2023 space missions

Emma Prichard

NASA has many things in store for 2023! Administrator Bill Nelson announces upcoming discoveries from the Webb telescope, climate missions, more from the International Space Station, developments with experimental aircraft, and astronauts going to the moon for the first time in 50 years, while the European space agency will launch a mission to Jupiter and its moons. Let’s talk about some of the things NASA has in store for us this year.

Artemis III isn’t expected to launch until 2024, but the names of the lucky crew members who will be attending will soon be released. NASA has 18 possible candidates for the mission and crew members are expected to be announced in early 2023. Artemis II will send astronauts on a trip around the moon and back to Earth. After Artemis II Artemis III will land astronauts on the moon for the first time since the Apollo program.

Although the crewed Artemis flight is scheduled for next year, NASA will put robotic landers on the moon this year to study lunar terrain.This program, called Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) has partnered with several other companies who are developing their own lunar landers. A lander built by Pennsylvania-based Astrobotic could be the first lander that will land on the moon this year. It is expected to land on the large Lacus Mortis moon crater.

A mission known as JUICE, which stands for Jupiter’s Icy Moons Explorer, is set to launch between April 5 and 25. This highly anticipated mission will be launched by the European space agency from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana. The spacecraft contains 10 instruments and will reach Jupiter in 2031. The mission will spend 3 years studying Jupiter’s icy moons, which we think have oceans under their ice-covered crust. This mission hopes to determine if Jupiter’s moons ever had life on them and if they could be habitable in the future.

It is planned that a spacecraft called Starliner will take crew members to and from the international space station. The spacecraft performed an uncrewed flight in May and it was a success! The crew launch could be in April 2023.

This year brings the first launches of many commercial vehicles as well. SpaceX is anticipated to launch its starship spacecraft, which NASA is relying on for transportation to Mars one day. Jeff Bezos’s space company Blue Origin also has a spacecraft undergoing.

Asteroid samples from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu will reach Earth this year when the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft drops them off. The spacecraft collected a sample from Bennu in 2020. If the spacecraft is still in good condition it will be sent back to space to study more asteroids. The 2.1 ounces of Bennu collected by OSIRIS-REx will reveal information about this asteroid and if it could possibly collide with Earth in the future.

The Psyche mission will send a spacecraft off on a four-year journey to study a metallic asteroid. The metal-rich asteroid Psyche is located between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt. Scientists have a hypothesis that Psyche could be the core of a previous planet or a piece of old space material that never melted. It would be awesome if scientists could take a look at this asteroid and glimpse back in time!

All of these missions are exciting and enable us to learn more about our universe!