2021 in spaceflight
This article documents notable spaceflight events during 2021.
Overview[edit source | edit]
Exploration of the Solar System[edit source | edit]
Spacecraft from three Mars exploration programs (Mars 2020, Tianwen-1, and Hope) are expected to arrive at Mars for orbit insertion in February. The Perseverance rover will attempt landing on 18 February while the Chinese lander will do so on 23 April.
Lucy, a NASA space probe will launch and begin a 12-year journey to seven different asteroids, visiting six Jupiter trojans, and one Main Belt asteroid. Trojans are asteroids which share Jupiter's orbit around the Sun, orbiting either ahead of or behind the planet.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is planned to launch in July on a Falcon 9. It is a space probe that will visit the double asteroid Didymos and demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor spacecraft into an asteroid moon for planetary defense purposes. The mission is intended to test whether a spacecraft impact could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
The Juno probe will continue its exploration of Jupiter. Originally, its mission was intended to conclude on 31 July by burning up in Jupiter's atmosphere following its 35th perijove. However, on January 8, 2021, NASA announced that the probe was granted a second mission extension through September 2025, which could include future fly-bys of Europa and Io.
Lunar exploration[edit source | edit]
Multiple spaceflights to the Moon are planned to take place in 2021. As part of NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, the launches of commercial landers developed by Astrobotic Technology and Intuitive Machines are scheduled. Russia plans to resume its Luna-Glob exploration programme with the Luna 25 lander, and India will attempt once more to deliver a robotic lander to the lunar surface with Chandrayaan-3. Artemis 1 is planned to fly in November, the first flight of the Space Launch System and the first lunar mission for Orion. NASA is planning a crewed return to the Moon in 2024, and following that a human mission to Mars in the mid 2030s.
Human spaceflight[edit source | edit]
China plans to start the construction of the Chinese Space Station (CSS), phase 3 of its Tiangong program, with the planned launches of the Tianhe core module and Wentian lab module. It will follow the launches with crewed visits of Shenzhou 12 and Shenzhou 13, interspersed with Tianzhou cargo deliveries.
Space telescopes[edit source | edit]
Rocket innovation[edit source | edit]
The trend towards cost reduction in access to orbit is expected to continue. United Launch Alliance plans to debut their Vulcan rocket, which was designed to gradually replace Atlas V and Delta IV Heavy at lower costs. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries's H3 launch vehicle, scheduled to enter service this year, will cost less than half that of H-IIA, its predecessor. Blue Origin plans to launch its first orbital-class New Glenn rocket with a reusable first stage. After suborbital tests in 2020, SpaceX plans the first orbital flight of the fully reusable Starship. Multiple other companies plan to introduce smaller rockets.
Orbital and suborbital launches[edit source | edit]
Deep-space rendezvous[edit source | edit]
|17 January||Parker Solar Probe||7th perihelion|
|11 February||Tianwen-1||Mars orbit insertion|
|18 February||Perseverance||Mars landing|
|20 February||Parker Solar Probe||Fourth gravity assist at Venus|
|21 February||Juno||32nd perijove of Jupiter|
|February||Emirates Mars Mission||Mars orbit insertion|
|March||OSIRIS-REx||Begins journey back to Earth|
|15 April||Juno||33rd perijove|
|23 April||Tianwen-1||Mars landing|
|29 April||Parker Solar Probe||8th perihelion|
|7 June||Juno||34th perijove||On the day of this perijove, Juno will fly by Ganymede, reducing its orbital period around Jupiter to 43 days.|
|20 July||Juno||35th perijove||Beginning of Juno's second mission extension|
|8 August||Solar Orbiter||Second gravity assist at Venus|
|9 August||Parker Solar Probe||9th perihelion|
|11 August||BepiColombo||Second gravity assist at Venus|
|2 October||BepiColombo||First gravity assist at Mercury|
|16 October||Parker Solar Probe||Fifth gravity assist at Venus|
|21 November||Parker Solar Probe||10th perihelion|
|26 November||Solar Orbiter||Gravity assist at Earth||Gravity assist will set up future fly-bys of Venus that will increase its inclination relative to the Sun.|
Extravehicular activities (EVAs)[edit source | edit]
|Start Date/Time||Duration||End Time||Spacecraft||Crew||Remarks|
|27 January 12:05 (planned)||7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes||18:00-19:00 (planned)||SpaceX Crew 1||Michael S. Hopkins|
|1 Febuary 12:05 (planned)||7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes||18:00-19:00 (planned)||SpaceX Crew 1||Michael S. Hopkins||
Install a new lithium-ion battery on the P-4 truss, where an earlier lithium replacement blew a fuse in April 2019. Upgrade high definition video and camera gear on ISS exterior.
|1 February 12:05 (planned)||7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes||18:00-19:00 (planned)||SpaceX Crew 1 Expedition 64||Kathleen Rubins||
Install modification kit to prepare Station for new solar array installation.
|8 February 12:05 (planned)||7-6 hours (planned) 0 minutes||18:00-19:00 (planned)||SpaceX Crew 1 Expedition 64||Kathleen Rubins||
Additional upgrades and Kibo module platform work
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.
