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2020 in spaceflight

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Template:Infobox Year in spaceflight Template:TLS-L

This article documents notable spaceflight events during the year 2020. Template:TOC level

Overview[edit source | edit]

Exploration of the Solar System[edit source | edit]

Three missions to Mars are planned to be launched in 2020, including two rovers, two orbiters, and a lander. NASA plans to launch the Mars 2020 mission, which includes the Perseverance rover and Mars Helicopter, and will cache samples for eventual return to Earth.[1] The China National Space Administration (CNSA) will launch its Tianwen-1 mission, which includes an orbiter, a lander, and a small rover; it will be China's first mission to another planet using its own delivery vehicle.[1] Finally, the United Arab Emirates will launch the Hope Mars Mission orbiter on a Japanese rocket.[1]

China also intends to launch Chang'e 5, the first sample-return mission to the Moon since Luna 24 in 1976. Chang'e 5 will use the recently developed Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket.

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission will sample the asteroid 101955 Bennu in August.[2] JAXA's Hayabusa2 mission will return samples of 162173 Ryugu to Earth in December.

Two solar missions are scheduled to be launched: ESA's Solar Orbiter to a heliocentric orbit, and India's Aditya-L1 to the Sun–Earth Template:L1 point. Parker Solar Probe, launched in 2018, will decrease its minimal distance to the Sun further to 14.2 million km.

Human spaceflight[edit source | edit]

China conducted a flight test of a next generation crewed spacecraft in May,[3] and continues preparations for the 2021 launch of the Tianhe Core Cabin Module of the Chinese Space Station.[4]

In the United States, SpaceX's SpaceX Dragon 2 made its first crewed flight to the International Space Station on 31 May 2020 as part of the Commercial Crew Program,[5] enabling American human orbital spaceflight capability for the first time since the Space Shuttle's retirement in 2011. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will conduct a second uncrewed test flight in advance of a first crewed test flight in 2021.[6]

NASA astronaut Christina Koch set a women's record-breaking 328 days in space ending on 6 February 2020. Scott Kelly still holds the all-time American record with 340 days in space; Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov holds the all-time record of 437 days. Koch also participated in the first all-female spacewalk with Jessica Meir on 18 October 2019.[7]

Rocket innovation[edit source | edit]

SpaceX aims to begin orbital testing of its fully reusable two-stage-to-orbit vehicle Starship.[8]

The trend towards cost reduction in access to orbit is expected to continue. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries's H3 launch vehicle, scheduled to enter service this year, will cost less than half that of H-IIA, its predecessor.[9] Despite the increasing competition the cost of delivering cargo to the ISS will go up.[10]

Satellite innovation[edit source | edit]

SpaceX expects to begin operation of its Starlink constellation in 2020, with over 1000 satellites launched by the end of the year.[11] As of Template:CURRENTDATE, 538 satellites have been launched. OneWeb planned to start service in 2020 as well,[12] but filed for bankruptcy in March 2020 after 74 satellites were launched.[13]

The Mission Extension Vehicle MEV-1 became the first telerobotically-operated spacecraft to service another satellite on-orbit when it completed the first phase of a 5-year mission to extend the life of the Intelsat 901 (I-901) satellite. In February 2020 MEV-1 captured the I-901 commsat, which had been moved to graveyard orbit some months before. In April MEV-1 successfully brought I-901 it back to position in geosynchronous orbit where it is now expected to operate for another five years. This was a space industry first as satellite servicing had previously been accomplished only with on-orbit human assistance, during the missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope in the early 2000s.[14]

Orbital launches[edit source | edit]

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January[edit source | edit]

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February[edit source | edit]

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March[edit source | edit]

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April[edit source | edit]

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May[edit source | edit]

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June[edit source | edit]

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July[edit source | edit]

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August[edit source | edit]

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September[edit source | edit]

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October[edit source | edit]

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November[edit source | edit]

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December[edit source | edit]

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To be determined[edit source | edit]

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Suborbital flights[edit source | edit]

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Deep-space rendezvous[edit source | edit]

Date (UTC) Spacecraft Event Remarks
29 January Parker Solar Probe 4th perihelion
17 February Juno 25th perijove of Jupiter
10 April Juno 26th perijove
10 April BepiColombo Gravity assist at Earth
2 June Juno 27th perijove
7 June Parker Solar Probe 5th perihelion
11 July Parker Solar Probe Third gravity assist at Venus
25 July Juno 28th perijove
16 September Juno 29th perijove
27 September Parker Solar Probe 6th perihelion
16 October BepiColombo First gravity assist at Venus
20 October[15] OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-go maneuver on Bennu for sampling
8 November Juno 30th perijove
26 December Solar Orbiter First gravity assist at Venus[16]
30 December Juno 31st perijove
December Hayabusa2 Sample return to Earth

Extravehicular activities (EVAs)[edit source | edit]

Start Date/Time Duration End Time Spacecraft Crew Remarks
15 January 18:04 7 hours 29 minutes 01:33 Expedition 61

ISS Quest

United States Christina Koch

United States Jessica Meir

During the 7-hour, 29-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully replaced nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.[17]

20 January 17:33 6 hours 58 minutes 00:31 Expedition 61

ISS Quest

United States Christina Koch

United States Jessica Meir

During the six hour and 58-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts successfully completed the battery upgrade for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays.

