Stories by Alison Snyder

Houston, we have a rocket bubble

 Illustration of rockets with triangle pattern
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some experts are skeptical that space will become a trillion-dollar industry, and a bubble may already be forming in the current space economy.

The billionaires tend to steal the space show. But behind them are about 40 other rocket companies looking to capture — and build more demand for —the market to launch small satellites and other payloads.

Yes, there really is a lot of space junk

This visualization shows the 18,120 objects being tracked in low-Earth orbit by the U.S. military's Joint Space Operations Center — including nearly 13,000 that are classified as space debris.

Data: Space-Track; Note: Perigee is the point in a object's orbit where it is closest to Earth. Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Why it matters: As space opens up to more nations, companies and possibly nonprofits, concerns are growing about how to track and reduce debris that threatens satellites and spacecraft.

A car that's better without a driver

A person with a self-driving car for a head
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Around the world, carmakers, cities and whole nations are describing a new era in which we will no longer drive ourselves, but glide hands-free along electronic highways into futuristic cities. There's just one problem: Humans are still a lot smarter than even the smartest cars — and are still babysitting them every step of the way.

Why it matters: Although human error accounts for many accidents on the road today, people are generally good at managing the demands of driving. To fulfill their ultimate promise of transforming how we build cities and move people and goods — saving lives in the process — autonomous vehicles will have to be even better drivers than people.