2020s in spaceflight

This article documents expected notable spaceflight events during the 2020s.

2020s in spaceflight
NASA plans to assemble a Lunar Gateway as a permanent base in lunar orbit during the 2020s.

Overview

In 2020, NASA plans to launch the Mars 2020 rover,[1] followed by the maiden launch of the Space Launch System (launch date to be determined, unlikely to be before late 2021);[2] in 2023, NASA plans to carry out the first crewed flight of the Space Launch System.[3]

The trend towards cost reduction in access to orbit is expected to continue. In 2020, Blue Origin plans the maiden flight of New Glenn with a reusable first stage.[4] In the same year SpaceX plans to launch its new fully reusable Starship.[5]

NASA plans a return of humans to the Moon by 2024, first by assembling a Lunar Gateway in lunar orbit. A crewed exploration of Mars could follow in the mid 2030s. An uncrewed and then a crewed trip to Jupiter and Europa have been commonly contemplated, but no space agencies or companies have yet announced definite plans to launch a crewed mission further than Mars. SpaceX, a private company, has also announced plans to land humans on Mars in the mid-2020s, with the long-term goal of enabling the colonization of Mars.

India plans its first crewed flight with a spacecraft called Gaganyaan for December 2021 on a home-grown GSLV-III rocket. The mission would make India the 4th nation to launch a crewed space flight after Russia, US and China. India also plans to launch its second Mars probe, Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (Mangalyaan 2), in 2024.

The number of small satellites launched annually was expected to grow to around one thousand (2018 estimate),[6] although SpaceX alone plans to launch more than that for its Starlink constellation (12,000 satellites from 2019 to 2027).[7] The majority of the satellites are expected to be communication satellites in large constellations.

Orbital launches

2020

2021

2022

2023

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
March (TBD)[8] Falcon 9 Block 5 Cape Canaveral SLC-40 SpaceX
Hakuto-R Mission 2[10] ispace Selenocentric Lunar lander and rover 
Q1 (TBD)[11] TBA TBA TBA
PUNCH NASA Low Earth Heliophysics 
TRACERS NASA Low Earth (Polar) Magnetospheric research 
Launch of two missions for NASA's Small Explorer program.[12]
Q1 (TBD)[13][14] TBA TBA TBA
SPHEREx NASA Low Earth (SSO) Near-infrared astronomy 
September (TBD)[15] Angara A5 Vostochny Site 1A Roscosmos
Orel Roscosmos Low Earth Flight test 
An uncrewed test flight of Russia's new crew spacecraft. First launch of Angara A5 from Vostochny.
Q4 (TBD)[16] Vega-C or Ariane 62 Kourou ELV Arianespace
SMILE[18] CAS / ESA Molniya Earth observation 
2023 (TBD)[19] Ariane 64 Kourou ELA-4 Arianespace
Payloads TBA TBA TLI Lunar lander / orbiter 
Dedicated rideshare mission to lunar transfer orbit.
2023 (TBD)[20] GSLV Mk III Satish Dhawan SLP ISRO
Shukrayaan-1 ISRO Cytherocentric Venus orbiter 
2023 (TBD)[21] Long March 5 Wenchang LC-1 CASC
Chang'e 7 CNSA Selenocentric Lunar lander 
2023 (TBD)[3] SLS Block 1 Crew Kennedy LC-39B NASA
Artemis 2 NASA Lunar free-return Second flight of Artemis program 
First crewed test flight of SLS and Orion.
2023 (TBD)[22] SLS Block 1 Cargo Kennedy LC-39B NASA
Europa Clipper NASA Jovicentric Jupiter orbiter 
2023 (TBD)[23] Soyuz-2.1a / Fregat Baikonur Roscosmos
Rezonans-MKA Roscosmos Tundra Magnetospheric research 
2023 (TBD)[24] Soyuz-5 / DM-SLB[25] Baikonur[26] Roscosmos
Dummy satellite Roscosmos Low Earth Flight test 
Maiden flight of Irtysh, also known as Soyuz-5. A dummy payload matching a future satellite in weight and size will be launched.[27]
2023 (TBD)[27] Soyuz-5 TBA Roscosmos
Orel Roscosmos Low Earth Flight test 
An uncrewed test flight of Russia's new crew spacecraft.
2023 (TBD)[28] Starship Boca Chica or Cape Canaveral/Kennedy SpaceX
#dearMoon Yusaku Maezawa Lunar free-return Crewed lunar flyby 
Private spaceflight with 6 to 8 artists commissioned and funded by Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa.[28]
2023 (TBD)[29] Vega-C Kourou ELV Arianespace
FLEX ESA Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation 
Eighth mission of the ESA's Living Planet Programme.
2023 (TBD)[30] TBA TBA TBA
Lunar Pathfinder[32] ESA Selenocentric
elliptical orbit
Communications 

