The Space Reviewin association with SpaceNews
 

 
STS-107 launch
More than a year after Columbia, we are still asking, and trying to answer, the big questions. (credit: NASA/KSC)

The Space Review turns one

This week (actually, the middle of last week) marks the first anniversary of this publication. This week also presents another milestone, as we publish our 100th article in this issue. It’s been a long trip, full of late nights writing and editing articles, but based on the reaction The Space Review has received from readers, it has been a worthwhile one.

When we published our first article, we said that it was “time to ask the big questions.” That was a natural response to the Columbia accident, but not necessarily a new one. The idea for The Space Review dates back more than a year: an online publication that would offer essays and commentary on the space issues of the day, rather than rehashing the news widely available elsewhere. I kept pushing back the actual implementation of the idea, waiting until “the time was right.” After Columbia, it was clear that if this wasn’t the right time, no time would be.

In the last year we have seen people—NASA leadership, Congress, and even the President—ask those big questions and pose some answers. However, particularly on issues regarding the future direction of NASA and space exploration in general, there is no unanimity on those answers. As NASA inches towards returning the shuttle to flight, the key political players continue to debate the merits and costs of the Bush space initiative. It will take many months, perhaps years, before a final verdict is rendered on the plan as well as decisions made on the fate of the space shuttle and space station.

In the last year we have seen people ask those big questions and pose some answers. However, particularly on issues regarding the future direction of NASA and space exploration in general, there is no unanimity on those answers.

Meanwhile, the last year has seen dramatic developments at the low end of spaceflight, suborbital vehicles. One year ago virtually no one knew what Burt Rutan was up to; now we know about—and have seen fly, at least on limited test flights—SpaceShipOne. There’s considerable optimism that Rutan or possibly another group will win the $10 million X Prize before it expires at the end of the year. Proponents believe this will open a whole new market for tourism and other suborbital applications, although numerous challenges—technical, financial, and regulatory—still remain.

In short, it’s still time to ask, and to try to answer, the big questions about our role in space. It’s my hope that this publication will be a major forum for that debate, providing an opportunity to get past the political rhetoric and PR fluff to explore the key issues and propose new answers to those big questions. The next year should look much like the previous one at The Space Review, with a few articles a week on a wide range of issues. In the coming weeks and months I plan to roll out a few minor enhancements to the publication, such as printer-friendly versions of articles (perhaps the number one request of readers in the last year!) Nothing too significant, just tools to help better communicate the message.

As always, my mailbox remains open to your questions, comments, suggestions, and article submissions: send them to jeff@thespacereview.com. I look forward to spending the next year and beyond helping, in a very minor way, shape the debate regarding the future of space.


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