Yearender 2021: Space tourism, Mars decoded, a Webb (ed) Christmas present and more


The year 2021 can be remembered by most as the year before coronavirus vaccination and variants. But it was also a year that stretched the boundaries of space exploration. NASA presented the perfect packaging for 2021 with the launch of James Webb Space Telescope, which will help answer questions about the first formed stars and galaxies.

This year also saw a boom in private space tourism, with the month of December witnessing a record 19 people in space.

In July, Virgin Galactic founds Richard Branson hurried out into space aboard his own rocket and experienced three to four minutes of weightlessness before safely slipping back.

Nine days later, billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos also completed his spaceflight. Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched one all-civilian crew into space in September. They spent three days in orbit before splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean.

This month, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa became the first space tourist to travel to the International Space Station in more than a decade. He spent 12 days in space as a training run for his trip around the moon with SpaceX in 2023.

March hey!

In February, NASA’s Perseverance rover made one historic touchdown on the red planet after “the seven minutes of terror.”

In April, Mars produced Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) 5 grams oxygen from carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere, enough for an astronaut to breathe for 10 minutes. That same month, Ingenuity, the small helicopter carried by Perseverance, launched its flight to Mars. In September, rover successfully collected his first rock sample to return to Earth, and in October, by studying the images sent by the rover, scientists confirmed it Mars’ Jezero crater was once a lake.

In february, UAE’s Hope spacecraft entered Mars ‘orbit to study Mars’ atmosphere and climate dynamics. In May, China’s first Mars rover, named Zhurong after an ancient fire god, also began to explore the planet’s surface.

All about asteroids

In May, NASA’s The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft left the asteroid Bennu with samples of dust and began his two-year journey back to Earth.

In October, NASA launched Lucy mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. The asteroids, which are believed to be rich in carbon compounds, may even provide new insights into the origins of organic matter and life on Earth, NASA said.

On November 24, NASA launched ‘DART mission’, which is the Agency’s first planetary defense test mission. Between September 26 and October 1, 2022, the spacecraft is expected to intentionally collide with a small moon called Dimorphos and change its orbit.

A very hot date!

December 14, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe entered the atmosphere of the sun (corona) for the first time.

The probe was launched in 2018 and was 13 million kilometers from the center of the sun. According to the scientists, the spacecraft dived in and out of the corona at least three times, each time a smooth transition. The probe will continue to move closer to the sun until its last orbit in 2025.

China’s space station

In April became first module of the Chinese space station called Tianhe (Harmony of Heaven) was launched. “(Tianhe) is an important pilot project in building a powerful nation in both technology and space,” state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying in a congratulatory speech.

Movies in the room

In October, Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko spent 12 days on the International Space Station and produced the world’s first film in space.

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