With the end of the International Space Station program looming just over the horizon, the national space agencies that back the project are scrambling to make plans for what comes next. Nowhere is this discussion more fraught than in Russia, where the issue of post-ISS efforts are wrapped up in questions about Russia’s entire future in space.
Chinese engineers are wrapping up work on the Chang’e-5 lunar mission for a targeted November launch atop a Long March 5 booster. It will depart from the newly completed Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province. If successful, this robotic mooncraft would carry the first lunar samples returned to Earth in over 40 years.
With the FAA restricted from developing safety regulations for people on commercial human spacecraft, an industry standards organization is moving ahead with plans to establish a committee to develop a voluntary set of standards.
With the first NASA human mission to Mars still at least two decades away, the space agency and planetary scientists have started looking for potential landing sites, a search motivated by both long-term planning requirements and urgency to take advantage of spacecraft already there.
As NASA provides more details about its long-term plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, the agency’s administrator warned that any attempt by the next administration to deviate from that plan would be disastrous.
The National Reconnaissance Office released Oct. 22 a trove of declassified records —including this video — from the 1960s about a military human spaceflight program.
China is soliciting international participation in its future manned space station in the form of foreign modules that would attach to the three-module core system, visits by foreign crew-transport vehicles for short stays and the involvement of non-Chinese researchers in placing experiments on the complex.
NASA is taking advantage of a confluence of events, including the discovery of liquid water on the surface of Mars and the release of a Hollywood blockbuster about a Mars mission, to promote its long-term goal of sending humans there, even as it is slow to fill in the details about its plans.
Proposals to develop commercial space stations in low Earth orbit that could serve as successors to the International Space Station face both an uncertain regulatory environment and questions about their economic viability, according to both those planning such stations and those who might regulate them.
If humanity ever wants to send people to any deep-space destination in the solar system at any price, let alone one the nation or world can afford, we must be prepared to take risks and lose astronauts.
NASA officials, to their credit, and despite catcalls from the outside, are not rushing into a plan — instead they are developing what they call an “evolvable Mars campaign.”
More than a year after the National Research Council (NRC) completed a report outlining different approaches to human space exploration, NASA’s advisers are asking the space agency to provide a formal response.
A new report concludes that public-private partnerships, like those NASA has used in its commercial cargo and crew programs, could return humans to the moon for as little as $10 billion and within seven years.
In the 1990s, NASA’s Faster, Better, Cheaper mantra almost drove the U.S. robotic Mars exploration program into oblivion. And the recent drumbeat from “boots on Mars” advocates appears to have human spaceflight headed toward the same end circa 2033, if not sooner.