Another Chinese robotic mission landed on the moon in December, collecting lunar rocks from the surface and bringing them back to Earth weeks later. This made China only the third nation after the USA and the Soviet Union to complete such a tour.
These successful efforts have increased the likelihood that China will meet its proposed schedules for other space missions. In addition to a series of robotic trips to the lunar surface, the country plans to collect samples from a near-Earth asteroid and bring them back to Earth by 2025 – something Japan has done twice. In addition, a mission is to be launched around 2030 to collect samples from Mars and bring them back to Earth, something NASA and the European Space Agency will be working on in the coming years.
Who will fly into space this year and next?
The astronauts’ usual flights to and from the International Space Station will continue. Two launches are planned for October, one from a Russian Soyuz rocket, one from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
The SpaceX mission, slated for October 31, will be the fourth the Elon Musk founded company has carried out for NASA to get astronauts to and from the space station. Three NASA astronauts – Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn – and Matthias Maurer, an astronaut from the European Space Agency from Germany, will ride in this capsule.
The passengers of the Soyuz start, which is scheduled to take place at the beginning of the month, are completely different. The commander, Anton Shkaplerov, is a professional Russian astronaut, but the other two people – Klim Shipenko, a film director and Yulia Peresild, an actress – are not. You’re making a film called “Challenge”. Ms. Peresild will play a surgeon who was sent into orbit to save the life of a Russian astronaut.
Non-professional astronauts will also fly into orbit from the United States. In September, SpaceX is slated to launch a mission called Inspiration4, which was bought by billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and is expected to bring him and three other people into orbit, but not to the space station. This will be the first launch by people with no one on board working for NASA or other government space agencies.
Next year, a private company, Axiom Space, is slated to launch four private individuals with a SpaceX rocket to visit the space station.