The year 2023 has provided a new impetus for space exploration. We've seen record numbers of people going into space, new developments in tourist spaceflight, and the launch of the Euclid Space Telescope.
Next year should be just as interesting. What's coming in 2024?
Artemis 2 will take astronauts into lunar orbit
This will be the last test mission before Artemis 3, which is expected to take astronauts to the surface of the moon in 2025, the first time this is expected to happen since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
“We are entering a new era of exploration for a new generation of star travelers and dreamers — the Artemis generation,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during an event at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Artemis 2 is part of a multi-phase exploration program led by NASA that includes six other global space agencies, including the European Space Agency (ESA).
More robots will land on the moon
NASA is expected to send several modules to the Moon in 2024, as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services Initiative. The spacecraft will send robotic equipment to the lunar south pole to collect relevant scientific data.
Among this equipment will be Viper, which will collect soil samples, Prime-1, which will conduct chemical analyzes of ice samples, and Blue Ghost Mission 1, which will investigate the flow of heat in the Moon's interior.
China also plans to send the Chang'e 6 robotic exploration mission to the lunar surface in May. The Chinese vehicle is expected to collect the first samples from the far side of the moon, and Pakistan, France, Italy and Sweden are expected to participate in this mission. The mission with their instruments including the Pakistani Icecube-Q satellite.
Visit other moons in the solar system
Japan plans to launch a mission to explore the moons of Mars in 2024, which is expected to reach Phobos, the largest moon of Mars. The goal is to send a robot to collect the first soil samples, more specifically 20 grams of regolith – loose stones and dust from the lunar surface – which could be of enormous value to science.
NASA also plans to launch the Europa Clipper in October, a mission that is expected to enter Jupiter's orbit and perform a series of flybys around Jupiter's moon Europa. There will be a total of 44 flights, with the hope of identifying potential landing sites on the surface.
Europa Clipper is also expected to collect data on potential lunar ice sheets and oceans, which are essential chemical ingredients for life, and on geological features of Europa's surface.
ESA's Hera mission aims to analyze two asteroids called Didymos and Demorpho, each less than a kilometer in diameter. This is a continuation of NASA's 2022 Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission that bumped and changed Dimorph's orbit.
Hera will conduct an evaluation of the asteroid for planetary defense purposes, collecting data on mass and kinematics after landing on Dimorpho in October 2024, to understand exactly how the asteroid's orbit was modified by DART. The European Space Agency's mission is expected to arrive at the Didymos system in December 2026.
NASA's Lucy mission will also head to asteroid systems — in this case, eight asteroids in Jupiter's orbit known as Trojans. The goal is to collect data about the composition of the solar system.
Commercial flights should gain momentum
The year 2024 will witness the launch of space planes, which are vehicles capable of flying in low Earth orbit and returning to the surface on traditional take-off and landing runways.
Sierra Space will launch the Dream Chaser, a reusable rocket-launched spacecraft capable of carrying three to seven people and refueling at the International Space Station (ISS).
To help launch spaceplanes into orbit, the first flight of a new type of vehicle – or rocket to laymen – called New Glenn will be launched in 2024, designed to be a reusable vehicle capable of sending spaceplanes into space. Tourism trips.
NASA is building a “humanoid” robot to help astronauts in space
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