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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 Oct 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2003-2016 Jeff Foust

Why should we go? Reevaluating the rationales for human spaceflight in the 21st century

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:00:00 GMT

A perennial struggle for space advocates has been developing rationales for human spaceflight that can be sustained over the long term. Cody Knipfer argues that now is the time to reexamine those arguments, particularly given the rise of commercial human spaceflight.

Back to back to the Moon

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:59:00 GMT

With a statement by the vice president at the National Space Council meeting, NASA is back in the business of returning humans to the Moon. Jeff Foust reports on what that means for agency plans, including potentially greater roles for international and commercial partners.

From Skylab to Shuttle to the Smithsonian

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:58:00 GMT

When NASA transitioned from the Skylab program to the space shuttle, once piece of Skylab hardware almost found new life. Dwayne Day describes studies on adapting instrument hardware for the shuttle, and how that hardware made its way instead to the National Air and Space Museum.

Some commentary about the National Space Council's inaugural meeting (part 1)

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The first meeting of the National Space Council earlier this month is, to many, a good start for the administration's focus on space policy. Mike Snead offers some recommendations for the council's upcoming activities in the first of a two-part report.

Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, and Finding My Virginity

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:56:00 GMT

It's been 13 years since the last suborbital flight of SpaceShipOne, and Virgin Galactic is still at least months away from flying people into space on SpaceShipTwo. Jeff Foust examines what company founder Richard Branson had to say about the company's progress and setbacks in his new autobiography.

Moon, milspace, and beyond

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Last week the National Space Council held the first meeting since being reestablished earlier this year. Jeff Foust reports on what the council discussed and whether this iteration of the council will be different from its predecessors.

The missions proposed for the New Frontiers program

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:59:00 GMT

NASA will select several finalists this fall in the competition for the next New Frontiers medium-class planetary science mission. Van Kane examines what is known about the dozen proposals submitted for missions from the Moon to Saturn.

Sputnik remembered: The first race to space (part 2)

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:58:00 GMT

In the conclusion of his two-part history of the first satellite, Asif Siddiqi discusses the events leading up to the launch of Sputnik and the aftermath of its successful mission.

Estimating the cost of BFR

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:57:00 GMT

When Elon Musk discussed his revised BFR launch system recently, he disclosed few details about its costs. Sam Dinkin estimates the capital costs and operating costs for the BFR for use for Mars or point-to-point Earth flights.

Review: Science Advice to NASA

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Throughout its history, NASA has relied on internal and external advisory groups to help direct its programs. Jeff Foust reviews a new book that offers a detailed history of how such groups shaped NASA's science programs.

Sputnik remembered: The first race to space (part 1)

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:00:00 GMT

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, an event whose impact has been well-chronicled, even though the details of the event itself are far less known. Asif Siddiqi examines the history of Sputnik's development in the first of a two-part article.

Mars mission sequels

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 10:59:00 GMT

On the same day last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Australia, SpaceX and Lockheed Martin offered updates to Mars mission architectures unveiled last year. Jeff Foust reports on the changes, and the distinct differences between the two approaches.

SpaceX prepares to eat its young

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 10:58:00 GMT

One of the key messages from Elon Musk's talk at the International Astronautical Congress was his plan to focus exclusively on his BFR rocket in the future. Dick Eagleson ponders some of the implications of that decision for NASA and other companies.

Is India looking towards space-based resources?

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The United States, Luxembourg, and other nations are interested in developing space-based resources. Peter Garretson and Namrata Goswami examine whether India has similar interests and a willingness to back that interest with policy and law.

Blue Origin and Virgin Orbit on the launch range

Mon, 02 Oct 2017 10:56:00 GMT

SpaceX is not the only company pursuing reusable launch vehicles. Antoine Meunier discusses updates Blue Origin and Virgin Orbit offered at a recent conference about their partially reusable, but very different, launch systems under development.

Ghost in the machine

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMT

A common theme in space missions is that spacecraft are able to do so much with so little computing power on board. Dwayne Day reflects on what happens when the computing power, and intelligence, of those missions shifts from the ground to future, more capable spacecraft.

The Outer Space Treaty at 50: An enduring basis for cooperative security

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:59:00 GMT

October marks the 50th anniversary of the entry into force of the Outer Space Treaty, but some are concerned about its long-term viability. Paul Meyer suggests some diplomatic steps that can be taken to support the treaty.

