Milestones in space exploration: yesterday, today and tomorrow
Feb. 11: NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour begins the STS-99 flight with six astronauts onboard, carrying out the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, SRTM.
March 25: A Delta rocket launches NASA's IMAGE satellite from Vandenberg designed for imaging Earth's magnetosphere and produce 1st comprehensive global images of plasma populations.
May: The Shuttle crew (STS-101/2A.2a) delivers supplies, re-boosts and repairs the International Space Station.
August: The first Progress cargo ship arrives at ISS.
August: The Shuttle crew (Mission STS-106/2A.2b) delivers supplies, re-boosts and repairs the International Space Station.
October: The Shuttle (Mission STS-92/3A) delivers a Z-1 truss, a set of gyrodines and the PMA-3 docking port to the ISS.
Oct. 31: The first resident crew of the International Space Station blasts off onboard the Soyuz TM-31 spacecraft.
December: Shuttle mission STS-97/4A delivers a set of solar panels (PV Module P6) to the ISS.
A billionaire Jeff Bezos founds the Blue Origin company aiming to build a New Shepard vertical takeoff and landing spacecraft, capable of reaching the upper atmosphere.
Jan 9-10: China launches the second prototype of the manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-2, conducting a successful eight-day mission without crew.
Feb. 7: The Shuttle Atlantis lifts off to the ISS, carrying the Destiny lab module. The module was attached to the station three days later.
Feb. 12: At the end of its mission, the NASA's NEAR spacecraft touched down on the surface of the asteroid Eros, which the spacecraft was orbiting since previous year.
April 7: A Delta-2 rocket launches the Mars Odyssey spacecraft.
Feb. 13: Russia officially cancels the long-delayed Spektr-RG project due to lack of funding.
March 1: NASA launches the Space Shuttle Columbia on a mission STS-109 to service the Hubble Space Telescope by adding new instruments and boosting it to a higher orbit.
March 25: China launches Shenzhou-3, the third prototype of the manned spacecraft.
April: During Space Shuttle's STS-110 mission to the ISS, NASA astronaut Jerry Ross logs record nine spacewalks after several missions with the total EVA time of 58 hours 18 minutes.
May 6: Elon Musk founds Space X company in California.
July 3: Delta-2 rocket launches NASA's CONTOUR spacecraft intended to get as close as 100 kilometers to comets Encke and Schwassman-Wachmann-3. The mission fails in the following month.
Oct. 17: A Russian Proton rocket launches the European Integral gamma-ray observatory.
Oct. 30: Russia introduces the Soyuz TMA spacecraft, launching a taxi crew to the ISS, which included an ESA researcher from Belgium.
Dec. 29-30: China launches Shenzhou-4, the fourth and last prototype of the manned spacecraft, on a successful six-day mission without crew.
Feb. 1: Shuttle Columbia disintegrates on reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, killing seven crew members.
Feb. 15: Europe's Ariane-4 rocket flies its final mission.
April: In the wake of the Columbia tragedy, Russia takes over the responsibility of rotating crews onboard the ISS, using the Soyuz TMA spacecraft.
May 8: Japan's M-5 rocket launches MUSES-C (Hayabusa) spacecraft to return samples from asteroid 25143 Itokawa.
June 2: The Russian Soyuz FG/Fregat rocket launched the Mars Express probe, Europe's first spacecraft to explore the Red Planet.
June-July: NASA launches two rovers to Mars.
Aug. 23: A Brazilian VLS-1 launch vehicle explodes on the launch pad, killing 21 people.
Aug. 25: A Delta 7920H rocket launches NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility, SIRTF (later Spitzer observatory) into a heliocentric orbit.
Sept. 27: ESA launches SMART-1 spacecraft toward the Moon.
Oct. 15: China becomes the third nation to conduct manned space flight, launching the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft, with a 38-year-old Lt. Colonel Yang Liwei onboard.
November: The 6th launch of the Japan's H-2A booster, carrying two reconnaissance satellites, ended in failure, when one of two booster stages failed to separate around 10 minutes after the blastoff.
October: The Dnepr rocket to launch Trailblazer spacecraft toward the Moon. (The mission was delayed until Spring 2004, then to Fall 2004 and to 2005, then cancelled).
Mars Exploration Rover
January: Japan's Nozomi spacecraft was to enter orbit around Mars. (The mission was abandoned in 2003, due to technical problems onboard the vehicle).
Jan. 2: The Stardust spacecraft flies by comet Wild 2, collecting samples.
Jan. 3: The Spirit rover (MER-A) lands on Mars.
Jan. 14: President George W. Bush announced a new space initiative, envisioning the return of American astronauts to the Moon.
Jan. 16: NASA cancels upgrade and servicing of Hubble Space Telescope (The decision later reversed).
Jan. 25: The MER-2 Opportunity rover lands on Mars.
February: Russia conducts a massive military exercise dubbed Security 2004.
March 2: Ariane-5G launches the Rosetta spacecraft toward Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.
March 2: Members of the Mars Exploration Rovers' international science team announce that the outcrop near the site where Opportunity landed holds evidence that the rocks have spent time drenched in liquid water.
March 27: NASA's second X-43A hypersonic research aircraft flew successfully after being dropped in mid-air by NASA'a B-52 and boosted by Pegasus rocket. For the first time, an aircraft powered by an air-breathing scramjet has flown freely. The unmanned vehicle's supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, ignited as planned and operated for the duration of its hydrogen fuel supply, which lasted about 10 seconds. The X-43A reached its test speed of Mach 7.
July 1: The Cassini spacecraft enters orbit around Saturn.
Aug. 3: A Delta-2 rocket launches NASA Messenger spacecraft toward Mercury.
Sept. 20: India launches a GSLV rocket with the 12KRB hydrogen stage.
Nov. 15: ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft enters orbit around the Moon.
Nov. 16: NASA's X-43A scramjet-powered research vehicle reaches speeds of Mach 9.8, or 7,000 mph, as it flies at the altitude of about 33 kilometers, following a mid-air launch from B-52B aircraft onboard the Pegasus rocket booster. The mission concluded the program, discontinuing the development of scramjet technology at NASA.
Dec. 22: Boeing's Delta-4 Heavy rocket leaves its experimental payload on a lower than expected orbit during its first test mission from Cape Canaveral. Two university-built nanosats are lost in a mishap.
Postcard from Titan
Jan. 12: A Delta-2 rocket launches the Deep Impact probe toward comet Tempel 1.
Jan. 14: The Huygens probe from the Cassini spacecraft successfully lands on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan and transmits imagery during the descent and from the surface. This was the first landing on a body in the outer Solar System.
July 4: NASA's Deep Impact 1 probe approaches comet Tempel 1 and releases the probe, which impacts the comet's core some 24 hours later.
July 26: The US Space Shuttle resumes flights after the Columbia accident. The return to flight was expected on March 6, 2005, as of January - September 2004; on May 15, as of February 2005; on May 22, as of April 20, 2005; on July 13 (the earliest) as of April 29, 2005. The first launch attempt on July 13 was postponed because of problems related to a liquid hydrogen low-level fuel sensor inside the external fuel tank.
July 29: NASA announced that a planet larger than Pluto has been discovered in the outlying regions of the Solar System. It was discovered using the Samuel Oschin Telescope at Palomar Observatory near San Diego, Calif., by planetary scientist Dr. Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., whose research was partly funded by NASA. Astronomers Brown, Trujillo and Rabinowitz first photographed the new planet with the 48-inch Samuel Oschin Telescope on October 31, 2003. However, the object was so far away that its motion was not detected until they reanalyzed the data in January 2005.
Aug. 12: After a two-day delay, NASA launches the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, MRO, spacecraft.
Sept. 12: Japan's Hayabusa (MUSES-C) arrives at the target asteroid Itokawa. (previously expected in July)
Sept. 22: NASA unveiled launch vehicle and spacecraft architecture designed to establish a base on the Moon and support expeditions to Mars.
October: The SpaceShipOne rocket-powered plane conducted two flights to the altitude of 100-kilometers, winning a 10-million X-Prize for its creators.
Oct. 12-17: China launches a crew of two on a five-day Shenzhou-6 orbital mission. (Set in December 2004, originally expected in September)
Oct. 14: NASA announced it is unofficially targeting a May 3-23, 2006, period, as the next launch date for the Space Shuttle. As of Aug. 18, 2005, the return to flight was expected on March 4, 2006.
November: A Russian launcher launches ESA's Venus Express toward Venus.
November: Japan's MUSES-C (Hayabusa) spacecraft takes samples from asteroid Itokawa.
Dec. 6: NASA issued a solicitation for proposals to the private industry to deliver cargo to the ISS, after Shuttle retires in 2010.
Dec. 28: Soyuz rocket launched the first pair of experimental satellites for the European Galileo navigation network. (Set: March 3, 2004)
Jan. 15: The Stardust spacecraft returns to Earth.
Jan. 19: An Atlas-5 rocket launches NASA's New Horizons spacecraft toward Pluto.
