The Top 10 Most Exciting Space Missions To Watch In 2023, Ranked
What are the 2023 plans for NASA, other national space agencies, and the private space industry?
In the following year, after the Artemis-I and James Webb space telescopes are launched in 2022 and late 2021, respectively, we will observe our Moon, the moons of Jupiter and Venus, strange asteroids, some historic test flights, and thrilling one-off missions.
Here, in order of excitement, is all you need to know about NASA missions, space exploration, and more in 2023:
1. The return to Earth of OSIRIS-REx
When: September 24, 2023
Do you recall the 2020 NASA asteroid landing? Since then, OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission, has been traveling in the direction of the planet and will eventually bring a sample of the asteroid Bennu to the planet. It is planned for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere and a parachute landing at the Utah Test and Training Range of the US Air Force.
When: October 10, 2023
NASA wants a close-up of 16 Psyche, one of the most fascinating and conceivably most valuable asteroids we are aware of. It is presently scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on a low-cost Discovery-class robotic space mission to determine if it really is constructed of iron and nickel after being delayed by software glitches in 202. The orbiter will begin at least 21 months in orbit mapping and researching the properties of Psyche when it arrives at the asteroid in August 2029 (sometime beyond the January 2026 arrival it would have achieved if launched in 2022).
When: April 5-25, 2023
The Jupiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) mission of the European Space Agency is planned to launch in 2023 and land in the Jovian System in 2030. The study of Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto, three of Jupiter’s moons, will then take three and a half years.
4. SpaceX’s orbital flight test of Starship
When: first quarter of 2023
In 2023, SpaceX anticipates doing about 100 launches, but will one be a Starship launch? It is projected that Starship will make its first orbital mission in the first quarter of 2023. Starship is somewhat taller than the Saturn V rocket that NASA utilized for the Apollo Moon landings in the 1960s and 1970s.
5. Blue Origin’s orbital test flight of ‘New Glenn’ rocket
When: first quarter of 2023
Blue Origin’s New Glenn orbital-class reusable rocket may conduct an orbital flight test in 2023, giving it a comparable range to SpaceX. It may, however, very simply be postponed until 2024. If successful, it would give Amazon’s Project Kuiper plan to launch more than 3,000 satellites the go-ahead.
6. Astrobotic’s Peregrine mission to the lunar surface
When: first quarter of 2023
The launch of Peregrine Mission 1 will be eagerly observed by people in the space industry, despite the fact that Astrobiotic’s journey to the Moon will be intriguing in and of itself. The new Vulcan Centaur rocket from United Launch Alliance, which although not nearly as massive as NASA’s now-proven Space Launch System (SLS) and SpaceX’s not-yet-tested Starship, is likely to be a major player among heavy-lift rockets, will make its first trip into orbit.
The Iris rover, the first American- and student-developed rover to land on the Moon, will be carried to the Moon by Peregrine Mission 1, NASA’s first commercial space mission to the Moon.
7. Rocket Lab’s ‘Venus Life Finder’ probe
When: May 2023
This year might see the launch of the first private journey to Earth’s hotter twin planet. Venus Life Finder (VLF), a risky proposal to send a probe into Venus’ atmosphere to look for habitable conditions and signs of life in the planet’s cloud layer, will be launched from New Zealand on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket for arrival in October 2023.
The probe will spend only five minutes in the Venusian cloud layers, which are 48–60 km above the surface, therefore this will be a brief expedition.
After May 2023, the following launch window is in January 2025.
8. India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar rover
When: June 2023
The Chandrayaan (“mooncraft”) moon missions funded by India have resumed. Chandrayaan-1, which launched in 2008, discovered water on the Moon; Chandrayaan-2, which launched in 2019, collided with it. This brings us to Chandrayaan-3, a follow-up mission that will send a lander and a rover to touchdown on the Aitken basin at the southernmost point of the Moon.
From the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) intends to launch Chandrayaan-3 in the middle of 2023. The estimated price is less than $100 million.
9. Intuitive Machines’ lunar lander
When: March 2023
IM-1, a 14-day mission, is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9. During this mission, the Nova-C lander will set down in Lacus Mortis, also known as the “Lake of Death,” a sizable crater in the Moon’s Ocean of Storms.
IM-1, created by for-profit company Intuitive Machines as a component of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, will test a precision landing technology.
10. Boeing’s Starliner Crew Flight Test (CFT)
When: April 2023
NASA has successfully hived-off its Earth-to-orbit duties to SpaceX and its Crew Dragon capsule, but that’s only half the story. Boeing and its Starliner spacecraft has the same deal with NASA, but it can only go live once a crewed test flight has been successful.
After a few technical issues during its last few attempts Boeing successfully flew its uncrewed CST-100 Starliner capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 19, 2022. Soon it will be the turn of NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Suni Williams to fly to the ISS on this slightly delayed mission.