Spaceflight in 2020 did not go as planned. Like nearly everything else in the world, space activity was hit hard by the pandemic. Last year we listed the seven space missions that we were most excited to see take flight throughout 2020. Some of those went brilliantly: SpaceX sent astronauts into space! China brought moon rocks back to Earth! But unfortunately, a lot of other stuff didn’t happen: Europe and Russia’s Rosalind Franklin rover got delayed to 2022. SpaceX’s Starship did not go into space (though it did go high). Artemis 1, the first mission in NASA’s new lunar exploration program that’s supposed to return people to the moon later this decade, didn’t happen.
And yet, 2021 looks to be a pretty exciting time for space. Arguably, more is in store, especially as NASA’s ambitions to go back to the moon ramp up and the private space industry continues to grow more rapidly than ever. Here are the 11 missions we’re most excited to see launch or hit new milestones next year, from a trio of Martian missions in February to NASA trips to the moon in June and October. Just remember: space is unpredictable, and there’s a good chance many of these missions may get delayed for months or even years. So we’ve given each trip a success rating out of 10. Read the full story.