March 10: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter enters orbit around Mars.
July 4: Shuttle Discovery returns to flight, re-supplies the ISS, during the STS-121 mission. (As of Oct. 14, 2005, the launch was targeted for May 3-23, 2006; Weather delayed mission from July 1 and 2).
Sept. 3: ESA's SMART-1 lunar orbiter ends its mission with a preprogrammed crash into the surface of the Moon.
Oct. 24: NASA's Messenger spacecraft to conduct the first flyby of Venus.
Nov. 13: The Goddard development vehicle the Blue Origin company climbs to the altitude of around 90 meters and lands softly after a 25 seconds in flight over test site in El Paso, Texas.
Japan's SELENE orbiter
Feb. 23: European Rosetta spacecraft flies by Mars.
February: New Horizons spacecraft conducts a flyby of Jupiter.
June 6: NASA's Messenger spacecraft conducts its second flyby of Venus.
June: Japan's MUSES-C (Hayabusa) spacecraft was to land in Woomera, Australia, with soil samples of an asteroid. (In 2005, delayed to June 2010)
Sept. 14: Japan's H-IIA launches the SELENE (Kaguya) orbiter toward the Moon. (Delayed from August 2007)
Sept. 27: NASA to launch Dawn spacecraft on a mission to visit two asteroids. (Delayed from June 2007)
Aug. 4: A Delta-2 rocket launches NASA's Scout (Phoenix) mission to Mars.
Oct. 24: China launches lunar orbiting spacecraft Chang'e-1 to orbit the Moon for at least 12 months. (Set: February 2004, confirmed in 2005)
November: The European Rosetta spacecraft conducted second flyby of Earth.
Delayed from 2005:
Japan to launch Lunar-A orbiter with two penetrators to drill three meters into the lunar regolith. (In 2004, delayed from August 2004)
Jan. 14: NASA's Messenger probe conducts its first flyby of Mercury, nearly 33 years after the last spacecraft encountered the planet.
March 12: Cassini encounters Saturn's Moon Enceladus for the last time during its nominal flight program.
May 25: NASA's Phoenix probe lands in a polar region of Mars. (Delayed from May 18)
Sept. 5: 18:58 UT: ESA's Rosetta passes within 800 kilometers from asteroid 2867 Steins.
Sept. 27: The Shenzhou-7's crew member -- Zhai Zhigang -- conducts China's first spacewalk. (The Shenzhou-7 mission was delayed from 2007.)
Oct. 22: India launches a 590-kilogram Chandrayaan-1 lunar mapping satellite and a 20-kilogram impactor on the lunar surface. (Delayed from Sept. 19, 2007). It entered lunar orbit on Nov. 7 and an impactor crashed into the Moon as planned on Nov. 15.
Delayed from Sept. 10: NASA to launch the Space Shuttle Atlantis, whose crew is slated to service Hubble Space Telescope for the fourth and last time before the retirement of the instrument expected around 2013 (according to an ESA announcement on June 8, 2007).
September: NASA to conduct the first test of the launch escape system for the Orion spacecraft, imitating the failure on the launch pad.
October: NASA's Messenger spacecraft to conduct its second flyby of Mercury.
Feb. 2: Iran orbited its first satellite, Omid, with a domestically-built launch vehicle, Safir, becoming the 8th member of the "space club." (In January 2004, Defense Minister promised the launch in 2005.)
March 1, 04:13 Beijing Time: China's Chang'e lunar orbiter impacted the Moon's surface at 1.5 degrees South latitude and 52.36 degrees East longitude. A planned braking maneuver was initiated at 03:36 Beijing Time by ground control stations in East Qingdao and northwest Kashi regions of China.
March 7: NASA launches the Kepler satellite designed to search Earth-size and smaller planets beyond the Solar System. (The mission was previously planned for Fall 2008 and February 2009.)
March 15-28: NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery flies the STS-119 mission, attaching the fourth and last solar array segment to the US segment of the International Space Station.
April 5: North Korea fires a long-range rocket officially carrying the nation's second satellite, however it fails to reach orbit.
May 11-24: The crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis conducts fifth and last servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope during the STS-125 mission.
May 14: The European Space Agency's Ariane-5 ECA rocket successfully launches Herschel and Planck space telescopes to look at darkest, coldest and oldest parts of the Universe.
May 15: Coolant runs out aboard Spitzer infrared telescope rendering some of its instruments inoperable.
June 17-18: NASA launches the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, LRO, and Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, LCROSS, spacecraft into orbit around the Moon for at least a year-long mission. LCROSS, spacecraft to impact lunar surface in the effort to detect presence of water on the Moon. (As of March 2009. As of 2004, the mission was planned for 2008; confirmed as of mid-2007; Delayed from Oct. 28, 2008, May 20 and June 17, 2009)
September: NASA's Messenger spacecraft conducts its third flyby of Mercury.
Oct. 28: NASA test-flies a launch vehicle (Ares I-X) for the Orion spacecraft on a sub-orbital trajectory. (The mission met the March 2009 schedule. Delayed by one day by weather). As of June 2006, Oct. 2007, Jan. 2008, the mission was planned in April 2009. Delayed from July 11 and late August 2009. By the time of the first launch, the use of the booster was essentially ruled out and its development was officially canceled at the beginning of 2010.)
Nov. 13: The European Rosetta spacecraft flies by Earth for the third and last time.
Jan. 11: China conducted launch of a target missile and the anti-missile interceptor, achieving an apparently successful intercept.
May 16: Space Shuttle delivered the MIM1 Rassvet module to the ISS.
May 21: Japan launches Akatsuki (Planet-C) orbiter and the IKAROS solar-sailing probe toward Venus.
June 13: Japan's MUSES-C (Hayabusa) spacecraft landed in Woomera, Australia, possibly with soil samples of an asteroid. (As of April 2007)
July 10, 18:10 CEST: European Rosetta spacecraft flew at the distance of 3,126 kilometers from asteroid (21) Lutetia. Images confirmed that the asteroid has an elongated body, with its longest side around 130 kilometers.
July 30: NASA's Dawn spacecraft to enter orbit around asteroid Vesta. (Delayed to 2011, then postponed indefinitely in the fall of 2005 due to cost overruns. The project later revived.)
September: The Chinese government approves the development of the modular space station.
Oct. 1: China launches Chang'e-2 into a 100-kilometer orbit around the Moon to prepare for future lunar landing. (As of May 2009. In March 2009 it was reported to fly in 2011.)
November: NASA's Deep Impact probe flies by comet Hartley 2.
Dec. 6: Japan's Akatsuki (Planet-C) orbiter and the IKAROS solar-sailing probe arrives into vicinity of Venus, however Akatsuki failes to enter a Venusian orbit.
Dec. 8, 10:43 EST: The US Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral with an unmanned prototype of the Dragon spacecraft, both developed under a NASA contract by SpaceX. Three hours, 19 minutes, 52 seconds after a liftoff, Dragon successfully splashes down in the Pacific Ocean, some 800 kilometers west of the Mexican coast.
December: NASA to conduct the first J-2X engine test for Ares-1 and Ares-5 rockets at a just completed stand at the Stennis Space Center. (As of May 8, 2007. Later canceled?)
Space Shuttle to fly its last mission. (Date set on Jan. 14, 2004, later delayed to 2011).
US to test orbital missile interceptors (as of January 2004, later cancelled (?).
NASA to land a probe on the surface of the Moon. (In February 20004, the mission was described as a soil return from the polar regions of the Moon in 2009. At the end of 2004, it was delayed to 2010 and October 2005, it was classified as a lander. During 2007, under threat of cancellation.)
Russia to launch a modified Soyuz, capable of circumlunar missions. (An April 2007 RKK Energia estimate; the project had not been funded at the time.)
The Blue Origin company to start ferrying commercial passengers into the upper atmosphere onboard the New Shepard spacecraft. (Unofficial reports based on FAA filings circa 2006. These plans have not materialized.)
Feb. 14: NASA's Stardust spacecraft to fly by a 2.99-kilometer potato-shaped comet Tempel 1.
March 18: NASA's Messenger spacecraft enters orbit around Mercury.
April 1: NASA planned to launch JIMO spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and its satellites. (Effectively cancelled in 2005)
May: European Rosetta spacecraft to enter a hibernation mode as it chases the comet.
May 16: The Space Shuttle Endeavour begins the STS-134 mission to deliver the European AMS instrument to the International Space Station. It was the final flight for the Endeavour and the second to last mission of the Space Shuttle system.
July 3: NASA's Dawn spacecraft was to leave orbit of Vesta and enter cruising trajectory toward asteroid Ceres. (later re-scheduled)
July 15: NASA's Dawn spacecraft enters orbit around asteroid Vesta.
Aug. 5: NASA launches the Juno mission to orbit Jupiter. (Delayed from June 30, 2010 to 2011)
Sept. 10: Delta 2 launches twin the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, spacecraft (GRAIL A and B) to go into orbit around the Moon to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail, possibly along with small lunar atmosphere research satellite.
