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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
President Trump's pitch to create a Space Force is championed by its supporters as a way to deter nations that plan to weaponize space.
What's new: On Thursday, the Trump administration relaunched U.S. Space Command. The combatant command is expected to protect U.S. interests in space from potential threats, and it's seen as a step toward the creation of Trump's Space Force.
Where it stands: Geopolitical conflicts today are starting to play out in orbit, with U.S. officials becoming increasingly worried about China's and Russia's capabilities, from jamming communications satellites to taking them out.
But, but, but: Other experts say space is already being weaponized, and the U.S. is behind.
The bottom line: If a U.S. Space Force is established in the coming years, it would further alter geopolitics on Earth and in space, potentially transforming a once peaceful realm into a war-focused regime.
Starhopper flying through the sky above Texas. Photo: SpaceX
Last week, SpaceX launched the final test of Starhopper, a prototype of its Starship spacecraft that is designed to eventually take 100 people at a time to deep space destinations like the Moon or Mars.
Context: SpaceX is building on the reusability of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets with Starship, but the new interplanetary system will have some key differences.
Details: The successful Starhopper test paves the way for SpaceX's plans to test 2 more prototypes currently being built in Texas and Florida.
What to watch: Musk said that the company is planning on a 20-kilometer (12-mile) flight of Mk1 in October, with an orbital test to follow. Musk is expected to update the public on the progress of Starship development on Sept. 28.
Earth seen from orbit. Photo: NASA
Scientists have developed a fingerprint of Earth from space that could one day help identify other habitable worlds light-years from our own.
Why it matters: If researchers find a planet that matched Earth's fingerprint — which shows what Earth would look like in infrared if seen by an alien civilization — out there in the universe, it could indicate they've found a habitable world.
What they did: The fingerprint — detailed in a new study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society — was created by using data collected by the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment onboard the SCISAT satellite.
"The idea is to be able to understand what we were seeing if we were observing an Earth-like planet. Our model of Earth’s spectrum as observed with the James Webb Space Telescope is a benchmark to which spectra of other planets can be compared to understand how similar their atmospheres are to ours."— Evelyn Macdonald, a co-author of the study, to Axios.
The far side of the Moon. Photo: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/ASU
Amateurs identify U.S. spy satellite behind President Trump's tweet (Geoff Brumfiel, NPR)
SpaceX refused to move a Starlink satellite at risk of collision with a European satellite (Jonathan O'Callaghan, Forbes)
China's lunar rover has found something weird on the far side of the Moon (Andrew Jones, Space.com)
Possible detection of a black hole so big it ‘should not exist’ (Natalie Wolchover, Quanta)
Photo: NASA/Nick Hague
The extreme power of a hurricane can even be seen from space. This photo, from NASA astronaut Nick Hague, shows the eye of Hurricane Dorian as the storm swirled through the Atlantic Ocean over the weekend.
Go deeper: What you need to know about Hurricane Dorian
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