It seems like almost every week there’s a new exciting space mission announced, from fanciful journeys to Mars to serious scientific expeditions.
But how can you keep track of it all? Why, if only someone had compiled every interesting space mission of the next 20 years into a handy timeline. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Well, wish no more, because that is just what we’ve done. Below, you’ll find a list of every rocket launch, spacecraft rendezvous, manned mission, and more you should have on your radar.
Feel like we’ve missed something? Post your suggestion in the comments and, if it’s worthy, we’ll add it to the list.
Note that all dates are subject to change.
March The Planetary Society’s Lightsail 2 their second demonstrator of solar sail technology is expected to launch into orbit.
May SpaceX will perform an unmanned test of its Crew Dragon vehicle in orbit. A manned flight is scheduled to follow by the end of the year.
September 15 NASAs Cassini mission around Saturn will come to an end.
Autumn Private company Asgardia, which wants to create the first space-based nation, will launch its first unmanned satellite.
Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since July 1, 2004. NASA/JPL-Caltech
December Russia’s long-awaited Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) at some point next year. The latest reports say it has been delayed to December.
December By the end of next year, Blue Origin is expected to begin manned launchesto space, ahead of paid space tourism flights.
December A new NASA planet-hunting telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), should launch by the end of the year.
December 19 A new European planet-hunting telescope, the Characterising Exoplanets Satellite (CHEOPS), will be ready to launch.
TBD XCORs Lynx spaceplane is set to begin test flights. The plane will seat two people on short hops into space.
TBD Private Arizona-based company World View Enterprises aims to start sending paying customers on high-altitude balloon rides, spending two hours at an altitude of 30,500 meters (100,000 feet) for $75,000.
TBD China will attempt to return samples from the Moon with its Change 5 mission. This will be the first lunar sample return mission since 1976.
TBD Two competitors in Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, Moon Express and SpaceIL, are expected to launch to the Moon and attempt to land unmanned probes, the first ever private lunar landings.
TBD SpaceX’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Falcon Heavy, should launch for the first time.
The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in operation. SpaceX
January Proposed launch date for Inspiration Mars, a private mission to send two people on a flyby of Mars. Its highly unlikely the mission will ever happen, however.
February NASAs Juno mission, which is currently studying Jupiter, is scheduled to end. A recent issue with the spacecraft, however, has meant the mission may be extended beyond 2019.
April The European Space Agency (ESA) will launch BepiColombo, Europes first mission to Mercury.
May 5 NASA will launch its delayed InSight lander to Mars. Touchdown is expected on November 26. The unmanned probe will study the interior of the Red Planet.
May SpaceX plans to launch its first unmanned mission to Mars, which will also be the first private Mars mission.
July 31 NASAs Solar Probe Plus mission will launch, the first mission to fly into the Suns upper atmosphere, approaching within just 8.5 solar radii of the surface.
July Japans Hayabusa 2 spacecraft will arrive at its target, the asteroid Ryugu. It launched on December 3, 2014, on its way to the asteroid, and will attempt to return a sample to Earth in December 2020.
August NASAs OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will arrive at the asteroid Bennu, returning to Earth in September 2023 with a sample of between 60 grams and 2 kilograms (0.1 and 4.4 pounds) the largest sample returned to Earth since the Apollo missions.
OSIRIS-REx will fire bursts of nitrogen to loosen material from the asteroid. NASA
October NASAs huge new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), is scheduled to launch for the first time. It will send the Orion spacecraft on a three-week mission around the Moon, although rumors abound that one or both of the SLS or Orion may be scrapped.
October NASAs James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the high-profile successor to the Hubble space telescope that has experienced numerous cost overruns and delays, will finally launch.
December India will launch its next mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2, which will include an orbiter, lander, and rover.
TBD Japan will launch a new Moon mission called SELENE-2, a successor to 2007s SELENE mission. Like Indias mission, it will consist of an orbiter, lander, and rover.
TBD China will aim to become the first nation to land a probe on the far side of the Moon with its Change 4 lunar lander.
January 1 New Horizons will perform a flyby of an object in the outer Solar System, a Kuiper Belt object called 2014 MU69.
October The Sierra Nevada Corporations unmanned Dream Chaser vehicle, a space plane about a quarter the size of the Space Shuttle, will launch for the first time atop an Atlas V rocket.
Late 2019 Japans unmanned Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) is expected to launch. It will be able to perform a precise landing by analyzing the ground during its approach.
TBD 2019 may be the year that Virgin Galactic finally starts sending paying customers into space.
