This week in The Space Review….
Human spaceflight for less: the case for smaller launch vehicles, revisited
As NASA, Congress, and industry debate what the new Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket should be, some argue that such a rocket isn’t necessary at all. Grant Bonin makes the case for exploration architectures that use larger numbers of smaller, less expensive rockets.
New strategies for exploration and settlement
For many space advocates, space settlement has long been the ultimate goal of spaceflight, but one that has seen little progress in the last few decades. Jeff Foust reports on two recent speeches that offer similar, if slightly differing, takes on new approaches that could make settlement a reality.
Bring home the sample
A Mars sample return mission remains a high priority for scientists, but one that is technically and financially difficult to carry out. Lou Friedman discusses the importance of sample return and the role that international cooperation can play to further it.
NASA’s new robot challenge
Draft rules for a new NASA prize competition involving sample return technology were quietly released last month. Ben Brockert reviews the rules and discusses some potential issues with the planned competition.
The last shuttle crew
Next month the final shuttle mission will lift off with a four-person crew. Anthony Young reflects on this final crew and the future of human spaceflight.