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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, 19 Jun 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2003-2016 Jeff Foust

Selecting a new astronaut class

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Earlier this month, NASA unveiled a new class of 12 astronauts from a record-breaking pool of more than 18,000 applicants. Jeff Foust reports on how NASA carried out that selection process and the future of both new and current astronauts from the point of view of the agency's former chief astronaut.

Better than Paris: space solar power

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The decision by the White House to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord has been widely criticized. Peter Garretson believes, though, that it opens new opportunities for the United States to invest in alternative technologies, notably space-based solar power, that can address the climate change issue and more.

Interstellar communication using microbial data storage: implications for SETI (part 1)

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Most have assumed the best way to search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence is to look for radio or optical communications. However, in the first of a two-part paper, Robert Zubrin argues that other formats may be more effective, with implications both for SETI and astrobiology in general.

Sunlight and shadow: putting people on Mars

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The decision to send humans to the Moon in the 1960s was in a very different geopolitical environment from the one that exists today when planning human missions to Mars. Mack A. Bradley discusses how to make human Mars exploration relevant when old arguments no longer apply.

Review: Apollo 8

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 10:56:00 GMT

While overshadowed by Apollo 11, Apollo 8 was, in many respects, one of the most audacious missions NASA has ever flown. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a new history of the mission.

A hidden figure in plain sight

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Fifty years ago this month, the US Air Force selected the first African-American astronaut, Robert H. Lawrence, Jr. John Charles recalls Lawrence's life and tragic death, and the gradual integration of the astronaut corps.

GSLV Mark III: ISRO's new launch vehicle

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Last week, India successfully launched the first GSLV Mark III, the country's most powerful launch vehicle to date. Ajey Lele explains the importance of this rocket in making the country increasingly self-sufficient in space.

New challenges for planetary protection

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Plans by both NASA and private ventures to send more ambitions missions, including eventually humans, to Mars create new challenges for protecting Earth life from Mars and vice versa. Jeff Foust reports on some of the issues being discussed by an ongoing committee review of planetary protection policies.

Acknowledging some overlooked satellites

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Official satellite catalogs do not include everything in Earth orbit. Charles Phillips discusses why that creates a safety issue for those unlisted objects whose orbits are low enough to pose a reentry risk.

Review: Aliens

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The search for life on other worlds, intelligent or otherwise, has reached new peaks of interest in recent years thanks to discoveries and new initiatives. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides an overview of the topic and some of the hurdles for finding life beyond Earth.

A coming communications crunch at Mars

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 11:00:00 GMT

A new wave of missions is bound for the Red Planet in the next several years. Cody Knipfer describes how those missions could face challenges returning their data due to limited infrastructure, notably aging relays in Mars orbit.

Is it time to update the Outer Space Treaty?

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:59:00 GMT

One key US senator has said it's time to examine revising the 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty to reflect modern space activities. Jeff Foust reports that many legal experts and company executives are not eager to go down that path.

Considering next-generation commercial spacesuits

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Current spacesuits used for space station spacewalks may be inadequate for future applications, particularly in the commercial sector. Steve Hoeser examines a past approach for developing an alternative spacesuit that could provide a model for future efforts.

Summer is coming: albedo modification and the global temperature auction

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:57:00 GMT

One approach to combatting climate change is "albedo modification" through the use of a sunscreen at the Earth-Sun L-1 Lagrange point. John Hickman writes how spacefaring powers could win support for it from other nations in an approach like an auction.

Review: Fight for Space

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Decades of efforts to resume human space exploration beyond Earth orbit have failed. Jeff Foust reviews a documentary that examines that history and tries to explain why it happened.

Finally, liftoff for small launchers

Tue, 30 May 2017 11:00:00 GMT

After years of development, and talking about launch plans, companies are now starting to launch new commercial small rockets. Jeff Foust reports on the recent progress made by those companies.

Schiaparelli did more things right than it did wrong

Tue, 30 May 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The European Space Agency released last week a summary of the final report investigating the crash of its Schiaparelli Mars lander last year. Svetoslav Alexandrov argues that the report shows that the mission should not be dismissed as a total failure.

A counterspace awakening? (part 2)

Tue, 30 May 2017 10:58:00 GMT

In the concluding part of his examination of US national security space policy, Maximilian Betmann examines the technical and organizational issues that are driving a shift to a more aggressive military posture in space.

