Exciting Space Missions to Look Forward to in 2024
As we enter the new year, space enthusiasts have plenty to anticipate with a multitude of exciting space missions set to take place in 2024. These missions range from lunar landings to crewed moon missions, the launch of new rockets, and exploration of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Not only do these missions reflect significant advancements in space exploration, but they also pave the way for future scientific discoveries and the potential for human presence beyond Earth.
One of the highlights of 2024 will be the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission. Set to take place in January, this mission aims to achieve the first-ever soft lunar landing for a Japanese spacecraft. The SLIM mission will land on the moon’s Shioli Crater, marking a significant milestone for JAXA and their exploration of the moon.
Astrobotic Technology, a leading space robotics company, also plans to launch its first lunar lander in January. This lander will carry 20 commercial and government payloads, including a lunar rover developed by scientists from Carnegie Mellon University. This mission represents another step forward in our understanding and exploration of the moon’s surface.
In mid-February, Intuitive Machines, in partnership with SpaceX, will attempt its first lunar landing with the IM-1 lunar mission. The landing is set to take place near the moon’s south pole and will mark an important milestone for the company in its quest for lunar exploration.
China’s Chang’e 6 mission, scheduled for 2024, aims to collect material from the far side of the moon. This mission follows the success of the country’s previous sample return mission and further contributes to our understanding of Earth’s natural satellite.
NASA’s Artemis 2 mission is also on the horizon for 2024. This mission will send the first astronauts around the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. With a planned launch in November, Artemis 2 will fly four astronauts aboard an Orion spacecraft using a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, rekindling the excitement of crewed moon missions for space enthusiasts.
Additionally, the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket is set to have its inaugural flight in January. The rocket will carry multiple payloads, including Astrobotic Technology’s lunar lander, showcasing the capabilities of this new space launch system.
SpaceX’s Starship rocket, one of the most anticipated projects in the space industry, is preparing for its third flight in the first quarter of 2024. This mission, known as IFT-3, aims to validate critical technologies for future lunar and interplanetary missions, further pushing the boundaries of space exploration.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is also gearing up for a significant launch in 2024. After completing recent tests, the Ariane 6 rocket is expected to take flight in the middle of the year, offering a reliable and efficient means of reaching space.
Blue Origin, the space company founded by Jeff Bezos, plans to launch its New Glenn rocket in 2024. Onboard will be NASA’s ESCAPADE mission, which aims to study Mars’ magnetosphere, contributing to our understanding of the Red Planet.
Jupiter’s moon Europa will also be the focus of exploration in 2024. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission aims to launch in October and will investigate the moon to determine if its underground ocean is habitable, offering tantalizing possibilities for extraterrestrial life.
Lastly, Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is tentatively scheduled for its first crewed test flight in mid-April. Test pilots will travel to the International Space Station, marking an important step for Boeing in its quest to provide reliable crew transportation services.
All in all, 2024 promises to be an exciting year for space exploration. With a wide array of missions, including lunar landings, crewed moon missions, rocket launches, and planetary exploration, the year ahead holds great promise for scientific discoveries and advancements in human presence beyond Earth. Space enthusiasts can brace themselves for an incredible journey into the unknown.
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