Uncrewed Spacecraft

Mastering space traffic management

By Jon Kelvey

November 1, 2023

The U.S. Office of Space Commerce is facing a deadline of late 2024 to have in place the initial software and people to take over tracking of debris and civilian spacecraft from the military. Is OSC moving fast enough? Jon Kelvey tells the story.

Harvesting sunlight in space

By Paul Marks

April 1, 2023

The emergence of SpaceX’s massive and reusable Starship rocket, alongside advances in robotic spacecraft assembly, could finally fuel the sci-fi dream of spacecraft collecting all the solar energy humanity will ever need and beaming it down to Earth in the form of microwaves for conversion into limitless carbon-free electricity. Paul Marks spoke to the developers hoping to make this dream reality.

Normalizing satellite servicing

By Karen Kwon

April 1, 2023

Companies in the U.S. and abroad have big plans to extend the lives of existing multimillion-dollar geosynchronous satellites and equip new ones from the start for servicing. Standardization and regulatory bodies are figuring out how to make servicing a normal part of business. Karen Kwon has the story.

How NASA decided Webb was ready: Inside the risk assessment

February 1, 2022

Every do-it-yourselfer knows how hard it can be to declare a project complete. Will another turn of the bolt or brushstroke make things better or worse? That was roughly the choice NASA faced a year before the Dec. 25 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Would more testing close more technical risks in the nearly $10 billion project or create new ones? In the end, NASA decided against more testing. NASA’s Jesse Leitner and Tupper Hyde describe the assessment they performed.

Dreaming big

By Amanda Miller

July 1, 2018

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.

Servicing revolution

May 31, 2018

Thirty-five thousand kilometers is a long way up, and that’s the home of nearly 400 satellites that do anything from sending and receiving telephone, internet and television signals to spotting missile launches. Today, those satellites can’t be repaired, upgraded, refueled or rescued if their propulsion fails.

The dreamers

April 30, 2018

A cadre of technologists and entrepreneurs think asteroids could be the linchpin for establishing an entire economy in space

Reaching Europa

By Tom Risen

March 30, 2018

The White House wants to steer the launch of NASA’s proposed Europa Clipper spacecraft to a commercial rocket

The case for WFIRST

By Amanda Miller

March 30, 2018

The Trump budget would cancel development of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope

Storm warning

By Debra Werner

January 2, 2018

NOAA's newest weather satellites could extend forecasts to 7 days for hurricanes that threaten U.S.

Space Command adapts

By Tom Risen

September 28, 2017


Market disruptor

By Debra Werner

September 28, 2017

Space station experiment may reveal future for satellite solar arrays

Course corrector

By Adam Hadhazy

September 28, 2017

Managers of proposed mission hope to protect Earth from giant space rocks

Decision time for Trump

May 17, 2017

2 leading aerospace journalists analyze the most important decisions facing President Donald Trump's administration

Strategizing about Mars

By Tom Risen

May 1, 2017

Scientists and policymakers talk about the best path ahead for human space exploration


By Tom Risen

April 17, 2017

The concept of spreading technology across many small satellites has proved hard to sell