Have spacesuit, will travel

Tue, 30 May 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Roger Moore, an actor whose career included playing James Bond in several films, passed away last week. Dwayne Day examines the one Bond film featuring Moore with a space theme, "Moonraker".

Review: The History of Human Space Flight

Tue, 30 May 2017 10:56:00 GMT

While it's been barely half a century since Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, the history of human spaceflight has seen its share of triumphs and setbacks. Jeff Foust reviews a book that encompasses that history, but one that focuses on the distant past than more recent accomplishments.

A counterspace awakening? (part 1)

Mon, 22 May 2017 11:00:00 GMT

National security space policy in the United States has quietly shifted in the last few years. Maximilian Betmann, in the first of a two-part article, examines the factors that have led to that change in approach to defending space assets.

Is "Fast Space" fast enough?

Mon, 22 May 2017 10:59:00 GMT

A recent Air University report recommends that the Air Force partner with industry to develop new, low-cost reusable launch vehicles. Jeff Foust reports on how effective such partnerships could be given the progress industry alone is making.

Piecing the puzzle by piercing the veil: The declassification of KENNEN

Mon, 22 May 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Is the National Reconnaissance Office preparing to declassify one of its biggest reconnaissance satellite programs? Joseph T. Page II discusses recent evidence that suggests major details may soon come about it.

Redefining NASA: part 2

Mon, 22 May 2017 10:57:00 GMT

In the second installment of his three-part series, Zach Miller describes how the Cold War origins of NASA influenced the nation's space program to this day.

Reviews: The (counter)cultural influences on NASA in the Space Age

Mon, 22 May 2017 10:56:00 GMT

NASA's race to the Moon in the 1960s took place while the United States was facing much broader issues, from civil rights to Vietnam, that are often overlooked in historical accounts of the Apollo program. Jeff Foust reviews a book and a documentary that try to place NASA's efforts in a broader perspective.

No rush for Mars

Mon, 15 May 2017 11:00:00 GMT

A few weeks after President Trump suggested that NASA needed to accelerate plans to send humans to Mars, agency leadership said they've received no direction to do so from the White House. Jeff Foust reports this is a sign that neither the government nor most companies are in a particular hurry to send humans to Mars.

Buzz Aldrin will not stop talking

Mon, 15 May 2017 10:59:00 GMT

At last week's Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, Buzz Aldrin was often the center of attention, even when he wasn't on center stage. Dwayne Day examines the attention, and overexposure, of the famous astronaut.

Stranger danger: Extraterrestrial first contact as a political problem

Mon, 15 May 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Searches for signals from extraterrestrial intelligences, both in fact and fiction, have often presumed that any such radio signals detected could be understood, and be friendly. John Hickman and Koby Boatright argue that those assumptions may not be warranted.

The G-Hab hotel

Mon, 15 May 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Partial gravity could have benefits for both future human expeditions as well as those who plan to live and work in space over the long term. Bob Brodbeck offers one proposal for a commercial partial gravity facility that could attract both researchers and tourists.

Review: ISRO: A Personal History

Mon, 15 May 2017 10:56:00 GMT

India's space program has made great strides since its origins a little more than half a century ago. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides an insider's account of the rise of the Indian space agency from someone who was there at the beginning.

It's time for the US Air Force to prepare for preemption in space

Mon, 08 May 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Space is increasing being seen as a potential place of conflict should hostilities break out on Earth. Edward G. Ferguson and John J. Klein argue that, in that light, it's time for the US think about preempting hostile actions in space rather than responding to an attack.

Revisiting America's future in civil space

Mon, 08 May 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The National Academies hosted a symposium last week to revisit a report from 2009 about the future of the nation's civil space efforts. Jeff Foust reports on what attendees thought had changed, and what had stayed the same.

Orbital ATK seeks a starring role in military space launches

Mon, 08 May 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Last month, Orbital ATK released new details about its planned EELV-class launch vehicle it proposes to develop, pending the award of Air Force contracts. Jeffrey Smith examines how the technical choices the company is making in its design could set it apart from competitors.

