In a difficult year, space exploration gave hope.
Sent to three countries spaceship Enter Mars in 2020. Astronauts ascended from the United States into orbit for the first time in nearly ten years.Robot explorer from the moon and Asteroid.
High hopes for 2021
Expectations for 2021 are also high. In February next year, it is expected to land on Mars, and the planned launch of the James Webb Space Telescope will take place in the fall. The huge telescope replaced the famous Hubble Space Telescope.
Other developments are also expected. The aerospace company Boeing hopes to catch up with SpaceX in launching astronauts.And space tourism It may finally begin.
Scott Hubbard served as the first director of the Mars program at NASA. He now teaches at Stanford University.He said: “2021 is expected to be a highlight of space exploration point,even more. “
Large-scale projects move forward
Although the coronavirus crisis has caused problems for all space programs in 2020, the most important projects are still ongoing.
The United States, China and the United Arab Emirates launched spacecraft to Mars.
NASA’s Perseverance Robot Browser will land on February 18.Perseverance will cut into the dry soil and collect sample Return to earth.
The UAE’s spacecraft is the country’s first attempt to visit another planet. It will study the Martian atmosphere.
China’s “Tianjin No.1” will look for signs of ancient life on this red planet.
China also explored the moon in 2020. In December, a Chinese spacecraft landed and then launched from the lunar surface. It collected the first lunar rocks that have returned to Earth since the 1970s.
Japan brought back fragments of the asteroid Ryugu.More asteroids sample on the way. NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft obtained samples from the asteroid Bennu in October. The sample is scheduled to return in 2023.
Elon Musk’s company SpaceX has done a lot in 2020. In May, SpaceX became the first private company to put people into orbit, a success that only three major powers could claim before.
In November, another four astronauts took the SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station. Three weeks later, SpaceX launched the largest spacecraft to date to NASA.
Who was elected Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona said that the incident is what “Americans should be proud of. “
Before SpaceX’s flight, the Russian three-person Soyuz spacecraft was the only way to bring astronauts to the space station after NASA’s flight stopped.
At the end of this year, SpaceX conducted a test flight of the “interstellar spacecraft”, which the company is building to carry people to the moon and Mars. An explosion occurred when the December 9 incident landed. Even so, Musk said he was still very happy.
In addition, SpaceX is expanding the number of people willing to take the Dragon spacecraft. In the second half of next year, SpaceX is expected to reach a deal with Houston’s Axiom Space for the first privately financed Dragon flight.
Michael Lopez-Alegria of Axiom, a former NASA astronaut and former chairman of the Commercial Space Federation, will join Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe. They will join with two other people who paid to visit the space station.
“This is the real beginning of private space flight, and it will move the ball towards many private task Get into orbit every year,” Lopez-Alegria said in an email.
Two other space travel companies are still conducting test flights. They are “Blue Origin” by Jeff Bezos and “Virgin Galactic” by Richard Branson. These companies have not yet set a date for sending people short distances to the edge of space and returning.
The future of the U.S. space program
US President Donald Trump said that he hopes that American astronauts will land on the moon in 2024. This will be the first time since NASA’s Apollo program 50 years ago.
In December, NASA introduced 18 astronauts who will receive training on the moon landing program called Artemis.
John Logsdon of the George Washington University Space Policy Institute said that the past four years ” positive The US Civil Space Program. “Logsdon added: “No… the main plan was cancelled, and the human exploration plan was given clear instructions. funds The number of existing programs has increased. “
This is John Russell.
Marcia Dunn reported the story for the Associated Press. John Russell (John Russell) adapted it to be suitable for the Voice of America (VOA) to learn English. Little Mario Ritter is the editor.
Words in this story
spaceship – N. Vehicles traveling in outer space
Asteroid -n. Any of the thousands of asteroids orbiting the sun
tourism – N. Activities to travel to an entertainment venue
point -n. A small area of a surface that is different from other areas: a specific space or area
sample -n. A few things can give you information about its origin
many – Adjustment More than one
task -n.Task or work assigned to someone
proud -Adjustment Make people happy
positive -Adjustment Good result, not bad
funds – N. Available funds