All Space stories

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

Satellite company Planet is going public via SPAC

Photo: NASA

The satellite company Planet announced Wednesday that it's planning to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Why it matters: Planet operates the largest fleet of Earth-observing satellites, with more than 190 spacecraft taking photos of the world each day.

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

65% of Americans believe in aliens, new poll finds

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fifty-one percent of Americans believe UFOs reported by military personnel are likely evidence of intelligent alien life, according to a new poll released by Pew last week.

Why it matters: Questions about whether smart aliens have come to visit Earth have been asked for decades, and these results show that curiosity — which can sometimes verge into conspiracy theory — persists.

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

The high stakes of Branson and Bezos' race to space

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic, Drew Angerer/Getty Images

When Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson take flight aboard the rockets their companies built, the hopes and dreams of a burgeoning industry will be flying with them as well.

Why it matters: Accidents or errors on these high-profile flights from Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin could derail their plans — and possibly affect others' plans — for commercial space tourism and travel.

Chinese astronauts take first spacewalk at new orbital station

Photo: Sheldon Cooper /SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Chinese astronauts on Sunday made the first spacewalk outside China's new space station core module Tianhe to set up equipment on a 15-meter robotic arm.

State of play: Astronauts Liu Boming's and Tang Hongbo's spacewalk was streamed on local media. They were supported by a third crew member, Nie Haisheng, who stayed inside the cabin.

Jul 1, 2021 - Science

Virgin Galactic to launch Richard Branson into space on July 11

Richard Branson speaking in Las Vegas in June 2021. Photo: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic announced Thursday plans to launch its billionaire founder Richard Branson into space on July 11.

Why it matters: The date is nine days before Jeff Bezos, founder of Virgin Galactic competitor Blue Origin, is set to take off for space.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jul 1, 2021 - Science

Scientists find the smallest, most massive white dwarf star yet

Artist's illustration of a white dwarf star and the Moon. Image: Giuseppe Parisi

A newfound white dwarf star 130 light-years away is the most massive and smallest ever discovered, according to a new study.

Why it matters: The star — thought to be the result of two white dwarfs smacking into one another and merging — can act as a laboratory for astronomers to learn more about how extreme objects in the universe evolve.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jul 1, 2021 - Science

Blue Origin picks its fourth passenger for first crewed flight

A seat within Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule. Photo: Blue Origin

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has invited Wally Funk — one of the women aviators who passed the Mercury astronaut tests in the 1960s — to join him and two others on the company's first crewed trip to the edge of space.

Why it matters: Funk's turn as an astronaut is years in the making, after the Mercury 13 — a group of women who mastered the same tests as NASA astronauts in the 1960s as part of a private initiative — were passed over by NASA.

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

Virgin Orbit successfully launches a clutch of satellites to orbit

A Virgin Orbit flight test in May 2020. Photo: Virgin Orbit/Greg Robinson

Virgin Orbit launched seven satellites from three different customers to space on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Virgin Orbit is entering an increasingly crowded market of launchers hoping to take advantage of the growing demand by nations and other companies to launch small satellites to orbit in the coming years.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jun 29, 2021 - Science

Space Perspective to offer "gentle" balloon rides to space

A view from Space Perspective's first test flight. Photo: Space Perspective

Space Perspective wants to take paying customers on flights into the upper atmosphere, 20 miles above the planet, and the company is ready to start selling tickets.

Why it matters: The company is stepping into an increasingly crowded market, with multiple space tourism companies — like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin — expected to stage their first commercial flights with passengers this year.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jun 29, 2021 - Science

Newly released videos show scenes from China's first mission to Mars

A view of China's Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover seen by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Photo: NASA/JPL/UArizona

Newly released videos reveal China's Mars rover roaming the world and the spacecraft's daring descent to the Red Planet's surface.

Why it matters: The rover — named Zhurong — is the China National Space Administration's first to explore Mars, making it the only other space agency aside from NASA to successfully operate a rover on the planet.