All Space stories

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 13, 2021 - Science

Discoveries point to a speed limit on how fast "failed stars" can rotate

Artist's illustration of a brown dwarf. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists have discovered the three fastest spinning "failed stars" yet found, suggesting there might be a speed limit to how fast they can rotate.

The big picture: These objects — called brown dwarfs — are thought to be "failed stars" that didn't collect enough mass to ignite fusion in their cores needed to be considered a star and too large to be a gas giant planet like Jupiter.

The push to define workers' rights in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As humanity stretches into orbit and beyond, experts are still grappling with how rights afforded to workers on Earth apply to those living in space.

Why it matters: In order to create businesses and perhaps societies in space — where the biological necessities for sustaining human life, like air and water, aren't readily available — there will need to be fundamental rights agreements to guarantee laborers aren't exploited.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated Apr 10, 2021 - 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.