Top Spaceflight Stories of 2022
Heading into 2023, spaceflight will be the world's most important and fascinating scientific and technological sector. Not only has it been revolutionizing our everyday lives, but it has also led to discoveries across all areas of science, including Earth's atmosphere and the origin of life. In fact, 22 years ago this month, scientists at NASA and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta mission discovered evidence that comets may have seeded Earth with water and organic molecules. Since then, a number of discoveries have been made about comets that explore their role as an important source of water for life on planet Earth.
So, we will cover some of these amazing stories throughout the year, focusing on what's happened in Europe and America.
1. The Solar eclipse of 2022
The summer of 2023 is when an amazing solar eclipse occurs, which will be visible from Angola and the Atlantic to the Americas. It is also the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century. The path of annularity passes over eastern Brazil, northern South America, and western Africa and then moves northeastwards across the Atlantic Ocean. The duration of totality is 6 minutes and 32 seconds at its greatest extent.
2. The End of the ISS
In 2023, many people are mourning the end of the International Space Station. The longest-running outpost in space is expected to run out of funding in 2022 and will be decommissioned. Already, an armada of cargo ships has begun ferrying supplies to the space station as part of the last mission to keep it running on reserve funds even after NASA said that the shuttle program is going to end. The repairs are made mainly by private companies under contract with NASA and ESA.
3. Private Spaceflight Comes of Age
Over the past 20 years, private spaceflight has come of age. Companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Boeing, and many others are working to bring down the cost of access to space to broaden markets and use in other ways that can change how we live our lives on Earth. However, it will also bring new challenges, particularly around safety regulations.
4. The Discovery of Life on an Asteroid
Asteroids are pretty cool. But have you heard of them being the birthplace of life? In 2023, scientists discover that one asteroid's surface is rich in organic matter and may even be habitable. Hunting down meteorites on Earth has been a dream since the first space probes were sent to find alien life forms and provide samples to analyze signs of past life. However, now we will be able to do this from space.
5. First Space Elevator
The next big leap in space exploration is the development of the first space elevator. It allows us to build large buildings and entire cities in orbit, which can be propelled from Earth on a rope of material attached to a powerful rocket. The first such cable will be built by Spaceward Ho! in 2023, although there are many other companies working on the technology.
6. The First Manned Mission to Mars
The Mars One mission will be underway in 2023. Having been originally scheduled for 2016, it has had its launch date pushed back by four years. Part of the reason for the delay is a legal battle over Intellectual Property (IP) rights, with one group claiming that they were not given the rights to use the IP.
7. Discovery of the Higgs Boson
The world celebrates the finding of the Higgs, a particle that is crucial for all other particles. Physicists and cosmologists believe it being discovered will help open new dimensions and explain more about existence on Earth. The Higgs boson is also important for understanding everything from galaxies to gravity and making predictions about nuclear and particle physics.
8. The First Telescope Array to Be Launched Into Space
In 2023, a telescope array of over 350 telescopes will be launched into space. It will be the largest scientific observation system to ever exist in outer space. The telescopes will collect data on millions of far-off stars and galaxies, giving astronomers an unprecedented look at these objects.
9. The First Space Telescope to Observe Exoplanets
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be launched into orbit in 2018 and will be the first space telescope to observe exoplanets. The JWST will also be able to look back in time by observing objects that were created by other stars. However, the JWST is also expected to look at things like dark matter and dark energy and find new species of planets around other stars.
10. Having the First Space Colony
Humanity has begun to colonize space in 2022. We have not been alone in sending humans into space. There are other intelligent species out there, and they have been on the quest for a new home for generations. By 2023, they will have set up their own space colonies, which allows them to travel freely between planets, leading them to have a great understanding of the universe and the laws of physics.
11. The Scientific Breakthrough of the Century
By 2023, a scientific breakthrough will be made, which will have a major impact on humanity. It will be the first time that we have pinpointed a fundamental law of the universe, and it will change how we view everything. In fact, this discovery will be one of those moments in science when suddenly all the dots join up, and we see something that is bigger than us and much greater than our comprehension.
12. Space Tourism in Space
A new type of luxury holiday will be launched in 2023. It is planned to be the first permanent space hotel. Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the Moon and a pioneer of commercial space travel, will spearhead the business and will be responsible for marketing this new venture. The hotels will be able to fly out of Earth's atmosphere for a week at a time, making it fun for people to visit Earth from orbit.
13. The First Planned Terraforming of Mars
In 2022, plans for terraforming are underway. The technologies used to do this have been around for a while but have never been put into practice. It requires the burial of a lot of greenhouse gases, which will heat up the planet's atmosphere. It will also need to be protected from the Sun's radiation, and it is believed that the polar ice caps will be used for this purpose.