, though, found themselves needing to justify that rationale from almost the beginning of the program.
Monday, March 19, 2018

A changing shade of Blue

Blue Origin has grown significantly in the last few years as it tests its New Shepard suborbital vehicle and prepares to build its New Glenn orbital rocket. Jeff Foust reports on that shift from development and operations, and how the company is seeking to maintain its ability to develop new technologies at the same time.
Monday, March 19, 2018

Bombs in orbit? Verification and violation under the Outer Space Treaty

When does a nuclear weapon in space become a violation of the Outer Space Treaty? Taunton Paine discusses how that was debated a half-century ago and how that issue that may be newly relevant today.
Monday, March 19, 2018

A space renaissance

New policies, technologies, and companies all promise to open a new era of human spaceflight and space exploration. Madhu Thangavelu explains why he believes we’re at the beginning of a renaissance in spaceflight that will ultimately change how we view the Earth.
Monday, March 19, 2018

Review: The Planet Factory

As astronomers continue to discover new exoplanets, they open new questions about how planets, in our solar system and others, take shape. Jeff Foust reviews a book that discusses what we know, and don’t know, about the formation of solar systems.
Monday, March 19, 2018

A new focus on exploration worries space technology advocates

One element of NASA’s 2019 budget proposal seeks to combine the agency’s space technology program with its exploration program. Jeff Foust reports that proposal has sparked concern among supporters of the current space technology program that such a move could jeopardize NASA’s technology development expertise.
Monday, March 12, 2018

Our fear of “heritage” imperils our future

The concept of “common heritage of humankind” can get many people in the space community riled up. Michelle L.D. Hanlon says there’s another way of thinking about “heritage” that offers a more commonsense approach to protecting our history in space.
Monday, March 12, 2018

The Secretary of (Space) Commerce

Efforts by the National Space Council have given new prominence to the Department of Commerce for the regulation and promotion of the commercial space industry in the United States. Jeff Foust interviews Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on some of this issues coming out of the latest council meeting.
Monday, March 12, 2018

Why the Outer Space Treaty remains valid and relevant in the modern world

Some wonder if the fifty-year-old Outer Space Treaty is no longer relevant in an era where commercial activities are eclipsing government efforts in space. Cristin Finnigan argues that the treaty remains a good foundation for international space law to this day.
Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: The Future of Humanity

If humanity is to survive in the long term, argues Michio Kaku, it will need to move beyond Earth. Jeff Foust reviews a book by Kaku that takes a sweeping look at the various technologies and related issues associated with moving into the solar system and beyond.
Monday, March 12, 2018

Movements of fire and shadow: The X-23 PRIME reentry vehicle and American satellite reconnaissance

Early reconnaissance satellites returned their film using canisters caught in midair near Hawaii. Dwayne Day describes how the Air Force and NRO considered a different approach that involved the use of an experimental winged vehicle.
Monday, March 5, 2018

Launch Canada

Canada has many impressive space capabilities, but it lacks an ability to launch its own satellites. Jeff Foust reports on discussions at a recent conference where Canadian companies and others discussed efforts to provide launch services, using either imported rockets or vehicles built within the country.
Monday, March 5, 2018

Why it’s a bad idea to weaken the Moon Treaty

Some have suggested ideas to modify the Moon Treaty to make it more amenable to commercial space activities, including space resource extraction. Dennis O’Brien argues that the solutions may be worse than any problem they try to fix.
Monday, March 5, 2018

Bartolomeo: the new European challenge for boosting commercial activities on the International Space Station

Airbus and ESA concluded an agreement last month to mount a commercial platform on the exterior of the International Space Station. Anne-Sophie Martin discusses the project and how it fits into the legal issues regarding commercial activities on the station.
Monday, March 5, 2018

Review: Commercial Uses of Space and Space Tourism

New actors and new applications in space also pose new challenges for legal and regulatory structures that date back in some cases half a century. Jeff Foust reviews a book that explores in detail some of the issues involving the growing commercial use of space.
Monday, March 5, 2018


February 2018:

Making space regulations great again

Improving the regulatory environment for commercial space activities was a theme of the National Space Council’s meeting last week. Jeff Foust reports that while the Council made a number of recommendations for reform, those ideas are not necessarily that novel.
Monday, February 26, 2018

