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March 4, 2024

Major Milestones Ahead for Space Exploration from Florida’s Space Coast

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Jan 1, 2024

2022 was a record year for rocket launches from Florida’s Space Coast, and 2023 is shaping up to be another busy year. But many experts say that 2024 may be the most significant year yet when it comes to space activity and milestones launched from the Space Coast.

NASA’s Artemis Missions Aim to Return Humans to the Moon

NASA is gearing up for major Artemis missions that will send astronauts back to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972. Artemis 1 launched successfully in late 2022, paving the way for the crewed Artemis 2 flight planned for 2024.

Artemis 2 will be a 10-day mission that sends 4 astronauts around the moon in the Orion spacecraft, which will launch atop NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from Kennedy Space Center. The launch of Artemis 2 is targeted for May 2024.

The crew will travel thousands of miles beyond the moon, farther than any humans have ever travelled before. This mission will pave the way for the Artemis 3 landing on the lunar surface, currently targeted for 2025.

Artemis Mission Launch Windows in 2024:

- Artemis 2: May 2024 
- Artemis 3: Late 2024 (uncrewed test)

In addition to the Orion exploratory flights, NASA also plans to launch the CAPSTONE mission in 2024, which will test unique lunar orbits in preparation for the lunar Gateway space station.

Gateway will serve as an orbiting outpost and waystation for astronauts travelling to the moon’s surface and back. The launch of Gateway’s first two elements are also scheduled for 2024.

Private Companies Expand Lunar Ambitions

In addition to NASA’s Artemis program, private aerospace companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin also have major lunar plans in 2024.

SpaceX was contracted by Intuitive Machines to integrate their Nova-C lander onto a Falcon 9 rocket for delivery to the moon’s surface. The launch is scheduled for early 2024 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The lander will be carrying 5 NASA payloads to investigate the lunar south pole in preparation for crewed Artemis 3 landing.

Private Moon Missions in 2024: 

- Intuitive Machines Nova-C Lunar Lander 
- SpaceX Falcon 9 Delivery Rocket

Blue Origin also plans to launch the first private crewed mission beyond Earth orbit in late 2024, sending 6 passengers on a spectacular 10-minute trip 66 miles above the planet.

The launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket will set all types of records for commercial human spaceflight.

Robotic Spacecraft Head for Jupiter and Neptune

While the moon gathers much attention, some ambitious robotic planetary science missions that will boost our understanding of the solar system are also slated for 2024 launches.

Chief among them is NASA’s long-awaited Europa Clipper mission, which will journey to Jupiter to study its icy moon Europa in unprecedented detail.

Europa is of special interest because scientists believe there could be liquid water under its frozen exterior – raising the prospects for extraterrestrial life.

Planetary Science Missions in 2024:

- Europa Clipper (NASA)  
- Trident (NASA)
- Neptune Odyssey Orbiter (NASA concept) 

The launch date for Europa Clipper has faced delays, but NASA seems firm on a 2024 liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral.

Also intriguing is Trident, a proposed NASA probe that would map and study the subsurface ocean of Neptune’s moon Triton, which is similarly thought to harbor liquid water that could support life. Trident was chosen for further study in 2023 and could get the green light for a 2026 launch.

More Astronauts Heading to ISS from U.S. Soil

The International Space Station has hosted continuous human habitation in orbit for over 20 years. But the clock is ticking, with a planned retirement around 2030.

Before ISS closes up shop, Boeing and SpaceX will continue to launch crews from Florida’s Space Coast aboard their new Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft, under lucrative Commercial Crew Program contracts.

ISS Crew Launches from Florida in 2024:

- 4 planned SpaceX Crew-6 launches
- 2 planned Boeing Starliner test & crew launches  

These launches mark a resurgence of human spaceflight from American soil, without reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
They also lay the foundation for future commercial ventures in low-Earth orbit and beyond in the coming decade.

Outlook: New Space Age Continues after Remarkable 2024

There is a palpable sense that the 2020s represent a definitive turning point when space travel begins transitioning from exclusive domain of government superpowers to a vibrant marketplace open to private companies, research entities, and one day—even ordinary citizens.

Though dreams of Mars continue to dance in space enthusiasts’ imaginations and feature heavily in billionaire-backed rocket startups like SpaceX, the next 5 years seem squarely centered on accelerating lunar activity, thanks in large part to Artemis.

As the Artemis generation opens up access to extended stays on and around the Moon, there is tremendous excitement building around the prospects for lunar spaceports, infrastructure, space tourism, mining for resources, and even settlements.

With the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in July 2024 right in the midst of major Artemis and private launch attempts to get back to the lunar surface, it will be a symbolic year representing renewed 21st century ambitions for deep space exploration by multiple nations.

That sets the stage for the latter half of the 2020s to potentially achieve milestones on the Moon and beyond that until recently were still the stuff of science fiction.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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