Space looks up down under

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:58:00 GMT

As the world's space community meets in Australia this week for the International Astronautical Congress, the country's government made news about plans for a national space agency. Jeff Foust reports on the agency and the limited details offered to date about what that agency will, or could, do.

Moon or Mars: Why not both?

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Interest in redirecting NASA's human spaceflight plans back to the Moon have some worried about another fight breaking out regarding the Moon versus Mars. Chris Carberry, Joe Cassady, and Rick Zucker argue that there's room for both, using different approaches.

Review: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the preeminent science communicators in the world, but what more can he say on well-trodden subjects like astrophysics? Jeff Foust reviews a book where Tyson offers brief overviews of some key topics, while not ignoring the bigger picture.

Deterring Chinese and Russian space hybrid warfare by economic and financial means

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Some in the US and allied nations are increasingly concerned by apparent efforts by the Chinese and Russian governments to engage in provocative actions that could endanger space assets. Jana Robinson proposes a means by which the US deter those attacks without risking an escalation of space warfare.

Back to the Moon, this time for pay

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 10:59:00 GMT

For the second time in two months, a company showed off a full-scale model of its commercial lunar lander in Washington last week. Jeff Foust reports this comes as companies, NASA, and politicians examine potential roles such efforts might play in a broader effort to return to the Moon and access its resources.

Blue Origin meets Apollo

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 10:58:00 GMT

At this year's EAA AirVenture show in Wisconsin, the past heroes of spaceflight met the future of space transportation. Eric Hedman describes the appear of Blue Origin's New Shepard at a show that also features a reunion of Apollo astronauts.

Applying lessons from Apollo for a smart space agenda at a time of increased international tension

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The Space Race between the US and USSR provided a means for peaceful competition at a time when the Cold War threatened to turn hot. David Dunlop argues that, today, increased international tensions call for greater cooperation among spacefaring nations.

Review: Perspectives in Space Surveillance

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Programs to track satellites and other objects in Earth orbit using radars and telescopes can be traced back decades. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines the history, and underlying technology, of some of those efforts operated out of Lincoln Laboratory.

It's time to recover Helo 66

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMT

A key artifact from the Apollo program is not in a museum but instead on the ocean floor. Dwayne Day discusses the history of a famous helicopter used to recover astronauts from several Apollo missions, and why it's time to retrieve it from the Pacific.

Forming an American Spacefaring Advisory Group to the National Space Council

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:59:00 GMT

The new National Space Council will include representatives of many government agencies as well as an industry group. Mike Snead says that the council also needs input from citizens to ensure it adopts policies needed to make American a truly spacefaring nation.

The past and future of outer solar system exploration

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:58:00 GMT

As NASA prepares for the end of the Cassini mission, it also spent time last week marking the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager missions, still operating today. Jeff Foust reports on those looks back at the past, as well as planning for future missions for the outer solar system using new and existing spacecraft.

Masters of the dark art: The NRO and the operational level of war

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Although the first satellite was launched nearly 60 years ago, no one has emerged as a key strategist yet about military space operations. Joseph T. Page II argues that, for now, one could learn lessons about the NRO has made use of space over those decades.

Review: The Canadian Space Program

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The Canadian space community is awaiting what new directions, if any, the government might propose for the country's space program in an upcoming strategy. Jeff Foust reviews a book that looks back at the long history of Canadian space efforts, which involve more than just astronauts and robotic arms.

Russia's evolving rocket plans

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Russia's development of new launch vehicles has taken a circuitous path in recent years. Bart Hendrickx provides an update on recent developments, including plans for a new rocket and accelerated development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle.

Cassini's grand finale

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:59:00 GMT

NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn will end later this month with a plunge into the giant planet's atmosphere. Jeff Foust examines the mission's final days and what the spacecraft has accomplished since its beginnings three decades ago.

Learning to fly again

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:58:00 GMT

For the first time in nearly four years, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser test vehicle took to the skies last week above Edwards Air Force Base. Jeff Foust reports on the flight and the company's continued hopes to one day fly a crewed version of that spacecraft.

Extended human space travel through biolation

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Long-duration space travel creates human factors requirements that drive up the size,cost, and complexity of interplanetary spacecraft. Steve Hoeser describes how a form of hibernation, dubbed "biolation," could mitigate those problems.

