The year 2024 promises to be extraordinary in space and many exciting missions are planned. We take stock.
Numerous lunar missions, including Artemis 2
The year 2024 will be marked by a series of lunar missions, culminating in 2024 Artemis 2 mission. The goal is to send a manned Orion capsule around the moon. The four astronauts on board will then return to Earth and prepare for the return of humans to the lunar soil, which will take place as part of the Artemis 3 mission.
Three lunar missions Intuitive machines
The mission Intuitive machines 1 (IM-1), scheduled for launch on January 12, 2024, aims to deploy the Nova-C lander into the Malapert A crater near the lunar south pole. This is a commercial lunar lander designed in particular to transport instruments sponsored by NASA as part of the American space agency’s CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) program.
Intuitive Machines is also planning two more lunar missions next year. The mission IM-2The project, expected to take place in early 2024, aims to place Nova-C near Shackleton Crater in the moon’s south polar region. The possibility of using local resources is shown.
Intuitive Machines’ third mission, IM-3It is planned to deliver several payloads to the pure gamma lunar region. It will include four NASA payloads and the Lunar Vertex rover. Its goal will be to conduct scientific investigations while testing advanced technologies for future lunar exploration.
An illustration of the Nova-C lander on the moon. Photo credit: NASA
The Peregrine lunar lander from Astrobotic
Peregrine Falcon 1A lander developed by the company Astrobotic, scheduled for launch on December 24, 2023, will attempt to land in Sinus Viscositatis 32 days later.
This mission also integrates NASA’s CLPS program. The lander’s various payloads include a laser retroreflector array for precise distance measurements and a neutron spectrometer system for analyzing the composition of the lunar regolith.
Astrobotic is also planning a second trip to the moon in 2024, called Griffin mission 1. The goal of this project is to deliver the rover. The start is planned for November VIPER from NASA on the surface in the south polar region of the moon.
The size of a golf cart, VIPER will spend 100 days exploring the region near Nobile Crater, using a drill and a spectrometer to conduct analyzes of the regolith for the presence of water ice and volatile substances.
The Chinese Chang’e-6 mission
The Chinese Mission Chang’e-6which could launch in May 2024, has the historic goal of collecting the first lunar samples from the far side of the moon.
In addition, the mission will carry international payloads such as the French DORN instrument to study radon outgassing, the Swedish NILS to detect negative ions on the lunar surface, and the CubeSat ICECUBE-Q from Pakistan.
Firefly Aerospace Blue Ghost Mission 1
The mission Blue Spirit 1 Firefly Aerospace’s mission, scheduled for the second half of 2024, will deliver various payloads (ten of which are sponsored by NASA) to the Moon as part of the CLPS initiative.
The Texas company’s Blue Ghost lander will land in Mare Crisium to study the lunar regolith and the special geophysical properties of our satellite. The data collected will help deepen our understanding of the Moon and provide information about the effects of space weather on Earth.
ispace Hakuto-R Mission 2
The mission Hakuto R 2The mission, scheduled for late 2024, marks the second lunar landing attempt by ispace, which has learned from the failure of its first mission in April 2023, in which the lunar lander crashed while attempting a soft landing. The main goal of this new mission will be to deploy a microrover designed to withstand the harsh conditions on the Moon.
Artist’s impression of the HAKUTO-R lander on the lunar surface. Credits: ispace
Boeing CST Starliner
Next year will also see a number of new tests and launches.
Several years too late, a capsule Boeing CST Starliner with crew should finally begin its flight in April. The destination is the International Space Station (ISS) with astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams on board.
The aim of this flight is to demonstrate the operational capability of the Starliner and confirm its reliability for future manned orbital missions.
Illustration of the Starliner capsule in orbit. Photo credit: Boeing
More promising missions
The first launch of the brand new European rocket Ariane 6 is planned between June 15th and July 31st. Although a recent launch test was successful, further tests must be carried out before the maiden flight.
Blue Origin, in turn, hopes to be able to launch its rocket New Glenn in August, which would mark a major advance in its orbital launch capabilities.
In the field of planetary exploration Missions to Venus (Rocket Lab’s Venus Life Finder) and Mercury (Bepi-Colombo) offers unique opportunities to explore these planets. Other promising projects should be realized, including this Hera mission ESA, scheduled for October, will revisit the asteroid Didymos to study the effects of DART on the asteroid Dimorphos.
The mission is in low Earth orbit Axiom 3 (Ax-3) Scheduled for January 2024, the mission led by Axiom Space will transport the first all-European crew to the ISS, illustrating the growing collaboration between private companies and government agencies in space exploration.
Finally, SpaceX will continue to deploy its Starlink satellites in orbit and continue their development Spaceship mega rocket. The company plans several demonstration missions throughout the year.