Sept. 17: The US government declassifies the Hexagon satellite reconnaissance program.
Sept. 29: China launches the Tiangong-1 space station. As of December 2010, China's unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft was to dock with the outpost in August 2011. (443) In March 2009, the mission was expected at the beginning of 2011. As of 2008, China planned to launch Tiangong-1, 2, 3 space stations from the end of 2010 to 2015, to be visited by five manned spacecraft. Tiangong-1, 2 and 3 were promised to be 8.5-ton space laboratories. In March 2010, Chinese space officials said that technical problems forced to delay the launch of Tiangong-1 station from 2010 to 2011. In January 2011, Chinese media reported that the launch of Tiangong-1 had to be delayed from the beginning of 2011 to the second half of that year.)
October: The Russian Soyuz-2 rocket flew its first mission from Kourou, French Guiana. (In February 2006, the launch was expected in November 2008; During 2007, the first launch was expected in March 2009; in March 2008, it was expected in June 2009, by the end of 2008, it slipped to the end of 2009 - beginning of 2010; during 2009 it was delayed to April-June 2010 and at the beginning of 2010 slipped to the last quarter of 2010. By spring 2011, the launch was expected in the fall of that year.)
Nov. 9: A Zenit rocket launches the Phobos-Grunt spacecraft to study Mars and its moon Phobos and return soil samples from Phobos to Earth. The spacecraft fails immediately after entering the Earth's orbit.
Nov. 9: A 400-meter asteroid 2005 YU55 passes within 324,600 kilometers from Earth, enabling NASA to produce radar images of its surface.
Nov. 26: NASA launches Mars Smart Lander/Mobile Laboratory (Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity) (At the end of 2008, the launch was postponed from September 2009 to October-December 2011. By May 2010, continuing analysis of the geometry and communications options for the arrival at Mars have led planners to choose an Earth-to-Mars trajectory that schedules launch between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18, 2011).
Dec. 31: NASA's GRAIL A spacecraft enters lunar orbit.
Jan. 1: NASA's GRAIL B spacecraft enters lunar orbit.
Jan. 27: An 11-meter asteroid 2012 BX34 passes within 60,000 kilometers from Earth.
June 18: China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with Jing Haipeng, Liu Yang and Liu Wang onboard docks with the Tiangong-1 space station. (The mission objective first announced in 2010.)
Aug. 6, 05:31 GMT: NASA's Curiosity rover lands inside Gale crater on Mars.
September: NASA was to conduct a second test launch of a launch vehicle (Ares I) for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, (Orion) spacecraft. (As of June 2006; the program canceled at the beginning of 2010.)
Dec. 12: North Korea succeeds in placing its first satellite into orbit.
Dec. 13, 16:30:09 Beijing Time: China's Chang'e-2 probe flew as close as 3.2 kilometers from asteroid Toutatis.
Feb. 15, 09:20 local time: An estimated 17-meter, 7,000-10,000-ton meteor probably from the Apollo group of asteroids disintegrates spectacuarly over Chelyabinsk Region, Russia, injuring up to 1,000 people.
April 19: Russia launches the first Bion-M satellite.
April 21: Orbital Sciences Corporation under a NASA contract launches the first Antares rocket with a mass prototype of the Cygnus cargo ship.
June 11: China launches the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft with a crew of three including Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping. They planned to spend just under two weeks at the orbiting Tiangong-1 space station following docking on June 13. The spacecraft landed on June 25.
Sept. 7: NASA's Minotaur-5 rocket sent Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, LADEE, into the lunar orbit.
Sept. 12: NASA declares that Voyager-1 had reached interstellar space.
Sept. 14: Japan introduced the Epsilon light-weight rocket, replacing the M-5 launch vehicle, and carrying a SPRINT-A planetary telescope. (As of August 2010)
Nov. 5: India's PSLV-XL rocket launched a 1.4-ton MOM Mangalyaan unmanned orbiter to Mars.
Nov. 18: NASA's Atlas-5 (401) rocket launched Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, MAVEN, probe to gather information about the Red Planet's atmosphere, climate history and potential habitability in greater detail than ever before.
Dec. 2: China's Long March-3B rocket launches the Chang'e-3 lunar lander. A second vehicle, Chang'e-4, was expected to back up the mission as of 2010. (As of March 2009. As of Feb. 25, 2004, the unmanned lander mission was expected in 2010, the rover mission in 2012. In May 2009, Ye Peijian, a chief scientist of the Chang'e project said that Chang'e-3 would carry a rover).
Dec. 14, 13:11 GMT: China's Chang'e-3 spacecraft achieves a successful soft landing on the surface of the Moon.
Dec. 14: Iran announces the rocket launch of a second monkey on a 15-minute suborbital flight reaching an altitude of 120 kilometers.
Previously planned for 2013:
Oct. 17-18: NASA's Juno spacecraft to flyby Earth on its way to Jupiter (As of 2007).
December: A Delta-4 rocket to launch NASA's Orion (Block I) spacecraft into an Orbital Flight Test (OFT-1) without crew. (As of 2011).
German Space Agency, DLR, to launch a $658-million remote-sensing and cartography spacecraft into the lunar orbit. (The end of February 2007 DLR proposal to German government)
NASA to retire Hubble Space Telescope, HST.
China to launch a Mars orbiter. (A proposed mission as of 2010.)
UK to launch MoonLITE mission in cooperation with the US and, possibly, India, entering lunar orbit and firing four penetrators into the lunar surface at the speed of 300 meters per second. (As of February 2008. In December 2007, the mission was planned in 2012)
February: Taurus XL 3110 rocket to launch NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to replace OCO-1 satellite lost in a 2009 launch mishap.
Aug. 6: Europe's Rosetta spacecraft enters orbit around comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Fall: NASA's MAVEN spacecraft to enter orbit around Mars.
Sept. 21: India's unmanned probe enters orbit around Mars.
Oct. 17: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle lands at Vandenberg Air Force Base after 674 days in orbit.
Nov. 12: The Rosetta spacecraft dropped the Philae lander on the surface of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Dec. 3: Japan launches the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on a mission to return soil samples from an asteroid 1999 JU3.
Dec. 5: After a 24-hour delay, NASA launches the first unmanned version of the Orion spacecraft on a Delta-4 rocket. (As of November 2011, the mission was expected in early 2014).
March 6: NASA's Dawn probe enters orbit around Ceres.
April 30: Messenger spacecraft ends its mission crashing into Mercury.
July 14: The New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto and its moons.
July 26: End of primary mission for NASA's Dawn spacecraft. (Postponed indefinitely in the fall of 2005 due to cost overruns; then restarted)
Dec. 3: NASA to launch LISA Pathfinder/ST-7 spacecraft launches to validate drag-free spacecraft operation. Original plans called for Delta-4 rocket to launch in 2010 a trio of Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, LISA, spacecraft to observe gravitational waves from binary stars both inside and beyond our galaxy, including gravitational waves generated in the vicinity of the very massive black holes. Spacecraft will form an equilateral triangle in orbit. The mission was then delayed to 2012 and, in November 2010 the launch was planned in early 2013.
Dec. 7-9: Japan's Akatsuki (Planet-C) spacecraft succeeded entering orbit of Venus following a failed attempt in 2010. (As of 2010)
March: A Proton-M/Briz-M rocket launches the ExoMars-2016 mission. In the fall 2015, the launch was postponed from January 2016. (As of December 2009, the launch was planned on an Atlas-5 421 rocket. As of July 2009, a US lander was considered for this mission.)
July 4: NASA's Juno spacecraft enters orbit around Jupiter.
Sept. 8: NASA launches the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sample return mission with the task of delivering as much as two kilograms of soil from asteroid Bennu.
Sept. 15: China launches the Tiangong-2 space station.
Sept. 19: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised ground test of a rocket engine at the country's Sohae satellite-launching site, the official KCNA agency reported.
Oct. 17: China launches the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft to the Tiangong-2 space station. The spacecraft successfully docks at the Tiangong-2 space station on October 18.
Oct. 19: ExoMars-2016 arrives at Mars. A small ESA lander to survive on the surface for around eight sols (Martian days) using only battery power and doing limited science.
India's GSLV Mk.3 rocket to launch a lander to Mars. (An unapproved proposal as of end of 2013)
NASA funding for the ISS program to end. (As of Jan. 14, 2004; In 2010, funding extended to 2020)
Unfulfilled in 2016:
January: NASA to launch Titan Mare Explorer (TiME), a Discovery-class lander to the surface of the Ligeia Mare lake on the Saturnian moon Titan. (A 2009 unfunded proposal. In August 2012, lost a funding competition to the InSight Mars lander.)
March 4: An Atlas-5 rocket to launch NASA's InSight spacecraft to Mars from Vandenberg. (As of November 2011, it was one of three competing proposals; approved in August 2012. Previously, planned for March 8-27 window). (Cancelled on Dec. 22, 2015, after failed efforts to fix a leak in a primary vacuum seismometer.)
