All Space stories

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

Astronomy's future waits on NASA's next big telescope

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: QAI Publishing/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The high-profile, high-price tag James Webb Space Telescope is finally moving closer to launch.

Why it matters: The Webb has been in development by NASA for far longer than expected, and while other missions have moved ahead in that time, getting the powerful telescope to space is a top priority.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 15, 2021 - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 11, 2021 - Science

Axiom set to send first private mission to the International Space Station

A SpaceX Crew Dragon approaches the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

NASA is gearing up for the first fully private mission to the International Space Station expected to launch in January.

Why it matters: The mission — from Axiom Space — will be one of the first real tests of whether NASA's plans to bring more commercial activity to the space station could work.

Exclusive: New project tracks natural gas flaring using space data

An image of Earth by night as seen by the Suomi NPP satellite in 2012. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

A new project uses satellite data to track the flares from companies burning off excess natural gas.

Why it matters: Flaring releases carbon dioxide and some methane into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and making it essential for regulators to keep close tabs on the activity.

May 8, 2021 - World

Debris from Chinese rocket likely to fall to Earth this weekend

A Long March 5B rocket, carrying China's Tianhe space station core module, on April 29. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

A massive booster rocket from a Chinese Long March 5B launch vehicle is expected to fall back to Earth in an "uncontrolled reentry" this weekend, though experts don't really know where debris from the rocket will land.

The state of play: China's space agency has said it expects most of the rocket to burn up in Earth's atmosphere. The chance of debris from the rocket actually landing in a populated area is low — but there is still a chance.

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

The suborbital space race heats up

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are pushing to launch their first paying customers to the edge of space.

Why it matters: If the two companies succeed, it will open up a new market in the space industry, one focused on consumer-driven demand for expensive trips to suborbital space.

May 6, 2021 - World

Pentagon tracking path of falling Chinese rocket

A Long March 5B rocket, carrying China's Tianhe space station core module, lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan province last Thursday. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

The Pentagon said Wednesday it's tracking the uncontrolled descent of the Long March-5B Y2 rocket that carried a Chinese Space Station module to orbit last week.

Details: Defense Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters the rocket's debris was expected to return to Earth "somewhere around" May 8 and that the U.S. Space Command has said "almost the entire body of the rocket" remains intact. "It's too soon to know exactly where it's going to come down," he added.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 5, 2021 - Science

SpaceX launches and lands a starship prototype

Starship SN15 after landing. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX launched its fifth test of a Starship prototype on Wednesday and managed to stick the landing.

Why it matters: SpaceX hopes that Starship will eventually be used to deliver payloads and people to deep space destinations like the Moon and Mars.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 5, 2021 - Science

Blue Origin is auctioning off a seat to the edge of space

Blue Origin's Mannequin Skywalker test dummy inside of the New Shepard during flight. Photo: Blue Origin Media

Jeff Bezos' space company Blue Origin is planning to launch people to the edge of space for the first time in July, and one seat will go to the highest bidder.

Why it matters: The flight would mark the start of Blue Origin making good on its promise to send paying customers to suborbital space, opening a new market for space tourism.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
May 4, 2021 - Science

Ingenuity's future on Mars

Ingenuity flies across the Martian surface. Gif: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA's little helicopter on Mars passed its first tests with flying colors, and now it's about to embark on the next phase of its mission on the Red Planet.

Why it matters: The 4-pound helicopter named Ingenuity has quickly become a fan-favorite robot on Mars. NASA is using it to prove out technology that could one day help the agency further explore the Red Planet and other objects.