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 →

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 →

Polyus: The Soviet Battle Station

I would like to begin this post by acknowledging a grave failure: a recent shortage of Soviet-related posts. It is simply an intolerable situation. The Soviet space program is a cornerstone of this website, but the last time I wrote anything about it was in November! So, to rectify this, I will today discuss one... Continue Reading →

NASA’s Dragonfly: A Quadcopter on Titan

A couple posts ago, I reviewed a book about an expedition to Titan---arguably the most interesting celestial body in the Solar System---and I'd like to continue in that theme this week, turning my attention to a real, official Titan exploration project under development at NASA: the Dragonfly mission. Dragonfly will be a quadcopter aircraft sent... Continue Reading →

By Fusion Drive to Pluto

Oddball mission studies are my jam. Sometimes, they are NASA's jam, too---the agency is not afraid to occasionally explore the more speculative topics, spacecraft which rely on advanced technologies and are many decades away from ever seeing implementation. I stumbled across one such study when I was doing some reading on Pluto the other day.... Continue Reading →

A Journey Through Soviet Space Music

Space travel was at the center of the Soviet psyche, and key to the communist vision of the future. Humans would one day expand across the whole cosmos, exploring and building among the stars, and the socialist countries, particularly the USSR, would lead the way. All humanity would eventually join hands in plunging into the... Continue Reading →

Space History: Interkosmos

Today we take international cooperation pretty much for granted when it comes to spaceflight---last year an Israeli moon probe hitched a ride aboard an American SpaceX rocket, to name just one example, and of course the ISS continues to fly with the participation of eighteen different countries. This is the obvious way of doing things.... Continue Reading →

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