2021 in spaceflight

Summary

2021 in spaceflight
JWST Full Mirror.jpg
The James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2021.
Orbital launches
First8 January
Last8 January
Total1
Successes1
Catalogued1
Rockets
Maiden flights
Retirements
Crewed flights
Orbital0
Suborbital0
Total travellers0
EVAs0

This article documents notable spaceflight events during 2021.

Overview

Exploration of the Solar System

Spacecraft from three Mars exploration programs (Mars 2020, Tianwen-1, and Hope) are expected to arrive at Mars for orbit insertion in February. The Perseverance rover will attempt landing on 18 February while the Chinese lander will do so on 23 April.

Lucy, a NASA space probe will launch and begin a 12-year journey to seven different asteroids, visiting six Jupiter trojans, and one Main Belt asteroid.[1] Trojans are asteroids which share Jupiter's orbit around the Sun, orbiting either ahead of or behind the planet.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is planned to launch in July on a Falcon 9. It is a space probe that will visit the double asteroid Didymos and demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor spacecraft into an asteroid moon for planetary defense purposes. The mission is intended to test whether a spacecraft impact could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

The Juno probe will continue its exploration of Jupiter. Originally, its mission was intended to conclude on 31 July by burning up in Jupiter's atmosphere following its 35th perijove. However, on January 8, 2021, NASA announced that the probe was granted a second mission extension through September 2025, which could include future fly-bys of Europa and Io.[2][3]

Lunar exploration

Multiple spaceflights to the Moon are planned to take place in 2021. As part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, the launches of commercial landers developed by Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are scheduled. Russia plans to resume its Luna-Glob exploration programme with the Luna 25 lander, and India will attempt once more to deliver a robotic lander to the lunar surface with Chandrayaan-3. Artemis 1 is planned to fly in November, the maiden flight of the Space Launch System and the first lunar mission for Orion. NASA is planning a crewed return to the Moon in 2024, and following that a human mission to Mars in the mid 2030s.

Human spaceflight

In the United States, Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will conduct a second uncrewed test flight in March[4] in advance of a first crewed test flight in summer 2021.[5][6]

China plans to start the construction of the Chinese Space Station (CSS), phase 3 of its Tiangong program, with the planned launches of the Tianhe core module and Wentian lab module. It will follow the launches with crewed visits of Shenzhou 12 and Shenzhou 13, interspersed with Tianzhou cargo deliveries.

Space telescopes

The long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope, the largest optical space telescope ever built, is planned to be launched to the Sun–Earth L2 point by a European Ariane 5 rocket in October.[7]

Rocket innovation

The trend towards cost reduction in access to orbit is expected to continue. United Launch Alliance plans to debut their Vulcan rocket, which was designed to gradually replace Atlas V and Delta IV Heavy at lower costs.[8] Mitsubishi Heavy Industries's H3 launch vehicle, scheduled to enter service this year, will cost less than half that of H-IIA, its predecessor.[9] Blue Origin plans to launch its first orbital-class New Glenn rocket with a reusable first stage.[10] After suborbital tests in 2020, SpaceX plans the first orbital flight of the fully reusable Starship.[11] Multiple other companies plan to introduce smaller rockets.

Orbital and suborbital launches

Deep-space rendezvous

Date (UTC) Spacecraft Event Remarks
17 January Parker Solar Probe 7th perihelion
11 February Tianwen-1 Mars orbit insertion
18 February Perseverance Mars landing
20 February Parker Solar Probe Fourth gravity assist at Venus
21 February Juno 32nd perijove of Jupiter
February Emirates Mars Mission Mars orbit insertion
March OSIRIS-REx Begins journey back to Earth
15 April Juno 33rd perijove
23 April Tianwen-1 Mars landing
29 April Parker Solar Probe 8th perihelion
7 June Juno 34th perijove On the day of this perijove, Juno will fly by Ganymede, reducing its orbital period around Jupiter to 43 days.[2][3]
20 July Juno 35th perijove Beginning of Juno's second mission extension[2][3]
8 August Solar Orbiter Second gravity assist at Venus[12]
9 August Parker Solar Probe 9th perihelion
11 August BepiColombo Second gravity assist at Venus
2 October BepiColombo First gravity assist at Mercury
16 October Parker Solar Probe Fifth gravity assist at Venus
21 November Parker Solar Probe 10th perihelion
26 November Solar Orbiter Gravity assist at Earth[12] Gravity assist will set up future fly-bys of Venus that will increase its inclination relative to the Sun.

Extravehicular activities (EVAs)

Start Date/Time Duration End Time Spacecraft Crew Remarks
19 January 12:05 (planned) 7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes 18:00-19:00 (planned) SpaceX Crew 1

ISS Quest

United States Michael S. Hopkins

United States Victor J. Glover

Instalation of the exposed platform Airbus Bartolomeo

25 January 12:05 (planned) 7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes 18:00-19:00 (planned) SpaceX Crew 1

ISS Quest

United States Michael S. Hopkins

United States Victor J. Glover

Install a new lithium-ion battery on the P-4 truss, where an earlier lithium replacement blew a fuse in April 2019. Upgrade high definition video and camera gear on ISS exterior.

