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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, 24 Apr 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2003-2016 Jeff Foust

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.

Review: Gravity's Kiss

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 10:55:00 GMT

It's been a year since scientists announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves, opening a new window on the universe. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides a look behind the scenes as the LIGO team works to interpret the discovery and make the historic announcement.

Remembering Eugene Cernan

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Last month, Eugene Cernan, the last human to date to walk on the Moon, passed away. Anthony Young recounts Cernan's spaceflight career, including the missions leading up to Apollo 17.

Getting back to the historic sequence of opening our space frontiers

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Space advocates often talk about opening the space frontier, but is NASA really working to do so? Steve Hoeser argues that US space policy should be revamped to emphasize not just exploration of space, but establishing a growing economic presence there.

It's vital to verify the harmlessness of North Korea's next satellite

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 10:58:00 GMT

North Korea's space program, interconnected to its missile development efforts,remains cloaked in secrecy. Jim Oberg, one of the few Westerners to get a glimpse of that effort, warns that the US should be cautious of any future satellite launch attempts.

The science and spectacle of the Great American Eclipse

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 10:57:00 GMT

In a little more than six months, a total solar eclipse will stretch across the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina. Jeff Foust reports on some of the planning to deal with the logistical issues of such an event, as well as the science some hope to get out of the eclipse.

G20 agenda: International cooperation in space

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The actions of the Trump administration led some to wonder if the US will turn away from international partnerships, in space and elsewhere. Vidvuds Beldavs suggests that space cooperation be a topic for this summer's G20 summit.

Review: Amazing Stories of the Space Age

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 10:55:00 GMT

Decades of spaceflight have created plenty of headlines in the history books, but also many other lesser-known tales. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a grab bag of those more obscure, but still interesting, stories.

Black ZEUS: The top secret shuttle mission that never flew

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT

In the 1970s, the National Reconnaissance Office considered developing an imaging payload that would fly on space shuttle missions. Dwayne Day reveals what is known about that effort thanks to newly-declassified documents.

Tumult, continuity, and uncertainty

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The first week of the Trump Administration has been hectic, and a cause for concern among many scientists. Jeff Foust reports on the changes that have been made, what's stayed the same, and the underlying concerns about science in the new administration.

Adapter in the rough

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Sometimes space history research can involve tracking down a long-forgotten object. John Charles describes his quest to find a piece of hardware from the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program.

Three principles to constructively engage China in outer space security

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:57:00 GMT

How should the Trump Administration develop a space policy that can effectively deal with China? Michael Listner offers three principles that he believes should guide the new administration's space policy.

Why the US and Russia should work together to clean up orbital debris

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Relations between the US and Russia have been contentious in recent years, although space has been mostly free of those tensions. Al Anzaldua and Dave Dunlop argue that a means of improving relations between the countries, and solving a key space-related problem, is to cooperate in space debris cleanup.

The Outer Space Treaty at 50

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Fifty years ago this week, the Outer Space Treaty was formally opened for signature. Christopher Johnson discusses how the treaty took shape despite the US and USSR having sharply differing views on issues, like the role private actors should play in space.

Satellite breakups and related events: a quick analysis

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Certain families of spacecraft in sun-synchronous orbit appear susceptible to in-orbit breakups. Charles D. Phillips examines the record of those groups of spacecraft and what could be causing those problems.

Asteroid Discovery

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:58:00 GMT

When NASA announced its selections of the next Discovery missions earlier this month, many were surprised that the agency chose two asteroid missions. Jeff Foust reports on the missions that were selected and what NASA is saying about why it chose those missions.

An engineer's view of what low-cost, reusable, commercial passenger space transportation means

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:57:00 GMT

While companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are making steps towards low-cost reusable launch vehicles, they fall short of what's been done in other modes of transportation, such as aviation. Mike Snead describes what space transportation attributes should be pursued in federal policy to make society truly spacefaring.

Why the space resources section of federal law is invalid

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:56:00 GMT

A controversial provision of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, passed in 2015, gives US companies rights to resources they extract from asteroids and other celestial bodies. Justin Rostoff argues that the law, as written, is in violation of international treaty.

Review: Explore/Create

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:55:00 GMT

Richard Garriott is known to the space community as the private citizen who flew to the ISS in 2008, but to computer gamers he is a legendary pioneer. Jeff Foust reviews his memoir that touches on both aspects of his life, including details of his long effort to get to space.

Back to business(es)

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Four and a half months after a pad explosion, SpaceX returned the Falcon 9 to flight with the successful launch of a batch of Iridium satellites Saturday. Jeff Foust reports on the effort to resume Falcon 9 launches, and the other issues and upcoming milestones for SpaceX in the coming year.

Red zeitgeist: popular entertainment and the settlement of Mars (part 3)

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The success of the National Geographic Channel series about Mars exploration has been enough to warrant a second season. Dwayne Day takes another look at that series and the overall interest in the Red Planet, in both fact and fiction.

A human spaceflight program for the new administration

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:58:00 GMT

There's no shortage of advice about what the incoming Trump administration should do about space policy. A white paper from a space advocacy group argues that it should closely tie human spaceflight to commercial efforts.

When robots trespass

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:57:00 GMT

US law grants rights to commercial asteroid miners for the resources they harvest, but how can that law be enforced? Thomas Simmons examines one issue with the law, dealing with the fact that such mining is likely to be done by robots, not humans.

