New space missions will launch to the moon, Jupiter and a metal world in 2023
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This year promises to be out of this world when it comes to space missions, launches and the next steps in space exploration.
In 2023, NASA will embark on a journey to a metallic world, a spacecraft will drop unprecedented samples of an asteroid to Earth, a historic mission to the Moon will receive its crew, and several new commercial rockets may make their debut. their release.
There is so much to look forward to, according to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“More amazing discoveries from the Webb telescope, climate missions that will tell us more about how our Earth is changing, ongoing science on the International Space Station, groundbreaking aeronautical developments with the X-59 and X-57 experimental aircraft, the selection of the first astronauts to go to the moon for more than 50 years and more,” Nelson said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the European Space Agency will launch a mission to Jupiter and its moons, send a satellite to create a 3D map of the universe and begin training its newest class of astronauts, which includes a astronaut with physical disabilities.
INTERACTIVE: The best space photos of 2022
Here are some of the space titles you can expect to see this year.
Last year, the inaugural mission of NASA’s Artemis Program launched with a successful test flight that sent an uncrewed spacecraft on a historic trip around the moon. And although the program’s first crewed flight, the Artemis II mission, isn’t expected to lift off until spring 2024, the public may soon learn the names of the lucky astronauts who will be aboard.
The space agency has already narrowed its astronaut corps to a field of 18 hopefuls who are eligible for Artemis crew assignments. And last month, NASA officials said they would announce the Artemis II crew in early 2023 — so news could come any day now.
The Artemis II mission is expected to send four people on a trip around the moon and back to Earth.
The next mission after that, Artemis III, will aim to land astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since the 20th century’s Apollo program.
Although there may not be any crewed Artemis flights to look forward to this year, NASA has plans to deploy robotic landers to the Moon as part of its effort to further study the lunar terrain and radiation environment, and search for resources that could potentially be. mined from the moon and used to power deeper space exploration.
That program is called Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, and relies on partnerships with more than a dozen companies that are privately developing their own lunar landers.
The first lander to fly under the program could be one built by Pennsylvania-based Astrobotic, which is slated to use its Peregrine lunar lander to take 11 science and exploration instruments to the lunar surface in the early months of 2023 .It will land in Lacus Mortis, a larger crater on the near side of the moon.
About three more CLPS program missions may also launch in 2023, according to NASA’s website.
The long-awaited Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission, known as JUICE, will launch between April 5 and 25.
The European Space Agency mission, taking off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, will spend three years exploring Jupiter and three of its icy moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa – in depth.
All three moons are thought to have oceans beneath their icy crusts, and scientists want to explore whether Ganymede’s ocean is potentially habitable.
After reaching Jupiter in July 2031, the spacecraft and its suite of 10 instruments will conduct 35 flybys of the gas giant and its moons. Some of the mission’s goals include investigating whether life ever existed in the Jupiter system, how the gas giant shaped its moons, and how Jupiter itself formed.
Boeing has been working for a decade to develop a spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to and from the ISS, and 2023 is expected to be the year this new space taxi will finally be operational.
After years of delays and development problems, the spacecraft, called Starliner, completed an uncrewed test mission to the ISS last May, which was deemed a success. And NASA officials have set April 2023 for the first crewed launch.
Starliner is expected to complete NASA’s plans to hand over the task of transporting astronauts to the ISS to the private sector. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule is already taking on this task, and the company aims to launch its seventh routine astronaut mission next month. When Starliner enters operations, SpaceX and Boeing are expected to split missions, hoping to keep as many staff on the ISS as possible before NASA retires the old space station in the next decade.
Continuing one of the most visible trends in spaceflight of the 2020s, several new commercial rocket companies are expected to debut brand new launch vehicles that are entirely owned and operated by the private sector.
SpaceX is expected to test the first orbital launch of its giant Starship spacecraft. The company wants to one day use the vehicle to put the first humans on Mars, and NASA also hopes to rely on the vehicle for its Artemis program.
Two other powerful commercial rockets are also in the works: Vulcan Centaur, developed by United Launch Alliance, and New Glenn, which is the product of billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin. Currently, the Vulcan rocket is expected to lift off in early 2023, while New Glenn could make its flight debut sometime after that. (Note, however, that new rockets are notorious for timing errors.)
Several new smaller rockets, specially designed to pull light satellites into Earth orbit, may also enter the scene. Two US-based startups – Relativity and ABL Space Systems – could kick off the year with their first launches expected from Florida and Alaska, respectively.
A collection of rocks and soil from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu will finally reach their destination this year when NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft drops them back to Earth.
The spacecraft, NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission, made history when it successfully collected a sample from Bennu in October 2020.
OSIRIS-REx will swing by Earth on September 24 and drop the sample, containing 2.1 ounces of material from Bennu’s surface, to the Utah Test and Training Range. If the spacecraft is still in good health, then it will launch a new expedition to study other asteroids.
The samples will reveal information about the formation and history of our solar system, as well as asteroids that may be on a potential collision course with Earth.
After unexpected delays, NASA’s first spacecraft designed to study a metallic asteroid will launch in October.
The Psyche mission will embark on a four-year journey to an unexplored potato-shaped world in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission will study a metal-rich asteroid, also called Psyche, which appears only as a fuzzy blur to ground and space-based telescopes.
The unusual object could be a metallic core left over from a planet or a piece of primordial material that never melted, according to NASA. Psychics can help astronomers learn more about the formation of our solar system. If the psyche is indeed a core, studying it would be like peering into the heart of a planet like Earth.
The mission missed its original 2022 launch window due to delays in software and hardware testing. The mission team has increased its personnel to complete pre-launch testing.
A number of other missions are expected to launch in 2023. NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions Monitoring Mission, or TEMPO, will measure pollution hourly over North America.
The agency will collaborate with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the European Space Agency on the XRISM mission, or X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, to investigate cosmic X-ray objects.
The European Space Agency and NASA will also join the Euclid mission to explore dark energy, a mysterious and invisible form of energy that drives the accelerating expansion of the universe.
Astrophysics’ Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Submillimeter Wavelength Observations, or the ASTHROS mission, will launch a balloon the size of a football field from Antarctica to study what causes the termination of star formation in some galaxies.
And NASA’s small satellite called Lunar Trailblazer will use innovative instruments to gather data on the amount of water on the Moon.