A scientist explains why finding ice on the Red Planet was only part of the challenge.

In this illustration, NASA astronauts drill into the Mars’ subsurface. The agency is creating new maps that show where ice is most likely to be easily accessible to future astronauts. Credit: NASA

Any hope humans have for an off-world future relies on several factors for survival. One of the most important? Water. Continuously shipping water across the galaxy to resupply astronauts requires extraordinary expense in transportation costs. The next planet humans inhabit will need to have access to a local supply. Scientists have labored to locate water on Mars but finding it was only the first step. …


As plans for the end of ISS are being made, Aerospace Chief Technology Officer, Dr. David Miller, looks at the progress and the future of space-based microgravity lab facilities.

The International Space Station has served as a critical laboratory for microgravity research. (Credit: NASA)

Technology research is no longer solely a terrestrial endeavor. Crucial interactions between the zero gravity environment and the physics of spacecraft can’t be replicated in a 1-G environment on Earth. A benefit of human space exploration has been the ability to test space innovations in the environment where they will eventually operate.

Critical space-enabling technologies have been developed in the microgravity labs aboard space stations including Mir, the Space Shuttle, and…


New unmanned aerial drones can fly into damaged areas, locate survivors and alert first responders.

Pararescue jumpers and combat rescue officers from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base conduct a search and rescue response during Hurricane Katrina-like flood training. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

When responding to a natural disaster, lives are on the line and every second counts. Emergency rescuers often face the challenges of assessing vast swaths of destruction and chaos with minimal real-time intelligence to guide them.

Searching for survivors in rising floodwaters or the chaotic ruins of an earthquake takes days, as workers must assess which roads and bridges are accessible and attempt to navigate through hazardous, unknown environments.

The Aerospace Corporation aims to give rescue crews intelligent eyes in the sky. A team of…


The responses to our updates about Long March 5B have been overwhelming. Our Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies expert, Marlon Sorge, answers some the most-asked questions about the reentry that captured the world’s attention.

ATV-1 Reentry from February, 2015. Image courtesy European Space Agency

The remnants of the large Chinese rocket body known as Long March 5B plummeted into the Indian Ocean on May 8 after an uncontrolled and dangerous reentry. Experts at Aerospace’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) monitored its journey using sophisticated modeling to predict when and where the 22-ton piece of space debris would crash to earth.


Wondering if you’re in a debris path? Here’s what all those blue and yellow lines mean.

Reentry prediction for the Long March 5B rocket body from the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies. Credit: The Aerospace Corporation

The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) is tracking the reentry path of the rocket body from the Chinese Long March 5B (CZ-5B) launch of April 29. The CORDS’ graphic has generated a lot of questions such as, “what exactly am I looking at?” and “am I in the path of debris?”

Latest update from Twitter @AerospaceCorp

For context, the previous “normal” rocket body descent, Long March 3B (CZ-3B) that reentered on May 3, is shown below:


The 21-metric-ton rocket body, Long March 5B, is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere this weekend. How did this happen, and where will it hit?

The Chinese Long March 5B successfully launched the core module of China’s first space station. Now the empty rocket body is plummeting towards Earth. Credit: CASC

A large Chinese rocket stage is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere in the coming days and experts are concerned about the potential impact of the debris.

The Long March 5B successfully launched a 22.5-metric-ton core module of China’s first space station last week. During the launch, the first stage of the Long March 5B also reached orbital velocity instead of falling downrange as is common practice. …


Tackling the challenge of small satellite propulsion with a novel idea for a Hydrogen Peroxide Vapor Thruster.

Rhodes checks the electrical connections of HyPer in a vacuum chamber. (Photo: Jeff Berting/Aerospace)

Small satellites are becoming more and more capable, taking over missions that used to require larger spacecraft. However, adding propulsion systems to these smaller platforms remains a challenge, which means many small sats are limited to applications that do not require increases in altitude, or changes in inclination.

Engineers at The Aerospace Corporation, working in conjunction with the University of Southern California, are developing a monopropellant vapor propulsion system that could help solve this problem.

“This type of system could enable the satellite…


From small satellites to the International Space Station, the new frontier for studying our planet is miles above it.

It turns out one of the best ways to study Planet Earth is to leave it. As human access to space has sped up, scientists increasingly rely on everything from satellites to the International Space Station to study our planet and changes to our climate. New tools on the ISS provide data on Earth’s airglow and carbon dioxide levels while satellites track wildfires, Arctic warming and hurricanes.

In honor of Earth Day, here we are highlighting eight ways scientists and engineers are using space to study and protect Earth.

How Satellites Predict Wildfire Spread


Satellites are complex and time-intensive to build. A team of engineers wants to make the process as easy as plugging in a USB drive.

FFHannah Weiher, Slingshot payload manager, works with an engineering development unit to explore the potential of modular design.

While access to space has sped up, the process of building satellites has not. Since the days of Explorer 1, marrying a satellite’s payloads to the bus that provides power, telemetry and communications has been a complex, time-intensive process unique to each particular mission.

To keep up with the new space environment, a team of engineers at The Aerospace Corporation are working on a vision of the future where integrating the payload and bus of a…


The Orbiting Carbon Observatory has been installed on the International Space Station to study carbon dioxide in oceans and terrestrial ecosystems on Earth.

An overview of the International Space Station where the OCO-3 will be installed. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels for energy has caused carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to rise at an alarming rate. While other greenhouse gases have also increased due to human activity, carbon dioxide is far more abundant and remains in the atmosphere much longer. …

The Aerospace Corporation

We operate the only federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) committed exclusively to the space enterprise.

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