What has NASA, other national space agencies, and the private space sector planned for 2023?
Following the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in late 2021 and Artemis-I in 2022, the next 12 months will see our Moon, the moons of Jupiter, Venus, strange asteroids and some historic test flights and exciting one-off missions .
Here’s everything you need to know about space exploration, NASA missions and more in 2023, listed in order of excitement:
1. The return to Earth of OSIRIS-REx
When: September 24, 2023
Remember when NASA landed on an asteroid in 2020? NASA’s first asteroid sample return spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, has since been on a trajectory to Earth and will deliver a sample from asteroid Bennu to Earth later this year. It is planned to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land by parachute at the US Air Force’s Utah Test and Training Range.
When: October 10, 2023
NASA wants a close-up of one of the most intriguing and possibly valuable asteroids we know of, 16 Psyche. After software glitches in 202 delayed the mission, he’s now ready to soar into the skies on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on a low-cost Discovery-class robotic space mission to find out if it’s really made of iron and nickel. The orbiter is due to arrive at Psyche in August 2029 (some time past the January 2026 arrival it would have achieved had it launched in 2022) to begin at least 21 months of in-orbit mapping and study of the properties of the asteroid.
When: April 5-25, 2023
The European Space Agency’s Jupiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission is scheduled to launch in 2023 and arrive in the Jovian system in 2030. It will then take three and a half years to examine Jupiter’s moons Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.
4. Starship Orbital Flight Test by SpaceX
When: first quarter of 2023
About 100 launches are planned by SpaceX in 2023, but one of them by Starship? The highly anticipated first orbital flight of Starship – slightly larger than the Saturn V rocket used by NASA for its Apollo Moon landings in the 1960s and 1970s – could take place in the first quarter of 2023.
5. Orbital test flight of Blue Origin’s “New Glenn” rocket
When: first quarter of 2023
An orbital-class reusable rocket that will give Blue Origin the same range as SpaceX, New Glenn could get an orbital flight test in 2023. However, it could very easily be delayed until 2024. If successful, it would give the green light in the heart of Amazon. The Kuiper project plans to launch more than 3,000 satellites.
6. Astrobotic’s Peregrine mission to the lunar surface
When: first quarter of 2023
While Astrobiotic’s mission to the Moon is exciting in itself, it is the launch of Peregrine Mission 1 that will be closely watched by those in the space industry. This will be the first space flight for United Launch Alliance’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket, which, although not as large as NASA’s now proven Space Launch System (SLS) and untested spacecraft from SpaceX, is destined to be a major player among the heavyweights. raise rockets.
NASA’s first commercial space mission to the Moon, Peregrine Mission 1 will carry scientific and other payloads to the Moon, including the Iris rover, the first American and student-developed rover to land on the Moon.
7. Rocket Lab’s ‘Venus Life Finder’ Probe
When: May 2023
The first private mission to Earth’s hottest sister planet could be expected this year. A bold plan to insert a probe into Venus’ atmosphere to search for habitable conditions and signs of life in the planet’s cloud layer, Venus Life Finder (VLF) will launch on Rocket lab’s Electron rocket from New Zealand for an arrival in October 2023.
However, it will be a short mission, with the probe spending only five minutes in the cloud layers of Venus about 48 to 60 km above the surface.
The next launch window after May 2023 is January 2025.
8. Indian lunar rover Chandrayaan-3
When: June 2023
India’s low-budget Chandrayaan (“mooncraft”) missions to the Moon are back. After finding water on the Moon with 2008’s Chandrayaan-1, Chandrayaan-2 crashed into the Moon in 2019. Cue Chandrayaan-3, a repeat mission that sees a lander and rover sent to land on the basin from Aitken to the south pole of the Moon.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plans to launch Chandrayaan-3 in mid-2023 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC) in Andhra Pradesh. It should cost less than $100 million.
9. Intuitive Machines’ Lunar Lander
When: March 2023
Launching on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral is IM-1, a 14-day mission that will see the Nova-C lander touch down near a collapsed lava tube at Lacus Mortis – the ‘lake of death’ – a large crater in the storm ocean of the Moon.
Part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program and designed by private company Intuitive Machines, IM-1 will also test a precision landing system.
10. Boeing Starliner Crew Flight Test (CFT)
When: April 2023
NASA managed to hand over its Earth-orbit duties to SpaceX and its Crew Dragon capsule, but that’s only half the story. Boeing and its Starliner spacecraft have the same deal with NASA, but it can only go into service after a successful crewed test flight.
After some technical issues in its final attempts, Boeing successfully flew its CST-100 Starliner capsule uncrewed to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 19, 2022. Soon it will be NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore’s turn and Suni Williams to fly to the ISS for this slightly delayed mission.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.