Project Prometheus: Nuclear Propulsion to the Moons of Jupiter

Nuclear power has had a long and complex history in outer space. Starting in the 1960s, both the US and USSR deployed full-on fission reactors aboard Earth-observing satellites; more recently, high-profile probes---Cassini, Curiosity, New Horizons---have all used safer but far less powerful radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), which extract energy from the waste heat of decaying... Continue Reading →

Cradle of Humanity

A think piece for today: If you want to get a rise out of space nerds, bring up Mars colonization1. These days it's the subject of countless op-eds and heated Facebook discussions. The Elon Musks and Robert Zubrins of the world are fierce proponents, viewing the expansion of humanity as a matter of survival; on... Continue Reading →

Book Review: Red Delta (Mark Ciccone)

Hello, all! I'm following up on last week's book review with... another book review! I've been reading a ton lately, so you're probably going to get a lot of these---and where Deep Black was sci-fi, the usual theme for this blog, today's exploration is in another genre entirely: alternate history. We will be taking a... Continue Reading →

Guest Post: Rockets or Spaceplanes?

Hello! I've been absent for a bit---with midterms bearing down on me, I needed a two-week break---but I'm back with a guest post from my good friend Eamon Minges, who wrote about orbital skyhooks last year. He will be making a case for horizontally launched spaceplanes, as opposed to SpaceX's vertically launched Starship model. Enjoy!... Continue Reading →

Man in Space by 1948?

On June 20, 1944, a test launch of the German V-2 missile reached an altitude of 176 kilometers, becoming the first object to cross the Kármán line1 and enter space. It was not intended to be a triumph of science; the milestone was simply a byproduct of Nazi weapons research, not recognized for many years.... Continue Reading →

Project Plowshare: Atoms for Peace

For today's post, we will turn our attention to Earth---not an unprecedented topic for this blog, despite the overall focus on space. In particular I would like to discuss one of the wackier technological ideas of the Cold War, where the United States researched ways to turn its nuclear arsenal into a tool for economic... Continue Reading →

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