House calendar 2021: Mars landings, SpaceX Starship exams, NASA launches and extra

House calendar 2021: Mars landings, SpaceX Starship exams, NASA launches and extra

The yr 2020 AD didn’t end up precisely as we might have favored down on Earth. However in house, it did show to be momentous.

SpaceX and NASA delivered astronauts to the Worldwide House Station (twice!) aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, Japan and China introduced again extraterrestrial rock to Earth and NASA scooped up some house chunks from asteroid Bennu. Pleasure for Mars peaked in July, when three missions departed for the crimson planet. The Mars-bound spacecraft, from NASA, China and the United Arab Emirates, are en route now. They’re set to reach early in 2021.

Final yr, to maintain all of you within the know, CNET launched the SPACE CALENDAR (all caps for dramatic cosmic impact), overlaying all the massive rocket launches, mesmerizing meteor showers, epic eclipses and even an assortment of scientific milestones. In 2021, we’re again at it once more. Yow will discover all the important thing dates for house missions under, with meteor showers and occasions with out a date towards the tip of the piece.

Our always-updating Google calendar will be synced with your personal calendar so that you by no means miss a factor. That massive button under? That is the way you add it.

You can even use one other calendar with this hyperlink, which can help you obtain our calendar file and add it to a supplier of your selection, like Outlook.

There are many extra rocket launches annually than these listed under, however they’re so usually topic to alter that we have determined to depart them off this massive listing. The most effective recommendation is to all the time keep watch over CNET’s Science web page and join our house and science e-newsletter if you wish to make sure you’re getting launch updates from the likes of SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Blue Origin. We’ll additionally endeavor to shift issues round on the Google calendar as quickly as we have now info, so hold your eyes peeled.


Are we lacking something? You’ll be able to e-mail or tweet me with any obvious omissions.


[February?] Starship SN9 check

BOOM. SpaceX’s Starship SN8 prototype had an eventful touchdown.


Bear in mind the unimaginable explosion of SpaceX’s SN8 prototype in December? SpaceX considers {that a} success on its approach to a totally fledged spacecraft that may get to orbit and — finally — to Mars. In late 2020 or early 2021, Elon Musk’s spaceflight firm expects to ship the following numbered prototype on its method. Its three highly effective Raptor engines are connected, and it has been wheeled onto the launchpad, so the prototype is more likely to fly early in 2021.

The SN9 check has been delayed quite a lot of instances, and we’re attempting to remain up to the mark. It is wanting like an early February launch is feasible. We’ll hold you up to date, simply soar over to this text!

[Feb. 9] Hope inserts itself into Mars’ orbit

The Hope probe (Al Amal) will circle Mars on a 55 day orbit, analyzing its ambiance. 


The United Arab Emirates’ Hope (Al Amal) probe, which was launched in July 2020, will carry out a Mars Orbital Insertion (MOI) because it prepares to circle the crimson planet and produce one of the crucial full footage of its ambiance ever. A profitable MOI would make the UAE the fifth nation to succeed in Mars, following the US, Russia, China and India. 

The MOI is a posh process, involving a 30 minute burn that slows Hope from 75,000 miles per hour to only 11,200. At roughly 7:42 a.m. PT on Feb. 9, the bus-length probe will probably be “at” Mars and can start to transition to the science part of the mission. It should, at its closest level, be simply 620 miles from Mars’ floor. 

Wish to know extra in regards to the journey to Mars for the UAE? Examine it right here.

[Feb. 10] Tianwen-1 arrives at Mars

Tianwen-1 on its approach to Mars, hoping to make China the third nation to efficiently land on the crimson planet.

Chinese language Lunar Exploration Program

China’s Tianwen-1 (“Inquiries to Heaven”) spacecraft is carrying a Martian orbiter, lander and rover as cargo and can make its personal insertion only a day after Hope, based on Chinese language information service CCTV. The Chinese language mission won’t launch it is lander or rover instantly to the floor. It is anticipated to launch these automobiles someday in Could. 

The rover has a lifespan of round 92 days and Li Zhencai, deputy commander of the challenge, advised CCTV the mission will probably be accomplished round “the tip of August.”

[Feb. 18] NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars

NASA’s mission trailer exhibits the Perseverance rover making a dramatic touchdown on Mars.


Perseverance will contact down on Mars on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at roughly 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET). It should undergo the well-known Seven Minutes of Terror, slowing down from an excessive pace of round 12,000 miles per hour to a full cease on the floor in simply 420 seconds. It is set to be an enormous yr for Martian robots and particularly, the hunt to seek out indicators of historic life on the crimson planet. Together with Perseverance, China’s Tianwen-1 lander and rover will even be placing Mars filth beneath the microscope — nonetheless, it isn’t anticipated to the touch down till later within the yr.

Extra: NASA launches subsequent Mars rover: All the things you should find out about Perseverance

[March 25] Boeing Starliner OFT-2 launch

The CST-100 Starliner lands again on US soil, airbags full.

