Starship’s slow-motion destruction in April was a rare example of a rocket’s flight termination system failing to do its job adequately. Such a failure could put people on the ground at risk, and so, SpaceX must prove to FAA that it has a fix in hand before the agency permits the company to launch its next Starship. Jonathan O’Callaghan takes us inside the technology.
NASA will soon pick a pool of vendors to help it achieve an ambitious plan: Delivering high-definition video of astronauts on the moon to the public and a torrent of scientific information to scientists. Jon Kelvey tells the story.
Looking at history, the safe bet is that SpaceX will ultimately resolve the troubles that marred its first attempt to get a Starship spacecraft into space. At the moment, SpaceX faces technical and legal challenges that could slow its hopes for a quick return to flight for its Starship-Super Heavy combination and also complicate efforts to start launching the vehicles from Florida. Jonathan O’Callaghan investigates.
Touching down on the moon safely, accurately and autonomously will require highly capable cameras and software. Dominic Maggio and Brett Streetman of Draper take us inside the flight testing of their team’s landing system.
Some of the most creative entrepreneurs and researchers can’t afford to buy an entire rocket to deliver their wares precisely into their preferred orbits. Often, they must compromise or expend fuel maneuvering their spacecraft after launch. Matteo Bartolini of D-Orbit describes the challenges his company faced to develop a line of satellite transporters that could be the answer.
SpaceX’s breakthroughs in reusability sprang from the lessons of history. The coming Starship space launch attempt portends an even more profound lowering of launch costs in the years ahead. Phil Moynihan and Eugene Ustinov share their analysis.
No one without the right clearance knows exactly what the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B spaceplanes do in orbit, but it must be a lot given the cumulative years they’ve spent up there. The vehicles are sparking a resurgence of interest in spaceplanes as a necessary ingredient for expanding society to space. Debra Werner tells the story.
Effective guidelines could protect the satellites that are so important in our daily lives and prevent dangerous on-orbit activities. Dean Bellamy says a U.S. Department of Commerce office should receive the funding and authority to get the rules adopted.
Sending an advance team of robots to the moon before U.S. astronauts arrive in 2024 would provide unprecedented opportunities for joint human-robotic exploration and testing. Gordon Roesler, formerly of DARPA, makes the case.
If all goes as Sierra Nevada Corp. hopes, you’ll soon be hearing a lot more about Dream Chaser, the spacecraft with a history of ups and downs. Amanda Miller toured the new Colorado facility where the first spaceflight version of Dream Chaser will be built.