Space exploration gave moments of hope in a difficult year.
Three countries sent Space ship Towards Mars in 2020. Astronauts set off into orbit from the United States for the first time in nearly 10 years. The robotic explorers collected rocks from the moon and from A. asteroid.
High expectations for 2021
Expectations are high for 2021 as well. Next February, 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 replaces the famous Hubble Space Telescope.
Other developments are also expected. The airline Boeing hopes to catch up with SpaceX to launch astronauts. And space tourism It might finally take off.
Scott Hubbard was the director of NASA’s 1st Mars Program. Now studying at Stanford University. He said, “2021 promises to be as bright as space exploration spotAnd maybe more. “
Big projects have moved forward
Although the Coronavirus crisis has caused problems for all space programs in 2020, most of the very important projects are still ongoing.
The United States, China, and the United Arab Emirates launched a spacecraft towards Mars.
NASA’s Robot Explorer is scheduled to land on February 18. Perseverance will cut dry soil, and gather Samples Down to earth.
The Emirati spacecraft is the first attempt of this country to visit another planet. He will study the Martian atmosphere.
Chinese Tianwen-1 will search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.
China also conducted lunar explorations in 2020. In December, a Chinese spacecraft landed and then launched from the lunar surface. She collected the first moon rocks that returned to Earth since the 1970s.
Japan brought back pieces of the Ryugu asteroid. More asteroid Samples on my way. NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft obtained samples from the asteroid Bennu in October. Samples are scheduled to return in 2023.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has done a lot in 2020. In May, SpaceX became the first private company to send people into orbit, a success only three powerful nations had before.
In November, four more astronauts rode the SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station. Three weeks later, SpaceX launched its largest shipment yet to the NASA space station.
Mark Kelly, who was elected to the Senate from Arizona, said the event was something “Americans should be.” proud From.”
Until SpaceX’s flights, the three-man Russian Soyuz spacecraft was the only way to get astronauts to the space station after NASA’s flights were halted.
SpaceX ended the year with a test flight of Starship, the spacecraft the company is building to take people to the moon and Mars. The December 9 event was marked by an explosion on landing. However, Musk said he was very happy.
Additionally, SpaceX is working to increase the number of people ready to ride the Dragon spaceship. Late next year, SpaceX expects to launch its first privately funded Dragon Flight in a deal with Houston-based Axiom Space.
Michael Lopez Alegria of Axiom, a former NASA astronaut and former president of the Commercial Space Flight Association, will go with Israeli businessman Eitan Steppe. They will be joined by two other people who pay to visit the space station.
“This is the true start of special spaceflight and the ball will roll towards it multiple Spread Missions Lopez Alegria said in an email.
Two other space travel companies are still testing flights. They are Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson Virgin Galactic. These companies have yet to set dates to send people on short trips to the edge of space and back.
The future of space programs in the United States
US President Donald Trump has said he wants US astronauts to land on the moon by 2024. This will be the first since NASA’s Apollo program more than 50 years ago.
In December, NASA offered 18 astronauts to train for the lunar program Artemis.
John Logsdon of the George Washington University Space Policy Institute said the past four years “have been like this.” positive For the US civilian space program. ”Logsdon added,“ No, the major programs have been canceled, and the human exploration program has been given a clear direction, and Financing For existing programs. “
I’m John Russell.
Marcia Dunn shared this story for The Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in this story
Space ship – n. A vehicle used to travel in outer space
asteroid – n. That is, one of the thousands of small planets orbiting the sun
tourism – n. A travel activity to a place for fun
spot – n. A small area of a roof differs from other areas: a specific area or area
a sample – n. A small amount of something gives you information about the thing it was taken from
multiple – description more than one
Task – n. A task or job assigned to someone
proud – Make people happy
positive – Good, not bad result
Financing – n. Available funds for a purpose