In 2024, the Americans will return to the Moon and the Europeans will launch Ariane 6 – RFI

After a year full of discoveries in 2023, 2024 also looks promising in the field of science. The next 12 months will be particularly intense in space, as astronauts are scheduled to return to the moon for the first time since the Apollo program more than 50 years ago.

Published on: 01/01/2024 – 4:11 p.m

3 mins

Artemis II is NASA’s priority this year, the second mission in the Return to the Moon program: 4 astronauts, including the first African American and the first woman, will fly around at the end of 2024 of the Apollo program in 1972.

Another highly anticipated mission of the American space agency: the launch of Europa Clipper. This is also a moon that will be targeted, but this time from Jupiter. It’s called Europa and it’s an icy world with an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface. It is of great interest to scientists because it will reach its goal in 2030.

Another launch, this time in Guyana: After years of delays, Ariane 6 must complete its first flight at the beginning of summer, an extremely important mission since its predecessor Ariane 5 has been retired.

We should also have something new from SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company that continues the development of Starship Super Heavy, the most powerful machine ever built. The first two attempts ended in an explosion.

The SpaceX rocket makes its second test flight this Saturday, November 18th from Boca-Chica, Texas. © Portal/Joe Skipper

That’s why we have to solve all the problems this year. NASA will need it for the continuation of the Artemis program and especially Artemis III, which will mark the return of humans to the lunar surface in 2025 at the earliest.

Scientific advances in 2023

In September 2023, NASA’s Osiris Rex probe returned to Earth 250 g samples of an asteroid, the analysis of which will allow us to better understand the origin of the solar system.

Sample return from NASA's Osiris-Rex mission, Sunday, September 1, 2023.

Sample return from NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission, Sunday, September 1, 2023. AP

Man’s origins and presence in the Americas also made headlines this year with fossilized footprints found on the shore of a lake in New Mexico that are 23,000 years old. They are much older than the oldest trace so far. So humans would have arrived in America much earlier than expected.

Two scientific innovations were also achieved: the first nuclear fusion reaction in the laboratory, which produced more energy than it needed. We are still a long way from a system capable of producing electricity on an industrial scale, but it is a necessary milestone to hope that this means of production will be safer and cleaner than current power plants.

Finally, this year saw the launch of the first drug developed using a genome editing system. To date, only a few patients have received this treatment for severe forms of sickle cell anemia. Here too, this is just the beginning of a promising field.