What happened in space in 2022? The meetings were numerous, some historic, all marked by the war in Ukraine, which highlighted the tensions in this conquered territory. We take stock.
The year 2022 confirms a turning point in space that began at the beginning of this decade: thousands of satellites are now launched into space: 185 flights in 2022, with around 2,500 satellites sent. The war in Ukraine has changed part of the face of space, which continues to be the scene of innovations (such as competing space planes between China, X-37B and Space Rider), but also of threats (space debris, for example). New competitions, new unprecedented exploration challenges: The role of space agencies is growing and budgets are growing.
The Incredible Commitments of Solar System Exploration in 2022
We can only rejoice in this new era of exploration we are entering. The success of Artemis I launched the impetus for astronauts to return to Earth. MoonMoon. While constructionconstruction of the international space station GatewayGateway is progressing, the Capstone spacecraft from the NASANASA I started to testorbitorbit. NASA has also ordered future spacesuits for the lunar marches, pivotal in determining the date of our return to the surface. 2022 was the scene of several departures, such as the first private mission on the surface Hakuto-R M1, with on board the small wandererwanderer Emirati Rashid, and also the first South Korean lunar probe KPLO (aka Danuri).
The Red Planet was full of surprises this year. Mars InSight recently passed away, but the data has already revealed many discoveries. Rovers, on the other hand, CuriosityCuriosity and PerseverancePerseverance continue to roam the Martian soil. Perseverance deposited a first sample to bring back to Earth. NASA has also chosen to rely on rover and drone performance. CreativityCreativity (20 flights in 2022, 37 in total) to return the samples to the rocket back to Earth. finally, theESAESA decided to save the Exomars rover, which did not have a Russian lander.
Finally, in 2022, there was the tremendous impact of the probe dartdart from NASA onasteroidasteroid Dimorphos to divert your path. A promising success in case of risk of Earth impact by a destructive asteroid, which inspired China and also Europe.
The promises held by science in orbit
Space has rarely been as inhabited as it is today: always more than seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and even a tourist mission. For its part, China managed to have up to six astronauts simultaneously in space, during a first crew rotation aboard its now complete space station. Finally, ESA unveiled its new promotion of astronauts, including France’s Sophie Adenot.
2022 is also the beginning of the James-Webb era (JWSTNameJWSTName). Launched into orbit at Christmas 2021, the space telescopespace telescope of all superlatives has been in operation since last July 11th, and continuously feeds us with breathtaking images. Other notable satellites were also deployed in 2022: the French Swot to study rivers, or the first Chinese solar space telescope ASO-S.
The change of generation of launchers
SpaceX has maintained its bet: 60 flights in 2022, half of which are dedicated to deploying the megaconstellation star linkstar link. The latter sees the arrival of competition with the resumption of flights OneWebOneWebafter a big lull with the war in Ukraine depriving the West of rocketsrockets Soyuz. others constellationconstellation see daylight like AST Space MobileMobile it’s him demonstratordemonstrator gigantic Bluewalker 3, or the announcements of a future European constellation (IRIS²) and the giant agreement with Amazon, booking 18 flights Ariadne 6Ariadne 6.
On the European side, we are suffering from the delays of Ariane 6.Ariadne 5Ariadne 5 makes its last flights (more than two in 2023), the vegavega gets a makeover with its more powerful Vega-C version. But the second flight (21 December) was a failure, causing the loss of two French Pleiades Neo observation satellites. There were other failures: the Zhuque-2 (China) which almost became the first launcherlauncher orbital with methane as fuel, or even the multiple failures of Astra Space in the United States. Finally, South Korea comes through with the success of their first pitcher 100% nativenative. In fact, sovereignty is one of the keywords of space in 2022.