Serendipity in the space program: TDRS-1, GEODSS, and one amazing phone call

Mon, 08 May 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The launch of the first data relay satellite from the shuttle, more than 30 years ago, didn't go as planned. Joseph T. Page II describes how, in the end, things turned out better than one might have ever expected.

India launches a South Asia satellite

Mon, 08 May 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Last week, India launched a communications satellite that the country offered as a "gift" to neighboring countries. Ajey Lele examines the significance of that project to building better relations, in space and on the Earth.

Reviews: Mars and The Mars Generation

Mon, 08 May 2017 10:55:00 GMT

As a conference about the human exploration of Mars convenes in Washington this week, Jeff Foust takes a look both at last year's Mars miniseries, now out on disc, and a new documentary about the desire of teenagers to be the first to walk on the Red Planet.

Is a dream a lie if it don't come true?

Mon, 01 May 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Despite decades of failed efforts, true believers of space settlement still believe in that vision. Dwayne Day explores why space enthusiasts cling to their dreams despite the lack of accomplishment.

Commercial space's policy wish list

Mon, 01 May 2017 10:59:00 GMT

As the space community waits to see what the Trump Administration might do in space policy, some are already developing proposals to support the commercial space industry. Jeff Foust reports on a recent Senate hearing that examined a range of proposals, from modest to wide-ranging.

Fifty years later: Soyuz-1 revisited (part 2)

Mon, 01 May 2017 10:58:00 GMT

In the conclusion of his two-part history of the Soyuz-1 mission, Asif Siddiqi examines the tragic landing and investigation that followed, while debunking a number of myths associated with the mission.

Loss of faith: Gordon Cooper's post-NASA stories

Mon, 01 May 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The "treasure map" that Gordon Cooper reportedly made during his Mercury flight might not have any substance to it, but it's hardly the first time the late astronaut was linked to a questionable project. James Oberg discusses how Cooper was associated with a string of such ventures later in his life.

Review: The Great Unknown

Mon, 01 May 2017 10:56:00 GMT

For as much as we've learned about the universe in the last century, there is even more that remains a mystery. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines seven different frontiers in science, from cosmology to consciousness.

Fifty years later: Soyuz-1 revisited (part 1)

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT

This week is the 50th anniversary of the flight of Soyuz-1, which ended in the death of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. Asif Siddiqi reexamines the historical record to better understand exactly what happened on that flight.

Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The television series "The Expanse" is perhaps the best representation of space settlement available in any form of entertainment today. Yet, Dwayne Day argues, it is hardly the utopian vision of human expansion into space often promoted by space advocates.

The magic MacGuffin of Mercury 9

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:58:00 GMT

A new series on the Discovery Channel follows a treasure hunter following a map purported to be created by Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper during his spaceflight. James Oberg explains why there's little reason to believe there's any substance behind that map.

International and commercial interest in the Moon

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:57:00 GMT

NASA's plans for a potential return to the Moon remain up in the air, but that is not deterring others interested in lunar activities. Jeff Foust reports on discussions about human missions to the Moon by space agencies and companies at a recent conference.

Earth Day 2017: Space and science on the march in Los Angeles

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:56:00 GMT

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of Los Angeles in one of more than 500 "March for Science" events worldwide. David Clow describes how concerns about climate change, and NASA's role studying it, were among the key issues for marchers there.

Review: The Long Space Age

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 10:55:00 GMT

The current wave of billionaires putting their money into space ventures appears to be a new trend in spaceflight. Jeff Foust reviews a book that argues that it is instead a return to the models used to fund past space-related activities long before the launch of the first satellite.

An alternative architecture for deep space exploration using SLS and Orion

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT

NASA has started to disclose more details about how the Space Launch System and Orion can be used in the 2020s to develop a "gateway" in cislunar space to support operations of a transport vehicle for missions eventually to Mars. Ari Allyn-Feuer explains some issues with that architecture and proposes an alternative, and potentially more effective, approach.

Passing in silence, passing in shadows

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:59:00 GMT

An updated version of a recent book about the first shuttle mission provides new details about efforts to collect images of the shuttle in orbit by a reconnaissance satellite. Dwayne Day examines those revelations as part of a broader effort to use spysats to spy on other satellites.

