This week in The Space Review…
Could commercial crew become less commercial?
A proposed change in how NASA will contract for the next round of its commercial crew development program has generated considerable opposition from industry. Jeff Foust reports on the planned change and concerns it could be the first step to more significant changes in the program.
High expectations: Utopianism and cornucopianism in the early modern era and the Space Age
Many aspects of space exploration, from the language of the Outer Space Treaty to concepts for space colonies, implied a future where space was free of national interests and sovereignty. John Hickman argues that such approaches are as doomed as the utopian visions of the New World centuries ago.
VASIMR and a new war of the currents
The utility, or lack thereof, of a proposed electric propulsion system to enable Mars missions has been a major point of contention for some Mars exploration enthusiasts and will be discussed again at the Mars Society conference this week. Chuck Black finds a historical analogue to this debate.
Another look: Falling Back to Earth
Lou Friedman offers his perspective on the book Falling Back to Earth about the space policy of the George H. W. Bush Administration and its lessons for today.
Current strategies towards air-breathing space launch vehicles
A long-term vision for many aerospace engineers and others in the space community has been the development of a reusable launch vehicle that use atmospheric oxygen for some phases of its flight. John K. Strickland examines the current state of research and the potential future directions in this area.
My dear friend
Dwayne Day discovers an unusual consequence of, and financial opportunity associated with, the retirement of the Space Shuttle.