Sept. 20: The InSight spacecraft to land on Mars (postponed or canceled).
2015-2016: China to launch the Tiangong-3 space station.
NASA to launch nuclear-powered, ion-propelled spacecraft toward Neptune system. (A 2005 proposal within NASA Vision Mission)
Europe to launch a mission to return soil samples from Martian moon Phobos to Earth. (British and French proposals circa February 2007)
Cassini plunges into Saturn
April 20: China's Tianzhou-1 cargo ship lifts off and docks at the Tiangong-2 space station on April 22.
June 21: The Tianzhou-1 cargo ship undocked from the Tiangong-2 space station and began autonomous flight.
Sept. 12, 23:58 Beijing time: China's Tianzhou-1 cargo ship made 3rd and final docking with the unmanned Tiangong-2 space station.
Sept. 15: NASA's Cassini spacecraft ends its mission with a controlled plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn.
Unfulfilled in 2017:
January: NASA to launch Titan Mare Explorer (TiME), a Discovery-class lander to the surface of the Ligeia Mare lake on the Saturnian moon Titan. (A 2009 unfunded proposal. In August 2012, lost a funding competition to the InSight Mars lander.)
June 3: NASA to launch SAFIR, a supercooled far-infrared telescope. (Set: June 2004)
Nov. 30: NASA to launch the first manned vehicle with a crew of four to the ISS, increasing the crew size onboard the station to seven people. (As of December 2013).
Dec. 7: NASA's Solar Probe Plus to conduct a flyby of Venus.
End of year: NASA to conduct the first unmanned test flight of the Space Launch System, SLS, capable of carrying 77 tons into the low Earth orbit with a potential for upgrades to 130 tons of payload. (The mission was announced on Sept. 14, 2011.)
2016-2017: India to send the Chandrayaan-2 lunar lander to the surface of the Moon. (as of August 2014)
NASA "flagship mission" to be launched into the outer Solar System, possibly toward the Jupiter-Europa or Saturn-Titan systems. (A 2009 initial budget proposal, ultimately not funded.)
NASA to test-fly a heavy-lifting launch vehicle on a deep-space trajectory carrying an unmanned prototype of the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, MPCV. (A mid-2011 estimate by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden).
Australia to send a Sundiver spacecraft into the outer layers of the Sun's corona. (A 2007 proposal within the Decadal Plan for Space Science drafted for the national space science committee of the Australian Academy of Science).
Europe's retrievable cargo ship to fly its first mission capable of returning cargo from space. (A provisional date based on the projected funding in November 2008, which did not materialize.)
Parker Solar Probe
Feb. 6: A US Falcon Heavy rocket makes its first flight, sending a dummy cargo on a heliocentric trajectory.
April 2: China's Tiangong-1 space station makes uncontrolled reentry over the Pacific Ocean.
April 19: NASA launches the TESS planet-hunting observatory.
May 5: An Atlas-5 (401) rocket launches NASA's InSight spacecraft to Mars from Vandenberg.
End of June: Japan's Hayabusa-2 arrrives in the vicinity of asteroid Ryugu.
July 5: India's space agency ISRO conducts the flight test of the crew escape system for the 12.6-ton vehicle.
Aug. 12: Delta-4-Heavy launches NASA's Parker Solar Probe.
Middle of 2018: Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft land and collect samples from a carbon-rich 1999 JU3, a C-type asteroid with a diameter of about one kilometer. (As of August 2010 budget proposal)
Oct. 3, 4:44 a.m. EDT: NASA's Solar Probe Plus to conduct a flyby of Venus. (Previously planned on June 5, 2020)
Oct. 19: Europe's Ariane-5 rocket launches the BepiColombo probe toward Mercury from Kourou. (In February 2006, the launch was planned in August 2013; previously planned for 2011 and 2012. A Soyuz-2-1B rocket was previously scheduled to launch the mission. In August 2009, the mission was delayed to August 2014. As of February 2012, the mission was scheduled to lift off on Aug. 15, 2015. In March 2015, the launch was postponed from July 2016 to Jan. 27, 2017. By the beginning of 2016, the launch was postponed until April 2018.)
Nov. 5, 10:27 p.m. EST: NASA's Solar Probe Plus to pass its first perihelion of the Sun.
Unfulfilled in 2018:
Aug. 1: NASA's Solar Probe Plus to conduct a flyby of Venus.
October: NASA's OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft to reach an asteroid Bennu for a 400-day operations and the return of soil samples back to Earth.
September - November: The first SLS rocket to launch NASA's unmanned Orion spacecraft on the Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) into an orbit around the Moon (As of July 2016).
End of year: A Falcon Heavy rocket to launch a Dragon-2 spacecraft with a pair of tourists on a trip around the Moon. (SpaceX announcement on Feb. 27, 2017)
Japan to send a lander (with a soil sample return mission?) on the surface of the Moon. (A Sept. 2007 statement by Manabu Kato, chief scientist of the Kaguya project)
NASA to launch Mars Field Lab, Mars Telesat Orbiter and Mars Scouts probes (As of 2007)
The Soyuz-2-1B rocket with Fregat upper stage to launch a 700-800 unmanned lander to the South Pole of the Moon from Kourou. (The project to be approved in 2012.) (As of March 2009, a prototype of a cargo-carrying lunar mission, which could eventually resupply a lunar base, was expected to fly around the same time frame on the Ariane-5 rocket.)
NASA to launch an unmanned lunar lander for the International Lunar Network, ILN. (As of 2009)
Russia to test-fly a nuclear-powered space tug, MMB. (As of October 2009)
Russia to launch a new-generation manned spacecraft, which could enable missions to the Moon in 2020s. (As of 2008-2009)
Japan to send a MELOS mission to Mars, including two orbiters studying the planet's atmosphere and a rover. (As of May 2009. The government approval and funding needed to start in 2013.)
End of 2018: NASA to launch a New Frontiers mission. (As of end of 2009, Venus SAGE, Osiris-Rex asteroid sample return and lunar sample return missions competed for funding. A winner was to be announced in mid-2011. On May 25, 2011, Osiris-Rex was declared a winner with the launch in 2016.)
China to launch a core of the modular space station (As of 2013; confirmed at the end of 2014)
Japan's Epsilon rocket to launch the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon, SLIM, to the lunar surface. (An April 2015 JAXA proposal to a government committee on space policy).
New Horizons near Ultima Thule
Jan. 1: NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to fly by 2014 MU69 Ultima Thule, an ancient Kuiper Belt object with an estimated diameter of around 45 kilometers on the outskirts of the Solar System.
Jan. 3: Chang'e-4 spacecraft lands near the lunar Von Kármán crater, becoming the world's first spacecraft to land on the Far Side of the Moon.
Feb. 12: India fires a ground-based anti-satellite missile which fails.
Feb. 22: Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft touches down on asteroid Ryugu to collect samples of its soil.
Feb. 21: A US Falcon-9 rocket launches Israel's Beresheet lander toward the Moon.
Feb. 22: A rocket-powered aircraft built by Virgin Galactic reaches an altitude of 89.9 kilometers after developing a speed of 3.04 Mach.
March 2: A US Falcon-9 rocket launches the first Dragon-V2 spacecraft without crew on its first test mission to the International Space Station.
March 26: Speaking at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence directs NASA to accelerate its lunar exploration program in order to return US astronauts to the Moon within five years.
March 27: India fires a ground-based anti-satellite missile, successfully destroying an orbital target.
June 12: India launches Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle, HSTDV.
July 2: NASA conducts the second Ascent Abort System, AA2, for the Orion spacecraft, launching an experimental module on the first stage of the MX Peacekeeper missile.
July 19: China's Tiangong-2 space station performs controlled deorbiting over the Pacific Ocean.
October 27: The X-37B mini-shuttle of the US Air Force completes the OTV-5 mission with a landing at Kennedy Space Center after 780 days in orbit.
December: Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft depart to Earth from a 1999 JU3 asteroid with its soil samples.
2017-2019: NASA and ESA to launch a precursor communications orbiter for the upcoming Mars soil sample return mission. (A proposal to be submitted to the EU Ministerial Council in November 2008).
End of decade: Japan to launch a spacecraft toward Jupiter, possibly propelled by a solar sail. (As of 2009)
Russia to launch a series of unmanned probes into the orbit of Mars in preparation for manned expeditions. (As of January 2010, 376)
Russia to launch the Luna-Glob spacecraft toward the Moon. (As of 2011, the mission was promised in 2014. In Nov. 2007, the mission was promised in 2010; In 2006, the mission was not expected before 2012.)
China's new crew vehicle
OSIRIS-REx probes asteroid
Orion above the Moon
Jan. 19: SpaceX conducts a successful launch abort test during the suborbital flight of the Falcon-9 rocket with an unpiloted Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Jan. 30: NASA's Spitzer infrared orbital telescope, SIRTF, is switched off permanently after 16 years of operation.
