When news broke of Sputnik’s trip outside our atmosphere, it sent shock waves through the American public and the U.S. government. The Defense Department immediately announced funding for the Explorer -- the vehicle that would become the first American object in space -- and Congress created NASA. But now, the United States is once again facing a potential Sputnik moment as countries like Russia, China and even India rapidly develop capabilities that threaten our use of and our access to space.
It has been a quiet fall for SpaceX, which launched a Falcon 9 rocket early August before taking a break to prepare for future missions. Now, SpaceX has successfully deployed a new batch of Starlink internet satellites, and the Falcon 9 that delivered them made history in the process.
Voyager 1 has a companion in the realm of the stars. Researchers at the University of Iowa report that the spacecraft Voyager 2 has entered the interstellar medium (ISM), the region of space outside the bubble-shaped boundary produced by wind streaming outward from the sun. Voyager 2, thus, becomes the second human-made object to journey out of our sun's influence, following Voyager 1's solar exit in 2012.
By escaping the launchpad--where a disaster like a rocket explosion could theoretically take place--and touching down nearby, the company's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft passed a crucial flight test Monday morning. It was one of two major remaining trials before NASA can certify the vehicle ready to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Pentagon’s secretive X-37B spaceplane landed in Florida on Sunday after a record-long orbital flight lasting more than two years, the U.S. Air Force said, capping the latest test mission for an array of military technologies.
The team, which includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, plans to submit a bid to NASA for what many consider to be the most challenging component of a lunar landing: the spacecraft capable of getting humans safely to and from the lunar surface.
For every action, there is a reaction: that is the principle on which all space rockets operate, blasting propellant in one direction to travel in the other. But one NASA engineer believes he could take us to the stars without any propellant at all.
NASA wants private American vehicles to end this dependence and has been encouraging their development via its Commercial Crew Program. In September 2014, NASA awarded $2.6 billion to SpaceX and $4.2 billion to Boeing to finish work on their astronaut taxis -- capsules called Crew Dragon and the CST-100 Starliner, respectively. At the time, NASA officials said they wanted at least one of these vehicles to be up and running by the end of 2017.
SpaceX has never flown a person into space in its Crew Dragon, its first crew-capable spacecraft. But already the company is showing off its much bigger, much shinier cousin: the Starship, built in Boca Chica, a coastal village at the southeastern tip of Texas, as part of a plan to carry giant crews into deep space. And NASA's administrator is bristling.
NASA anticipates having to buy yet more seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft next year, according to media reports. The three-seat Soyuz has been U.S. astronauts' only way to get to and from the International Space Station (ISS) since 2011, when NASA grounded its space shuttle fleet. NASA is counting on private U.S. craft to pick up the slack and has been encouraging these vehicles' development via the agency's Commercial Crew Program.