From Starship to Ariane 6 and from Juice to Psyche, not forgetting Euclid and the first commercial missions to the Moon, the year 2023 promises to be exciting. It was also in this year that the European Space Agency decided to create its own manned flight program. Get to know our choices of the main astronautical events that will mark this new year.
Unsurprisingly, the year 2022 will have been marked by the impact of the war in Ukraine on the European space sector, the first mission of the Artemis program that marks the return of Americans to space. MoonMoon and the “satellite launching machine”, SpaceXSpaceX, with no less than 60 missions. A record that heralds another: Elon MuskElon Musk targets a hundred flights from falcon 9falcon 9 it’s from heavy falconheavy falcon in 2023.
to Europe from jugsjugs, the year 2022 ends as badly as it began. The war in Ukraine deprived it of the use of the Russian Soyuz, the first flight of Ariane 6 and its entry into service are constantly being postponed from semester to semester and, while only two Ariadne 5Ariadne 5 to launch, the small launchersmall launcher European Vegas CVegas C just missed its first commercial flight.
So what to expect from the year 2023? Well, a lot.
The year 2023 will mark the end of the career of Ariane 5, the iconic launcher that has become a reference in the commercial markets for satellites launched in transfer orbittransfer orbit geostationary that will have marked an entire generation of space enthusiasts. In 2023, it will carry out its last two missions: in January, with the launch of satellites Heinrich HertzHeinrich Hertz (H2Sat) and Syracuse 4B (milsat) in April, with the launch of the probe Juice to Jupiter and its worlds. With this withdrawal and pending the commissioning ofAriadne 6Ariadne 6Europe, which a few years ago was the leader in access to space, will depend on SpaceX’s good will to launch its satellites!
From Starship to Ariane 6 without forgetting Vulcano
As for Ariane 6, its first flight, initially scheduled for July 2020, is today announced during the last quarter of 2023, but could be postponed to early 2024. year and which will consist of ensuring the proper functioning of the interaction between the launcher and the launch pad (Ela-4), and testing all the operational procedures of the launch base related to Ariane 6.
Ariane 6 isn’t the only new launcher expected. We also have SpaceX’s Starship, the vulcanvulcan from ULA and some new Chinese launchers, some of which are private. The first test flight of the starshipstarship, constantly postponed for good reasons, should take place at the beginning of the year. It is expected to last about 90 minutes. The Starship will be launched into orbit by the Super Heavy launcher and will fly to the Hawaiian archipelago, passing through space, but without achieving a complete orbit around the Earth. If all goes as planned, the Super Heavy’s main stage will land again on dry land, which will not be the case for the Starship. After an atmospheric re-entry, Starship is expected to crash into open ocean off the coast of Hawaii after a controlled landing.
Launch of the first private missions to the Moon
Another highly anticipated launcher, ULA’s Vulcan. The latter is not intended for markets open to competition. Its only customer will be the US government and the Falcon 9 will be its main competitor. It will gradually replace the American Delta IV heavy launchers and eventually the Atlas V. For its first flight, it will target the Moon with the launch of Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar module. This lander, which will carry various payloads, will be the first spacecraft of a private nature to land. This mission will be carried out under the program Commercial Lunar Cargo Services (CLPS) that aims to deliver scientific and technological equipment to the Moon on behalf of NASA. Launched in December, ISpace’s private lander, Hakuto-R, will take the UAE’s Rashid rover to the Moon. Its first laps are scheduled for the end of April, beginning of May. He will be joined a few weeks later, in June, by the wandererwanderer Indian Chandrayaan-3.
in the field of manned flightsmanned flightsthe Boeing CST-100 is expected to make its first flight to the International Space Station in the spring with two astronautsastronauts🇧🇷 In India, Gaganyaan, the prototype of the manned vehicle developed by the Indian space agency should make its test flight in 2024, or even at the end of 2023. Finally, if the year 2022 ended with the selection of a new class of European astronauts , the Space Agency will decide in February, or during the Board meeting in March, whether to acquire an autonomous space access capability for its astronauts. A very comprehensive report on the matter will be submitted to the leaders of theESAESA in January.
An unprecedented mission dedicated to the dark universe and a Chinese Hubble
At the mattermatter of space missions, several launches are expected. In 2023, the European Space Agency will launch the probes Juice (April) and Euclid (between July and September). The mission JuiceJuice aims to characterize the icy moons of Jupiter – GanymedeGanymedeEurope and CallistoCallisto — such as planetary objects and potential habitats, and to study Jupiter’s complex environment in depth. She will examine the system JovianJovian as a model for gas giants across theUniverseUniverse🇧🇷
as for EuclidEuclid, this is a very ambitious and unprecedented mission that aims to study the dark universe, that is, dark matter, dark energy (lambda) and the fields responsible for ‘inflation’. NASA will launch the Psyche probe in October for theasteroidasteroid metal of the same name that will be reached in 2026. It would be the remnant of the ferrous core of an ancient protoplanet. The mission also aims to identify its characteristics and identify its quantities of gold, nickelnickel and iron, whose value is estimated at more or less… 10,000 quadrillion dollars, more than the entire world economy!
China, which completed the construction of its space station, should launch its “Hubble” in 2023. Indeed, this station will be completed at the end of December by the telescopetelescope The Xuntian spacecraft that will fly back from the station and dock there for maintenance operations. This telescope will have a mirrormirror two meters in diameter, slightly smaller than that of the Hubble Space Telescope (2.4 meters), but its field of view will be much greater.