Year Ahead: 5 Space missions to look forward in 2021
The gone year may not have been that good for humans, but it definitely was a landmark year for space explorations. And a lot of exciting programmes are lined up for the New Year too. Let’s have a look…
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been growing by leaps and bounds. After its Mars Mission and two lunar missions, the organisation would launch Chandrayaan 3 in March.
Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008 and was one of the first major missions in the Indian space programme. Comprising an orbiter and a surface penetrator probe, the mission was one of the first to confirm evidence of lunar water. Chandrayaan-2 launched in 2019 was not so successful.
Artemis 1 is the first flight of the NASA-led, international Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. This will consist of an uncrewed Orion spacecraft which will be sent on a three-week flight around the Moon. It will reach a maximum distance from Earth of 450,000 km – the farthest into space that any spacecraft that can transport humans will have ever flown.
There’s going to be a flurry of activities on Mars this year.
The United Arab Emirates’ Al Amal (Hope) spacecraft is scheduled to arrive in Mars orbit on February 9, where it will spend two years monitoring the Martian weather and disappearing atmosphere.
China National Space Administration’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft is supposed to enter Martian orbit for several months before deploying the rover to the surface. If it succeeds, China will become the third country to land anything on Mars.
NASA’s Perseverance rover will land at Jezero Crater on February 18 and search for any signs of ancient life which may have been preserved in the clay deposits there.
James Webb Space Telescope
We all love what Hubble did for us. Such beautiful and extraordinary pictures of space were not possible without this machine. And it also helped in research. The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope but has had a rocky path to being launched. Initially planned for a 2007 launch, the Webb telescope is almost 14 years late and has cost roughly $10 billion. Hopefully, it would be initialised this year.
Japan’s mission to the Moon
Japan’s first moon rover, called Yaoki, will take flight aboard the rookie mission for United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket in 2021. The new booster will phase out the Russian-made engines that powered ULA’s long-running Atlas line, replacing them with Blue Origin-made engines.