It will be an exciting second half of the year for space travel. Not only will SpaceX finally launch its Starship rocket, but NASA will also really start its lunar program and a probe will collide with an asteroid.
Ship almost ready to launch
Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, will launch Starship in July. The rocket is 118 meters high and is to make its first orbit around the Earth. It will be an important launch, as Starship is SpaceX’s rocket that will take people to the Moon and Mars.
The launch has already been delayed several times. Initially, Starship was expected to take flight in early 2022, but the company is still awaiting approval from the FAA aviation authority. Musk expects Starship to make its first flight into orbit in July. “We have a second ship ready for August, after which we can launch one every month.”
The SpaceX ship.
Artemis I begin
NASA also has a major launch lined up. The American space agency launches its Artemis lunar program. The first mission, Artemis I, involves launching an unmanned Orion pod into orbit around the moon.
That’s what’s happening with the nearly 100-meter-tall Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s largest and most powerful rocket to date, which will fly for the first time. The mission is expected to last three weeks and the purpose is to test the safety of the flight. The launch is expected to take place in August.
The Artemis program aims to ensure that humans land on the Moon again in a few years, for the first time since the 1960s and 1970s.
NASA probe hits asteroid
At the end of September, the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) space probe will arrive on the asteroid Dimorphos. The probe was launched late last year with the aim of crashing to the ground.
If the probe touches the asteroid, the orbit of this rock must be modified. This is the first time NASA has attempted such a thing. The test is a first step in the development of a new defense system for the earth. If a large boulder ever comes directly to Earth, DART needs to make sure it bounces so it can’t do any damage.
Blue Origin is working on the launch of New Glenn
It remains to be seen whether he will succeed this year. But Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space company, is working on a new reusable rocket. It’s called New Glenn and it will be SpaceX’s main competitor against Starship.
New Glenn is named after astronaut John Glenn. The rocket will be part of NASA’s commercial space fleet. The rocket can eventually deliver supplies into space, but also launch probes and put satellites into orbit around the earth, for example.