The big picture

The race to find Planet X heats up

Teams of scientist are vying to find the hypothetical Planet X in the distant reaches of the solar system.

Jul 7, 2020
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
NASA passes the torch

SpaceX's first crewed launch represents a new era.

Jun 2, 2020
Trump's improbable moonshot

Congress isn't sold on the idea that NASA should or can return to the Moon in four years.

Feb 18, 2020
Deep Dive: Factory Moon

The sector is an emerging one in the space industry.

Jul 20, 2019
Deep Dive: The new global race to space

Billionaires and political leaders are vying to land on the Moon, colonize Mars or mine asteroids

Updated Jan 1, 2019

All Space stories

Aug 7, 2020 - Science

Space Force selects ULA, SpaceX for major national security contracts

Earth from space by night. Photo: NASA

The U.S. Space Force has awarded United Launch Alliance and SpaceX hundreds of millions of dollars to fly national security payloads to space in the coming years.

Why it matters: The money provided by these competitive government contracts keeps space companies in business and flying to orbit regularly.

Aug 4, 2020 - Science

Satellites track illegal fishing from orbit

Satellite image of a large-scale lighting vessel in North Korean waters. Credit: Planet

Satellites tasked with keeping an eye on the Earth have helped researchers uncover large-scale illegal fishing operations in North Korean and Russian waters.

Why it matters: Satellite data is giving researchers and governments a bird's eye view of what's happening on Earth, allowing interested parties to see more than they could by just monitoring land and sea from the ground.

Aug 4, 2020 - Science

Amazon's Project Kuiper moves ahead

Earth seen from space. Photo: NASA

The FCC has given conditional approval for Amazon to move ahead with its plan to launch thousands of internet-beaming satellites to low-Earth orbit.

The big picture: Multiple companies, including SpaceX, see the potential to make millions of dollars in revenue once their constellations are fully deployed.

Updated Aug 4, 2020 - Science

The U.S. is at risk of attacks in space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Other nations are catching up to U.S. capabilities in space, potentially putting American assets in orbit at risk.

Why it matters: From GPS to imagery satellites and others that can peer through clouds, space data is integral to American national security.

Updated Aug 2, 2020 - Science

Two NASA astronauts return to Earth after historic SpaceX mission

The Crew Dragon capsule ahead of landing in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are safely back on Earth after a historic flight to and from the International Space Station provided by SpaceX.

Why it matters: The landing marks the end of SpaceX's first crewed trip to the space station for NASA and the beginning of the space agency's next phase in exploration, one marked by partnerships with private companies.

Aug 1, 2020 - Science

NASA astronauts head home after historic spaceflight

The Crew Dragon spacecraft as it leaves the International Space Station. Photo: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are heading back to Earth from the International Space Station aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Why it matters: Behnken and Hurley's return will mark the end of SpaceX's first crewed mission to the station and the first mission in which American astronauts launched from U.S. soil in nine years.

Jul 30, 2020 - Science

NASA's Perseverance rover launches on a trip to Mars

The Atlas V rocket launching Perseverance to Mars Thursday. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA's Perseverance rover launched on a journey to Mars Thursday to hunt for signs of past alien life on the Red Planet.

Why it matters: The rover is the third spacecraft lofted to Mars this month, with the first two sent by the United Arab Emirates and China.

Jul 28, 2020 - Science

What we know about Russia's anti-satellite weapon

Photo: NASA

On July 15, Russia ratcheted up international tensions by testing what appears to be a weapon to destroy enemy satellites in space, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. But this is far from the first time the country has put on a display of force in orbit.

Why it matters: Russia has been building out its space weapons capabilities for years. The recent test — which did not destroy a satellite — comes after Russia staged another anti-satellite test of a different kind of system in April.

Jul 28, 2020 - Science

Perseverance will carry a Martian helicopter, other tech to the Red Planet

Artist's illustration of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Perseverance will carry new tech to Mars that represents major technological advances since NASA's last rover — Curiosity — landed on the Red Planet in 2012.

Why it matters: These new experiments and technology demonstrations will fill in gaps in knowledge scientists have about the world and set up future robotic missions in the process.

Jul 28, 2020 - Science

The end of the beginning of Mars exploration

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

More than any of its increasingly sophisticated predecessors, NASA's next robot on Mars will pave the way for getting humans to the Red Planet.

Why it matters: Rovers, landers and orbiters have beamed back invaluable data about Mars for decades, but the next phase in exploration depends on human explorers. One astronaut conducting science on Mars' surface could yield more efficient and quicker results than even the most advanced robot.

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