Review: Willy Ley: Prophet of the Space Age

Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:56:00 GMT

At the dawn of the Space Age six decades ago, many Americans relied on a German immigrant for information about space travel -- and that person wasn't Wernher von Braun. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a biography of Willy Ley, whose books and articles were essential reading in the early years of spaceflight.

The National Space Council for American leadership in space industries

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 11:00:00 GMT

The revival of the National Space Council comes at a pivotal time for commercial space efforts in the US and elsewhere. In an open letter to Vice President Mike Pence, Vidvuds Beldavs offers ideas of how the council can support US companies and the broader commercial space industry on some key issues.

Hypersonic air-breathing propulsion: The key to affordable nanosatellite launch

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Getting frequent and affordable access to space for small satellites has long been a challenge for the space industry. Karl Hoose argues that air-breathing propulsion could provide the technological solution to this problem.

Working eclipse vacation

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 10:58:00 GMT

A total solar eclipse last week attracted both hardcore eclipse chasers as well as more casual tourists to a path that stretched across the US. Jeff Foust recounts a road trip to South Carolina to witness the eclipse in a distinctly American setting.

The need for new space-based missile defense systems

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Missile tests by North Korea have generated new attention regarding missile defense capabilities and needs in the US. Taylor Dinerman argues that it means, among other things, developing new space-based systems to better track those missiles.

Review: The Sky Below

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Astronauts are adventurers, but some are more adventurous than others. Jeff Foust reviews a book by a former astronaut who has flown in space and helped repair the International Space Station, in addition to climbing Mount Everest.

Small rockets, new and renewed

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 11:00:00 GMT

Growing interest in small satellites continues to fuel development of small launch vehicles. Jeff Foust reports on two such efforts, one from a company that appeared all but dead several months ago, and another from a company still keeping a low profile.

Space exploration as religious experience: Evangelical astronauts and the perception of God's worldview

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:59:00 GMT

A number of astronauts have strong religious views, often enhanced by the experience of spaceflight. Deana L. Weibel examines these views and how they compare with the pessimism about space exploration shared by many evangelicals.

Privilege of a lifetime

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:58:00 GMT

One of the highlights of last month's EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was a panel discussion involving several Apollo-era astronauts. Eric Hedman recounts what the astronauts said about their missions and their legacy.

Review: Hello, Is This Planet Earth?

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Astronauts on the International Space Station have increasingly become known as photographers, taking and tweeting images of the Earth. Jeff Foust reviews a book by a British astronaut that compiles the images he took during his stint on the station.

Why the US must lead again

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:00:00 GMT

The new National Space Council will have many options for issues to tackle when it starts its work in the coming weeks. Douglas Loverro argues in an open letter to the council's incoming executive secretary that it should focus on the policies the US should promote internationally that best serve national needs.

CubeSats: faster and cheaper, but are they better?

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:59:00 GMT

CubeSats have become very popular in recent years as a low-cost platform for many missions, but some have found difficulties using them for certain missions where high reliability is important. Jeff Foust reports on discussions at a recent conference on efforts to improve CubeSat reliability without losing their key benefits.

Finding Ender: The utility of tactical decision games for space warfare

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:58:00 GMT

The best ideas for military tactics can come not from generals but from junior officers and enlisted personnel. Joseph T. Page II describes how tactical decision games, used elsewhere in the US military, could be applied to space.

Building off US law to create an international registry of extraterrestrial mining claims

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Passage of space resources laws in the US and Luxembourg have raised questions about whether treaties grant rights for extracted resources to companies or countries. Will Gray argues that those laws can become the basis for an international regime for mining claims off Earth.

Review: Making Contact

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:56:00 GMT

One of the most important figures in the history of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been Jill Tarter. Jeff Foust reviews a new biography of Tarter that traces her influence on both SETI and society.

Black ops and the shuttle (part 2): Reconnaissance missions in the space shuttle, from WASP to ZEUS

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 11:00:00 GMT

In the late 1970s, the National Reconnaissance Office examined potential roles the space shuttle could play in launching and servicing reconnaissance satellites, or serving as a reconnaissance platform itself. Dwayne Day examines how declassified documents have shed new light on those plans.