TBD Asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries may launch its first unmanned spacecraft to an asteroid called Prospector 1.
Deep Space Industries wants to one day mine asteroids. Note, this is a future concept, not Prospector 1. DSI
July NASAs next Mars rover, tentatively named the Mars 2020 rover, will launch to the Red Planet. It will aim to search for signs of past life on Mars. This, and the other Mars missions below, will arrive in early 2021.
July ESAs Exomars rover will launch to Mars, searching for signs of past or present life.
July The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will attempt to launch its first mission to Mars, an orbiter called Hope.
July India will launch its second mission to Mars, an orbiter called Mangalyaan 2. It may also include a lander and rover.
July SpaceX may launch its next unmanned mission to Mars.
July/August China plans to launch an orbiter, lander, and rover to Mars, its first mission to the Red Planet.
October The Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM), a joint NASA-ESA mission to see how slamming a spacecraft into an asteroid changes its trajectory, will launch.
TBD Change 6, another Chinese mission to the Moon, will launch. Its not clear what this mission will do.
TBD The Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the worlds largest radio telescope array with a collecting area of one square kilometer (0.39 square miles), will switch on for the first time.
TBD Bigelow Aerospace hopes to start construction of the first space hotel with its B330 module.
TBD ESAs Euclid mission will launch. It will be tasked with studying the acceleration of the universe by measuring the redshift of distant galaxies, giving us a greater understanding of dark energy and dark matter.
AIM will attempt to alter the trajectory of an asteroid, with a view to one day use this technique to save Earth. NASA/ESA
October NASA will launch a spacecraft called Lucy to study Trojan asteroids in the asteroid belt and beyoned from August 2027 to March 2033.
TBD Earliest date for NASAs Orion spacecraft to launch with a crew for the first time on a mission to lunar orbit and back. The target is between 2021 and 2023 for this mission.
TBD India plans to launch its first manned mission.
TBD ESA will launch its Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), a spacecraft to study the Jovian moons Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. It would enter orbit around Jupiter in 2030 and Ganymede in 2033.
TBD China will launch the first part of a new large space station, about one-seventh the size of the ISS. This first module will be called Tiangong-3.
TBD The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an extremely large telescope that will be built in either Hawaii or the Canary Islands, will become operational.
TBD At some point in the mid-2020s, possibly 2022, NASA will launch its Europa Multiple-Flyby Mission. This spacecraft will perform repeated flybys of Jupiters moon Europa to study its subsurface ocean and ascertain its habitability, and may also include a lander.
TBD Japan may launch a mission to return a sample from the Martian moon Phobos.
October NASA will launch the Psyche mission, to study a metal-rich asteroid of the same name in 2030.
TBD SpaceX plans to launch the first manned Mars mission, part of its bold Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) project.
TBD ESA may launch a sample return mission to the Martian moon Phobos, called Phootprint.
TBD The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the worlds largest optical telescope, will become operational.
TBD The International Space Station (ISS) will be closed and later de-orbited. This date may be extended to 2028 or even later, though.
TBD ESAs Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars (PLATO) satellite is expected to launch, which will search for planetary systems beyond our own, with an emphasis on Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants a million people to live on Mars by the end of the century. SpaceX
TBD At some point in the mid-2020s, NASA may launch a mission to return a sample of material from the surface of Mars.
TBD NASA will launch its Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope(WFIRST)in the mid-2020s, which will study dark energy and search for planetary systems like our own.
TBD Proposed year for the launch of NASAs Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which will see a crew in an Orion capsule visit a captured asteroid in lunar orbit. This may be combined with the previous Orion mission or scrapped entirely, though.
TBD Proposed launch date for the first crewed Mars One mission. Since its announcement in 2012, though, the chances of this ever happening have pretty much diminished.
TBD ESA will launch its Athena mission, a space telescope that will map the hot gas in the universe, and study supermassive black holes.
TBD NASA may launch humans into orbit around Mars, possibly landing on the Martian moon Phobos and operating rovers on the surface of Mars. They are aiming for manned missions to the surface of Mars by the end of the 2030s.
TBD Around this time, China and Russia have tentative proposals to land people on the Moon.
TBD Proposed launch for Russias Mercury-P spacecraft, which will perform the first ever landing on Mercury.
TBD Russia wants to perform its first manned lunar landing.
TBD Breakthrough Starshot, a bold initiative to send spacecraft to our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, is expected to launch.
Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/space/heres-a-list-of-every-upcoming-space-mission-for-the-next-twenty-years-and-some-of-them-are-unbelievably-awesome/