The 2019 calendar is full of major events in spaceflight, planetary science, and even astronomy.
SpaceX and Boeing hope to start NASA astronauts within commercial spaceships for the first time .
Elon Musk can also conduct a test launching of the rocket firm’s”Starship” spacecraft.
Plus, humanity will make its farthest-ever trip also China plans to return its first lunar soil samples to Earth.
Meteor showers, total lunar and solar eclipses, and other night-sky events will also grace our world.
2019 is going to be an extraordinary year, If it comes to events in space.
That is not to say 2018. After all, SpaceX debuted the planet’s strongest operational launch system (called Falcon Heavy), sent a car beyond Mars, also helped lift off more orbital rockets than ever since 1990.
Having a few exceptions, NASA had a momentous 12 months: The US space agency announced its first-ever commercial astronaut crews, started a new hunt for Earth-like planets, sent a stunt into “touch” sunlight , also landed its InSight robot on Mars.
However, 2019 is going to be a doozy — a sentiment that NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine highlighted after NASA’s current Mars landing.
“Right now at NASA, there is more underway than in I don’t know how many years past,” Bridenstine explained through a live broadcast. “It’s a drought, and then all of the sudden there’s all of these activities.”
Below are some of the greatest events you can count on from aerospace businesses, government space agencies, and the night sky.
This story has been updated with new details. It was initially printed on November 29, 2018.
January 1: NASA’s New Horizons probe will fly Ultima Thule, the only real thing humanity has ever attempted to see NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Steve Gribben
After NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto at July 2015, the robot kept moving. The space agency plans to utilize the nuclear-powered probe to visit an icy body called Ultima Thule, or 2014 MU69. The thing is at the Kuiper Belt, about 4 million miles from Earth, and researchers think it’s a rock.
Overnight on December 31, 2018 — New Year’s Eve — and into January 1, New Horizons will fly by, study, and photograph the item. Scientists estimate that it’s perhaps 20 mph and 12 miles wide (about the size of a town ). New Horizon’s flyby will make Ultima Thule the very remote object ever visited by humankind.
January 3: China becomes the first state to land on the far side of the moon
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC)
China is pursuing a competitive lunar-exploration effort called Chang’e (the name comes from a moon goddess). It started with the moon orbiter Chang’e-1, which started in October 2007. Two missions after that included landers, a rover, relay tanks, along with microsatellites.
January 3-4: The Quadrantids meteor shower peaks
In 2019, bright moonlight won’t get in the way of obfuscating this annual meteor shower. The event starts to peak around 9 p.m. EST on January 3 and lasts through dawn the next day. The Quadrantids can produce 50 to 100 meteors per hour, according to EarthSky — but you need to find a dark night sky to see more than a meteor per minute.
NASA says Voyager 2 is the second human object ever to touch interstellar space — the void between starsChina just launched the first mission to explore the moon’s far side. When it lands, the discoveries may be revolutionary. SpaceX tried to land a 16-story-tall rocket on the ground, but it plunged into the sea. These dramatic videos show what happened.
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