From Starship to Ariane 6 and from Juice to Psyche, without forgetting Euclid and the first commercial missions to the Moon, the year 2023 promises to be exciting. It was also during this year that the European Space Agency decided to establish its own manned flight program. Discover our selection of the most important astronautical events that will mark this new year.
Not surprisingly, 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, which begins the return of the Americans to MoonMoon and the “satellite launch vehicle”, SpaceXSpaceX, with no less than 60 missions. A record announcing another: Elon MuskElon Musk targets a hundred flights of Falcon 9Falcon 9 and off Falcon HeavyFalcon Heavy in 2023.
For Europe of jugsjugs, the year 2022 ends as badly as it started. The war in Ukraine has deprived it of the use of the Russian Soyuz, the first flight of Ariane 6 and its commissioning is constantly postponed from semester to semester, and while only two Ariadne 5Ariadne 5 still to be launched, the small launchersmall launcher European Vega CVega C just missed his first commercial flight.
So what can you expect from the year 2023? Well, a lot.
2023 will see the end of the career of Ariane 5, an iconic launch vehicle that has become the reference in the commercial markets for satellites launched in transfer circuittransfer circuit geostationary, which will have influenced a whole 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 Juice probe to Jupiter and its worlds. With this withdrawal and pending commissioning ofAriadne 6Ariadne 6Europe, which only a few years ago was the leader in access to space, will depend on the goodwill of SpaceX to launch its satellites!
From Starship to Ariane 6 without forgetting Vulcan
As for Ariane 6, its first flight, originally planned for July 2020, is today announced in the last quarter of 2023, but it may be postponed until early 2024. For now, there is room for the combined tests, which will take place throughout the year and which will consist of ensuring that the interaction between the launch pad and the launch pad (Ela-4) is working correctly and testing all the operational procedures of the launch base in connection with Ariane 6 .
Ariane 6 is not the only expected new launcher. We also count on SpaceX’s Starship, the VulcanVulcan from ULA and a few new Chinese launch vehicles, some of which are private. The first test flight of the SpaceshipSpaceship, which is constantly postponed for good reasons, should take place at the beginning of the year. It is planned to last more or less 90 minutes. The starship will be put into orbit by the Super Heavy launch vehicle and will fly to the Hawaiian Islands, with a passage through space, but without achieving a full orbit around Earth. If all goes as planned, the main stage of the Super Heavy will return to land on dry land, which will not be the case for the starship. After an atmospheric re-entry, the starship was to crash into the open ocean off the coast of Hawaii following a controlled landing.
Kick-off of the first private missions to the Moon
Another highly anticipated launch vehicle, 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 biggest competitor. It will gradually replace the American Delta IV heavy launch vehicles and eventually the Atlas V. For its first flight, it will aim for the Moon with the launch of the Peregrine lunar lander from the company Astrobotic. This lander, which will carry multiple payloads, will be the first private natural spacecraft ever to land. This mission will be carried out within the framework of the programme Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) from NASA, which aims to deliver scientific and technological equipment to the Moon on behalf of NASA. ISpace’s private lander Hakuto-R, launched in December, will deliver the United Arab Emirates’ Rashid rover to the Moon. Its first rounds are scheduled for the end of April, beginning of May. He is joined a few weeks later, in June, by robberrobber Indian Chandrayaan-3.
Within manned flightsmanned flightsshould the Boeing CST-100 make its first flight to the International Space Station this spring with two astronautsastronauts. In India, Gaganyaan, the manned craft prototype developed by the Indian Space Agency, should make its test flight in 2024 or even in late 2023. Finally, if the year 2022 ended with the selection of a new class of European astronauts, the European Space Agency will decide in February or at its Council meeting in March whether it will acquire an autonomous capacity for access to space for its astronauts. A very comprehensive report on the subject will be submitted to the managers ofESAESA in January.
An unprecedented mission dedicated to the dark universe and a Chinese Hubble
IN fabricfabric of space missions more launches are expected. In 2023, the European Space Agency will launch the Juice probe (April) and Euclid (between July and September). The mission JuiceJuice aims to characterize Jupiter’s icy moons — GanymedeGanymedeEurope and CallistoCallisto – as planetary objects and potential habitats, and to study Jupiter’s complex environment in depth. She wants to investigate the system JovianJovian as a model for gas giants throughoutUniverseUniverse.
As for EuclidEuclid, this is a very ambitious and unprecedented mission, which aims to study the dark universe, i.e. dark matter, dark energy (lambda) and the fields responsible for ‘inflation. NASA will launch the Psyche probe in Octoberasteroidasteroid metal of the same name, which will be reached in 2026. It would be the rest of the iron-containing 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!
As for China, which has completed the construction of its space station, it should launch its “Hubble” in 2023. In fact, this station will be finished at the end of December before the telescopetelescope Xuntian spacecraft which will fly back from the station and dock there for maintenance operations. This telescope will have one mirrormirror two meters in diameter, slightly smaller than the Hubble Space Telescope (2.4 meters), but its field of view will be much larger.