Is the purpose of deep space exploration pure science or proving humanity's worth?

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Should be space exploration efforts be driven by a quest for science, or the expansion of humanity beyond Earth? Shalina Chatlani warns of the consequences of overlooking "scientific reality" in favor of realizing human visions.

Review: The Politics and Perils of Space Exploration

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:55:00 GMT

Some space advocates believe that the public would offer greater support for space exploration if they only knew more about what's going on in space. Jeff Foust reviews a book that attempts to provide such an education, but is ultimately flawed.

Is creating a National Space Council the best choice?

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 11:00:00 GMT

The incoming Trump Administration is considering re-establishing the National Space Council, based on campaign statements. John Logsdon recounts the checkered history of the council and examines if it is the best mechanism for coordinating space policy.

A taste of Armageddon (part 1)

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 10:59:00 GMT

In February 1969, US analysts were expecting the Soviets to launch a circumlunar mission of some kind in a last-minute bid to beat the Americans to the moon. Charles Vick and Dwayne Day describe the intelligence that went into that assessment, and also what they missed.

The path to the infinite economy

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 10:58:00 GMT

What the incoming Trump Administration will do in space policy remains a topic of speculation in the space community. Andrew Gasser describes how the new administration should focus on public-private partnerships to create a more effective space program.

How China's seizure of a naval drone could set a precedent for nabbing a satellite in orbit

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Last month, the Chinese navy seized a US Navy robotic submersible and held it for a brief time. David Chen argues that episode could provide a precedent for China to do something similar with a satellite.

More Trek, less Wars

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 10:56:00 GMT

A new "Star Wars" movie has attracted large audiences since its debut last month. Dwayne Day, though, suggests that it's "Star Trek" that offer the stronger connections to spaceflight, and a much-needed optimistic philosophy about the future.

Review: Apollo Pilot

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 10:55:00 GMT

Among the Apollo-era astronauts, among the least well known is Donn Eisele, who flew only one mission and passed away before he could publish his memoirs. Jeff Foust reviews a book that pieces together at least a partial story about his life and flying on Apollo 7, based on drafts of a book he started decades ago

The future of war in space is defensive

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT

Concerns about growing anti-satellite capabilities of countries like China and Russia have led some to suggest the US step up its offensive space capabilities. Edward Ferguson and John Klein make the case that a more defensive stance to those threats will be more effective in the long run.

Dagger of the mind

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 10:59:00 GMT

In the 1960s, President Johnson received intelligence briefings about the development of what would be known as the N-1 rocket, but what did he actually see? Charles Vick and Dwayne Day discuss declassified images of the N-1 as presented in those briefings.

America's future in LEO? The possibilities and challenges facing commercial space stations (part 2)

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 10:58:00 GMT

In the conclusion of an examination of the future of America's presence in low Earth orbit, Cody Knipfer explores some of the initiatives NASA has underway to potentially add commercial modules to the ISS, and the need for a plan to transition from the ISS to commercial space stations.

Will 2017 finally be the year of the small launcher?

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 10:57:00 GMT

Several companies continue to make progress on small launch vehicles even as other suffer setbacks. Jeff Foust examines whether the next year will see some of those efforts finally take flight, and whether smallsat developers are interested in using them.

Are lunar fuel depots needed for Mars missions?

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 10:56:00 GMT

The incoming administration may be interested in redirecting NASA back to the Moon, arguably to develop infrastructure needed for future Mars missions. Chris Carberry and Rick Zucker argue that such an approach would only delay, not support, the goal of sending humans to Mars.

Review: Earth in Human Hands

Mon, 19 Dec 2016 10:55:00 GMT

Human activity is changing the Earth, even if those changes were not the intent of that activity. Jeff Foust reviews a book by a planetary scientist and astrobiologist who examines the need to make deliberate changes to Earth to offset the damage, drawing in part upon our knowledge drawn from studies of our solar system.

America's future in LEO? The possibilities and challenges facing commercial space stations (part 1)

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 11:00:00 GMT

While all the ISS partners have now agreed to extend operations of the station through at least 2024, the station's life is finite. In the first of a two-part essay, Cody Knipfer examines some of the issues associated with the future of the ISS and potential commercial successors.

AIM misses the funding target, for now

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:59:00 GMT

At a meeting of ministers of its member nations earlier this month, ESA got most of what it asked for, with the exception of funding for an asteroid mission called AIM. Jeff Foust recounts what happened to AIM and why ESA's leader is not yet giving up on the mission.

For planetary scientists, Venus is hot again

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:58:00 GMT

As various space agencies make plans for missions to the Moon, Mars, and outer solar system, Venus -- once considered Earth's twin -- looks neglected by comparison. Jeff Foust reports on how there's increased enthusiasm for more missions to Venus, including decisions that could be made within weeks.

A Trump Administration path to advance commercial space solar power

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:57:00 GMT

Should space-based solar power be part of the Trump Administration's space strategy? Mike Snead makes the argument that it's essential for the next administration to start work on a technology that can assure long-term energy independence.

Review: The Glass Universe

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 10:56:00 GMT

Long before rocket girls were calculating hidden figures for NASA, women were supporting the research of astronomers at Harvard Observatory. Jeff Foust reviews a book that brings new light to that work as both the field of astronomy, and women's roles in it, evolved at the turn of the 20th century.