Feb. 9: An Atlas-5 rocket launches ESA's electrically powered Solar Orbiter to fly within 40 solar radii in a 150-day orbit following multiple flybys of Earth and Venus. (Originally planned for launch in 2015-2017)
April 30: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft to fly 11,264 kilometers from Earth on its way to Mercury. (As of 2018. As of 2012, the Earth's flyby was planned on Aug. 14, 2016, then postponed in 2014.)
May 5-8: Following its launch on the Chang Zheng-5B rocket, China's unpiloted prototype of the next-generation crew vehicle successfully performs its first test flight in the low Earth orbit, concluding with a soft landing of the Descent Vehicle in the Alashan Desert of Inner Mongolia on the Chinese territory.
May 30: The SpaceX' Dragon spacecraft lifted off with two astronauts onboard resuming US piloted missions after the retirement of the Space Shuttle. The Dragon successfully docked at the ISS on May 31.
July 16: Europe's new-generation Ariane-6 rocket to make its maiden launch. (As of 2017)
July 20: Japan's H-2A rocket launches Emirates Mars Mission, EMM.
July 19: Japan's H-2A rocket launches the Emirates Mars Mission (Al'amal/Hope).
July 23: China launches Chang Zheng-5 rocket carrying the Tianwen-1 orbiter, lander and rover mission to Mars. As of 2011. the launch was expected in 2022 but by 2016, the mission was apparently advanced to 2020-2021 to mark the 100-anniversary of the Chinese communist party.
July 30: An Atlas-5 rocket launches NASA's Perseverance rover to Mars.
August 4: The SN5 test version of the SpaceX' Starship super-heavy rocket makes its first powered test flight to an altitude of around 150 meters.
August 8: China sends the Huoxing-1 mission to Mars.
September 3: SpaceX performs the 2nd vertical flight test of the Starship prototype, SN6, reaching an altitude of around 500 feet.
October 16: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft to make its first of two flybys of Venus (at a distance of 10,907 kilometers) on its way to Mercury. (As of 2012, the flyby of Venus was planned on Nov. 25, 2017, but it was postponed in 2014.)
Dec. 1: China's Chang'e-5 spacecraft lands on the surface of the Moon and begins soil sampling.
Dec. 6: Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft to return to Earth with samples of a carbon reach asteroid. (As of an August 2010 budget proposal, approved in January 2012.)
Dec. 9: The SN8 prototype of SpaceX' Starship vehicle performes a suborbital flight to an altitude of 12.5 kilometers but explodes at touchdown.
India to launch the Aditya-L1 spacecraft into the L1 Langrage point in the Earth-Sun system to study Sun.
NASA to send a rover to Mars.
Japan's new-generation H-3 rocket to fly its first test mission. (As of 2013)
South Korea to launch a lunar probe into a polar orbit around the Moon for a year-long mission. (As of 2017)
Unfulfilled in 2020:
China to launch a second add-on module for its Earth-orbiting space station. (As of end 2014) China to complete orbital assembly of a modular space station. (As of June 2013).
January: NASA's Deep Impact probe to encounter a half-mile asteroid 2002 GT, which regularly crosses path with Earth. (As of December 2011).
Feb. 20-29: NASA's Atlas-5 rocket to launch the Europa orbiter, JEO, toward Jupiter. (As of February 2009, however cancelled before 2012.)
March 11-23: Europe's Ariane-5 ECA rocket to launch a Ganymede orbiter, JGO, toward Jupiter. (As of February 2009. Under consideration by ESA from March 2005 with a projected launch in 2016, In 2007-2008, Russia and Europe discussed a similar mission, known as Sokol-Laplas (Sokol-Laplace)).
Fourth quarter: China's Chang'e-5 and Chang'e-6 probes to return two kilograms of soil samples from the surface of the Moon and prepare for a possible manned expedition. (Initially expected as early as 2017, the mission first announced in August 2005 and later confirmed in 2010 and 2011.) As of Feb. 25, 2004, the mission was expected no earlier than 2020.)
End of year: An Atlas rocket to launch a Dream Chaser space plane developed by Sierra Nevada corporation on its first mission to the ISS. (As of Feb. 8, 2018)
Japan to launch Destiny+ mission.
The latest date for NASA to resume manned exploration of the Moon. (Set on Jan. 14, 2004, canceled on Feb. 1, 2010)
NASA to launch a formation-flying infrared interferometer to search for planets around other stars. (Delayed by the 2006 budget cut)
NASA's probe heading toward Neptune to flyby Jupiter. (A 2005 proposal within NASA Vision Mission)
Russia to launch a new-generation space station to replace ISS, into the polar orbit. (The statement of the Russian space agency head at the MAKS 2007 air and space show). Russia to launch a core module of the Earth-orbiting assembly complex for planetary spacecraft. (376)
The European Space Agency to launch the Tandem mission to Saturn, Titan and Enceladus, and possibly delivering a balloon into the atmosphere of Titan. (Later became known as Titan and Saturn System Mission, TSSM). It competes with the Laplace mission, targeting Jupiter and Europa. (A 2007 proposal within Cosmic Vision study; the selection was originally expected in the Fall of 2008, but was delayed to the beginning of 2009. The launch date was delayed from 2018.)
Europe to conduct its first manned mission in the Earth orbit. (A provisional date based on the projected funding in November 2008)
NASA, ESA to launch a network of landers to be deployed on the surface of Mars within the NET mission. (As of July 2009)
James Webb Space Telescope
Feb. 2: SpaceX' SN9 prototype of the Starship vehicle climbs to an altitude of 10 kilometers, makes a flip to a horizontal position but fails to return to a full vertical attitude on descent, resulting in explosion at touchdown.
March 3: SpaceX' SN10 prototype of the Starship vehicle performs a suborbital flight to an altitude of around 10 killometers and the first successful soft landing, however explodes shortly after touchdown.
March 30: SpaceX' SN11 prototype of the Starship vehicle explodes at the conclusion of the high-altitude test flight, apparently due to problems with Engine No. 2 which exhibited problems on ascent and failed to develop operational chamber pressure on descent.
April 19: The Ingenuity helicopter performs first takeoff and landing on the surface of Mars.
April 29: China's Chang Zheng-5B rocket launches the Tianhe core of the modular space station. (An unofficial Nov. 2007 statement quoted by China Daily newspaper, by Long Lehao, one of the leading designers of the Chang Zheng 3A rocket promised the launch in 2020. The date was officially denied, however in November 2012, another official Chinese statement promised "manned space station" in 2020.)
May 5: SpaceX' SN15 prototype of the Starship vehicle performs successful suborbital flight and soft landing.
May 14: The descent module of China's Tianwen-1 mission with the Zhurong rover successfully lands on the surface of Mars.
May 29: China launches Tianzhou-2 cargo ship to resupply the Tianhe space station.
June 17 - Sept. 17: The Shenzhou-12 crew vehicle, carrying astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, flies a nearly 90-day mission to the Tianhe core module of the Chinese space station.
Sept. 15-18: SpaceX company flies the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a 71-hour autonomous flight in Earth orbit with four tourists onboard.
Sept. 18: Tianzhou-2 cargo ship undocked from the aft port of the Tianhe space station core and around four hours later re-docked at the front port of the module.
Oct. 1: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft makes first of six flybys of Mercury.
Oct. 15: China launches the Shenzhou-13 crew vehicle with Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu onboard for a six-month expedition to the Tiangong Earth-orbiting space station.
Oct. 16: NASA launches Lucy mission to explore multiple asteroids.
Nov. 23: A Falcon-9 rocket launches NASA's DART asteroid-deflection mission from Pad 4E at Vandenberg AFB, Ca. (As of April 2019, the launch was expected in June 2021, in 2020, it was scheduled for "late summer".)
Dec. 25: An Ariane-5 rocket successfully launches James Webb Space Telescope, JWST.
Aug. 11: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft to make its second and final flyby of Venus (at a distance of 1,007 kilometers) on its way to Mercury. (As of 2012, the second flyby of Venus was planned for July 18, 2018, but it was postponed for around a year in 2014.)
Aug. 22: NASA's Solar Probe Plus to conduct a flyby of Venus.
August: The second SLS rocket to launch NASA's Orion spacecraft on the Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2) carrying its first crew on a lunar fly-by mission. (As of July 2016. As of September 2011, the mission was planned at the end of September 2019).
October: NASA's Solar Probe Plus, to reach its closest perihelion (point closest to the Sun).
October 2020 - May 2021: The US-European Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment, AIDA, mission to launch ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission, AIM, spacecraft and NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test, DART, probe to a binary asteroid Didymos.
Oct. 31: An Ariane-5 rocket to launch James Webb Space Telescope, JWST, into the L2 lagrangian point between Earth and Sun. (As of January 2012. As of fall of 2010, the launch was projected for September 2015. In April 2007, the launch was expected in 2013. In August 2009, the launch was expected in June 2014. By Sept. 2017, the launch was postponed until Spring 2019 and by October 2017 to "late spring 2019. In March 2018, the launch was postponed to May 2020 and on June 27, 2018, the launch date was moved to March 30, 2021. On July 16, 2020, the launch was postponed until Oct. 31, 2021.)
