Sidereal Messenger: Private missions to the Moon and European probe to Jupiter stir up 2023

Sidereal Messenger: Private missions to the Moon and European probe to Jupiter stir up 2023

New large launch vehicles, private missions to the Moon and Venus and the departure of the first European spacecraft to visit Jupiter are expected to shake up the year 2023.

Of the four super rockets in preparation for debut in 2023, the most anticipated is SpaceX’s Starship. Scheduled to allow the sending of astronauts to the surface of the Moon from the Artemis 3 mission, it is basically the ticket for the occupation of the Solar System – if it succeeds. Totally reusable, its goal is to make it possible to transport loads over 100 tons (it’s like carrying four and a half elephants, or equivalent to the maximum cargo capacity of a Boeing 747) to locations like the Moon or Mars. But this will only be possible if the company demonstrates its success in orbital flight and, subsequently, the ability to refuel in orbit. If successful, Starship will become the most powerful rocket in operation, surpassing NASA’s SLS.

In addition to it, three other large rockets (although not nearly as powerful) are scheduled for debut in the year that begins (but don’t be surprised if one or more escape by 2024): Ariane 6, from the French company Arianespace; New Glenn, from the American Blue Origin; and Vulcan, from the American United Launch Alliance. The latter, by the way, is the closest to flying, and should promote the first mission of the American company Astrobotic to the Moon.

The unmanned landing module Peregrine, from Astrobotic, is one of several commercial missions to the natural satellite that should be painted in 2023. The first, by the way, has already taken off: launched on December 11, the Japanese Hakuto-R, from the company ispace , should try to land on the Moon in April 2023. But in addition to these two, two other American companies hope to launch their robotic landing modules in 2023: Intuitive Machines and Masten Space (recently acquired by Astrobotic). All of them, with the exception of ispace, will carry out missions under contract with NASA to “cart” to the Moon with scientific instruments.

Also scheduled for 2023 is the departure of the first private mission to Venus. Organized by the company Rocket Lab, which operates the small-sized Electron rocket, in partnership with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), it hopes to probe the Venusian clouds in order to study their habitability. At a cost of less than $10 million, if successful, it would be an impressive feat. The launch is expected for May, but given the difficulty, the company works with a booking window of January 2025 (interplanetary missions need to wait for the planets to align properly for the trip).

On the side of the large robotic missions of space agencies, attention turns to the ESA, which will launch its first mission to Jupiter. Juice should leave in April, on a long journey to the largest planet in the Solar System, where it should only arrive in July 2031. With less pomp, NASA will also start, in October, an important robotic mission, Psyche, destined to asteroid belt.

This column is published on Mondays in Folha Corrida.

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