Rising Tensions in Low Earth Orbit

Recent intelligence suggests that Russia is developing a space-based nuclear weapon designed to attack America’s extensive satellite network. While details are unknown, the weapon is believed to target United States military surveillance and commercial communications satellites. However, there is no immediate threat to the public, as Russia cannot deploy a nuclear weapon in space without breaking an international treaty and damaging all the satellites in low Earth orbit, including their own. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the development, one thing is becoming clear: space may serve as an international battleground in the near future.

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The Legacy of NASA’s Ingenuity

After three successful years, the Mars helicopter Ingenuity has just taken its last flight. During a landing, a brief loss of communication with the chopper occurred, only for the vehicle to resume communications the next day with a damaged rotor blade. Being the first helicopter to operate on another planet, Ingenuity is a trailblazer in more ways than one. However, budgetary constraints leave the future of additional Marscopter missions up in the air.

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The Benefits of Scientific Controversy

Timothy Nash recently brought a two-million-year-old fossil on a commercial voyage aboard Virgin Galactic’s V.S.S. Unity. The purpose was to symbolize how far humanity has come, though many scientists disagree with this stunt, stating the venture to be “unethical” and “reckless”. However, the resulting controversy has led to a great deal of public interest in the Cradle of Humankind, benefitting future research ventures through additional economic support.

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Why Educational Game Design Matters

Kerbal Space Program 2 has just been released, and the scientific community is beyond thrilled. The original Kerbal Space Program is a beloved video game that encourages players to learn rocket science through a complex and realistic physics engine. It tackles a unique design challenge of being educational and fun and has suggested the value of enjoyment as the most necessary aspect of learning.

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Profitable Risk: The Dangers of Consumer Spaceflight and Space Tourism

Society is rapidly approaching an era in which ordinary civilians can purchase tickets to become passengers on space vehicles. Companies worldwide are deep in the development of infrastructure and technology to provide spaceflight for amusement and transportation. These endeavors deviate fundamentally from traditional spaceflight and raise questions about the ethical implications of commercial spaceflight with civilian passengers.

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Utilitarian Rights-based Arguments for Planetary Protection

Protecting solar system bodies from contamination by Earth life has been an active research topic since the start of the space race. The prospect of finding and possibly contaminating extraterrestrial life has caused the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) to set technical standards for planetary protection; planetary protection is essential to preserve humanity’s ability to study other worlds in their natural states, to avoid contamination that would obscure the ability to find life elsewhere, and to ensure that Earth’s biosphere is protected from alien life. Until recently, these utilitarian considerations have been sufficient in addressing all ethical concerns while exploring outer space. However, the prospect of terraforming Mars has sparked a debate over the ethical implications of destroying possible alien organisms. This paper provides a historical background regarding the ethical considerations in human space exploration and argues that the utilitarian considerations provided by the NASA Office of Planetary Protection are sufficient for answering ethical questions regarding planetary protection within the solar system.

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