NASA to launch spacecraft to explore Titan. (As of 2007)
Russia to start launching a nuclear-electric space tug and other elements of the Martian Interplanetary Complex, MEK. (376)
China to launch a spacecraft to Venus. (As of 2011)
South Korea to launch its first indigenous space vehice. (As of October 2012)
Iran to launch its first manned mission (A February 2009 statement by Reza Tagipur, the head of the Iranian space agency)
March 27: The Tianzhou-2 cargo ship undocks from the Tiangong space station. It was deorbited on March 31.
April 16: The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft returns to Earth after a 183-day expedition to the Tiangong space station.
May 2: Helicopter attempts to catch in mid-air the first-stage booster descending under a parachute after the orbital ascent of the Electron launch vehicle from New Zealand. Pilots release the stage a few seconds after the catch due to concerns about the excessive loads. The booster is later recovered by a ship.
May 6: China's Deep Blue Aerospace company conducts a successful launch of the Nebula-M reusable rocket prototype to an altitude of around one kilometer, followed by a successful rocket-powered landing.
May 10: China launches the Tianzhou-4 cargo ship from Wenchang to the Tiangong space station.
May 23-25: A meteoroid hits one of 18 primary mirror segments on James Webb Space Telescope.
June-5: China launches the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft with a crew of three: Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cal Xuzhe, which docks at the nadir port of the Tianhe Core More in the Earth orbit on the same day.
June 23: Europe's Colombo spacecraft flies within 200 kilometers from Mercury for the second time before reaching its orbit in 2025. (As of 2012, the second flyby of Mercury was expected on Nov. 2, 2019, but it was postponed for around a year in 2014.)
July 13: Europe's Vega-C rocket flies its first mission.
July 24: China's Wentian module lifts off on a Chang Zheng-5B rocket and docks to the Tianhe core module of the orbital space station.
Aug. 4: A Falcon-9 rocket launches South-Korean lunar orbiter, Danuri (Koren Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, KPLA).
Aug. 29: NASA's SLS rocket to launch its first mission (Artemis-1), sending a piloteless Orion spacecraft on a test flight to the vicinity of the Moon.
Sept. 22: NASA and SpaceX sign an unfunded Space Act Agreement to study feasibility of SpaceX to boost Hubble Space Telescope to a higher orbit using Dragon spacecraft at no cost to the government.
CANCELLED: August: A Proton rocket to launch the ExoMars rover. As of July 2009, NASA's Atlas rocket was to launch European Space Agency's ExoMars and a smaller NASA rover (Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher, MAX-C) in April 2018 to look for signs of life on Mars. In 2005, ExoMars was delayed from 2009 to 2011. Around 2006, the project was increased in scope but delayed from 2011 to 2013 and switched from Soyuz-2-1B to Ariane-5 or Proton. In October 2008, it was delayed from November 2013 to January-February 2016. In July 2009, delayed from 2016 to 2018, switched from Ariane-5 to a US Atlas. In May 2016, the launch was postponed from 2018 to 2020. On March 12, 2020, the launch was postponed from July 2020 to August 2022.)
Sept. 20: A Falcon Heavy rocket to launch NASA's Psyche probe to explore a giant metal asteroid 16 Psyche from Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral. (As of January 2017, the launch was planned in August 2022. Originally planned for launch in October 2023.) The rocket will also carry two secondary payloads: Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers, EscaPADE, which will study the Martian atmosphere, and Janus, which will study binary asteroids. (By the end of May 2022, the launch was postponed from Aug. 1 to no earlier than Sept. 20 due to a technical problem during spacecraft testing.)
September: The US-European Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment, AIDA, mission with ESA's Asteroid Impact Mission, AIM, spacecraft and NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test, DART, probe to arrive at a binary asteroid Didymos. (Initially planned on October 6) As of August 2022, the impact of the asteroid was scheduled for September 26, at 7:14 p.m. EDT.
Late 2022: Europe to launch a medium-class planetary mission. (A request for proposals in late July 2010.)
Late 2022: South Korean Innospace to conduct a sub-orbital launch of Hanbit TLV rocket from Brazil's Alcantara launch site. (As of May 2022)
The International Space Station, ISS, to be deorbited. (A March 2007 estimate by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin)
China to launch the Einstein Probe with a "lobster eye" style lense system for registering transient X-ray sources. (As of September 2019)
Chinese Chang Zheng-3B rocket to launch a spacecraft to return samples from an asteroid. (As of 2019. In 2011, the launch was expected in 2024).
China to launch a second add-on module for its Earth-orbiting space station. (As of 2014)
A Soyuz/Fregat rocket to launch Europe's Euclid telescope with the mission to map the distribution of galaxies. (In 2017, postponed by a year from December 2020 due to problems with sensor chips supplied by NASA.)
ESA's ExoMars concept
Europe's lunar lander
April-July: The Russian-European ExoMars rover mission to land on Mars. (Postponed from Jan. 19, 2019, and March 19, 2021.)(NASA's MAX-C rover was also planned for landing in 2019 but canceled in 2012).
April 5-25: An Ariane-5 rocket to launch Europe's Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer, JUICE, designed to fly by Callisto, Europa and enter orbit around Ganymede. (As of April 2012, the project competed with the Athena observatory (below), but was officially announced a winner on May 2, 2012. In June 2019, ESA favored the Ariane launch vehicle family over Russian Proton for the mission. The launch was planned in May 2022.)
April 27: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft to complete its nominal mission in the orbit of Mercury. (As of 2012, postponed in 2014)
May 6: The one-in-45-years opportunity to launch a spacecraft to fly by Uranus and Saturn. (A 2015 estimate; not funded)
May: NASA's Psyche probe to make a gravity assist maneuver near Mars on its way to a giant metal asteroid 16 Psyche. (As of January 2017 the maneuver was planned in 2025.)
June 20: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft to fly within 200 kilometers from Mercury for the third time before reaching its orbit in 2025. (As of 2012, the third flyby of Mercury was expected on Jan. 26, 2020, but it was postponed for around a year in 2014.)
June: NASA's TiME mission to land on the surface of the Ligeia Mare lake on the Saturnian moon Titan. (A 2009 unfunded proposal. In August 2012, lost a funding competition to the InSight Mars lander.)
Sept. 24: NASA's OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sample mission to return to Earth. (As of May 25, 2011, the exact landing date confirmed in 2021.)
End of 2023: China to launch a large orbital telescope. (As of May 2022)
ESA to launch the Hera probe to the Didymos, one of binary asteroid pair.
Rocket Lab company to launch Photon spacecraft to Venus. (As of 2021)
NASA to launch third SLS rocket on the EM-3 mission carrying an Orion spacecraft and the power and propulsion bus for the International Manned Platform, IMP, in the lunar orbit. (As of October 2016).
NASA to launch a spacecraft to orbit Neptune. (A 2004 proposal)
China to launch a Sun polar orbiter. (As of 2011)
ESA to launch a Plato exoplanet-searching observatory. (As of 2015)
Turkey to perform a hard landing on the surface of the Moon. (As of 2021)
An Angara-5P rocket to launch a prototype of Russia's new-generation spacecraft, PTK, into low Earth orbit for an automated solo flight test. (As of 2016, the mission was planned at the end of 2021 or early 2022).
Soil from Mars
June 1: NASA to launch Venus Aeronomy mission. (As of 2007)
April 27: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft to complete its extended mission in the orbit of Mercury.
No earlier than May: SpaceX' Falcon Heavy rocket to launch the first element of the cis-lunar Gateway. (As of February 2021)
Sept. 5: Europe's BepiColombo spacecraft to fly within 200 kilometers from Mercury for the fourth time before reaching its orbit in 2025. (As of 2012, the fourth flyby of Mercury was expected on March 8, 2020, but it was postponed in 2014.)
Oct. 10-30: Falcon Heavy rocket to launch NASA's Europa Clipper orbiter to explore Jovian moon Europa.
Dec. 2: BepiColombo to make its fifth flyby of Mercury (at a distance of 40,000 kilometers) before reaching its orbit in 2025.
December: India to launch a robotic probe to Venus. (As of early 2022)
2024: NASA's SLS rocket to launch its second mission (Artemis-2), sending first crew aboard the Orion spacecraft to the vicinity of the Moon.
Lunar Polar Exploraiton Mission, LUPEX, deeloped jointly by India and Japan, to deliver lander and rover to the Moon's polar region. (As of 2022)
Japan's Martian Moons eXploration, MMX, spacecraft to lift off on a mission to return soil samples from Phobos and Deimos.
NASA to launch third SLS rocket on the EM-4 mission carrying an Orion spacecraft and a habitation module for the International Manned Platform, IMP, in the lunar orbit. (As of October 2016).
