2020s in spaceflight

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2020s in spaceflight
Orion visiting Deep Space Gateway.jpg
NASA plans to assemble a Lunar Gateway as a permanent base in lunar orbit during the 2020s.

This article documents expected notable spaceflight events during the 2020s.

Overview[edit]

The trend towards cost reduction in access to orbit is expected to continue. In 2020 SpaceX plans to launch its new fully reusable Starship.[1] In 2021, Blue Origin plans the maiden flight of New Glenn with a reusable first stage.[2] Ariane 6 and Vulcan are planned to replace their more expensive predecessors in 2021.

Mars stays a focus for missions to other planets, with three missions launched in 2020 (by China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States) and at least two missions planned for 2022 (ESA and Japan) and 2024 (India and Japan), respectively.

NASA plans a return of humans to the Moon by 2024. A first uncrewed launch of the Space Launch System is planned for November 2021, followed by a first crewed launch in 2023. In addition it plans to assemble the Lunar Gateway in lunar orbit. A crewed exploration of Mars could follow in the mid 2030s. An uncrewed and then a crewed trip to Jupiter and Europa have been commonly contemplated, but no space agencies or companies have yet announced definite plans to launch a crewed mission further than Mars. SpaceX, a private company, has also announced plans to land humans on Mars in the mid-2020s, with the long-term goal of enabling the colonization of Mars.

India plans its first crewed flight with a spacecraft called Gaganyaan for December 2021 on a home-grown GSLV Mark III rocket. The mission would make India the 4th nation to launch a crewed space flight after Russia, US and China. India also plans to launch its second Mars probe, Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (Mangalyaan 2), in 2024.

The number of small satellites launched annually was expected to grow to around one thousand (2018 estimate),[3] although SpaceX alone plans to launch more than that for its Starlink constellation (12,000 satellites from 2019 to 2027).[4] In the first half of 2020, over 600 satellites were launched to orbit. The majority of the satellites are expected to be communication satellites in large constellations.

Orbital launches[edit]

2020[edit]

2021[edit]

2022[edit]

2023[edit]

2024[edit]

2025[edit]

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
Q1 (TBD)[5][6] Russia Soyuz-2.1a / Fregat Russia Vostochny Site 1S Russia Roscosmos
Russia Kanopus-VO №2 Roscosmos Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation  
August (TBD)[7][8] Russia Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Kazakhstan Baikonur Russia Roscosmos
Russia Luna 27 Roscosmos Selenocentric Lunar lander  
September (TBD)[9][10] Russia Angara A5P Russia Vostochny Site 1A Russia Roscosmos
Russia Orel Roscosmos Low Earth (ISS) Crewed flight test  
Crewed flight test of the Orel capsule going to the International Space Station.
Q3 (TBD)[11][12] Europe Ariane 62 France Kourou ELA-4 France Arianespace
Europe MTG-I2[13] EUMETSAT Geosynchronous Meteorology  
23 October[14][15] Russia Angara A5 / DM-03 Russia Vostochny Site 1A Russia Roscosmos
Russia Spektr-UV[16] INASAN IGSO Ultraviolet astronomy  
October (TBD)[18][19] United States Commercial launch vehicle United States Cape Canaveral United States TBA
United States Roman Space Telescope NASA Sun–Earth L2 Infrared astronomy  
Formerly known as WFIRST.[17]
2025 (TBD)[20] China Long March 7 China Wenchang LC-2 China CASC
China Europe eXTP[21] CAS Low Earth X-ray astronomy  
Chinese-led X-ray astronomy collaboration between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and multiple European institutions.[20]
2025 (TBD)[22][23] Russia Soyuz-2.1a / Fregat Kazakhstan Baikonur Russia Roscosmos
Russia Rezonans-MKA Roscosmos Tundra Magnetospheric research  
2025 (TBD[24][25] Russia Soyuz ST-B / Fregat-M or Europe Vega France Kourou ELS or ELV France Arianespace
France Germany MERLIN[26] CNES / DLR Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation of atmospheric methane  
2025 (TBD)[27] Russia Soyuz-6 Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 1/5 Russia Roscosmos
Russia TBA Roscosmos Low Earth Flight test  
First flight of the Soyuz-6.
2025 (TBD)[28] Europe Vega-C France Kourou ELV France Arianespace
Europe e.Deorbit[29] ESA Low Earth Satellite servicing
Space debris removal
 
2025 (TBD)[30] Europe Vega-E France Kourou ELV France Arianespace
TBA ESA Low Earth Flight test  
First flight of Vega-E.
2025 (TBD)[31] Europe TBA France Kourou France Arianespace
Switzerland ClearSpace-1 ClearSpace Low Earth Space debris removal  
ClearSpace-1 will capture and de-orbit the Vespa payload adapter that deployed PROBA-V in 2013.
2025 (TBD)[32][33] United States TBA United States TBA United States TBA
United States NEO Surveyor NASA Sun–Earth L1 Infrared astronomy
Near-Earth object detection
 
Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission (NEOSM).
2025 (TBD)[34] United States TBA United States TBA United States TBA
United States Europe Sentinel-6B NASA / NOAA / Eumetsat / ESA Low Earth Earth observation  

2026[edit]

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
July (TBD)[35][36] United States Commercial launch vehicle United States TBA United States TBA
United States Europe Sample Retrieval Lander NASA / ESA TMI to Martian Surface Mars sample-return  
Lander component of the NASA–ESA Mars sample-return mission. It will carry the ESA's Sample Fetch Rover and the Mars Ascent Vehicle.
October (TBD)[35][36] Europe Ariane 6 France Kourou ELA-4 France Arianespace
Europe Earth Return Orbiter ESA Areocentric Mars sample-return  
Orbiter component of the NASA–ESA Mars sample-return mission. It will collect the sample return canister delivered into orbit by the Mars Ascent Vehicle and carry it back to Earth.
2026 (TBD)[9] Russia Angara A5P Russia Vostochny Site 1A Russia Roscosmos
Russia Orel Roscosmos Low Earth Crewed flight test  
2026 (TBD)[37] Russia Soyuz ST-B / Fregat-MT France Kourou ELS France Arianespace
Europe PLATO ESA Sun–Earth L2 Exoplanetary science  
2026 (TBD)[39] Europe Vega-C France Kourou ELV France Arianespace
Europe FORUM ESA Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation  
Ninth Earth Explorer mission for ESA's Living Planet Programme. FORUM is baselined for launch on the Vega-C, and will fly in a loose sun-synchronous formation with MetOp-SG A1.[38]
2026 (TBD)[40] TBA TBA TBA
Europe International Habitation Module (I-HAB) ESA Selenocentric (NRHO) Lunar Gateway component  

2027[edit]

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
2027 (TBD)[41][42] Russia Angara A5 / DM-03 Russia Vostochny Site 1A Russia Roscosmos
Russia Luna 28 Roscosmos Selenocentric Lunar lander
Lunar sample return
 
2027 (TBD)[9] Russia Angara A5P Russia Vostochny Site 1A Russia Roscosmos
Russia Orel Roscosmos Low Earth Crewed flight test  
2027 (TBD)[43][44] Europe Ariane 64 France Kourou ELA-4 France Arianespace
Europe Heracles EL3 ESA Selenocentric Lunar lander  
First flight of the HERACLES lunar transport system.
2027 (TBD)[45] Japan H3 Japan Tanegashima LA-Y2 Japan MHI
Japan LiteBIRD[46] JAXA Sun–Earth L2 Space observatory  
2027 (TBD)[47] China Long March 5 China Wenchang LC-1 China CASC
China Chang'e 8 CNSA Selenocentric Lunar lander  
2027 (TBD)[48] Europe Vega-C France Kourou ELV France Arianespace
Europe CRISTAL (Sentinel-9) ESA Low Earth (Polar) Earth observation  
Part of the European Space Agency's Copernicus Programme.
2027 (TBD)[50] United States TBA United States TBA United States TBA
United States Dragonfly NASA Heliocentric (to Saturn) Exploration of Titan  
Rotorcraft probe to fly in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.[49]
2027 (TBD)[40] TBA TBA TBA
Europe ESPRIT Refueling Module (ERM) ESA Selenocentric (NRHO) Lunar Gateway component  

2028[edit]

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
2028 (TBD)[51] Russia Angara A5 / KVTK[52] Russia Vostochny Site 1A Russia Roscosmos
Russia Luna 29 Roscosmos Selenocentric Lunar rover
Lunar sample return
 
2028 (TBD)[53][54] Europe Ariane 62 France Kourou ELA-4 France Arianespace
Europe ARIEL ESA Sun–Earth L2 Exoplanetary science  
Europe Japan Comet Interceptor ESA / JAXA Sun–Earth L2 Comet flyby  
2028 (TBD)[55][56] Russia Yenisei Russia Vostochny PU3 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Orel Roscosmos Low Earth Flight test  
First flight of the Yenisei super heavy-lift launch vehicle.

2029[edit]

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
2029 (TBD)[9] Russia Yenisei Russia Vostochny PU3 Russia Roscosmos
Russia Orel Roscosmos Lunar free-return Crewed lunar flyby  
Crewed lunar flyby in preparation for a Russian crewed mission to the lunar surface in 2030.

Deep-space rendezvous after 2024[edit]

Date (UTC) Spacecraft Event Remarks
9 January 2025 BepiColombo Sixth gravity assist at Mercury
5 December 2025 BepiColombo Hermocentric orbit insertion at Mercury
July 2026 Hayabusa2 Flyby of (98943) 2001 CC21[57]
December 2027 Hayabusa2 Flyby of Earth[57] Gravity assist
June 2028 Hayabusa2 Flyby of Earth[57] Gravity assist


References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Generic references:
RocketSunIcon.svg Spaceflight portal