Explaining Southern California's economy

Who will rule the business of space? Humans...or robots?

SpaceX-Falcon 9


SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasts off, with a capsule en route to the International Space Station.


The SpaceX Dragon capsule, with solar panels deployed. After a successful servicing mission to the ISS, it returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific.



If SpaceX gets its way, we'll see more guys like this flying into space on its rockets.


Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is building spacecraft entirely with private funding, to do space tourism and also provide services for NASA.

Curiosity: Robot Geologist and Chemist in One!

NASA/ JPL-Cal Tech

This artist's concept features NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, a mobile robot for investigating Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life.

Test Rover Aids Preparations in California for Curiosity Rover on Mars


Mars Science Laboratory mission team members ran mobility tests on California sand dunes in early May 2012 in preparation for operating the Curiosity rover.

Space for Sale


Are we entering a brave new era of commercial space flight? Some entrepreneurs certainly think so.

KPCC reporters have been talking to Southland scientists and engineers and counting down the days until NASA's most ambitious rover yet — Curiosity — prepares to land on the Martian surface. Follow the series online.

Sunday’s landing of the Mars rover Curiosity has generated a lot of excitement about the space program. And with the arrival of commercial space-exploration startups in the big way — see SpaceX and its Space Station servicing mission, Virgin Galactic and its push into space tourism and launch services for NASA — the Curiosity mission has also revived an old debate: Should we focus on sending robots, or people, into space? 

We’ve been asking ourselves that question ever since we started blasting rockets into the void. The physicist Stephen Hawking strongly backs manned flights. He believes that it's imperative to colonize outer space if humanity is to survive (the Earth won't last forever, and you never know if a catastrophic event will occur, such as an asteroid strike or runaway climate change).