This Week in The Space Review…

Getting caught up on The Space Review. Here are stories from today’s and last Monday’s editions:

Suborbital back out of the shadows
In the last couple years commercial suborbital spaceflight has been overshadowed by growing interest in, and debate about, commercial orbital human spaceflight. Jeff Foust reports that vehicle developments and growing customer interest could soon thrust suborbital back into the spotlight.

A dark future for exploration
The Planetary Sciences Decadal Survey is due out Monday, identifying the highest priority planetary science missions for the next decade. Lou Friedman warns, though, that tight budgets could jeopardize both those missions and future exploration in general.

Debating a code of conduct for space
The new national security space policy does not directly endorse a proposed EU code of conduct for outer space activities, but it does support some of its underlying concepts. Jeff Foust reports on what some observers see as particular issues with the EU code, and the path ahead.

Six answers to 37 senators
Last month nearly 40 US senators signed a letter to the secretary of state, asking questions about US interest in a code of conduct for outer space activities. Yousaf Butt adresses the issues raised by the senators in their letter.
Monday, March 7, 2011

What future for intelligent life in space?
A joint DARPA/NASA study is examining what technologies it would take to send a spacecraft to another star in a hundred years. Stephen Ashworth argues that ultimate human exploration beyond our solar system will first require a firm grounding in living and working within it.

When will our Martian future get here?
The grand human expeditions into the solar system predicted decades ago have failed to come to pass, like any number of other predictions about life in the 21st century. Andre Bormanis wonders if the future of space exploration will, in fact, be more virtual as those technologies become increasingly capable.

Russia, revolutions, and the Red Planet
The concept of using rovers to explore the surface of Mars has been successfully demonstrated by NASA, but it wasn’t that long ago that the agency had no plans for such missions. Lou Friedman recalls how it was Russian interest, carried on even as the Soviet Union collapsed, that influenced present-day Martian exploration.

Tough little spinner
Communications satellites, inelegant boxy contraptions today, were once spinning drum-shaped spacecraft. Dwayne Day describes one such spinner that lives on to this day, owned by an obscure satellite operator.

Review: John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon
Among the major 50th anniversaries in spaceflight being celebrated this year is John F. Kennedy’s speech calling for a human mission to the Moon by the end of the 1960s. Jeff Foust reviews a book by that reexamines Kennedy’s influence on the early space program.

Review: Once Before Time
The universe started with the Big Bang, but what, if anything, came before that? Jeff Foust reviews a book by a cosmologist that offers a model that suggests this universe was not the first.

The flight of the Big Bird (part 3)
Dwayne Day continues his history of the KH-9 HEXAGON reconnaissance satellite program with an examination of spacecraft operations, including the deep sea recovery of one of the first film capsules returned by a KH-9.

The Space Review: Balloons (Not) in Space, Sustainability and Space Resources

It’s time to pop the space balloon meme
There’s been a growing number of efforts by amateurs to fly balloons high into the atmosphere and take “pictures of space”, or even claim to have flown in space. Jeff Foust examines how how this phenomenon, and especially the media coverage of it, could have a detrimental effect on actual spaceflight.

An experiment in sustainability and spaceflight
Future long-duration human spaceflight will require technologies that can sustain life while reusing and recycling as much as possible. Kit Martin argues that the same technologies can also be essential to sustaining life on Earth.

Review: Crossing the Threshold
How can we take advantage of the virtually boundless energy and material resources in the solar system? Jeff Foust reviews a book that offers a series of proposals to accelerate humanity’s expansion into and utilization of space.

The Space Review Looks at Apollo, Space Elevators


In The Space Review this week….

Coping with the closing
Space enthusiasts have coped with the relative lack of progress in the four decades since humans first walked on the Moon in varying ways. John Hickman describes these various approaches and how they can pose obstacles to the future.

Still on the ground floor

Jeff Foust reports on a recent conference where the space elevator community took stock of the current situation and made plans to forge ahead.

PAN’s labyrinth
An Atlas 5 is scheduled to launch next month a mysterious satellite identified only as PAN. Dwayne Day sheds a little more light on this spacecraft and its possible mission.

Review: The New Solar System

Hundreds of books have been published about the solar system, making it difficult for new ones to stand out. Jeff Foust reviews one that succeeds at standing out thanks to updated material and good design.