The big picture

Billionaires are the new face of the final frontier

Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and their ilk are changing the rhetoric around space and the public's relationship to it.

Jul 13, 2021 - Science
NASA chief touts new Earth-observing satellites for climate

"I became more of an environmentalist when I went into space," NASA's Bill Nelson said.

May 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment
Major satellite program launches to hunt for methane, carbon "super-emitters"

The new consortium represents a potential leap forward in the effort to hold polluters accountable.

Apr 15, 2021 - Energy & Environment
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

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Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 18, 2021 - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

Sep 18, 2021 - Science

Inspiration4's all-civilian crew calls Tom Cruise from space

Photo: Neil Mockford/GC Images via Getty Images

The all-civilian SpaceX crew called actor Tom Cruise on Friday, giving him a glimpse into their experience in orbit two days after the successful Inspiration4 launch.

Don't forget: NASA announced last year that it would work with Cruise on a film aboard the International Space Station — though it's unclear where that currently stands.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 16, 2021 - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 launches on 3-day mission in orbit

A screenshot of the rocket launching. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX's all-civilian Inspiration4 mission made history Wednesday night when it launched into orbit.

Why it matters: It's the first time a crew of amateurs has launched to orbit without a professional astronaut onboard. The mission also signals the start of a new era in space — one defined by an industry pushing to launch many more private people to orbit in the coming years.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated Sep 15, 2021 - Science

Inspiration4 launch: SpaceX to send 1st all-civilian crew into orbit

Photo: Inspiration4/John Kraus

The Inspiration4 crew is set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday evening. The first all-civilian flight to orbit will act as a proof of concept for SpaceX and the broader private spaceflight industry, which wants to send many more people to space in the coming years and decades.

The latest: SpaceX has completed fueling the Falcon 9 rocket. The launch, streamed live via SpaceX, remains on schedule for liftoff at 8:02 p.m. ET.

Latinos get NASA to Mars

Diana Trujillo during a 2019 conference in California. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Recent missions from the space agency have been made possible with the work of Latino and Latina engineers.

Details: Aerospace engineer Diana Trujillo moved from Colombia to the U.S. speaking no English. She paid her way through school by working as a housekeeper. She is now a lead scientist for the Mars Perseverance rover.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 14, 2021 - Science

Inspiration4 launch: What the crew will do in space

Clockwise from left: Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski. Photo: Inspiration4/John Kraus

When the Inspiration4 crew lives in space for three days, they'll do more than just sightseeing. The crew members also hope to perform experiments and fly a variety of sentimental items with them in space.

The big picture: This mission is like none that have flown before, but the crew is still planning to draw on the experiences of previous professional crews to help advance space science and attract the public to their cause.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 14, 2021 - Science

Wrestling with the risks of private missions to space

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew, launching to orbit this week, will force the space industry to contend with just how much risk ordinary people are willing to take on in order to build humanity's future in space.

Why it matters: The private space industry's goal of building an economy in space hinges on sending more people to orbit in the near future. But spaceflight is still an incredibly risky endeavor and it will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 7, 2021 - Science

Scientists may have discovered a new type of supernova

Scientists think they may have found a type of supernova never before seen.

Why it matters: Typically, massive stars explode as supernovas when they run out of fuel, but researchers have been on the lookout for other kinds of stellar explosions that might help them better understand the strangeness of our universe.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 7, 2021 - Science

NASA's Perseverance rover collects first Mars rock sample

A rock inside of one of Perseverance's sampling tubes. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA's Perseverance rover collected its first sample of a rock on Mars.

Why it matters: This sample and others in the future are expected to help scientists figure out whether the Red Planet once played host to life in its habitable environments billions of years ago.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 7, 2021 - Science

What it takes to train for space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew's training program to prepare them for their trip to orbit is a reality check on the space industry's goal to send many more ordinary people to space.

Why it matters: One day SpaceX, which is operating the upcoming mission, hopes to help establish a settlement on Mars and other companies like Blue Origin are working to build futures where millions of people live and work in space. In order to do that, more people need to fly to space — with far less preparation and more ease.

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