Not since the 1960s have we witnessed such appetite for space missions. Here’s what to expect in the year ahead, from commercial launches to Chinese ambitions
Space missions of a startling variety and ambition are scheduled for launch this year. Indeed, space engineers have not planned so much activity – for both manned and robot projects – since the heady days of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s. At last, humanity is returning to explore the heavens with renewed vigour.
However, it is not just the US and Russia that are dominating this year’s space agenda. India, Japan and China are all planning complex programmes and are vying to become space powers in their own rights. Their plans for 2020 include missions to the moon, Mars and the asteroids. At the same time, the US will inaugurate its Artemis programme, which will eventually lead to a series of manned deep-space missions and a space station that will orbit the moon later in the next decade. Europe will be closely involved in Artemis and will also send its first robot rover to Mars in 2020. For good measure, the United Arab Emirates plans to become a space power in 2020, with its own robot mission to the red planet.
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