Rocket Lab company to launch a pair of Photon spacecraft to Mars to study the planet's magnetosphere within NASA's Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorer, EscaPADE, mission. (As of 2021)
2022-2024: A tentative launch year for a US-European mission to return soil samples from the surface of Mars, as of March 2009. MSL Lander is launched first in 2022. MSL Orbiter is launched second in 2024.(Before 2004, it was expected as early as 2013-2014. In March 2005, ESA and NASA considered such mission within the Aurora program as early as 2016. Another scenario unveiled in July 2008, involved an Atlas-5-launched lander in 2018 and an Ariane-5-launched orbiter in 2019. In 2008, the mission was considered possible as early as 2020.) In August 2012, NPO Lavochkin also proposed a sample return mission to Mars to be launched in 2024.
Russia to launch a mission to rendezvous with asteroid Apophis and deploy a tracking radio beacon on its surface 330 days later. (An unfunded 2008 proposal by NPO Lavochkin)
China's to send ZhengHe probe to asteroid Kamo to return its sample and to flyby a main-belt comet. (As of 2021. Postponed by several years.)
NASA's Psyche probe to make a gravity assist maneuver near Earth on its way to a giant metal asteroid 16 Psyche. (As of January 2017, later the maneuver cancelled?)
India to launch its first piloted mission into the Earth orbit, carried by a launch vehicle derived from the GSLV rocket. The spacecraft was originally expected to be based on Soyuz, but later evolved into a indigenous design. (As of end of 2009 the launch was promised in 2016. In 2008, the mission shifted to 2015.)
Jan. 9: BepiColombo to make its sixth flyby of Mercury (at a distance of 345 kilometers) before reaching its orbit in December.
Feb. 28: Europa Clipper to perform gravity assist flyby of Mars on its way to Jupiter. (As of 2021)
April 1: NASA to launch Venus In-situ Explorer, VISE, within the New Frontiers program. (As of 2007)
April: NASA's Lucy probe to arrive at an asteroid belt and fly by 1981 EQ5 DonaldJohanson asteroid. (As of January 2017)
September: NASA's Juno spacecraft to complete its Extended Mission program. (As of 2021)
October: NASA's Trident probe to launch on a Neptune and Triton flyby mission. (A circa 2020 proposal).
Dec. 21: A US Europa orbiter to enter orbit around Jupiter. (As of February 2009; cancelled before 2012.)
Dec. 5: Europe's BepiColombo probe to enter orbit around Mercury for a one- or two-year mission. (As of August 2009, the arrival at Mercury was planned for August 2019. Following the delay of the launch to 2014, the arrival was pushed to 2020. In February 2012, the launch was delayed to 2015 and the arrival to Mercury to 2022. As of 2012, the arrival to Mercury was planned for Jan. 27, 2022. In 2014, it was planned for January 2023. In March 2015, the Mercurian orbit was expected to be reached in January 2024.)
2025: NASA to launch the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe, IMAP, to detail the Sun's heliosphere. (As of 2022)
Japan's Martian Moons eXploration, MMX, spacecraft to enter orbit around Mars to collect samples from Phobos and Deimos.
Russia to launch a lunar version of the nuclear electric space tug to support manned expeditions to the Moon. (As of January 2010, 376)
China to launch a spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. (As of 2011)
Chinese probe to fly by Mars on its way to an asteroid. (As of 2019)
Chinese ZhengHe spacecraft to arrive at asteroid Kamo to return its sample. (As of 2021)
January: NASA's Psyche probe to reach a giant metal asteroid 16 Psyche. (As of January 2017, the arrival was expected in 2030.)
Feb. 13: European Ganymede probe to enter orbit around Jupiter. (As of February 2009)
July: NASA to launch Sample Retrieval Lander to Mars carrying European Sample Fetch Rover for the Mars sample return mission. (As of 2020).
Sept. 1: NASA to launch the first interstellar probe. (As of 2007)
October: NASA Europa Clipper lander mission to make Earth's gravity assist maneuver to reach Jupiter's system. (As of March 2018)
October - May 2027: A Falcon Heavy rocket to launcsh Nancy Grace Roman Telescope (formerly Wide Field InfraRed Telescope, WFIRST), into the L2 Lagrange point in the Earth-Sun system. (As of 2022)
Dec. 2: NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft to perform gravity assist flyby of Earth on its way to Jupiter. (As of 2021)
China's Chang Zheng-3B rocket to launch an orbiter/impactor spacecraft to the 40-meter 2020 PN1 near-Earth asteroid to demonstrate an asteroid deflection technique. (As of 2022)
ESA's Hera to reach asteroid Didymos.
Ariane-64 rocket to launch the European Earth Return Orbiter, ERO, for the joint US-European Mars sample return mission.
China's ZhengHe probe to drop samples from asteroid Kamo (2016HO3) to Earth. (As of 2021)
No longer realistic:
Russia to launch the Intergelio-Zond astrophysics satellite. (As of 2009 the launch was promised in 2018. In 2008-2009, the launch was expected in 2014. (299, 388) Original plans targeted the 2011 launch date.)
Russia to contribute a module for the international lunar base. (As of January 2010, 376, no longer feasible)
Russia to launch Spektr-M orbital observatory. (As of 2012, the launch was promised in 2022)
Lucy probe near Trojan asteroid
June: NASA to launch the Dragonfly -- a helicopter drone for flying over Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. (As of 2022. In 2021, postponed from 2026).
August: NASA's Lucy probe to begin exploration of Trojan asteroids with a flyby of Eurybates (C-type Trojan) asteroid. (As of 2017)
September: NASA's Lucy probe to fly by 1999 WB2 Polymele (P-type Trojan) asteroid. (As of 2017)
October: NASA's Psyche probe to complete its primary mission operations at a metal asteroid 16 Psyche.
After 2020: China to land humans on the surface of the Moon. (As of 2007)
November: NASA to launch Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy, VERITAS, orbiter toward venus. (As of April 2022)
Japan to launch LiteBIRD, which seeks to measure cosmological B-modes thus proving cosmic inflation. (Selected by the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, in 2019.)
Chinese Chang Zheng-7 rocket to launch the enchanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry, eXTP, observatory. (As of September 2019).
China to launch the Xihe-2 solar probe to the L5 Lagrangian point in the Earth-Sun system. (As of 2022)
Russia to send a rover, capable of carrying cosmonauts, to the surface of Mars. (As of January 2010, 376)
Russia to start launching a series unmanned lunar orbiters in preparation for manned expeditions. (As of January 2010, 376)
April: NASA's Lucy probe to fly by 1997 TS25 Leucus (D-type Trojan) asteroid. (As of 2017)
May: A European spacecraft to enter orbit around Jovian moon Ganymede. (As of February 2009; cancelled before 2012.)
Mid 2028: United Arab Emirates' deep-space mission to an asteroid belt to reach Venus.
July 3: NASA's Europa orbiter to enter orbit around Jovian moon Europa. (As of February 2009; cancelled before 2012.)
July 15: NASA to launch the Comet Surface Sample Return, CSSR, mission within the New Frontier program. (As of 2007)
November: NASA's Lucy probe to fly by 1999 VQ10 Orus (D-type Trojan) asteroid. (As of 2017)
December: A NASA cargo lander is launched toward Mars to prepare for the manned expedition to the Red Planet in 2031. (A November 2007 projection by NASA's Robotic and Human Lunar Expeditions Strategic Roadmap Committee).
NASA's Sample Retrieval Lander carrying European Sample Fetch Rover to land on Mars. (As of 2020).
Japan's Martian Moons eXploration, MMX, spacecraft to leave Martian orbit with samples from Phobos and Deimos.
The latest date of operation considered for the ISS as of 2010 and 2011.
China to launch a Mars Sample Return mission (As of 2011; confirmed in 2012, as taking place "before 2030." Confirmed again in 2017 and 2022.)
Turkey to perform a soft landing on the surface of the Moon. (As of 2021)
January: A NASA habitation module is launched toward Mars to prepare for the manned expedition to the Red Planet in 2031. (A November 2007 projection by NASA's Robotic and Human Lunar Expeditions Strategic Roadmap Committee)
Feb. 6: ESA's Ganymede orbiter to end its primary mission with an impact onto the surface of the Jovian moon. (As of February 2009)
March: NASA's Europa orbiter to end its mission with an impact onto Europa's surface. (As of February 2009; cancelled before 2012.)
April 13: Asteroid 2004 MN4 (99942 Apophis) to pass within 31,000 kilometers from Earth, the closest distance for a near-Earth orbit. (As of 2004)
October: Europe's Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer, JUICE, to reach Jupiter and enter its orbit. (As of 2013, it was expected to reach Jupiter in January 2030.)