The Roscosmos view of the future of human spaceflight

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:58:00 GMT

There's been considerable speculation about Russia's plans for the future of the ISS as well as potential participation in missions to the Moon and Mars. Jeff Foust reports on what the head of Roscosmos recently said about those issues in a rare press conference with Western reporters.

Which comes first for a new National Space Council: organization or vision?

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:57:00 GMT

As the Trump Administration continues to show interest in reestablishing the National Space Council, many wonder what such an entity can achieve. Roger Handberg argues that it will depend if the council is preceded by an overarching vision for the country's space policy.

Review: Mission Control

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Those who worked in Mission Control have never received the same amount of fame as the astronauts whose missions they supervised. Jeff Foust reviews a new documentary that puts those who worked there at the height of the Space Race into the limelight.

Time for common sense with the satellite catalog

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT

While the US Air Force provides the most detailed satellite catalog officially available, some objects are either missing or not updated. Charles Phillips discusses why that catalog should be made more complete, and how it could be done.

Blue Origin's status update

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The highlight of last week's Space Symposium conference in Colorado was arguably the display of Blue Origin's New Shepard vehicle and an appearance by company founder Jeff Bezos. Jeff Foust reports on the status update Bezos provided on the company's plans to send people on suborbital spaceflights, perhaps in 2018.

The small launch industry is about to be Amazoned

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:58:00 GMT

At a media event last week about Blue Origin's plans, Jeff Bezos suggested the company could get into the small launch vehicle business as well. A.J. Mackenzie argues that if that happens, it spells trouble for the various other small launcher ventures out there today.

All at sea about reusability

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:57:00 GMT

SpaceX is talking about not only increasing their flight rates, but attempting to recover the Falcon 9 payload fairing and second stage as well. Dick Eagleson examines how efforts to prove out second stage and payload fairing recovery might proceed and looks at related logistic challenges for SpaceX as it moves to greatly increase its launch cadence.

Review: Asteroid Hunters

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The threat of asteroid impacts is real, but often overhyped. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a thoughtful examination of asteroid impact risks and how astronomers are keeping tabs on the skies.

Now to make it pay off

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT

SpaceX achieved a major milestone last week with it successfully launched a satellite using a Falcon 9 first stage that had previously flown. Jeff Foust discusses how the question is now not whether such reusability is technically feasible, but rather if it can make economic sense.

Has the space launch industry been too focused in the last 70 years?

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Even recent efforts to make reusable launch vehicles have often resulted in vehicles that don't look that dissimilar to rockets developed decades ago. John Hollaway argued that has created a tunnel vision that ignores alternative approaches to reducing the cost of space access.

Attempting a landing there: the case for a Europa lander

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:58:00 GMT

As NASA presses ahead with a mission to study Jupiter's potentially habitable moon Europa from orbit, it's also beginning planning for a follow-up lander mission. Jeff Foust reports on the state of both proposed missions, and the fiscal hurdles now facing the lander.

Redefining NASA: part 1

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:57:00 GMT

As the space community changes, should NASA also change? Zach Miller starts a three-part series by looking at the origins and fiscal constrains of the agency.

Review: Chandra's Cosmos

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:56:00 GMT

NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory has been in orbit since 1999, but is far less well known than other space telescopes like Hubble. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a review of the science that Chandra has achieved by observing the universe at x-ray wavelengths.

A gateway to Mars, or the Moon?

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT

As the new administration weighs its options for NASA's human space exploration program, NASA is moving ahead with plans to develop an outpost in cislunar space to support its current Journey to Mars. Jeff Foust reports on recent developments, and how a return to the Moon might affect those plans.

Legal aspects of space resources utilization

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The legal subcommittee of the UN's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is meeting this week, with space resources one of the issues on the agenda. Anne-Sophie Martin examines the current state of efforts to establish space resource legal regimes at national and international levels.

Time lords of California's Central Coast: Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex Ten

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:58:00 GMT

One launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been preserved, turning it into a time capsule from the early days of the Space Age. Joseph T. Page II pays a visit to Space Launch Complex Ten.

How space settlement can challenge consumerism

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:57:00 GMT

If settlements are to survive and thrive beyond Earth, they will have to operate very differently from terrestrial cities. Babak Shakouri Hassanabadi argues that the consumerism found in modern-day society is inconsistent with the philosophy required for future settlements.

