The yr 2020 AD didn’t end up precisely as we might have preferred down on Earth. However in area, it did show to be momentous.

SpaceX and NASA delivered astronauts to the Worldwide House Station (twice!) aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, Japan and China introduced again extraterrestrial rock to Earth and NASA scooped up some area chunks from asteroid Bennu. Pleasure for Mars peaked in July, when three missions departed for the purple planet. The Mars-bound spacecraft, from NASA, China and the United Arab Emirates, are en route now. They’re set to reach early in 2021.

Final yr, to maintain all of you within the know, CNET launched the SPACE CALENDAR (all caps for dramatic cosmic impact), protecting all the massive rocket launches, mesmerizing meteor showers, epic eclipses and even an assortment of scientific milestones. In 2021, we’re again at it once more. You could find all the important thing dates for area missions beneath, with meteor showers and occasions with no date towards the tip of the piece.

Our always-updating Google calendar could be synced with your personal calendar so that you by no means miss a factor. That massive button beneath? That is the way you add it.

You may also use one other calendar with this hyperlink, which can can help you obtain our calendar file and add it to a supplier of your selection, like Outlook.

There are many extra rocket launches every year than these listed beneath, however they’re so usually topic to alter that we have determined to go away them off this massive listing. One of the best recommendation is to at all times keep watch over CNET’s Science web page and join our area and science e-newsletter if you wish to make sure you’re getting launch updates from the likes of SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Blue Origin. We’ll additionally endeavor to shift issues round on the Google calendar as quickly as now we have data, so maintain your eyes peeled.


Are we lacking something? You’ll be able to electronic mail or tweet me with any evident omissions.


[Early 2021] Starship SN9 check

BOOM. SpaceX’s Starship SN8 prototype had an eventful touchdown.


Bear in mind the unimaginable explosion of SpaceX’s SN8 prototype in December? SpaceX considers {that a} success on its technique to a totally fledged spacecraft that may get to orbit and — finally — to Mars. In late 2020 or early 2021, Elon Musk’s spaceflight firm expects to ship the following numbered prototype on its approach. Its three highly effective Raptor engines are connected, and it has been wheeled onto the launchpad, so the prototype is more likely to fly early in 2021. We’ll replace this as quickly as we hear extra!

[Feb. 18] NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars

NASA’s mission trailer reveals the Perseverance rover making a dramatic touchdown on Mars.


Perseverance will contact down on Mars on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at roughly 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET). It must undergo the well-known Seven Minutes of Terror, slowing down from an excessive velocity of round 12,000 miles per hour to a full cease on the floor in simply 420 seconds. It is set to be an enormous yr for Martian robots and particularly, the search to seek out indicators of historical life on the purple planet. Together with Perseverance, a Chinese language rover and lander will even be placing Mars dust beneath the microscope.

However wait… there’s extra! Across the identical time as Perseverance is arriving, the United Arab Emirates Hope Mars probe needs to be inserting itself into orbit and can start to review the Martian environment.

Extra: NASA launches subsequent Mars rover: All the things you could learn about Perseverance

[March 29] Boeing Starliner OFT-2 launch

The CST-100 Starliner lands again on US soil, airbags full.

NASA/Invoice Ingalls

The CST-100 Starliner, a cone-shaped spacecraft designed to ship astronauts to the Worldwide House Station as a part of NASA’s Business Crew Program, has had its justifiable share of ups and downs. The first Orbital Flight Check in December 2019 (wow, it was that way back?) skilled an “anomaly” with the spacecraft’s clock which meant it did not attain the ISS because it had supposed and, as an alternative, safely landed again within the desert two days later.

Boeing will now carry out a second uncrewed orbital flight check to get the Starliner prepared to hold crew. If all of it goes efficiently, it may pave the way in which for astronauts to be launched throughout the capsule later within the yr. Fingers crossed.

[March 2021] The Giant Hadron Collider powers up once more

The Giant Hadron Collider will recommence operations in 2021.

Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Pictures

The Giant Hadron Collider, the highest-energy particle collider on the planet, has been powered down since Dec. 10, 2018. In March, scientists on the European Group for Nuclear Analysis (CERN) flick it again on once more.

The collider has been instrumental in testing predictions of theories in particle physics, together with discovery of the Higgs boson, or the “God particle” (simply do not name it that in entrance of any particle physicists).

