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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A space economy conjures visions of thousands of people living and working in orbit and beyond, but the jobs that will keep the space industry afloat in the coming years will be located on Earth.
The big picture: The space industry could be worth $805 billion by 2030, according to estimates from UBS.
What's happening: Multiple companies are aiming to launch constellations of thousands of satellites to orbit in the coming years and will likely need people on the ground to operate them.
Where it stands: SpaceX has dozens of job openings ranging from rocket engineering to spacesuit sewer in their facilities across the country.
But, but, but: The space industry's transition to the future space economy could be overshadowed by an aging workforce.
"We've almost flipped from where it was, where you wanted people to retire because you wanted to open up the slots — now, we've got the slots open, but we can't find enough people to fill them."— Mary Lynne Dittmar, CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration
The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes — which launched in 1977 and are now traveling through interstellar space — may be complicating scientists' understanding of our solar system's structure.
Why it matters: Mapping the structure of our solar system places it in context with the rest of the galaxy, allowing scientists to learn more about the evolution and even future of our cosmic neighborhood.
Driving the news: A series of studies about Voyager 2 published in Nature Astronomy this week reveals contradicting information about the behavior of particles coming from the Sun and those in the interstellar medium.
Yes, but: Scientists still aren't sure what could account for these differences between Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which are expected to have enough power to continue beaming back data for about five more years.
Boeing's Starliner during a test of its abort system in New Mexico. Photo: NASA
SpaceX and Boeing are working to clear a number of safety hurdles before the end of the year ahead of launching their first crews of astronauts to the International Space Station.
Why it matters: The two companies have been tasked with flying people to space from U.S. soil, ending NASA's reliance on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for transportation to the station.
State of play: On Monday, Boeing launched a successful test of its abort system designed to pull astronauts to safety in the event of a rocket failure at launch.
What's next: Neither Boeing nor SpaceX is expected to fly people to orbit before the end of the year, as initially expected. Instead, NASA now estimates that both could fly as early as the start of 2020.
An Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus to the space station. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls
'Improbable planet' somehow survives being swallowed by red giant star (Chelsea Gohd, Space.com)
Do we need a special language to talk to aliens? (Daniel Oberhaus, Wired)
From dung beetles to seals, these animals navigate by the stars (Fiona McMillan, National Geographic)
China tests grid fins with launch of Gaofen-7 imaging satellite (Andrew Jones, Space News)
Space station receives spacewalking gear, new baking oven (Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now)
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Even the most distant robotic explorers on Mars are never totally alone. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught sight of the space agency's InSight lander on the Martian surface in September.
The intrigue: InSight's "mole" — designed to burrow below the Martian surface to learn more about the heat being emitted by the planet's interior — backed about halfway out of its hole, according to NASA, and mission managers are now working to figure out why and how to get the mole digging once more.
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