Astrobotic designed a lunar lander able to delivering a payload to the moon’s floor.


A lot of the main area information from 2018 appeared to contain both huge, new rockets or robotic spacecraft touring to faraway locations. However 2019 seems to be centered on a single celestial physique: our moon.

Over the following yr, a whole lot of area organizations have plans for our sole pure satellite tv for pc. Inside days, China’s area company may land its Chang’e-Four craft and the rover it carries on the far aspect of the moon. The lander will discover the world close to the south pole on the aspect of the moon that all the time faces away from Earth.

Lunar site visitors will probably decide up with a deliberate lander/rover mission by India’s area company that might launch as quickly as Jan. 30. A couple of weeks later, a SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to ship the first Israeli lunar lander on its means.


This Israeli spacecraft is anticipated to land on the moon in early 2019.

Eliran Avital

The latter is the product of personal firm SpaceIL, which was the only Israeli workforce to compete within the Google Lunar XPrize. Though the competitors ended with none winners making it to the moon, SpaceIL and a minimum of three different finalists — Berlin’s PTScientists, India’s Staff Indus and Florida-based Moon Specific — are all aiming to land on the moon sooner or later in 2019.

Moon Specific and a fifth XPrize finalist, Astrobotic, have additionally been chosen to work with NASA to ship new science experiments to the floor of the moon. At a press convention in November, the area company mentioned the primary business lunar payloads from this system may fly in 2019. They’re going to probably show know-how wanted to develop future lunar landers and missions.

It may not be a complete coincidence that so many applications are aiming for the moon in 2019. This July will mark the 50th anniversary of the primary Apollo touchdown on the moon and Neil Armstrong‘s historic steps on the floor. NASA has been planning a celebration for a while now and there might be completely different occasions occurring at areas throughout the US.

If every part goes in response to schedule, there could also be extra lunar motion to have a good time in 2019. China could possibly launch its Chang’e-5 mission by the tip of the yr. The follow-up to Chang’e-Four would gather samples from the floor and produce them again to Earth, marking the primary time that is occurred in many years. 

Much more launches

After all, not each area mission might be heading to the moon in 2019. Quite a few launches of satellites and missions to the Worldwide Area Station are deliberate. Proper now a minimum of a couple of of them are set to make the most of the huge SpaceX Falcon Heavy, which we’ve not seen in motion since its spectacular, if considerably foolish, demonstration launch of a Tesla final February. 

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has additionally promised that we’ll see the primary quick check flights or “hops” of his “Starship,” meant to ultimately carry individuals to the moon, Mars and past. This can probably come after the demonstration of one other necessary SpaceX product — the Crew Dragon spaceship that may carry astronauts to the ISS from American soil for the primary time in a number of years.

Crew Dragon’s unmanned check launch might be adopted later within the yr by the debut of Boeing’s new Starliner, which will even ferry crew to the ISS sooner or later. 

NASA assigned 9 astronauts to crew the primary check flight and mission of each Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.


One other notable launch now set for February would be the Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the primary 10 OneWeb satellites, that are designed to supply broadband web service from low Earth orbit. Musk and SpaceX have promised to launch a competing service within the coming years with a constellation of as much as practically 12,000 small satellites. 

Musk’s fellow billionaire area lovers need to preserve busy within the subsequent yr as effectively. Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit may transfer nearer to its personal satellite tv for pc launch service, whereas Virgin Galactic might ship its first paying clients (and Branson himself) into area for sightseeing missions. 

Additionally anticipate to see extra from Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin, which can associate with NASA to ship science payloads on a visit to area early in 2019. It would additionally compete with Musk and Branson for future payloads, human and in any other case.

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Extra mission milestones

As the brand new yr begins, loads of missions are already underway and several other will attain their targets over the following 12 months. The motion started within the first hours of 2019, as NASA’s New Horizons flew by super-distant object Ultima Thule within the Kuiper Belt.

A couple of different spacecraft will get even nearer to area rocks in 2019. Each Japan’s Hayabusa-2 and NASA’s Osiris-Rex will spend a part of the yr making preparations to swipe samples of the asteroids Ryugu and Bennu, respectively. Hayabusa-2 is scheduled to gather its pattern this yr whereas Osiris-Rex will wait till 2020.

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Elsewhere within the photo voltaic system, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is scheduled to make seven extra shut passes by Jupiter in 2019, hopefully resulting in a greater understanding of the mysterious, large planet. On the a lot smaller and redder world subsequent door, the just lately landed Mars Perception probe will get to work drilling into the Martian floor to discover the planet’s inside and hear for “Marsquakes.”

Maybe the most important daredevil maneuvers in the whole photo voltaic system might be carried out by the Parker Photo voltaic Probe, additionally launched in 2018, which can once more strategy the solar in April and September, extracting precious information from the star’s outer environment. Then in December it would use a Venus gravity help to get even sooner, breaking its personal data and sliding nearer to the solar than ever earlier than.

There aren’t as many big-ticket scientific probes and telescopes set to launch in 2019 as there have been in 2018. One value monitoring, nonetheless, is Europe’s Characterizing Exoplanets Satellite tv for pc (CHEOPS), which is supposed to supply a greater take a look at exoplanets round distant stars. It may launch as quickly as November.

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What to look at for within the heavens above

The approaching yr will carry the standard array of annual meteor showers, however it is not predicted to yield any notable meteor outbursts or particularly vivid comets for skywatchers. There might be a couple of treats in 2019 value gazing up for, nonetheless.

Issues kick off with a complete lunar eclipse coinciding with a supermoon in January, a phenomenon that is named a “tremendous blood moon.” It happens each few years or so, together with final January. 

A couple of uncommon celestial occasions to mark in your calendars embody Mercury’s transit throughout the solar on Nov. 11. There’s additionally one other complete photo voltaic eclipse just like the one which wowed thousands and thousands within the US in August 2017, although this one, on July 2, will solely be seen in elements of South America and the South Pacific. 

Lastly, we’ll obtain an in depth move from a very bizarre asteroid named 1999 KW4 making its once-every-18-years go to by means of our neighborhood on Could 25. This probably hazardous asteroid is a giant one, maybe as broad as a small city, with a diameter of as much as Three kilometers (1.9 miles). It is also a binary system, that means it is orbited by a smaller asteroid moon.

No want to fret, although. Though it is labeled as probably hazardous due primarily to its measurement, it would sail by us at a really protected distance of over 5 million kilometers (3.1 million miles).

So the world ought to make all of it the way in which to 2020, when much more huge area missions are on faucet, together with presumably the world’s first synthetic meteor bathe. Say whaaa? Keep tuned and heads up!

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