NASA/Invoice Ingalls

The CST-100 Starliner, a cone-shaped spacecraft designed to ship astronauts to the Worldwide House Station as a part of NASA’s Business Crew Program, has had its justifiable share of ups and downs. The first Orbital Flight Check in December 2019 (wow, it was that way back?) skilled an “anomaly” with the spacecraft’s clock which meant it did not attain the ISS because it had supposed and, as a substitute, safely landed again within the desert two days later.

Boeing will now carry out a second uncrewed orbital flight check to get the Starliner prepared to hold crew. If all of it goes efficiently, it may pave the way in which for astronauts to be launched throughout the capsule later within the yr. Fingers crossed.

[March 2021] The Massive Hadron Collider powers up once more

The Massive Hadron Collider will recommence operations in 2021.

Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Photos

The Massive Hadron Collider, the highest-energy particle collider on the planet, has been powered down since Dec. 10, 2018. In March, scientists on the European Group for Nuclear Analysis (CERN) flick it again on once more.

The collider has been instrumental in testing predictions of theories in particle physics, together with discovery of the Higgs boson, or the “God particle” (simply do not name it that in entrance of any particle physicists).

Its third observational run or “Run 3” ought to kick off in 2022, with a interval of commissioning and magnet coaching to get issues as much as scratch for inspecting the atomic world in March. It should then be shut down in 2025 and upgraded once more, for its fourth run in 2027. I am placing this in a house calendar, as a result of, physics is all over the place. Let me have this one. It is cool.

[April/May] China’s Tianwen-1 rover lands on Mars

An artist’s impression of the three spacecraft China will ship to Mars within the coming weeks.

Nature Astronomy

Tianwen-1, China’s triple risk mission to Mars, left Earth in July and is scheduled to insert itself into Mars orbit in February. Nonetheless, the Chinese language house program won’t try a landing for a number of months, with most estimates suggesting late April or early Could for the historic occasion.

China goes massive right here — an orbiter will proceed to circle the crimson planet, and two spacecraft, a lander and a rover, will probably be steered to the floor. Mars is often a really mean-spirited planet: It kills round half of all spacecraft that attempt to land there, so it is an enormous and daring mission for China’s house company. It is going to be capable of construct on a robust heritage of moon exploration nonetheless, with its Chang’e probes attaining unimaginable feats of house exploration within the final three years.

Extra: China’s daring Tianwen-1 mission to Mars: All the things you should know

[May 26] Whole Lunar Eclipse of the Flower Moon   

The fantastically named “tremendous blood wolf moon” of Jan. 20 and 21 was a stunner combining a complete lunar eclipse (blood) with January timing (wolf) and a very giant look as a result of being nearer to the Earth (tremendous).

Richard Bell/Kalamazoo Astronomical Society

When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon, you get a lunar eclipse. When the complete moon is shadowed, that is a complete lunar eclipse. And when there is a full moon in Could, it is often known as a “Flower Moon.” That is the way you get a complete lunar eclipse of the flower moon… and that is the primary massive celestial occasion of 2021. We’ve a useful information for viewing eclipses right here. We’ll present an even bigger replace because it will get nearer to Could.

[June 10] Ring of Hearth eclipse 

Thousands and thousands of individuals throughout jap Asia and the western US had an amazing view of the annular eclipse in 2020.

James Martin/CNET

The Johnny Money eclipse, because it’s affectionately recognized by no person besides myself, will happen over elements of the Northern Hemisphere on June 10. A hoop of fireside eclipse happens when the moon solely partially blocks daylight, leaving a stunning ring of fireside within the sky. The latest eclipse (an “annular” eclipse, in scientific parlance) occurred in 2020 and it was spectacular. The most effective locations to look at will probably be throughout Russia, Canada and Greenland, however there will probably be loads of livestreams and locations to look at this one, we assume. We’ll carry you all the small print because it will get nearer.

[June] Boeing Crewed Flight Check

The primary crewed Starliner mission may happen as early as June.


Supplied all the things works out precisely as hoped in March, the primary crewed check flight of the Starliner may head to the Worldwide House Station in June. Just like SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission in 2020, this may be the ultimate test for Boeing’s spacecraft earlier than it turns into operational. An enormous achievement, ought to it get there.

[July 22] NASA launches DART mission to crash into an asteroid

NASA’s mission to crash into an asteroid will say “armageddon outta right here” on July 22 because it heads towards house rock 68503 Didymos. The rock additionally has a smaller twin, often known as Dimorphos, which orbits it as its private moon. The “Double Asteroid Redirection Check” will crash into this smaller asteroid (which is about as massive as Egypt’s Nice Pyramid), after which one other mission, led by the European House Company for launch in 2024, will examine the influence crater and the way it modified Dimorphos’ orbit and properties.

If it really works, NASA thinks the spacecraft may shift the orbit of Dimorphos by round half a millimeter per second. It does not appear to be rather a lot, however over time, that would dramatically alter its orbital interval. 

[Oct. 2] BepiColombo flys previous Mercury

BepiColombo will launch an orbiter to zip round Mercury in 2025.