2024

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
September (TBD)[33] H3-24 Tanegashima LA-Y2 MHI
Martian Moons Exploration JAXA Areocentric Mars orbiter and Phobos lander 
October (TBD)[34] Ariane 6 Kourou ELA-4 Arianespace
Hera ESA Heliocentric Asteroid orbiter 
Juventas[35] ESA Heliocentric Asteroid probe 
APEX[35] ESA Heliocentric Asteroid probe 
October (TBD)[36] TBA TBA TBA
IMAP NASA Sun–Earth L1 Heliophysics 
STP Mission of Opportunity NASA Sun–Earth L1 Heliophysics or Atmospheric physics 
STP Small Satellite NASA Sun–Earth L1 Technology demonstration 
SWFO-L1 NOAA Sun–Earth L1 Space weather 
Under NASA's SMD Rideshare Initiative, three secondary spacecraft will be launched along with IMAP to the Sun–Earth L1 point: a Heliophysics Science Mission of Opportunity (SIHLA or GLIDE),[36] a Heliophysics Technology Demonstration Mission of Opportunity (SETH or Solar Cruiser),[37] and the Space Weather Follow-On L1 mission (SWFO-L1).[38]
2024 (TBD)[39] Epsilon Uchinoura JAXA
Small-JASMINE JAXA / NAOJ Low Earth (SSO) Astrometric observatory 
2024 (TBD)[40] GSLV Mk II Satish Dhawan SLP ISRO
Mars Orbiter Mission 2 ISRO Areocentric Mars orbiter 
2024 (TBD)[41] Long March 3B[42] Xichang CASC
ZhengHe CNSA Heliocentric Asteroid sample-return
Comet orbiter
 
2024 (TBD)[21] Long March 5 / YZ-2 Wenchang LC-1 CASC
Chang'e 6 CNSA Selenocentric Lunar lander 
2024 (TBD)[43] Long March 5 Wenchang LC-1 CASC
Xuntian CNSA Low Earth Space telescope 
Xuntian ("Heavenly Cruiser") is a planned space telescope that will orbit close to the Chinese Space Station.
2024 (TBD)[44] Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Baikonur Roscosmos
Luna 26 Roscosmos Selenocentric Lunar orbiter 
2024 (TBD)[27] Soyuz-5 TBD Roscosmos
Orel Roscosmos Low Earth Flight test 
First crewed flight of the new spacecraft.
2024 (TBD) Commercial launch vehicle Cape Canaveral/Kennedy Space Center NASA
TBA NASA Selenocentric Lunar lander 
This mission (alongside Artemis 3) will send a lander (possibly Blue Moon or Lockheed Martin Lunar Lander) to land two astronauts on the Moon.
2024 (TBD) SLS Block 1B KSC LC-39B NASA
Orion NASA Cislunar space Crewed lunar landing 
Artemis 3 mission to land astronauts on the Moon, will meet the lunar lander in lunar orbit.

