What to look forward to in space in 2024

The Hera mission is also slated to launch in October 2024. The spacecraft will visit asteroid Didymos and its small moon Dimorphos, which the DART spacecraft intentionally impacted in 2022. Hera will investigate DART’s aftermath, helping us understand whether ramming a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to deflect an asteroid on course to hit the Earth.

Also scheduled for launch this year is ESCAPADE, a pair of small spacecraft that will study how Mars’ atmosphere escapes into space. This mission is scheduled to launch in August aboard the first flight of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket. If New Glenn isn’t ready in time, ESCAPADE could be delayed until the next Mars launch window in 2026.

Two Venus missions could launch as soon as December. Venus Life Finder, a mission by RocketLab and MIT, will send a probe into Venus’ atmosphere to scan for organic molecules. India’s Shukrayaan orbiter will study multiple aspects of Venus, including the planet’s subsurface.

The Lucy spacecraft, which launched in 2021, will fly past Earth for a gravity assist in December. This will put it on course for the main asteroid belt, where it will fly past an asteroid in April 2025 before reaching Juipter’s Trojan asteroids in 2027.

Bepicolombo, which launched in 2018, will fly past Mercury two times in 2024, on Sept. 5 and Dec. 2. This will put it on course for a final Mercury flyby and arrival in 2025.

In addition to New Glenn, Europe’s Ariane 6 rocket is expected to debut this year. SpaceX’s massive Starship launch system is also preparing for another test flight. The vehicle is a key part of NASA’s crewed Moon landing plans under the Artemis program.

Boeing’s Starliner crew vehicle is scheduled to debut in April, when it will fly two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. The vehicle will join SpaceX’s Dragon and the Russian Soyuz as a third option for flying humans to the ISS. On the cargo side of space station business, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, which looks like a miniature Space Shuttle, is also preparing for its first uncrewed test flight as soon as April.

NASA’s Advanced Composite Solar Sail System, or ACS3, is scheduled to launch into Earth orbit during the first half of 2024 aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle. ACS3 will test out materials that could enable the development of much larger solar sails. The spacecraft has a sail area roughly 2.5 times bigger than The Planetary Society’s LightSail spacecraft.

Originally published at https://www.einpresswire.com/article/685767646/what-to-look-forward-to-in-space-in-2024