The European Space Agency (ESA) has planned an autonomous return to space in 2024, with the inaugural flight of the Ariane 6 spacecraft, the resumption of Vega-C activities and the launch of the Hera planetary defense mission.
The graduation of a new batch of ESA astronauts, the launch of the EarthCare Earth observation satellite or the inauguration of the LUNA installation, a simulation of a mission to the Earth's natural satellite, are other events in the agency's activity plan for 2024, it was reported on Tuesday. Effie Agency.
The big moment of the year for ESA, after several delays, will be the inaugural flight of Ariane 6, scheduled from June 15 to July 31, a new rocket that will once again give Europe independent access to space.
With this new rocket, which is now undergoing final tests, it will be possible to reach Earth orbit and deep space, facilitating European navigation, Earth observation, scientific and security programmes.
Furthermore, flights of Vega-C, a medium-sized launch vehicle that will expand Europe's autonomy in space, will resume in the fall, facilitating new mission possibilities, including returns to Earth using the ESA Rider space return vehicle.
Another highlight was the launch of Hera, a planetary defense mission and the second part of another mission called DART by NASA (the North American space agency), which in September 2022 collided with an asteroid to destroy it.
Hera is scheduled to be launched in October from Cape Canaveral (USA) aboard a SpaceX rocket. Its final destination will be the binary asteroid Didymos, to conduct studies on it and Demorphos, which was blown off course by DART.
It has been more than a decade since the European Space Agency trained its last astronauts, but this year, in April, the new batch, consisting of five newbies, will end their journey of more than a year of training.
ESA's activity on the International Space Station will continue. In mid-January, Marcus Vandtem, who during his first stay will be a specialist on the Axiom-3 mission, will travel and participate with him in research and publication activities in the field of microgravity for 14 days.
Moreover, the first Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen, who has been on the space station since August on the Monin mission, with more than 20 European scientific experiments, plans to return to Earth at the end of February.
Several satellites are also scheduled to be launched this year. In May, it will be the turn of Tierra EarthCare, a joint initiative between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The satellite will investigate the role that clouds and aerosols play in reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space and capture infrared radiation emanating from the Earth's surface to better understand the evolution of temperature on our planet.
In the summer, the Proba-3 mission will be launched on board an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) spacecraft, with two small satellites that will study the dim solar corona and the surrounding atmosphere, in addition to using innovative techniques to precisely measure the location of the two spacecraft.
In October, the LUNA facility will open at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne (Germany), and is designed to recreate the surface of the Moon, providing a training ground for astronauts and a technology testing center for continuing progress towards a natural Earth satellite.
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