Special Report

Space 2016: Six Stories to Watch

For most Americans, particularly those raised in the Apollo era, space exploration means NASA. Even today, the agency’s stamp is all over the heavens, from Earth orbit to the ice mountains of Pluto. But look closer and the monolith appears less dominant every day.

In 2016, that trend will be even more pronounced, as a small fleet of privately owned vehicles heads for space, non-NASA “company astronauts” start training for missions, and we wake up to the news that China and Europe—not NASA—just landed on the moon and Mars. Call it progress, call it retreat. Either way, the space program of 2016 won’t be what it used to be. Here are a few changes to watch for. (Photo of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Earth by Scott Kelly, on board the International Space Station, July 19, 2015.)

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