2021 Has Been Great for Space Exploration

by | Mar 22, 2022 | News Articles, Product, Space Exploration

When it concerns space exploration, 2021 might just go down in space history as the year that marks various turning points.

While our planet is still trying to recover from COVID19, the space industry on the other hand has seen remarkable events that may shape the future of space exploration for decades to come. From the launching of the long-awaited space telescope to sending ordinary civilians into orbit, we had a feast of exciting events gracing us this year.

Parker Space Probe’s first solar encounter (Source: NASA)

We begin a new era of understanding our star even better with the Parker Solar Probe. For the first time in human history, we have managed to “touch” the Sun — a remarkable feat that will mark the start of the evolution of solar research. The probe grazed the corona of the star, on its eighth flyby. Scientists will be able to gain deeper insights on our Sun’s activities and its impacts on the orbiting planets. With more flybys to come, we can expect more updates on this mission to give us an unparalleled view of our star.

DART will approach Didymos B in September 2022 (Source: ESA)

In 2021, the space industry also saw humankind’s first attempt at building planetary defence. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, DART, took flight on SpaceX Falcon9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on November 23, 2021. Didymos is a harmless asteroid orbiting the Sun with Dimorphos (Didymos B) circling Didymos, which DART’s mission will see the spacecraft fly itself into. Although Earth is not in the way of Dimorphos, this experiment will hopefully open up the field of space research into one that prepares us for future defence missions in space.

The Inspiration4 crew (Source: Inspiration4)

Space tourism used to be a far-fetched dream but not anymore. On September 15, 2021, for the first time ever, SpaceX Falcon9 rocket carried the Inspiration4 crew of ordinary civilians on a space mission into orbit. This tour, without a doubt, ushers in the new age of space tourism where outer space exploration is not just exclusive to researchers but to the ordinary public as well. The world also saw billionaires, such as Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, launching themselves into orbit.

Last image of the James Webb Space Telescope flying towards its orbit (Source: NASA)

After numerous obstacles and lots of anticipation, the long-awaited launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) finally happened on the Christmas morning of December 25, 2021. The largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever to be deployed into space took off after almost three decades to observe the mind-blowing phenomena occurring in space. The incredible engineering of JWST will allow us to gaze past gas and dust into distant celestial objects by focusing on infrared light, and capture the birth of our universe as we know it. As for now, we await the telescope’s arrival at its orbit, Lagrange Point 2, and another 6 months wait before the first images are released.

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