The big picture

The rise of military space powers

Nations around the world are shoring up their military capabilities in space.

Dec 1, 2020 - Science
How NASA and the Space Force might fare under Biden

NASA might get to stay the course, but would have to compete with other spending priorities.

Oct 27, 2020 - Science
The next environmental crisis could be in space

Space junk could threaten humanity's future in the stars.

Oct 20, 2020 - Science
Planetary science in the private space age

Companies are also hoping to launch missions to far-off destinations like Venus and Mars.

Sep 23, 2020 - Science
Astronomers and physicists fight systemic racism in their own fields

Thousands participated in calling attention to barriers that keep black people out of science.

Jun 16, 2020 - Science
Deep Dive: Factory Moon

The sector is an emerging one in the space industry.

Jul 20, 2019 - Science

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Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated 51 mins ago - Science

NASA's delays Mars helicopter test flight

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA announced Saturday it rescheduled its Ingenuity Mars helicopter's first experimental flight, originally planned for Sunday.

The latest: "During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration," NASA said in a statement. "This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode."

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

NASA's InSight lander feels Mars quake beneath it

InSight on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's InSight lander on Mars felt two relatively large quakes shake the Red Planet last month.

Why it matters: InSight uses these shakes on Mars — caused by volcanic activity — to learn more about the interior of the planet.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

"Space Hero" wants to take us all to orbit

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The developers of the reality TV show "Space Hero" want to make space cool.

Why it matters: As spaceflight opportunities open up to more people who aren't professional astronauts, the space industry — which is largely insular and elite — will need to find ways to make space travel appealing to the public.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

Russia is dialing up its military space ambitions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Russia is staging shows of military might in orbit as its civil and commercial space sector loses its longstanding edge.

Why it matters: These demonstrations threaten to undermine responsible behavior in space, and could put U.S. military — and possibly commercial — assets in orbit at risk.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 3, 2021 - Science

Companies race to design private space stations before ISS goes offline

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies are rapidly designing private space stations that could one day dominate operations in orbit around Earth.

Why it matters: NASA is hoping private industry will start to take over operations in low-Earth orbit once the International Space Station comes to an end, creating a robust commercial market in that part of space.

Space as a (weather) service

Photo: NASA

The private weather company ClimaCell has raised more than $185 million in part to help finance its ambitions to build a fleet of satellites designed to monitor and forecast the weather.

Why it matters: The company — which announced a $77 million Series D capital raise today — is aiming to do something different than most space-faring weather firms. Instead of gathering data to sell it to others, it plans to use it to improve its own analytical offerings.

Mar 30, 2021 - World

Rising tides and supermoon helped free massive ship from Suez Canal

The "Ever Given" ship. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Rescuers who dislodged the massive "Ever Given" ship from the Suez Canal on Monday got the aid of a supermoon, which raised water levels about 19 inches above normal tides and made it easier to pull the vessel, The Wall Street Journal reports.

How it works: Tides are usually higher during a full or new moon. But that effect was boosted by the year's first supermoon — which occurs when a full moon orbits closest to the Earth.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Mar 30, 2021 - Science

SpaceX's latest test of prototype Starship appears to end in failure

SN11 takes flight. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX launched a prototype of its Starship rocket Tuesday designed to one day send people and cargo to deep space destinations like Mars. The vehicle appeared to fail as it was coming in for a landing.

Why it matters: The most recent launch was part of SpaceX's test campaign designed to develop Starship and get it flying to orbit in the not-too-distant future.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Mar 30, 2021 - Science

Final two crewmembers chosen for all-civilian mission to space

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches people to orbit. Photo: SpaceX

A geoscientist and a former Space Camp counselor will round out the crew of the first all-civilian mission to space launching later this year.

Why it matters: The mission is one of the first true tests of the future space companies like SpaceX hope to build — one in which anyone has the chance to fly to space, even without government backing.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Mar 30, 2021 - Science

We're starting to answer some big questions about Mars

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The rovers and orbiters studying Mars are being tasked with answering the persistent questions that remain about the Red Planet, decades after NASA sent its first missions to the world.

Why it matters: New spacecraft recently sent to Mars will help NASA and other space agencies fill in gaps in knowledge, moving them ever-closer to finding out whether the world once played host to life.

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