June: NASA to launch Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging, DAVINCI+, which will carry an atmospheric probe to Venus. (Tentative as of June 2022)
October: NASA's Europa Clipper lander mission to approach the Jupiter's system. (As of March 2018)
2029: NASA's OSIRIS-APEX mission to arrive at asteroid Apophis. (As of April 2022)
Nov. 28: A possibility of a Saturn flyby in case of launch in 2023. (A 2015 estimate, not funded)
2029: ESA to launch the Ariel mission to search for exo-planets and the three-spacecraft Comet Interceptor which will go to the L2 Lagrange point in the Earth-Sun system, where the Comet Interceptor will wait until a suitable comet in the Outer Solar System is found for the intercept mission. (Selected in June 2019 with the launch date in 2028, by 2022 slipped to 2029. Study phase of the Comet Interceptor mission was completed in mid-2022).
Late 2020s: The European Large Logistics Lander, EL3, to begin missions to the surface of the Moon (As of 2020, first funding request no earlier than late 2022.)
Japan's Martian Moons eXploration, MMX, spacecraft to return to Earth with samples from Phobos and Deimos. (As of 2020).
China to launch a mission to the Jupiter system and, possibly a Uranus fly-by mission. (As of 2021)
NASA spacecraft to release two probes into the atmosphere of Neptune. (A 2005 proposal within NASA Vision Mission)
Russia's Laplas spacecraft to reach Jupiter's system on its way to its moon Ganymede. (As of 2013)
Russia to introduce an air-launched reusable orbiter and a cargo delivery system. (As of April 2013)
Russia to launch the Venera-D spacecraft toward Venus. (As of 2012. In 2007, the mission was scheduled for December 2016. In 2006 was targeted for 2016. In 2004 was targeted for 2013 with landing in 2014. As of 2009, a delay to 2018 was likely, switch from Soyuz in Kourou to Proton was under consideration. By August 2012, the mission was delayed until 2026 and by 2019, the Russian Academy of Science asked for funding to provide the launch in 2029.)
TSSM over Titan
April 11: NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft to enter orbit around Jupiter. (As of 2021)
The TSSM mission to deliver a hot-air balloon to Titan, as well as an orbiting spacecraft and a surface probe to the largest Saturnian moon. (An unfunded proposal)
Japan to start sending solar energy collected by an orbital power station to Earth via laser beams or microwaves. (A consortium for the project was formed in 2009.)
Russia to conduct first lunar expeditions. (As of January 2010, 376)
A new-generation Ariane-6 rocket with the capability up to 18 tons to low Earth orbit to fly its first mission. (A 2010 estimate by an Arianespace official.)
China to return soil samples from the Moon in a three-phase program, featuring unmanned remote-sensing, soft-landing and exploration missions. (As of 2012)
Chinese probe to enter orbit around comet 133P. (As of 2019)
No earlier than 2030: A NASA's SLS Block-1B rocket to launch the Europa Clipper lander mission toward Jupiter. (As of 2019. As of March 2018, the launch was expected in October 2025.)
2024-2030: China to land astronauts on the Moon. (A June 19, 2006, quote from "top space official" in the Wen Wei Po newspaper. In May 2009, Ye Peijian, a chief scientist of the Chang'e project said that Chinese manned lunar landing would take place between 2025 and 2030.)
Davinci+ Venus lander
June: NASA's Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging, DAVINCI+, mission to reach Venus. (Tentative as of June 2022)
July: Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft to land on asteroid 1998KY26. (As of September 2020)
December: NASA's Europa Clipper mission to land on Jupiter's moon Europa. (As of March 2018)
NASA/ESA's Earth Return Orbiter, ERO, carrying samples from Mars to land back on Earth. (As of 2020).
NASA's SLS Block 2/Centaur rocket to launch the Pluto System Orbiter and Kuiper Belt Explorer spacecraft. (A 2020 unfunded proposal)
ESA's Ariane-5 rocket to launch the Athena X-observatory into a L2 Largrange point in the Earth-Sun system for a decade-long mission, to become the largest X-ray telescope ever built. (In Spring 2012, the project lost in competition to the JUICE project and by 2019, the launch date slipped from 2022 to 2031.)
ESA to launch a four-ton Athena+ X-ray observatory with a focal length of 12 meters. (A November 2013 decision of the Science Policy Committee, SPC, of ESA. The mission replaces a canceled proposal for the Athena observatory originally scheduled to fly in 2022. By 2019, the planned launch date slipped from 2028 to 2031).
Russia to start assembling a permanent base on the lunar surface. (As of January 2010, 376)
February: NASA's manned expedition to Mars assembled in four Ares-5 rocket launches departs for the Red Planet. (A November 2007 projection by NASA's Robotic and Human Lunar Expeditions Strategic Roadmap Committee)
Russia to launch Laplas mission to a Jovian moon Ganymede. (As of 2013. By 2015, postponed until at least 2025.)
Fall: Europe's Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer, JUICE, to enter orbit around Jovian moon Ganymede. (As of 2013)
2031-2032: An opportunity to launch NASA's orbiter and probe mission to Uranus. (A proposed NASA flagship mission as of 2022, with a cruise period of between 13 and 15 years depending on a gravity assist either at Jupiter or Venus respectively.)
2027-2032: Russia to build a permanent lunar base on the surface of the Moon. (The statement of the Russian space agency head at the MAKS 2007 air and space show).
China to launch the Xihe-3 solar observatory into a high-inclination orbit around the Sun. (As of 2022)
Chinese ZhengHe spacecraft to arrive at main-belt comet 311P/Panstarrs. (As of 2021)
China's first-generation Earth-orbiting space station to complete its operation. (As of 2014)
Russia to conduct its first manned lunar expedition. (The statement of the Russian space agency head at the MAKS 2007 air and space show promised lunar landing in 2024. By 2015, the Russian lunar landing was postponed until the end of 2020s or beginning of 2030s)
Lucy probe near Trojan asteroid
March: NASA's Lucy probe to fly by Patroclus and Menoetis binary (P-type Trojan) asteroids. (As of 2017)
June: The European JUICE orbiter to complete its nominal mission in the Jupiter system.
United Arab Emirates' deep-space mission to land on an asteroid.
NASA to conduct a manned Mars flyby mission. (NASA estimate at the end of 2016)
NASA spacecraft to send a lander on the surface of Neptune's moon Triton. (A 2005 proposal within the NASA Vision Mission; not funded. A new proposal for orbiter and lander made in 2020 with launch date in 2033.)
Russia to complete the construction of the first phase of the lunar base on the surface of the Moon. (As of January 2010, 376)
NASA's Dragonfly mission to deploy a helicopter drone in the equatorial Shangri-La dunes of Titan, the largest Moon of Saturn. (The project was approved for development in June 2019).
ESA to launch the three-spacecraft laser-powered gravitational wave observatory, Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, LISA, 50 million kilometers from Earth to form a 2.5-million-kilometer interferometer. (A November 2013 decision of the Science Policy Committee, SPC, of ESA.). As of 2022, the launch was promised in the mid-2030s.
China to launch a Callisto orbiter. (As of 2022)
Sept. 12: A possibility of a Uranus flyby in case of a launch in 2023. (A 2015 estimate, not funded.)
A Chinese probe to arrive at the Jupiter system. (As of 2021)
After 2035: Russia to prepare for the piloted expedition to Mars. (The statement of the Russian space agency head at the MAKS 2007 air and space show, reconfirmed in 2010 and 2011).
Russia to start the construction of a manned base on Mars. (As of January 2010, 376)
April 13: A 300-meter asteroid 2004 MN4 Apophis to pass as close as 31,000 kilometers from Earth. (As of 2013)
NASA's Dragonfly spacecraft to complete its 2.7-year baseline mission on the surface of Titan, flying a drone for more than 175 kilometers over the terrain of the Saturnian moon.
China's probe to arrive at Jupiter system. (As of 2021).
NASA to land first humans onto the surface of Mars. (A March 2007 estimate by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin)
Russia to deliver mining equipment onto the surface of the Moon. (As of January 2010, 376)
NASA's Trident probe to perform a 13-day flyby of Neptune and Triton. (A circa 2020 proposal).
Russia to launch a manned base into orbit of Mars. (As of January 2010, 376)
A man-tended radioastronomy laboratory to be built on the surface of Moon. (An April 2013 estimate by the head of the Space Research Institute, IKI, in Moscow).
Circa 2040: NASA to drop a submarine into a sea on Titan. (A circa 2014 estimate for an unfunded mission concept)
2040-2045: A realistic timeframe for manned mission to Mars as envisioned by the TsNIIMash research institute in 2011.
|2041||Initial human missions to Mars can take place in the late 2030a or the 2040s. (According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in March 2022)|
Neptune Odyssey orbiter and lander to arrive at the Neptune system (A 2020 proposal)
China's probe to arrive at the Uranus system. (As of 2021)
China to launch an interstellar probe (As of 2022)
|2053||Neptune Odyssey orbiter to complete its primary mission at the Neptune system (A 2020 proposal)|
|2058||The Pluto System Orbiter and Kuiper Belt Explorer to begin a tour of the Pluto system. (A 2020 unfunded proposal)|