Shadow dancing: the Satellite Data System

Starting in the late 1960s, the NRO and the US Air Force developed of a series of data relay satellites designed primarily to support the NRO’s reconnaissance satellites. Dwayne Day examines the early history of the development of that Satellite Data System, including management conflicts that jeopardized the program in its early years.
Monday, February 26, 2018

Launch failures: payload separation

The launch of the classified Zuma payload on a Falcon 9 in January reportedly failed because of a problem with the payload adapter. Wayne Eleazer notes that payload separation issues, while not common, are also not unheard of as a root cause of launch failures.
Monday, February 26, 2018

Why technological innovation and increased cooperation regarding space debris are vital

Few would disagree that orbital debris is a major issue for space operations, but there’s less concurrence on how to address the problem. Nayef Al-Rodhan argues that there’s a need for both new technologies to deal with the issue and international cooperation to enable the use of those technologies.
Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Building Habitats on the Moon

With plans announced once again to return humans to the Moon, it’s time to revisit ideas for building habitats there to support those future expeditions. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines many of the technical issues, and some of the non-technical ones, associated with establishing lunar habitats.
Monday, February 26, 2018

And all my dreams, torn asunder: The (quiet) collapse of circumlunar tourism

Last decade there was discussion of space tourism not just on suborbital spaceflights or trips to the International Space Station, but also around the Moon. Dwayne Day discusses what happened with one company’s efforts for such a mission, as revealed by an ongoing federal court case.
Monday, February 19, 2018

Will WFIRST last?

NASA’s 2019 budget proposal, released last week, included a number of expected changes, but also one surprise: cancelling WFIRST, the next major astronomy mission after the James Webb Space Telescope. Jeff Foust reports on the evolution of WFIRST over the last several years and why the planned cancellation surprised so many.
Monday, February 19, 2018

Maritime tradition can inform policy and law for commercial active debris removal

Despite the pressing need to deal with orbital debris in advance of the deployment of new satellite megaconstellations, legal obstacles may dwarf any technical challenges. Al Anzaldua and Michelle Hanlon discuss how an approach from maritime salvage could be applied to orbital debris cleanup.
Monday, February 19, 2018

Falcon Heavy will change spaceflight less than you think

The successful first launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy earlier this month got many people excited about the ability of the vehicle to revolutionize spaceflight. A.J. Mackenzie argues that the rocket’s impact will not be as great as many enthusiasts believe.
Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: Open Space

Government agencies in the US and other countries are making much of the data from their Earth science missions freely available, but that has not always been their approach. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines changing policies regarding the open access to Earth science data amid the ups and downs of commercialization efforts.
Monday, February 19, 2018

Falcon Heavy finally takes flight

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket successfully launched last week after years of development delays. Jeff Foust reports on the launch and what the future prospects are for the heavy-lift rocket.
Monday, February 12, 2018

And the sky full of stars: American signals intelligence satellites and the Vietnam War

Signals intelligence satellites played a role monitoring Soviet activities during a key event late in the Vietnam War. Dwayne Day describes how that took place and how it marked the changing use of intelligence satellites.
Monday, February 12, 2018

SLS: to be or not to be, or to be something else entirely

The Falcon Heavy launch creates additional scrutiny for NASA’s Space Launch System, which is still years away from a first launch and will cost far more to develop and operate. Dick Eagleson suggests it’s time to redesign the SLS to incorporate reusability and lower costs, or else it faces an eventual cancellation.
Monday, February 12, 2018

Why couldn’t NASA do this?

The successful test launch of the Falcon Heavy demonstrates, to some, the growing capabilities of the private sector in space compared to agencies like NASA. Mark Wessels argues that it’s time to revisit the roles, and risk acceptance, of NASA and the private sector.
Monday, February 12, 2018

Man to mannequin: is this progress?

The images of a sports car launched into space on the test flight of a Falcon Heavy last week attracted the attention of people around the world. Ajey Lele, though, sees the event as a demonstration of the lack of progress in spaceflight in the last half-century.
Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Emerging Space Markets

New space applications, from constellations of broadband satellites to commercial missions to the Moon and Mars, are showing promise in the industry. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a guide to those emerging markets, but falls short of being a useful resource.
Monday, February 12, 2018

How long will the money keep flowing?