BepiColombo, a joint mission between the ESA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Company (JAXA), had a fairly large 2020. It was known as into motion because it carried out a flyby of Venus to test for indicators of life within the higher ambiance. In 2021, it performs its first flyby of its supposed vacation spot — the planet Mercury. It is going to be the primary in a collection of six flybys and culminate within the launch of an orbiting craft that may monitor Mercury from 2025. 

[Oct. 16] NASA’s Lucy launches on asteroid hunt

NASA’s Lucy will discover six asteroids over the approaching decade.


One of the bold missions on NASA’s slate is named Lucy, which can try to go to eight asteroids over the following decade. It is going to be the primary mission to review the Trojans, a bunch of asteroids that path and lead Jupiter in orbit across the solar.

The mission is called after the fossilized stays of an ancestral human found in Ethiopia in 1974, which rewrote the historical past books on human evolution. NASA’s Lucy would possibly find yourself rewriting the historical past of the photo voltaic system. The Trojans probably harbor clues to the origin of our photo voltaic system and function as time capsules, permitting scientists to know the atmosphere of the photo voltaic system’s earliest eons.

[Oct. 31] NASA’s James Webb Telescope launches

NASA engineer Ernie Wright prepares the primary six flight-ready main mirror segments of the James Webb House Telescope at NASA’s Marshall House Flight Middle.

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

A very spooky launch date for NASA’s long-delayed next- era house telescope. The deliberate successor to NASA’s workhorse Hubble, James Webb is a significant improve to our capabilities in finding out the early universe. Granted issues go effectively, it ought to be capable of see among the earliest galaxies that ever shaped.

However it has been a wrestle for the telescope to get into house. It is now coming as much as its 25th birthday and it hasn’t even obtained off the bottom — with the pandemic setting it again even additional. Granted this launch date holds, it will likely be a giant (and spooky) day for NASA. One other fingers crossed mission.

[Dec. 4] Darkness descends on Antarctica

The one complete eclipse of 2021 will happen over Antarctica.

Jonathan Ordonez/Getty

When you’re among the scattered wildlife that spends time in Antarctica (or maybe some fortunate researchers), then you’ll catch the one complete photo voltaic eclipse of 2021, when the moon blocks mild from the solar over the icy continent.

The subsequent complete photo voltaic eclipse after that will not be till 2023 and it’ll solely be seen in elements of Southeast Asia and Australia. The US will expertise a complete photo voltaic eclipse in 2024.

Artemis I is coming (maybe)

“Earth blue, rocket crimson and lunar silver” is how NASA describes the colours used within the brand for the Artemis program. The emblem pulls from the historical past of the Apollo program.


NASA’s plan to return people to the moon in 2024 entails a collection of missions beneath the Artemis banner. The very first Artemis mission, Artemis I, is scheduled to launch in 2021. The missions will use a enormous, new rocket often known as the House Launch System, or SLS, which can carry an uncrewed spacecraft often known as Orion to lunar orbit.

NASA has mentioned this one for November, however there’s each probability it’s going to slip later than that and probably to 2022. If the mission succeeds, we would see Artemis II — with a human crew — launch in 2023.  

Will Chandrayaan-Three launch in 2021?

India launched Chandrayaan-2 to the moon in 2019, however a software program glitch triggered a “exhausting touchdown.”


In 2019, the Indian house company, ISRO, tried to make historical past by changing into the fourth nation to soft-land on the floor of the moon. Sadly, issues went awry. A software program glitch triggered the spacecraft, Chandrayaan-2, to careen into the moon’s floor. The mission was designed to land on the lunar south pole, which might have been a historic first. Virtually as quickly as Chandrayaan-2’s unlucky ending got here to mild, India introduced it might strive once more,with Chandrayaan-3.

The mission was slated to launch in 2020, however pandemic. Will it launch in 2021? That is what ISRO is capturing for.

Steve Brown grabbed this magnificent time-lapse of star trails in the course of the Perseid meteor bathe.

Steve Brown

All year long, CNET can have bespoke protection of when and the way to catch every meteor bathe listed under. When you bookmark this web page, you may simply return right here at your leisure — or, bear in mind to test CNET for the newest on the way to spot meteors!

  • Quadrantids Dec. 27, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021.
    Peak evening: Jan. 2 

Wish to watch the Quadrantids meteor bathe? Examine that right here.

  • Lyrids April 16 – April 30.
    Peak evening: April 21
  • Eta Aquariids April 19 – Could 28.
    Peak evening: Could 5
  • Perseids July 17 – Aug. 26.
    Peak evening:  Aug. 13
  • Draconids Oct. 6 – Oct. 10.
    Peak evening: Oct. 7
  • Orionids Oct. 2 – Nov. 7.
    Peak evening: Oct. 20
  • Leonids Nov. 6 – Nov. 30.
    Peak evening: Nov. 16
  • Geminids Dec. 4 – Dec. 17.
    Peak evening: Dec. 13
  • Ursids Dec. 17 – Dec. 26.
    Peak evening: Dec. 21

Learn extra: Learn how to see the yr’s greatest meteor showers: All the things you should know

This web page is consistently up to date. 

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