The National Space Council gets to work

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 10:59:00 GMT

With an executive secretary selected, the National Space Council will soon be in operation, but what should it be focusing on? Jeff Foust reports from a recent event where a number of past space policy officials offered their views on the council and its priorities.

A dim future for the National Space Council?

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 10:58:00 GMT

As the reconstituted National Space Council prepares to hold its first meeting, some wonder just what it can accomplish. Roger Handberg argues that fiscal constraints and the rise of military and commercial activities may limit its effectiveness.

I've died and gone to Oshkosh

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 10:57:00 GMT

This year's EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, had more space-related events than usual. Eric Hedman provides an overview, from the appearance of Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos to an Apollo astronaut reunion.

Review: Outposts on the Frontier: A Fifty-Year History of Space Stations

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The International Space Station is the culmination of half a century of space station projects by both the US and the former Soviet Union. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides a history of those programs, from the cancellation of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory to the completion of the ISS.

Pondering the future of the International Space Station

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 11:00:00 GMT

As researchers make increasing use of the International Space Station, some wonder what the long-term fate of the station is. Jeff Foust reports that as NASA studies options for a post-2024 ISS transition plan, commercial users want nearer-term certainty about the station's future.

The stars, my inspiration

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Space is often said to be inspirational, but what exactly does that mean? Dwayne Day examines how spaceflight, and space-themed science fiction, can inspire different people in different mediums.

Iran's rocket launch: a need to create a "space" for engagement

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Iran launched a rocket last week that it said was a test of a satellite launch vehicle, but which was condemned in the West as a missile test. Ajey Lele argues that Iran's growing capabilities present the opportunity for peaceful space cooperation, perhaps as a way to dissuade further missile development.

The end of a very long honeymoon

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:57:00 GMT

In May, DARPA selected Boeing to develop its Phantom Express vehicle as part of the XS-1 reusable spaceplane project. John Hollaway is unimpressed with this latest effort to try and reduce the cost of getting into space.

Cislunar suspense 2: The Cynthianing

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Spaceflight in cislunar space as long been a topic of science fiction and other books. Ken Murphy updates an earlier review of such books with several dozen other novels, from the 1950s to the present day.

The Moon is a harsh milestone

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:00:00 GMT

There has been growing interest in carrying out human lunar missions prior to going to Mars, thinking that will be an easier near-term step. Jeff Foust reports that, despite these discussions, governments and companies alike have found it difficult just getting robotic missions there.

A summer update on the COPUOS long-term sustainability guidelines

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:59:00 GMT

An ongoing topic of discussion and debate at the international level regarding space is its long-term sustainability. Christopher D. Johnson and Victoria Samson provide an update on those discussions that have played out at United Nations meetings in recent months.s

Blue "Hubble": The Manned Orbiting Laboratory as a planetary telescope

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:58:00 GMT

Could the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, intended to be a crewed reconnaissance satellite, have also played a role in spacebased astronomy? Joseph T. Page II finds some hints of such an alternative mission in declassified documents.

Another view on the problems facing NASA's Mars Exploration Program

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Advocates of the robotic exploration of Mars have warned of limited funding and plans for later missions needed to carry out Mars sample return. Louis Friedman argues that the focus on sample return, at the expense of other science, has also hurt the program.

Review: Spaceflight in the Shuttle Era and Beyond

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:56:00 GMT

The rationales supporting NASA human spaceflight efforts have changed over the decades. Jeff Foust reviews a book that examines changing frameworks for supporting it during the shuttle and station programs, and implications for the future.

The future (or lack thereof) of NASA's Mars Exploration Program

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 11:00:00 GMT

NASA's ongoing program for exploring Mars with orbiters and rovers appears, at first glance, to be working well. Jason Callahan and Casey Dreier describe how the program is actually facing serious questions about its future because of funding challenges.

A legal look at Elon Musk's plans to colonize Mars

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Elon Musk unveiled his plans last September for establishing a permanent human presence on Mars, with a focus on the technical issues of getting people to Mars. Michael Listner examines some of the legal obstacles that such an effort would have to overcome.

Giving a push for in-space propulsion

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 10:58:00 GMT

With NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission now cancelled, the agency is looking for other ways to demonstrate advanced propulsion technologies like high-power solar electric propulsion. Jeff Foust reports on what concepts NASA is working with industry on that could find eventual use on Mars exploration missions.