Venture capitalists and other investors have put billions of dollars into space startups in recent years. Jeff Foust examines if that investment can continue to grow as options for exits for these investors remain limited.
Monday, February 5, 2018

Mars atmospheric dust and human exploration

Dust on Mars, and in the Martian atmosphere, could pose a serious health and safety risk for future astronauts. Joel S. Levine identifies the concerns and the research that needs to be done to better understand the risks before humans can travel to Mars.
Monday, February 5, 2018

Orbital ATK, EELV, and the Chinese word for crisis

Orbital ATK is preparing to offer a next-generation launch vehicle it is developing to the Air Force. Jeffrey L. Smith discusses the status of that vehicle and how it fits into the broader competitive environment for government launches.
Monday, February 5, 2018

Small is big again in space science

Last week marked the 60th anniversary of the launch of the first American satellite, Explorer 1, which was far smaller than the large science satellites NASA operates today. However, Jeff Foust reports, NASA and others are growing increasingly interested in returning to smaller satellites to complement the science larger spacecraft can conduct.
Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: Outer Space Law

Legal texts on space topics are either academic treatises or resources for space law practitioners. Michael Listner reviews a book that manages to bridge the two categories.
Monday, February 5, 2018


January 2018:

Space, and the stories we tell ourselves

Space centers often highlight the achievements of space programs, but what responsibility do they have to discuss tragedies and other setbacks? Dwayne Day explores that issue through the lens of exhibits at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Monday, January 29, 2018

Eyes no longer on the prize

Last week the X Prize Foundation announced that the Google Lunar X Prize competition will come to an end in March without any team even attempting a launch. Jeff Foust examines the end of the competition and what the teams involved planned to do now that the $20 million grand prize will no longer be available.
Monday, January 29, 2018

Revisiting “non-interference zones” in outer space

While countries can’t claim property on the Moon or other bodies, can they offer companies exclusion zones on safety or other rationales? Cody Knipfer examines some of the concepts behind so-called “non-interference zones” and efforts in Congress to enact legislation to enable them.
Monday, January 29, 2018

The era of extremely large telescopes

Three different projects are underway to build a new generation of very large ground-based telescopes, but each faces its own set of challenges. Jeff Foust reports on the policy challenges facing the Thirty Meter Telescope and the technical challenges of the Giant Magellan Telescope.
Monday, January 29, 2018

Review: Ripples in Spacetime

It’s been nearly two years since scientists announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves, enough time for gravitational wave science to almost become routine. Jeff Foust reviews a book that recounts the efforts to discover such waves and their implications for the future of astronomy.
Monday, January 29, 2018

Small rockets are finally taking off, but will the market follow?

Over the weekend, Rocket Lab successfully launched its Electron small rocket for the first time, putting three cubesats into orbit. Jeff Foust reports on that milestone launch that puts the company on the vanguard of a rapidly growing part of the space industry, albeit one where the demand for such vehicles remains uncertain.
Monday, January 22, 2018

Why the Falcon Heavy should be America's next Moon rocket

As the Falcon Heavy near its first launch, what role can the rocket play in new national policy to return to the Moon? Doug Plata argues that the Falcon Heavy is better suited than the Space Launch System for lunar missions, as part of an architecture that makes use of vehicles from other companies and public private partnerships.
Monday, January 22, 2018

Latin America’s space programs: an update

Over the last several years a number of Latin American countries have built and launched satellites. W. Alejandro Sanchez provides an update to a 2012 article on the developments countries in the region are making in terms of satellites and space policy.
Monday, January 22, 2018

How to reduce US space expenses through competitive and cooperative approaches

The US seeks to compete with other countries in space in some arenas, and cooperate in others, but how do you decide what approach to take? Takuya Wakimoto offers an analysis of the space policies of the US and other major spacefaring countries to see where the US can benefit best through cooperation.
Monday, January 22, 2018