Review: Quantum Fuzz

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Quantum mechanics can seem baffling to many, but it's essential to our understanding of the universe. Jeff Foust reviews a book that attempts to demystify the physics of the subatomic realm.

The cislunar gateway with no gate, revisited

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT

If NASA and other space agencies press ahead with plans for a cislunar gateway outpost, how would it be most effectively developed? John Strickland proposes a design that emphasizes cargo and propellant storage that can support, and be supported by, a lunar base.

A farewell to ARM?

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:59:00 GMT

In the White House budget proposal released last week, the Trump Administration mentioned in passing that NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission would be cancelled. Jeff Foust reports on what's known about those plans, and the limbo that statement puts ARM into.

Taking salvage in outer space from fiction to fact

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:58:00 GMT

The concept of salvaging spacecraft in outer space has long been a part of science fiction, but faces legal challenges if attempted in real life. Michael Listner discusses how salvage could be applied to satellites or other space assets.

The fault in our Mars: popular entertainment and the settlement of Mars (part 4)

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The movie "The Space Between Us", about a teenager returning to Earth from Mars, flopped at the box office earlier this year. Dwayne Day examines what went wrong with the film and if it indicates popular interest in Mars is waning.

Review: The Wanderers

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Can a novel about a human mission to Mars be more than just a science-fiction epic? Jeff Foust review a "literary fiction" approach to a novel about a crew preparing for the first human mission to the Red Planet.

Spinning out of the shadows

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Last month, NASA issued a request for ideas of payloads that could fly on a mysterious satellite the agency was getting from elsewhere in the government. Dwayne Day traces that satellite back to a National Reconnaissance Office program that briefly exited the black world nearly two decades ago.

SpaceX at 15

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:59:00 GMT

By some accounts, this week marks the 15th anniversary of the founding of SpaceX. Jeff Foust examines the company's legacy to date in shaking up the space industry, for better or for worse.

America needs a space corps

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Military space programs have suffered from the perception they are considered less important by the US Air Force than aircraft. M.V. "Coyote" Smith argues that, to elevate the importance of space, it needs its own independent service within the military.

Moon launches and circuses: seeking presidential leadership yet again

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:57:00 GMT

All eyes are on Washington to see what the Trump Administration might propose for NASA's budget in 2018 and what new initiatives it might offer. Roger Handberg says that history suggests we should treat such proposals skeptically.

Road-tripping to the birthplace of space reconnaissance

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The site of a classified military space facility known as the "Blue Cube" is now home to a college and a government building. Joseph T. Page II visits the former Blue Cube site to see how its legacy has been preserved there.

Review: Exoplanets

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 10:55:00 GMT

As discoveries of exoplanets mount, both the variety of known worlds and the prospects that some could harbor life continue to mount. Jeff Foust reviews a book by two scientists that examines what some of these worlds might be like and how hospitable they may be to life in one form or another.

Lunar cause and effect

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Last week, SpaceX announced plans for a commercial human mission around the Moon, while Blue Origin said it's working on a lunar cargo lander concept. Jeff Foust reports on these developments, and examines if these developments are shaped by, or instead are shaping, space policy.

Human flight around the Moon: An opportunity to cooperate, not compete

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Gerald Black revisits last week's commentary about human lunar missions with a call for NASA and SpaceX to work together on their proposed circumlunar missions, rather than compete with one another.

The status of Russia's human spaceflight program (part 3)

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 10:58:00 GMT

In the final part of his examination of Russian human spaceflight efforts, Bart Hendrickx discusses efforts by Russia, in cooperation with other space agencies, to develop a cislunar outpost that could support future exploration.

The Apollo formula

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 10:57:00 GMT

For decades, space advocates have been trying to recreate the factors that allowed the dramatic success of Apollo. Jack Kiraly identifies the key factors in the "formula" that enabled Apollo and why they may be a product of that era.

Review: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 10:56:00 GMT

While new commercial space ventures have gotten a lot of attention recently, the business is still dominated by traditional satellite communications and related companies. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the current state of the industry and how it can transition to a new state of growth.

The status of Russia's human spaceflight program (part 2)

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT

In the second part of his comprehensive assessment of the state of Russia's human spaceflight program, Bart Hendrickx explores efforts in recent years by Russia to develop new crewed spacecraft and launch vehicles to support missions beyond Earth orbit.

