Stories by Miriam Kramer

Virgin Orbit is getting closer to a launch

Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl 747 in flight. Photo: Virgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit's Cosmic Girl 747 in flight. Photo: Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit is moving ever closer to launching a rocket to space for the first time.

Why it matters: The company is one of a number of private spaceflight companies aiming to capitalize on what it sees as a boom in demand for small spacecraft launches.

A mission to a pristine comet

Comet 67P in deep space. Photo: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam
Comet 67P in deep space. Photo: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam

A newly selected European Space Agency mission expected to launch in 2028 is designed to get up close and personal with a comet.

Why it matters: If all goes according to plan, the new mission — named the Comet Interceptor — will give us an unprecedented look at a pristine comet that has never visited the inner solar system before and hasn’t been altered by the heat of the Sun.

The search for life as we don't know it

Illustration of a small spotlight lighting an empty area, a small alien is off to the side of the light.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The most comprehensive search for signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe has come up short so far, despite generating more than 1 petabyte of data. But such efforts are just getting started.

The big picture: The project — known as Breakthrough Listen — observed more than 1,300 relatively nearby stars over the course of 3 years, listening for any signs of radio waves that would signal the presence of technologically advanced aliens.