Houston-based Axiom Space is working to build the privately-owned orbiting outpost that could one day replace the International Space Station and even bring tourists to space. Axiom has already been granted NASA approval to attach its first commercial module to the ISS in 2020, and the firm says this could eventually provide the building blocks for their own station. The ISS is funded through 2024, with hopes from officials that this will be extended to 2028 – but, Axiom says it is keeping an ear'very close to the rail' for when the time to make its move really comes. Axiom Space is offering 7-10 day spaceflight missions for tourists. While the firm hasn't revealed what this will cost, they say it's'priced significantly lower than past spaceflight participants have paid.'
Australia will establish a national space agency to grow its space industry, the government has said. The nation is one of the only developed countries in the world not to have a space agency. Acting Industry Minister Michaelia Cash said it was "crucial" that Australia capitalised on the rapid growth of the global space industry. It follows a domestic industry review which had called for a dedicated body to be established. "The agency will be the anchor for our domestic co-ordination and the front door for our international engagement," Ms Cash said.
They tuned in by the tens of thousands, crowding around their screens the way residents of the Florida Space Coast once jammed the beaches to witness rocket launches at the dawn of the Space Age. But the audience watching SpaceX's live web broadcast of its launch from Cape Canaveral on Friday was treated to a show that until just a few years ago was widely discounted as impossible -- the vertical landing of the Falcon 9 rocket, which used its engine thrust to slow down and touch softly on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean. On Sunday morning, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft caught up to the International Space Station. Flying at 17,500 mph, the spacecraft pulled up alongside the orbiting laboratory, and at 7:23 a.m., European astronaut Tim Peake grabbed it using a robotic arm. While the main mission was to deliver food and cargo to the station, it was the landing at sea that was hailed as a breakthrough.
Space mining is no longer science fiction. By the 2020s, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries--for-profit space-mining companies cooperating with NASA--will be sending out swarms of tiny satellites to assess the composition of hurtling hunks of cosmic debris, identify the most lucrative ones, and harvest them. They've already developed prototype spacecraft to do the job. Some people--like Massachusetts Institute of Technology planetary scientist Sara Seager, former NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, and science writer Phil Plait--argue that, to continue advancing as a space-faring species, we need to embrace this commercial space mining industry, and perhaps even facilitate it, too. Before becoming a science communicator, I worked for 15 years researching the evolution of galaxies, the properties of dark matter, and the expansion of the universe.
Astronauts created a back door for the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, which will someday enable commercial space shuttles to dock. During a spacewalk on Friday, NASA's Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins installed the first of two docking adapters where crews riding with Boeing and SpaceX will soon disembark. The successful installation of the "international docking adapter" is another step forward in commercial space travel, where steadily advancing technology in the last two years has opened up real potential for life both here and in the skies. "It's really good we have an international standard now that anybody can build against and come dock to the station or to anything that has the same standard," David Clemen, Boeing's development director for the space station, said in a NASA press release. The dock's universal design – the technology is open-source, so anyone can build compatible technology – hints at how space travel will operate as it enters a new era of commercial development.