Its third observational run or “Run 3” ought to kick off in March, with a interval of commissioning and magnet coaching to get issues as much as scratch for analyzing the atomic world. It’s going to then be shut down in 2025 and upgraded once more, for its fourth run in 2027.

[April/May] China’s Tianwen-1 rover lands on Mars

An artist’s impression of the three spacecraft China will ship to Mars within the coming weeks.

Nature Astronomy

Tianwen-1, China’s triple menace mission to Mars, left Earth in July and is scheduled to insert itself into Mars orbit in February. Nevertheless, the Chinese language area program won’t try a landing for a number of months, with most estimates suggesting late April or early Might for the historic occasion.

China goes massive right here — an orbiter will proceed to circle the purple planet, and two spacecraft, a lander and a rover, will likely be steered to the floor. Mars is usually a really mean-spirited planet: It kills round half of all spacecraft that attempt to land there, so it is an enormous and daring mission for China’s area company. Will probably be in a position to construct on a powerful heritage of moon exploration nevertheless, with its Chang’e probes attaining unimaginable feats of area exploration within the final three years.

Extra: China’s daring Tianwen-1 mission to Mars: All the things you could know

[May 26] Complete Lunar Eclipse of the Flower Moon   

The fantastically named “tremendous blood wolf moon” of Jan. 20 and 21 was a stunner combining a complete lunar eclipse (blood) with January timing (wolf) and a very massive look because of being nearer to the Earth (tremendous).

Richard Bell/Kalamazoo Astronomical Society

When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon, you get a lunar eclipse. When your complete moon is shadowed, that is a complete lunar eclipse. And when there is a full moon in Might, it is often called a “Flower Moon.” That is the way you get a complete lunar eclipse of the flower moon… and that is the primary massive celestial occasion of 2021. Now we have a helpful information for viewing eclipses right here. We’ll present an even bigger replace because it will get nearer to Might.

[June 10] Ring of Hearth eclipse 

Tens of millions of individuals throughout jap Asia and the western US had an incredible view of the annular eclipse in 2020.

James Martin/CNET

The Johnny Money eclipse, because it’s affectionately recognized by no person besides myself, will happen over elements of the Northern Hemisphere on June 10. A hoop of fireside eclipse happens when the moon solely partially blocks daylight, leaving a stunning ring of fireside within the sky. The newest eclipse (an “annular” eclipse, in scientific parlance) occurred in 2020 and it was spectacular. One of the best locations to observe will likely be throughout Russia, Canada and Greenland, however there will likely be loads of livestreams and locations to observe this one, we assume. We’ll deliver you all the small print because it will get nearer.

[June] Boeing Crewed Flight Check

The primary crewed Starliner mission may happen as early as June.


Offered all the pieces works out precisely as hoped in March, the primary crewed check flight of the Starliner may head to the Worldwide House Station in June. Just like SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission in 2020, this is able to be the ultimate verify for Boeing’s spacecraft earlier than it turns into operational. A giant achievement, ought to it get there.

[July 22] NASA launches DART mission to crash into an asteroid

NASA’s mission to crash into an asteroid will say “armageddon outta right here” on July 22 because it heads towards area rock 68503 Didymos. The rock additionally has a smaller twin, often called Dimorphos, which orbits it as its private moon. The “Double Asteroid Redirection Check” will crash into this smaller asteroid (which is about as massive as Egypt’s Nice Pyramid), after which one other mission, led by the European House Company for launch in 2024, will research the influence crater and the way it modified Dimorphos’ orbit and properties.

If it really works, NASA thinks the spacecraft may shift the orbit of Dimorphos by round half a millimeter per second. It would not look like quite a bit, however over time, that would dramatically alter its orbital interval. 

[Oct. 16] NASA’s Lucy launches on asteroid hunt

NASA’s Lucy will discover six asteroids over the approaching decade.


Some of the bold missions on NASA’s slate is called Lucy, which can try to go to eight asteroids over the following decade. Will probably be the primary mission to review the Trojans, a gaggle of asteroids that path and lead Jupiter in orbit across the solar.

