Large space missions planned for 2024

Large space missions planned for 2024

Series of new space Missions Planned for next year. Here’s a look at some things to watch out for in 2024.

Artemis II

NASA launched its first flight in the Artemis program in 2022. That mission, called Artemis I, sent the Orion spacecraft on a journey to fly around the moon.

Artemis aims to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Artemis I was a testbed for the Orion spacecraft, as well as NASA’s massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that carried it into space. That mission sent Orion to more than 400,000 kilometers from Earth and completed a flyby of the Moon. NASA officials declared Artemis I a great success.

NASA plans to launch Artemis 2 in late 2024. It is expected to follow the same path as Artemis 1 around the moon, but this time it will carry four NASA astronauts aboard Orion.

NASA says Artemis II aims to “ensure that all spacecraft systems operate as designed with the crew on board in the actual deep space environment.”

FILE - This illustration provided by NASA on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, shows a proposed design for the Artemis program's ascent vehicle leaving the lunar surface, separating from the lander.  (NASA via AP)

FILE – This illustration provided by NASA on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, shows a proposed design for the Artemis program’s ascent vehicle leaving the lunar surface, separating from the lander. (NASA via AP)

Lunar lander launch

While Artemis 2 will not complete the landing, several other landers are expected to land on the lunar surface in 2024.

The first launch is scheduled to take place on January 8. It includes a lander called Peregrine. The 1.9-meter-long spacecraft was manufactured by the private American space company Astrobotic Technology. It will be launched aboard a Vulcan Centaur rocket, built by United Launch Alliance (ULA).

Peregrine is expected to carry 20 research experiments to the moon in seven countries. It will aim to land in an area known as Sinus Viscositatis. NASA says the area is located next to the Gruithuisen Domes, the largest dark spot on the near side of the Moon.

This illustration provided by Astrobotic Technology in 2024 depicts the Peregrine lunar lander on the moon's surface.  Its expected launch date is Monday, January 8, 2024. (Astrobotic Technology via AP)

This illustration provided by Astrobotic Technology in 2024 depicts the Peregrine lunar lander on the moon’s surface. Its expected launch date is Monday, January 8, 2024. (Astrobotic Technology via AP)

Another Astrobotic lander, called Griffin, is scheduled to launch to the Moon’s south pole in late 2024. It will carry an exploration robot, or rover, called VIPER. VIPER is designed to search for water sources on the Moon.

In addition, the US space company Intuitive Machines is providing two landers to NASA that are expected to launch next year.

Japan will also attempt to become the fifth country to reach the moon’s surface in mid-January. The country’s space agency launched the spacecraft, called SLIM, in September. The goal of the SLIM mission is to test the possibility of landing spacecraft on very specific targets.

The European Space Agency plans to launch its Hera spacecraft in October on a mission to return to the asteroid system visited by NASA's DART spacecraft in 2022. (ESA)

The European Space Agency plans to launch its Hera spacecraft in October on a mission to return to the asteroid system visited by NASA’s DART spacecraft in 2022. (ESA)

European Space Agency’s Hera mission

The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to launch its Hera spacecraft in October on a mission to return to Earth asteroid The system visited by NASA’s DART spacecraft in 2022. Hera is designed to collect data on the target system, called Didymos. The spacecraft is expected to closely examine the physical properties of Didymos and measure the detailed effects of the DART crash.

Europe Clipper

NASA hopes to launch the Europa Clipper mission in October. This orbiter is designed to perform precise examinations of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Specifically, the mission will look for signs that the icy moon may hold the right conditions to support life. NASA says the orbiter will fly in orbit around Jupiter and “perform frequent flybys near the icy moon.”

In this handout photo, NASA, Boeing and NASA teams work around the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft after it touched down at White Sands Missile Rangs Space Harbor, May 25, 2022, in New Mexico.  (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/AFP)

In this handout photo, NASA, Boeing and NASA teams work around the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft after it touched down at White Sands Missile Rangs Space Harbor, May 25, 2022, in New Mexico. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA/AFP)

Boeing’s Starliner test flight

NASA and Boeing said they plan to launch the first crewed test flight of the company’s Starliner spacecraft. NASA says it is targeting March 2024 for Starliner to be ready to fly. The launch date is scheduled to be determined at a later date.

The spacecraft completed its first unmanned flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) last May. But Boeing experienced several technical difficulties with the Starliner during the mission and worked with NASA to fix the problems as it prepared for the planned crewed flight.

SpaceX spacecraft testing

SpaceX, another NASA partner, has successfully used its rockets and spacecraft to ferry astronauts and materials to the International Space Station since 2020. But the company will seek a successful test flight in 2024 of its superheavy Starship spacecraft.

Huge clouds of smoke form as SpaceX Starship lifts off from the company's Boca Chica launch pad on an orbital test mission near Brownsville, Texas, US on April 20, 2023. (Reuters/Jane Blevins)

Huge clouds of smoke form as SpaceX Starship lifts off from the company’s Boca Chica launch pad on an orbital test mission near Brownsville, Texas, US on April 20, 2023. (Reuters/Jane Blevins)

SpaceX has seen two failed Starship tests in 2023 — one in April and one in November — resulting in explosions. The April explosion caused severe damage to the launch structure in Texas. SpaceX said it is studying issues related to explosions and plans to conduct another test of the Starship vehicle as soon as possible. But it will have to wait until the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completes its investigation into the damage to the launch site and approves a new test.

I’m Brian Lin.

Brian Lin wrote this story for Voice of America Learn English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters, AFP, and NASA.

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a task – N. To do something that is considered very difficult or impossible

asteroid – N. A body made of rocks and metals that orbits the sun but is smaller than the planets

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