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 →

The Many Planets of TRAPPIST-1

Wherever you see an alien planet in sci-fi films or television, there's always something weird going on in the sky. How else would you know you're not looking at Earth? So in everything from Avatar to Star Wars we get double stars, panoplies of moons, other planets in the same system---so many disks visible even... Continue Reading →

Dawn: Exploring Vesta and Ceres

When I was young, Ceres and Pluto were the biggest blank spots on the map of the Solar System. Most of the other interesting places had been long since explored, from Mercury all the way out to the moons of Neptune, but when I opened my astronomy books to the two minor planets, I saw... Continue Reading →

Space Navies in Sci-Fi

Space navies are among the great tropes of science fiction. Countless works transplant the traditions, tactics, and structures of maritime forces to space opera settings: Star Trek has Starfleet, Space: Above and Beyond has the equivalent of World War II carrier battles, and of course Warhammer 40,000 goes full-on Age of Sail with floggings and... Continue Reading →

The Decline and Fall of Mars One

Sometimes, the underdog really does win against the odds. Sometimes, a small, plucky band of visionaries, armed only with a dream, really can rise to dizzying heights and reshape the world into something better. Sometimes, the success is so profound and transformative that later generations think it was inevitable all along. Mars One was not... Continue Reading →

The X-20: America’s Space Fighter

Everyone knows space fighters are an absurd idea, right? It's practically the first rule of hard science fiction: this isn't Star Wars you're writing, so no fighters, period. They make no economic or military sense, and they're exceedingly small and vulnerable, and they're not nearly as maneuverable as you'd think because space has no air... Continue Reading →

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