Creating a spacefaring civilization: What is more important, means or motivation?

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Those who remember the Apollo program may be disappointed by the lack of progress in human spaceflight in the decades since. Stephen Kostes sees promise in the growing capabilities available today to enable new, sustainable space applications.

Review: In the Shadow of the Moon

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 10:56:00 GMT

In a little more than a month a total solar eclipse will take place on a path across the United States. Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers background on the history of eclipse observations as well as some advice for seeing one yourself.

In support of a forming a US Space Corps now

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 11:00:00 GMT

The House is scheduled to take up this week a defense authorization bill that includes language establishing a Space Corps within the US Air Force. Mike Snead discusses why it's important to establish a Space Corps now, leading to a full-fledged Space Force, to protect national interests in space.

Seeking private funding for space science

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 10:59:00 GMT

As private space capabilities grow, it opens up new possibilities for doing science missions outside of government agencies. Jeff Foust reports on a recent conference that examined the prospects of, the challenges facing, privately-funded space science missions.

The last astronaut class?

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 10:58:00 GMT

NASA announced its newest astronaut class last month with a considerable degree of fanfare. A.J. Mackenzie wonders if that was the case because won't have much need for hiring more astronauts in the years to come.

The common burden of "spacemankind"

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 10:57:00 GMT

Companies planning space resources ventures, and the countries backing them, are running into conflict with countries who see such resources as belonging to all humanity. Kamil Muzyka explores some possible solutions to this argument that can benefit companies and countries alike.

Review: Adventures in Outer Space

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 10:56:00 GMT

Can a space-themed textbook help students better learn elements of math and science? Steve Rokicki reviews a book that attempts to do just that over the course of a school year.

Close encounters of the classified kind

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 11:00:00 GMT

A month ago, a classified satellite made a series of close approaches to the International Space Station, sparking questions about whether it was coincidental or intentional. Marco Langbroek examines what is known about USA 276 and why it may have passed so close to the station.

At last, a National Space Council. Now what?

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Last Friday afternoon, President Trump signed the executive order formally creating the National Space Council. Jeff Foust reports that the establishment of the council still leaves many questions unanswered about what it will do and how it will affect space policy.

Re-opening the American frontier: Recent Congressional hearings on space

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 10:58:00 GMT

A Senate committee has held a series of hearings on commercial space policy issues. Peter Garretson offers some recommendations on what Congress should, and should not, do to promote the development of new space markets.

Space colonization, faith, and Pascal's Wager

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 10:57:00 GMT

The idea of space settlement, some have argued, is reminiscent of religion in the idea that it may represent the salvation of humanity. Sylvia Engdahl argues that faith in space colonization isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Review: Chasing Space

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 10:56:00 GMT

As difficult as it is for someone to become a professional athlete, being selected as a NASA astronaut is far more difficult. Jeff Foust reviews the memoir of someone who managed to be both drafted by the NFL and selected as a NASA astronaut.

Beware of Mars and Bust

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:00:00 GMT

NASA's focus on sending humans to Mars is widely seen as a driving goal for the agency, down to the mantra of "Mars or Bust" espoused by many Mars exploration advocates. Mark Craig warns that effort could succeed, yet not be sustainable in the long-run without tying it to more fundamental goals.

A small country's big vision about small objects

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:59:00 GMT

Activity in the nascent asteroid mining industry has surged again in the last year, thanks to interest, and funding, from one small country. Jeff Foust reports on the outsized role Luxembourg is playing in building up the space resources market.

Outpost in the Sky: Skylab, the NASA Mission Reports

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:58:00 GMT

The Skylab program of the 1970s is often overlooked between the end of Apollo and the beginning of the shuttle program. Dwayne Day examines the legacy of Skylab as seen through the lens of a series of books reprinting official documents about those missions.

Interstellar communication using microbial data storage: implications for SETI (part 2)

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:57:00 GMT

In the concluding installment of his paper, Robert Zubrin examines some of the implications of the transmission of genetic material among solar systems, by nature or by intent, and the role Mars exploration would play to study that question.

Review: Mars: The Pristine Beauty of the Red Planet

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:56:00 GMT

As NASA prepares to mark 20 consecutive years of missions operating at Mars, one mission in particular stands out. Jeff Foust reviews a book that provides some of the best images of the Red Planet taken by a camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

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.