The risks and benefits of accelerating crewed SLS missions

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:59:00 GMT

NASA announced earlier this month it is studying the possibility of putting astronauts on the first SLS/Orion mission, which currently is set to fly without a crew. Jeff Foust reports on the details of the study and some of the issues NASA will likely to encounter.

Human flight around the Moon: a worthy goal, but using the wrong vehicles

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:58:00 GMT

If sending people back to the Moon is a good idea, should it be done with SLS and Orion? Gerald Black argues that it makes more sense to send humans back to the Moon using commercial vehicles arguably further along in their development.

A radically easier path to space settlement

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The promise of space settlements has remained just that because of the extremely high costs of establishing these outposts beyond Earth orbit. Al Globus offers an alternative approach that he believes could be much more feasible by sticking closer to home.

To the Moon, Uncle Sam!

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:56:00 GMT

As the debate continues about whether NASA should redirect its human space exploration program back to the Moon, another question is how to carry out such missions. Ajay Kothari says that such missions make sense provided they involve reusable launch vehicles.

Review: The Final Mission

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:55:00 GMT

Changing programs and restricted budgets often force NASA to make tough decisions about what older historic launch pads and other buildings it should maintain. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines some of the issues associated with "space archeology" of NASA facilities, on Earth or on the Moon.

New life for an old pad

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT

On Sunday, a Falcon 9 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A, the first launch from the historic pad since the end of the shuttle program. Jeff Foust reports on the significance of the launch both for SpaceX's near- and long-term plans, and for KSC's efforts to work with industry.

The status of Russia's human spaceflight program (part 1)

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Russia's human spaceflight program is suffering from the country's broader economic downturn. In the first part of a series, Bart Hendrickx examines the effects those problems are having on Russia's participation on the ISS and plans for a future space station.

Presidential space leadership depends on the enabling context (part 2)

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:58:00 GMT

In the concluding part of his examination of presidential leadership in space policy, Matt Chessen uses the lessons of history to examine whether a Trump Administration could provide strong leadership for space, and whether such leadership is even desirable.

When is it time to turn off a satellite?

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Satellite operators seek to extend the lives of their spacecraft as long as possible, but run the risk of failures that could lead to in-orbit breakups. Charles Phillips offers a couple of case studies where operators face tough decisions about when to shut down their satellites.

The threat to ISRO's position as a premier smallsat launch provider

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:56:00 GMT

An Indian rocket last week launched more than 100 satellites, the vast majority of which came from US companies. Ajey Lele warns that, despite the technical success of that mission, policy changes could make it harder for India to maintain its position in the smallsat launch market.

Review: Thrust Into Space

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:55:00 GMT

Fifty years ago, aerospace engineer Max Hunter published a book about the technical issues with launching spacecraft into Earth orbit and beyond. Jeff Foust reviews a reissue of that book to see how those assessments have stood the test of time.

Black ops and the shuttle (part 1): On-orbit servicing and recovery of the HEXAGON reconnaissance satellite

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT

During the development of the space shuttle in the 1970s, the National Reconnaissance Office examined how it could use the shuttle to do more than simply launch its satellites. Dwayne Day examines what is known about proposals to adapt the HEXAGON satellites for the shuttle, including servicing.

Recalculating risk

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:59:00 GMT

NASA has grappled with the risks associated with human spaceflight for decades. Jeff Foust reports on how one top NASA official wants to reexamine how NASA calculates and communicates risk for crewed spacecraft.

Launch failures: new discoveries

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:58:00 GMT

For a while, it appeared that engineers had found all the ways a launch vehicle could fail. But, as Wayne Eleazer explains, new vehicles have created new failure modes, and even new categories of launch failures.

Presidential space leadership depends on the enabling context (part 1)

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Space advocates continue to look back at President Kennedy as a model of presidential leadership in space policy. In the first of a two-part essay, Matt Chessen discusses what factors made Kennedy effective, and how they translated -- or didn't translate -- to later administrations.

Build a Moon mall and make the Moon pay for it

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:56:00 GMT

President Trump's preferred method of communication seems to be Twitter. Sam Dinkin provides ten tweet-sized recommendations on how to make space great again.