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Preview: The Space Review

The Space Review

Articles, essays, and commentary about all facets of space exploration

Last Build Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:00:00 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2003-2016 Jeff Foust

Kneeling before a sovereign

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

The next era in exoplanet searches

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Space traffic control: technological means and governance implications

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Review: Rocket Men

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

So, what about Mars?

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

On seeing the Earth for the first time

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

SpaceShipTwo is a step closer to space

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Review: The Earth Gazers

Mon, 09 Apr 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

A tangled Webb of delays

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

Unlicensed swarms in space

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Why use lunar propellant?

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: Space Odyssey

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Equitable sharing of benefits of space resources

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Confrontation or cooperation: US-China space relations

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Reviews: Rocket Billionaires and The Space Barons

Mon, 26 Mar 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

A changing shade of Blue

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

A space renaissance

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: The Planet Factory

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

A new focus on exploration worries space technology advocates

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

Our fear of "heritage" imperils our future

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

The Secretary of (Space) Commerce

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: The Future of Humanity

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

Launch Canada

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: Commercial Uses of Space and Space Tourism

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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 comercial use of space.

Making space regulations great again

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

Shadow dancing: the Satellite Data System

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Launch failures: payload separation

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Why technological innovation and increased cooperation regarding space debris are vital

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: Building Habitats on the Moon

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

Will WFIRST last?

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Falcon Heavy will change spaceflight less than you think

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: Open Space

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

Falcon Heavy finally takes flight

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Why couldn't NASA do this?

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Man to mannequin: is this progress?

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

Review: Emerging Space Markets

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:55:00 GMT

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.

How long will the money keep flowing?

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

Mars atmospheric dust and human exploration

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Orbital ATK, EELV, and the Chinese word for crisis

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Small is big again in space science

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: Outer Space Law

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

Space, and the stories we tell ourselves

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

Eyes no longer on the prize

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Revisiting "non-interference zones" in outer space

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

The era of extremely large telescopes

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: Ripples in Spacetime

Mon, 29 Jan 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Latin America's space programs: an update

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

How to reduce US space expenses through competitive and cooperative approaches

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

A treatise on the formation of a US Space Force

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

The mystery of Zuma

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

PSLV-C40: A multipurpose mission

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Simply fix the Moon Treaty

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: Spaceport Earth

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

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

Mon, 08 Jan 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

The coming age of commercial spaceflight: some considerations

Mon, 08 Jan 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

NASA sees the light for the future of space communications

Mon, 08 Jan 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

A bittersweet homecoming (part 2)

Mon, 08 Jan 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

Review: NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation

Mon, 08 Jan 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

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

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 11:00:00 GMT

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.

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

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 10:59:00 GMT

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.

Next Christmas in the Kuiper Belt

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 10:58:00 GMT

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.

Why the US should notify the public of all satellite reentries

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 10:57:00 GMT

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.

A bittersweet homecoming (part 1)

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 10:56:00 GMT

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.

Where, but not how or when

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Last week, President Trump signed a space policy directive that formally made a human return to the Moon part of national policy. Jeff Foust reports that, beyond that directive, there are still few details about how and when NASA astronauts will set foot on the Moon.

Black ops and the shuttle (part 3-2): The HEXAGON ghost haunting the desert storm

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The decision to end the HEXAGON film-collection spysat program, and not use shuttle capabilities to extend its lifetime, had long-term implications for military operations. Dwayne Day describes how nothing has quite replaced what HEXAGON could do.

The emerging field of space economics: theoretical and practical considerations

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Is it time for a distinct subfield of economics devoted to space? Vidvuds Beldavs and Jeffrey Sommers argue that such studies are required to understand if, and how, a self-sustaining space economy can be created.

Liability for space debris collisions and the Kessler Syndrome (part 2)

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 10:57:00 GMT

In the concluding part of his examination of orbital debris and space law, Scott Kerr explores some scenarios for orbital debris incidents in orbit, which can lead to conclusions about liability that might defy expectations.

Review: Artemis

Mon, 18 Dec 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The author of The Martian, Andy Weir, is back with a tale set on the Moon. Jeff Foust reviews this hard science fiction novel with a central character different in many respects from Mark Watney, but quite similar in other ways.