A treatise on the formation of a US Space Force

Proposals to create an independent “Space Force” within the US military face, among other obstacles, financial challenges. Roger X. Lenard offers a forward-looking approach to the roles of a future Space Force and how they can help support its operations and commercial activities expand beyond Earth orbit.
Monday, January 22, 2018

The mystery of Zuma

We know that a Falcon 9 lifted off last week carrying a classified payload known only as Zuma, but what happened to Zuma, and why, remain a mystery. Jeff Foust reports on what is known, and what is speculated, about the mission, and the implications for SpaceX as it begins a big year.
Monday, January 15, 2018

PSLV-C40: A multipurpose mission

Last week India launched its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for the first time since a failure in August. Ajey Lele explains that this mission did more than demonstrate that the problem that caused the failure had been corrected.
Monday, January 15, 2018

Simply fix the Moon Treaty

The Moon Treaty, not ratified by major spacefaring nations, has been criticized for its “common heritage of mankind” language. Vidvuds Beldavs argues that modest changes to the treaty could address those concerns while leaving in place a framework for enabling commercial extraction of resources from the Moon and asteroids.
Monday, January 15, 2018

NASA has too much on its plate to return to the Moon

A space policy directive signed last month directs NASA to return humans to the Moon, but how? Gerald Black argues that NASA can’t afford to do it in traditional ways, and needs to instead work in partnership with the private sector.
Monday, January 15, 2018

Review: Spaceport Earth

Spaceports are popping up around the United States and elsewhere, far outpacing the demand from commercial launch companies. Jeff Foust reviews a book that attempts to explain why that’s the case by visiting a number of existing and proposed launch sites.
Monday, January 15, 2018

Will Space Policy Directive 1 benefit or hinder human missions to Mars?

President Trump signed a directive last month amending national space policy to call for a human return to the Moon. Chris Carberry and Rick Zucker argue that this need not be in conflict with plans for human missions to Mars, provided the administration is willing to back its policy with sufficient funding.
Monday, January 8, 2018

The coming age of commercial spaceflight: some considerations

As commercial suborbital vehicles capable of carrying people prepare to enter service, those vehicles offers new opportunities for “ordinary” people to fly into space. John Putman cautions that such opportunities will require people to prepare not just physically but also psychologically.
Monday, January 8, 2018

NASA sees the light for the future of space communications

As spacecraft become more advanced, and probe more distant parts of the solar system, communications becomes a weak link. Jeff Foust reports on how NASA is working on laser communications technologies for Earth science and planetary missions to dramatically increase data rates.
Monday, January 8, 2018

A bittersweet homecoming (part 2)

In the concluding part of her interview, Emily Carney talks with Jonathan Ward, co-author of a new book on the Columbia accident investigation, on the recovery effort and comparisons with other NASA human spaceflight accidents.
Monday, January 8, 2018

Review: NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation

Innovation is a key buzzword when it comes to NASA initiatives today, but it’s hardly something new for the agency. Jeff Foust reviews a collection of essays that examines efforts from throughout NASA’s history to attempt innovation, often in cooperation with the private sector.
Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 may (almost) be the year for commercial human suborbital spaceflight

After years of delays, two companies are edging closer to flights of commercial suborbital vehicles carrying people. Jeff Foust reports on those companies’ progress and the effect they will have on the suborbital research field.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Will 2018 be a step forward or a step back for SpaceX?

Last year was perhaps the most successful in the history of SpaceX, but what will the company do for an encore in 2018? A.J. Mackenzie argues that the company faces new risks in 2018 with the introduction of new vehicles, among other challenges.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Next Christmas in the Kuiper Belt

Next New Year’s Day, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will make a close flyby of a small object, or objects, in the Kuiper Belt. Jeff Foust previews the science, and the technical challenges, of the flyby.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Why the US should notify the public of all satellite reentries

A year ago, a classified US satellite reentered over the South Pacific without any advance warning or other notice by US government agencies. Charles Phillips discusses why, for safety’s sake, the government should provide a warning of such reentries without disclosing the satellite’s mission.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A bittersweet homecoming (part 1)

A new book due out this month chronicles the investigation into the Columbia shuttle accident 15 years ago. In the first of a two-part interview, Emily Carney talks with co-author Jonathan Ward about the development of the book and what he learned about the tragedy.
Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Home