Work included removing the last two nickel-hydrogen batteries from this area of the station’s backbone near the port solar array and moving them to an external platform. The batteries will be stored there until they can be disposed of in the next Japanese HTV cargo spacecraft after it delivers tons of supplies to the space station later this year. Meir and Koch also installed the sixth and final new lithium-ion battery, and ground controllers verified the new batteries powered up successfully to provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for station operations.[18]

25 January 11:04 6 hours 16 minutes 17:20 Expedition 61

ISS Quest

United States Andrew Morgan

Italy Luca Parmitano

During the 6 hour, 16 minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully completed leak checks for the cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and opened a valve to being pressurizing the system. Preliminary testing shows AMS is responding as expected.[19]

26 June 11:02 6 hours 7 minutes 17:39 Expedition 63

ISS Quest

United States Chris Cassidy

United States Robert Behnken

The spacewalkers removed five of six aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for one of two power channels for the starboard 6 (S6) truss, installed two of three new lithium-ion batteries, and installed two of three associated adapter plates that are used to complete the power circuit to the new batteries. Mission control reports that the two new batteries are working.

The two NASA astronauts completed all the work planned for this first of four spacewalks to replace batteries that provide power for the station’s solar arrays on the starboard truss of the complex as well as initial tasks originally planned for the second scheduled spacewalk next Wednesday. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.[20]

1 July 11:13 6 hours 1 minutes 17:14 Expedition 63

ISS Quest

United States Chris Cassidy

United States Robert Behnken

During the six hour and one-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts completed half the work to upgrade the batteries that provide power for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.

They successfully moved and connected one new, powerful lithium-ion battery and its adapter place to complete the circuit to the new battery and relocated one aging nickel-hydrogen battery to an external platform for future disposal.[21]

Orbital launch statistics[edit source | edit]

By country[edit source | edit]

For the purposes of this section, the yearly tally of orbital launches by country assigns each flight to the country of origin of the rocket, not to the launch services provider or the spaceport. For example, Soyuz launches by Arianespace in Kourou are counted under Russia because Soyuz-2 is a Russian rocket.

China: 17Europe: 2India: 0Iran: 2Israel: 1Japan: 2North Korea: 0Russia: 7Ukraine: 0USA: 18Circle frame.svg
Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
failures
Remarks
 China 17 15 2 0
Template:EUR 2 2 0 0
 India 0 0 0 0
 Iran 2 1 1 0
Template:ISR 1 1 0 0
 Japan 2 2 0 0
 Russia 7 7 0 0 Includes Soyuz launches from Kourou
 United States 18 16 2 0 Includes Electron launches from Mahia
World 49 44 5 0

By rocket[edit source | edit]

By family[edit source | edit]

By type[edit source | edit]

By configuration[edit source | edit]

By spaceport[edit source | edit]

5
10
15
20
China
France
India
Iran
Japan
Kazakhstan
New Zealand
Russia
United States
Site Country Launches Successes Failures Partial failures Remarks
Baikonur Template:KAZ 4 4 0 0
Cape Canaveral  United States 10 10 0 0
Jiuquan  China 5 5 0 0
Kennedy  United States 3 3 0 0
Kourou  France 2 2 0 0
Mahia  New Zealand 3 2 1 0
MARS  United States 1 1 0 0
Mojave  United States 1 0 1 0
Plesetsk  Russia 3 3 0 0
Shahrud  Iran 1 1 0 0 First orbital launch
Semnan  Iran 1 0 1 0
Taiyuan  China 3 3 0 0
Tanegashima  Japan 2 2 0 0
Wenchang  China 2 1 1 0
Xichang  China 7 6 1 0
Total 48 43 5 0

By orbit[edit source | edit]

  •   Transatmospheric
  •   Low Earth
  •   Low Earth (ISS)
  •   Low Earth (SSO)
  •   Low Earth (retrograde)
  •   Medium Earth
  •   Geosychronous
    (transfer)
  •   Inclined GSO
  •   High Earth
  •   Heliocentric
  •  
Orbital regime Launches Achieved Not achieved Accidentally
achieved
Remarks
Transatmospheric 0 0 0 0
Low Earth / Sun-synchronous 34 31 3 0 Including flights to the ISS
Geosynchronous / GTO 8 6 2 0
Medium Earth / Molniya 5 5 0 0
High Earth / Lunar transfer 0 0 0 0
Heliocentric orbit / Planetary transfer 1 1 0 0
Total 48 43 5 0

Notes[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

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  18. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).
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  21. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 23: bad argument #1 to 'old_ipairs' (table expected, got nil).

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External links[edit source | edit]

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