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
Jan 21, 2021 - Science

Small structures on the Sun could change space weather

"Plumelets" on the Sun. Image: NASA/SDO/Uritsky, et al

Relatively small structures on the Sun could help govern the solar wind.

Why it matters: Solar wind batters the Earth's magnetic field, and strong solar storms can disrupt satellites and even power grids on the planet. Learning more about how they work will help researchers forecast it in the future.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 19, 2021 - Science

NASA is trying to figure out what comes next for its huge Moon rocket

Photo: NASA TV

The first flight planned for NASA's Space Launch System rocket hangs in the balance as the space agency reckons with a major test that didn't go as planned this weekend.

Why it matters: The billions of dollars over-budget SLS is key to NASA's plans to send people to the surface of the Moon by 2024 and for the agency's deep space exploration goals for years to come.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 19, 2021 - Science

Astronomers grapple with the impact of huge satellite constellations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The effects huge constellations of satellites could have on astronomy are starting to come into focus, and astronomers are grappling with what this industrialization of space could mean for the future of their field.

The big picture: Companies like SpaceX and Amazon have plans to launch thousands of internet-beaming satellites to orbit in the coming years.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 19, 2021 - Science

The inner lives of galaxies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The finest details of galaxies — from star explosions to halos of dust — are emerging via new techniques that allow scientists to peer deep into these cosmic behemoths.

Why it matters: How galaxies form, grow and change is key to understanding the evolution of the universe as a whole.

Virgin Orbit launches satellites into space

The Virgin Orbit "Cosmic Girl," carrying a LauncherOne rocket under it's wing, takes off for the Launch Demo 2 mission from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, on Sunday/ Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Virgin Orbit's LauncherOne rocket reached space and successfully deployed 10 payloads for NASA's Launch Services Program on Sunday, Richard Branson's company announced.

Why it matters: Per Axios' Miriam Kramer, Virgin Orbit is one of several private spaceflight companies aiming to capitalize on what they believe is a boom in demand for small spacecraft launches.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated Jan 17, 2021 - Science

NASA stages test of its next huge rocket

The SLS rocket comes to life. Photo: NASA TV

NASA staged a ground test of its Space Launch System rocket Saturday. The test — which was expected to see the four engines of the core stage of the huge rocket fire for eight minutes — ended after a little more than a minute.

Why it matters: The SLS, which is years behind schedule, is key to NASA's plans to send people to deep space destinations like the Moon.

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

Blue Origin launches test of its suborbital space system

The New Shepard takes flight. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin's New Shepard space system, designed to one day take paying customers to suborbital space, took flight from Texas on Thursday for an uncrewed test.

Why it matters: The company — founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos — is inching closer to launching its first customers.

Alabama will be the new home of U.S. Space Command

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama will serve as the headquarters for U.S. Space Command, the Air Force announced Wednesday, after a hard-fought lobbying campaign.

The big picture: The U.S. military relies on space assets for all types of warfighting, and Space Command — which was established in 2019 as a unified combatant command — is designed to help protect those assets, treating space as a theater of war in much the same way air and sea are.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 12, 2021 - Science

Scientists discover 10 billion-year-old "super-Earth" planet

Artist's illustration of the planet TOI-561b. Image: W. M. Keck Observatory/Adam Makarenko

Scientists have discovered a rocky “super-Earth” planet in an ancient star system that likely formed 10 billion years ago, only a few billion years after our Milky Way galaxy came to be.

Why it matters: The newfound planet likely can't support life, but in general, researchers think older planetary systems have better odds of possibly harboring life because they're long-lived.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 12, 2021 - Science

InSight and Juno keep on trucking

Jupiter as seen by the Juno spacecraft. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's InSight lander on Mars and the Juno orbiter at Jupiter have new leases on life.

Why it matters: The spacecraft are expected to continue gathering data about their respective planetary targets during their newly extended missions, allowing scientists to learn more about seismic activity on Mars and turn their attention to the moons of Jupiter.

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