It seems like almost every week there’s a new exciting space mission announced, from fanciful journeys to Mars to serious scientific expeditions.
But how can you keep track of it all? Why, if only someone had compiled every interesting space mission of the next 20 years into a handy timeline. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Well, wish no more, because that is just what we’ve done. Below, you’ll find a list of every rocket launch, spacecraft rendezvous, manned mission, and more you should have on your radar.
Feel like we’ve missed something? Post your suggestion in the comments and, if it’s worthy, we’ll add it to the list.
Note that all dates are subject to change.
March – The Planetary Society’s Lightsail 2 – their second demonstrator of solar sail technology – is expected to launch into orbit.
September 15 – NASA’s Cassini mission around Saturn will come to an end.
Autumn – Private company Asgardia, which wants to create the first “space-based nation”, will launch its first unmanned satellite.
November – SpaceX will perform an unmanned test of its Crew Dragon vehicle in orbit. A manned flight is scheduled to follow in May 2018.
Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since July 1, 2004. NASA/JPL-Caltech
December – Russia’s long-awaited Nauka module, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) at some point this year. The latest reports say it has been delayed to December.
December – By the end of the year, Blue Origin is expected to begin manned launches to space, ahead of paid space tourism flights.
December – A new NASA planet-hunting telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), should launch by the end of the year.
December 19 – A new European planet-hunting telescope, the Characterising Exoplanets Satellite (CHEOPS), will be ready to launch.
TBD – XCOR’s Lynx spaceplane is set to begin test flights. The plane will seat two people on short hops into space.
TBD – Private Arizona-based company World View Enterprises aims to start sending paying customers on high-altitude balloon rides, spending two hours at an altitude of 30,500 meters (100,000 feet) for $75,000.
TBD – China will attempt to return samples from the Moon with its Chang’e 5 mission. This will be the first lunar sample return mission since 1976.
TBD – Two competitors in Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, Moon Express and SpaceIL, are expected to launch to the Moon and attempt to land unmanned probes, the first ever private lunar landings. Several other companies also have launch contracts.
TBD – SpaceX’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Falcon Heavy, should launch for the first time.
The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket in operation. SpaceX