Black ops and the shuttle (part 3-1): Recovering spent HEXAGON reconnaissance satellites with the space shuttle

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:00:00 GMT

One concept quietly studied for military shuttle missions was to recover and refurbish reconnaissance satellites. Dwayne Day examines what's known about those studies as the national security community moved from film-based to electronic satellites.

A bridge to Venus

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Planetary scientists who study Venus were disappointed by the outcome of NASA's latest Discovery competition, but are doing more than placing all their bets on the ongoing New Frontiers program. Jeff Foust reports on how smallsats may provide a new option for sending missions to the planet.

"Do we want to get to the Moon or not?" (part 2)

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:58:00 GMT

In the concluding portion of his history of the decision-making process to get humans to the Moon in the Apollo program, Carl Alessi examines how the debate on the various modes came to a head as John Houbolt lobbied for lunar orbit rendezvous.

Liability for space debris collisions and the Kessler Syndrome (part 1)

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:57:00 GMT

A growing concern for those who operate satellites is potential damage from space debris, and determining who, if anyone, can be held liable for it. In the first of a two-part paper, Scott Kerr examines some of the legal issues on this subject.

Review: Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:56:00 GMT

How does the symbiotic relationship between spaceflight and science fiction hold up in an era of increasing commercial ventures and new space applications? Jeff foust reviews a book that combines hard science fiction short stories with essays on topics from low Earth orbit commercialization to exploration of exoplanets.

Seeking regulatory certainty for new space applications

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Companies in the US developing "non-traditional" commercial space missions, like lunar landers of satellite servicing, still face regulatory uncertainty. Jeff Foust reports on how companies, and one government agency, believe that uncertainty should be resolved.

"Do we want to get to the Moon or not?" (part 1)

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The approach NASA eventually adopted for landing astronauts on the Moon for the Apollo program makes perfect sense in retrospect, but at the dawn of the Space Age had little support. Carl Alessi, in the first of a two-part article, discusses how one engineer faced an uphill battle to win backing for lunar orbit rendezvous.

Establishing a European NewSpace industry

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Luxembourg hosted the first NewSpace Europe conference last month, bringing together European startups, investors, and government officials. Jeff Foust discusses some of the challenges European startups face in this sector and how they compete against American counterparts.

Review: Soonish

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 10:57:00 GMT

There's no shortage of space technologies that have been proposed as revolutionary for life on Earth and beyond. Jeff Foust review a book that examines some of those technologies, along with those from other fields, that could "improve and/or ruin everything."

Great Britain gets serious about launch

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Despite the large number of small launch vehicle efforts underway globally, the British space industry sees an opportunity to develop and launch such vehicles from the country. Jeff Foust reports on a recent conference that discussed some of the vehicles under development and efforts by the British government to support them with funding and regulation.

International cooperation and competition in space (part 2)

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 10:59:00 GMT

In the concluding part of his analysis on the benefits and drawbacks of cooperation and competition in space, Cody Knipfer offers some examples of how such efforts would work on projects ranging from human missions to the Moon to greater engagement with China.

A failed company and an uncertain market

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Earlier this month XCOR Aerospace filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, bringing a likely end to the suborbital spaceflight company. Jeff Foust reports on the fall of XCOR and its implications for the suborbital industry.

Party of one: why we're still alone in the universe

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Astronomers have been scanning the sky for more than half a century to look for signals for alien civilizations, without success. Michael Morgan proposes some reasons why that's the case in a universe that is likely teeming with life.

Review: Endurance

Mon, 27 Nov 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Scott Kelly went from someone in danger of flunking out of school to becoming a test pilot, astronaut, and holder of the US record for the longest single space mission. Jeff Foust reviews Kelly's memoir, which tells his life story as well as goes into detail about his nearly one year on the ISS.

International cooperation and competition in space (part 1)

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:00:00 GMT

When should countries, including the United States, work together with other countries on space projects, and when should they compete against one another? In the first of a two-part examination, Cody Knipfer looks at some of the key factors affecting international cooperation and competition.

A landing lifts Dream Chaser's prospects

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Earlier this month, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser successfully completed its second glide flight, this time with a safe landing. Jeff Foust reports on how the company is confident it can press ahead with the vehicle's development after this latest test.