Astro-enthusiasts, prepare for countdown! National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has shared its schedule of launches from September, 2021, to April, 2022.
The list includes dates of both launches and landings of most awaited missions such as Landsat 9, CAPSTONE, Lucy, Artemis I, GOES-T and Space X crew missions, among others.
Mission Landsat 9
This launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, will continue the nearly 50-year legacy of the Landsat series. The series marks a record of Earth’s land surfaces from space.
Mission Landsat 9 launch partnership between NASA and the U.S. Geographical Survey, is scheduled for September 23, 2021.
Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer
The X-ray astronomy satellite which will launch in Fall 2021, will study active galactic nuclei, microquasars, pulsars and pulsar wind nebulae, magnetar, accreting X-ray binaries, supernove remnants and the galactic center.
The cost of IXPE will be $188 million, which includes the cost of the launch vehicle and operations and data analysis after launch.
X-57 First Flight
The first flight of NASA’s X-57 is a small, experimental airplane powered by electricity. Its all-electric technology will make flying cleaner, quieter, and more sustainable, says NASA.
The flight will take place at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California in Fall 2021 and the exact date is yet to be announced.
CAPSTONE – CubeSat Pathfinder Mission
Mission CAPSTONE will validate new navigation technologies and verify dynamics in Gateway’s planned orbit. According to NASA, the mission will launch aboard a Rocket Lab Electron rocket, also in Fall of 2021.
This launch is scheduled for October 16, 2021, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first space mission to study the Trojan asteroids associated with the planet Jupiter.
Lucy will complete a 12-year journey to eight different asteroids which hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 Mission to ISS
This mission will launch four astronauts aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Space X – Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 31, 2021.
The astronauts on this crewed mission will be Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer.
Artemis I will be the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.
According to NASA, during this flight, the spacecraft will travel 280,000 miles from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Mission Splashdown
In this mission, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will return to Earth after about six months aboard the International Space Station. According to NASA, this landing is most likely to happen sometime between early to mid-November this year.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), will be NASA’s first flight demonstration for planetary defense on November 24. The mission seeks to test and validate a method to protect Earth in case of an asteroid impact threat.
The mission aims to shift an asteroid’s orbit through kinetic impact – specifically, by impacting a spacecraft into the smaller member of the binary asteroid system Didymos to change its orbital speed, says NASA.
James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched on December 12, 2021, will find the first galaxies that formed in the early universe. The telescope will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems.
The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-T (GOES-T) launch on January 8, 2021, will provide advanced imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment. It will also allow real-time mapping of total lightning activity, and improved monitoring of solar activity and space weather, says NASA.
NASA’s Space X Crew-4 Mission
According to reports, NASA teams are targeting no earlier than April 15, 2022, for the launch of this mission to the space station for another six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.
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