The mission is known as after the fossilized stays of an ancestral human found in Ethiopia in 1974, which rewrote the historical past books on human evolution. NASA’s Lucy may find yourself rewriting the historical past of the photo voltaic system. The Trojans doubtless harbor clues to the origin of our photo voltaic system and function as time capsules, permitting scientists to know the setting of the photo voltaic system’s earliest eons.

[Oct. 31] NASA’s James Webb Telescope launches

NASA engineer Ernie Wright prepares the primary six flight-ready major mirror segments of the James Webb House Telescope at NASA’s Marshall House Flight Middle.

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

A very spooky launch date for NASA’s long-delayed next- technology area telescope. The deliberate successor to NASA’s workhorse Hubble, James Webb is a significant improve to our capabilities in learning the early universe. Granted issues go effectively, it ought to be capable of see a number of the earliest galaxies that ever shaped.

However it has been a battle for the telescope to get into area. It is now coming as much as its 25th birthday and it hasn’t even received off the bottom — with the pandemic setting it again even additional. Granted this launch date holds, will probably be a giant (and spooky) day for NASA. One other fingers crossed mission.

[Dec. 4] Darkness descends on Antarctica

The one complete eclipse of 2021 will happen over Antarctica.

Jonathan Ordonez/Getty

If you happen to’re a number of the scattered wildlife that spends time in Antarctica (or maybe some fortunate researchers), then you’ll catch the one complete photo voltaic eclipse of 2021, when the moon blocks mild from the solar over the icy continent.

The following complete photo voltaic eclipse after that will not be till 2023 and it’ll solely be seen in elements of Southeast Asia and Australia. The US will expertise a complete photo voltaic eclipse in 2024.

Artemis I is coming (maybe)

“Earth blue, rocket purple and lunar silver” is how NASA describes the colours used within the brand for the Artemis program. The emblem pulls from the historical past of the Apollo program.


NASA’s plan to return people to the moon in 2024 entails a sequence of missions beneath the Artemis banner. The very first Artemis mission, Artemis I, is scheduled to launch in 2021. The missions will use a large, new rocket often called the House Launch System, or SLS, which can carry an uncrewed spacecraft often called Orion to lunar orbit.

NASA has mentioned this one for November, however there’s each likelihood it can slip later than that and doubtlessly to 2022. If the mission succeeds, we would see Artemis II — with a human crew — launch in 2023.  

Will Chandrayaan-Three launch in 2021?

India launched Chandrayaan-2 to the moon in 2019, however a software program glitch triggered a “laborious touchdown.”


In 2019, the Indian area company, ISRO, tried to make historical past by turning into the fourth nation to soft-land on the floor of the moon. Sadly, issues went awry. A software program glitch triggered the spacecraft, Chandrayaan-2, to careen into the moon’s floor. The mission was designed to land on the lunar south pole, which might have been a historic first. Virtually as quickly as Chandrayaan-2’s unlucky ending got here to mild, India introduced it might attempt once more,with Chandrayaan-3.

The mission was slated to launch in 2020, however pandemic. Will it launch in 2021? That is what ISRO is capturing for.

Steve Brown grabbed this magnificent time-lapse of star trails through the Perseid meteor bathe.

Steve Brown

All year long, CNET could have bespoke protection of when and the best way to catch every meteor bathe listed beneath. If you happen to bookmark this web page, you’ll be able to simply return right here at your leisure — or, bear in mind to verify CNET for the most recent on the best way to spot meteors!

  • Quadrantids Dec. 27, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021.
    Peak evening: Jan. 2 

Wish to watch the Quadrantids meteor bathe? Examine that right here.

  • Lyrids April 16 – April 30.
    Peak evening: April 21
  • Eta Aquariids April 19 – Might 28.
    Peak evening: Might 5
  • Perseids July 17 – Aug. 26.
    Peak evening:  Aug. 13
  • Draconids Oct. 6 – Oct. 10.
    Peak evening: Oct. 7
  • Orionids Oct. 2 – Nov. 7.
    Peak evening: Oct. 20
  • Leonids Nov. 6 – Nov. 30.
    Peak evening: Nov. 16
  • Geminids Dec. 4 – Dec. 17.
    Peak evening: Dec. 13
  • Ursids Dec. 17 – Dec. 26.
    Peak evening: Dec. 21

Learn extra: The way to see the yr’s finest meteor showers: All the things you could know


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