|United States||4||4||0||0||Includes Electron launches from Mahia|
By rocket[edit source | edit]
- Antares 230+
- Ariane 5
- Atlas V
- Falcon 9 new
- Falcon 9 reused
- Falcon Heavy
- Kuaizhou 1A
- Kuaizhou 11
- Long March 2
- Long March 3
- Long March 4
- Long March 5
- Long March 6
- Long March 7
- Long March 8
- Long March 11
- Minotaur I
- Minotaur IV
- Soyuz-2 (Russia)
- Soyuz-ST (Europe)
- GSLV Mk II
- GSLV Mk III
By family[edit source | edit]
By type[edit source | edit]
|Falcon 9||United States||Falcon||2||2||0||0|
|Long March 3||China||Long March||1||1||0||0|
By configuration[edit source | edit]
|Falcon 9 Block 5||United States||Falcon 9||2||2||0||0|
|Long March 3B/E||China||Long March 3||1||1||0||0|
By spaceport[edit source | edit]
|Cape Canaveral||United States||1||1||0||0|
By orbit[edit source | edit]
- Low Earth
- Low Earth (ISS)
- Low Earth (SSO)
- Low Earth (retrograde)
- Medium Earth
- Inclined GSO
- High Earth
- Lunar transfer
|Orbital regime||Launches||Achieved||Not achieved||Accidentally
|Low Earth / Sun-synchronous||3||3||0||0||Including flights to ISS|
|Geosynchronous / GTO||2||2||0||0|
|Medium Earth / Molniya||0||0||0||0|
|High Earth / Lunar transfer||0||0||0||0|
|Heliocentric orbit / Planetary transfer||0||0||0||0|
Suborbital launch statistics[edit source | edit]
By Country[edit source | edit]
For the purposes of this section, the yearly tally of suborbital launches by country assigns each flight to the country of origin of the rocket, not to the launch services provider or the spaceport. Flights intended to fly below 80km (50 mi) are omitted.
Expected maiden flights[edit source | edit]
Heavy/super heavy-lift vehicles[edit source | edit]
- New Glenn - Blue Origin - USA
- Starship - SpaceX - USA (maiden orbital flight)
- Vulcan Centaur - ULA - USA
- Space Launch System - NASA - USA
Medium-lift vehicles[edit source | edit]
Small-lift vehicles[edit source | edit]
- Firefly Alpha - Firefly Aerospace - USA
- SSLV - India
- Vikram I - Skyroot Aerospace - India 
- Miura 1 - PLD Space - Spain
- Hyperbola-2 - i-Space - China 
- New Line 1 - LinkSpace - China 
- Tianlong - Space Pioneer - China 
- Sky Dragon 1 - Space Pioneer - China 
- Xingtu-1 - Space Trek - China 
- Nebula-1 - Deep Blue Aerospace - China
- HAPITH I - TiSPACE - Taiwan 
- Reaction Dynamics - Canada - 
- SpaceRyde - Canada 
- Firehawk-1 - Firehawk Aerospace - USA 
- Neptune - Interorbital Systems - USA 
- Ravn - Aevum - USA 
- Intrepid - Rocket Crafters - USA 
- RS-1 - ABL Space Systems - USA 
- Sleek Eagle - Earth to Sky - USA - 
- RocketStar - USA 
- Spyder - UP Aerospace - USA 
- Terran 1 - Relativity Space - USA 
- EcoRocket - ARCAspace - USA 
Spaceplane[edit source | edit]
- PD AeroSpace - Japan
See also[edit source | edit]
References[edit source | edit]
- Hille, Karl (21 October 2019). "NASA's Lucy Mission Clears Critical Milestone". NASA. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
- Talbert, Tricia (8 January 2021). "NASA Extends Exploration for Two Planetary Science Missions". NASA. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
- "NASA's Juno Mission Expands Into the Future". NASA.gov. 13 January 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
- "SMSR Integrated Master Schedule" (PDF). Office of Safety and Mission Assurance. NASA. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
- Davenport, Christian (6 April 2020). "After botched test flight, Boeing will refly its Starliner spacecraft for NASA". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Clark, Stephen (25 August 2020). "Boeing plans second Starliner test flight in December or January". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
- "NASA Announces New James Webb Space Telescope Target Launch Date". NASA (Press release). 16 July 2020. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
- Foust, Jeff (25 October 2018). "ULA now planning first launch of Vulcan in 2021". SpaceNews. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
- Tomii, Tetsuo (28 June 2016). "ＪＡＸＡ、新型ロケット「Ｈ３」の基本設計−打ち上げコスト半減の５０億円". Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- Boyle, Alan (10 October 2018). "Blue Origin resets schedule: First crew to space in 2019, first orbital launch in 2021". Geekwire. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
- Clark, Stephen (1 September 2020). "Elon Musk offers update on SpaceX's Starship mega-rocket". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
- "Solar Orbiter: Mission Operations". 26 January 2020.
- "Cocoa-based Rocket Crafters working through issues ahead of possible 2021 debut". Florida Today.
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