1 February 12:05 (planned) 7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes 18:00-19:00 (planned) SpaceX Crew 1 Expedition 64

ISS Quest

United States Kathleen Rubins

United States Victor J. Glover

Install modification kit to prepare Station for new solar array installation.

8 February 12:05 (planned) 7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes 18:00-19:00 (planned) SpaceX Crew 1 Expedition 64

ISS Quest

United States Kathleen Rubins

Japan Soichi Noguchi

Additional upgrades and Kibo module platform work

Orbital launch statistics

By country

For the purposes of this section, the yearly tally of orbital launches by country assigns each flight to the country of origin of the rocket, not to the launch services provider or the spaceport. For example, Soyuz launches by Arianespace in Kourou are counted under Russia because Soyuz-2 is a Russian rocket.

Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
failures
Remarks
 United States 1 1 0 0 Includes Electron launches from Mahia
World 1 1 0 0

By rocket

By family

By type

By configuration

By spaceport

1
2
3
4
5
China
France
India
Japan
Kazakhstan
New Zealand
Russia
United States
Site Country Launches Successes Failures Partial failures Remarks
Cape Canaveral  United States 1 1 0 0
Total 1 1 0 0

By orbit

  •   Transatmospheric
  •   Low Earth
  •   Low Earth (ISS)
  •   Low Earth (SSO)
  •   Low Earth (retrograde)
  •   Medium Earth
  •   Molniya
  •   Geosynchronous
  •   Inclined GSO
  •   High Earth
  •   Lunar transfer
  •   Heliocentric
  •  
Orbital regime Launches Achieved Not achieved Accidentally
achieved
Remarks
Transatmospheric 0 0 0 0
Low Earth / Sun-synchronous 0 0 0 0 Including flights to ISS
Geosynchronous / GTO 1 1 0 0
Medium Earth / Molniya 0 0 0 0
High Earth / Lunar transfer 0 0 0 0
Heliocentric orbit / Planetary transfer 0 0 0 0
Total 1 1 0 0

Suborbital launch statistics

By Country

For the purposes of this section, the yearly tally of suborbital launches by country assigns each flight to the country of origin of the rocket, not to the launch services provider or the spaceport. Flights intended to fly below 80km (50 mi) are omitted.

Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
failures
Remarks
 United States 1 1 0 0
World 1 1 0 0

Expected maiden flights

Heavy/super heavy-lift vehicles

Medium-lift vehicles

Small-lift vehicles

Spaceplane

See also

References

  1. ^ Hille, Karl (21 October 2019). "NASA's Lucy Mission Clears Critical Milestone". NASA. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Talbert, Tricia (8 January 2021). "NASA Extends Exploration for Two Planetary Science Missions". NASA. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "NASA's Juno Mission Expands Into the Future". NASA.gov. 13 January 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  4. ^ "SMSR Integrated Master Schedule" (PDF). Office of Safety and Mission Assurance. NASA. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  5. ^ Davenport, Christian (6 April 2020). "After botched test flight, Boeing will refly its Starliner spacecraft for NASA". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  6. ^ Clark, Stephen (25 August 2020). "Boeing plans second Starliner test flight in December or January". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  7. ^ "NASA Announces New James Webb Space Telescope Target Launch Date". NASA (Press release). 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  8. ^ Foust, Jeff (25 October 2018). "ULA now planning first launch of Vulcan in 2021". SpaceNews. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  9. ^ Tomii, Tetsuo (28 June 2016). "JAXA、新型ロケット「H3」の基本設計−打ち上げコスト半減の50億円". Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  10. ^ Boyle, Alan (10 October 2018). "Blue Origin resets schedule: First crew to space in 2019, first orbital launch in 2021". Geekwire. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  11. ^ Clark, Stephen (1 September 2020). "Elon Musk offers update on SpaceX's Starship mega-rocket". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Solar Orbiter: Mission Operations". 26 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Cocoa-based Rocket Crafters working through issues ahead of possible 2021 debut". Florida Today.

External links

Generic references:
RocketSunIcon.svg Spaceflight portal
  • Bergin, Chris. "NASASpaceFlight.com".
  • Clark, Stephen. "Spaceflight Now".
  • Kelso, T.S. "Satellite Catalog (SATCAT)". CelesTrak.
  • Krebs, Gunter. "Chronology of Space Launches".
  • Kyle, Ed. "Space Launch Report".
  • McDowell, Jonathan. "Jonathan's Space Report".
  • Pietrobon, Steven. "Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive".
  • Wade, Mark. "Encyclopedia Astronautica".
  • Webb, Brian. "Southwest Space Archive".
  • Zak, Anatoly. "Russian Space Web".
  • "ISS Calendar". Spaceflight 101.
  • "NSSDCA Master Catalog". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • "Space Calendar". NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • "Space Information Center". JAXA.
  • "Хроника освоения космоса" [Chronicle of space exploration]. CosmoWorld (in Russian).