2025

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
2025 (TBD)[45] Commercial launch vehicle Cape Canaveral TBA
WFIRST[47] NASA Sun–Earth L2 Infrared astronomy 
2025 (TBD)[48] Long March 7 Wenchang LC-2 CASC
eXTP[50] CAS Low Earth X-ray astronomy 
Chinese-led X-ray astronomy collaboration between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and multiple European institutions.[48]
2025 (TBD)[51][52] Proton-M / DM-03 Baikonur Roscosmos
Spektr-UV[54] INASAN Geosynchronous Ultraviolet astronomy 
2025 (TBD)[44] Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Baikonur Roscosmos
Luna 27 Roscosmos Selenocentric Lunar lander 
2025 (TBD)[55] Vega-C Kourou ELV Arianespace
e.Deorbit[56] ESA Low Earth Satellite servicing
Space debris removal
 
2025 (TBD)[57] Vega-E Kourou ELV Arianespace
TBA ESA Low Earth Flight test 
Maiden flight of Vega-E.
2025 (TBD)[58] TBA Kourou Arianespace
ClearSpace-1 ClearSpace Low Earth Space debris removal 
ClearSpace-1 will capture and de-orbit the Vespa payload adapter that deployed PROBA-V in 2013.
2025 (TBD)[59] TBA TBA TBA
NEO Surveillance Mission NASA Sun–Earth L1 Infrared astronomy
Near-Earth object detection
 
2025 (TBD)[60] TBA TBA TBA
Sentinel-6B NASA / NOAA / Eumetsat / ESA Low Earth Earth observation 

2026

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
July (TBD)[61][62] Commercial launch vehicle TBA TBA
Sample Retrieval Lander NASA / ESA TMI to Martian Surface Mars sample-return 
Lander component of the NASA–ESA Mars sample-return mission. It will carry the ESA's Sample Fetch Rover and the Mars Ascent Vehicle.
October (TBD)[61][62] Ariane 6 Kourou ELA-4 Arianespace
Earth Return Orbiter ESA Areocentric Mars sample-return 
Orbiter component of the NASA–ESA Mars sample-return mission. It will collect the sample return canister delivered into orbit by the Mars Ascent Vehicle and carry it back to Earth.
2026 (TBD)[63] Soyuz-STB / Fregat-MT Kourou ELS Arianespace
PLATO ESA Sun–Earth L2 Exoplanetary science 
2026 (TBD)[64] Vega-C Kourou ELV Arianespace
FORUM ESA Low Earth (SSO) Earth observation 
Ninth Earth Explorer mission for ESA's Living Planet Programme. FORUM is baselined for launch on the Vega-C, and will fly in a loose sun-synchronous formation with MetOp-SG A1.[65]
2026 (TBD)[66] TBA TBA TBA
Dragonfly NASA Heliocentric (to Saturn) Exploration of Titan 
Rotorcraft probe to fly in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

2027

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
2027 (TBD)[67] H3 Tanegashima LA-Y2 MHI
LiteBIRD[69] JAXA Sun–Earth L2 Space observatory 
2027 (TBD)[21] Long March 5 Wenchang LC-1 CASC
Chang'e 8 CNSA Selenocentric Lunar lander 
2027 (TBD)[70] Soyuz-2.1b / Fregat Baikonur Roscosmos
Luna 28 Roscosmos Selenocentric Lunar lander
Lunar sample return
 

2028

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
2028 (TBD)[71] Angara-A5 / KVTK[51] Vostochny Site 1A Roscosmos
Luna 29 Roscosmos Selenocentric Lunar rover
Lunar sample return
 
2028 (TBD)[72][73] Ariane 62 Kourou ELA-4 Arianespace
ARIEL ESA Sun–Earth L2 Exoplanetary science 
Comet Interceptor ESA / JAXA Sun–Earth L2 Comet flyby 
2028 (TBD)[74][75] Yenisei Vostochny PU3 Roscosmos
Orel[51] Roscosmos Low Earth Flight test 
Maiden flight of the Yenisei super heavy-lift launch vehicle.


Deep-space rendezvous after 2022

Date (UTC) Spacecraft Event Remarks
20 June 2023 BepiColombo Third gravity assist at Mercury
21 August 2023 Parker Solar Probe Sixth gravity assist at Venus
24 September 2023 OSIRIS-REx Sample return to Earth
5 September 2024 BepiColombo Fifth gravity assist at Mercury
6 November 2024 Parker Solar Probe Seventh gravity assist at Venus
2 December 2024 BepiColombo Third gravity assist at Mercury
24 December 2024 Parker Solar Probe 22nd perihelion, closest approach to the Sun
9 January 2025 BepiColombo Sixth gravity assist at Mercury
5 December 2025 BepiColombo Hermocentric orbit insertion at Mercury


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