Despite some spectacular failures, the exploration of space is still strong. We go a little further each year and understand a bit more about the final limit – and 2018 was no exception. We said goodbye to some of our favorite missions, celebrated a jubilee, and got one step closer to Mars. Before we ring the bell in the new year, let's take a look back at the major achievements of the 201
NASA Celebrates the Big 6: 0
On Monday, November 26, 2018, at 2:50 pm, NASA's InSight Landers successfully deployed on the Martian surface. It took seven minutes for the lander to enter Mars at hypersonic speed, slowing to a perfect landing. Immediately after landing, InSight took its first selfie from the surface of the red planet.
Now that it's on Mars, InSight will be busy collecting geological data from the core to the crust. The lander analyzes the different rock strata of the planet, measures the planetary temperatures and generates data about the Mars axis. Scientists hope that they will understand not only Mars, but also the Earth better. The differences between Mars and Earth can help scientists explain why one planet is habitable while the other is a frozen, barren land. After a fiery crash in 2014 that cost a pilot a lifetime and disrupted flights for two years, Virgin Galactic is back on track with its commercial space tourism. With the support of Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic successfully completed four powered space flights in 2018. In December, it climbed forty-eight kilometers to the edge of space before safely returning to Earth with a gentle landing on the Mojave Air and Space Port. During the flight, the pilots experienced microgravity as the ship reached its peak. They were firmly strapped into the spaceship and did not swim in the cockpit.
The data collected during the flight is analyzed and used to improve the safety and performance of subsequent flights. The next test flight is used to simulate a commercial payload that is expected when the spacecraft is full of passengers. More than 600 people have purchased tickets to travel on reusable Virgin Galactic spacecraft. Each ticket costs $ 250,000, but Branson hopes to eventually lower that price to $ 40 or $ 50,000.
SpaceX continues its record series
Another SpaceX banner year in 2018. The company has once again shown to the world that reusable rockets are the way forward, with SpaceX having 20 launches in 2018 and outperforming the market the record of 2017 with 18 launches, one of its most recent launches brought 64 satellites into orbit, a record number of missions for a single mission in the US World record holder is the Mission of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which in February 2017 104 Satellites.
SpaceX surprises us again and again usable rockets. For the first time this year, the same Falcon 9s first stage amplifier was used for three different takeoffs and landings. Not only has it been reused three times, but the booster has also been launched from all three different launch pads used by SpaceX – the Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A, the Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Launch Complex 4E Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The Falcon 9 rocket is not the only spacecraft in the SpaceX arsenal. The company also developed the Dragon Capsule, a reusable freight cargo ship that completed its maiden flight in December 2010. It is the first commercially built and operated spacecraft successfully recovered from orbit. The Dragon capsule continued its successful ISS replenishment missions in 2018. The last launch of the ISS in December was the fifth launch of an already-in-orbit Dragon capsule and the second launch for this special capsule.
The Space Force Wants You
In August 2018, the Trump administration confirmed its plans to create the Space Force as the sixth branch of the military. The mission of the industry will be to establish US dominance and protect the country's security interests in space. According to Trump, space is a domain of warfare, and the US needs to be prepared when a combat situation develops.
The Space Force would be reorganized into a single branch dedicated to the development of anti-satellite weapons, jamming technology for military communications, and improved radar and GPS capabilities.
Space Force is still unable to fly as the creation of a new military branch requires Congressional approval. Trump is expected to request the establishment of this branch in Budget 2020, which will be sent to Congress for approval.
Dawn mission ends a
NASA's Dawn mission came to its expected completion in 2018 after the probe ran out of fuel. The Dawn spacecraft launched in September 2007, covering more than 4.3 billion kilometers in 11 years. The mission's mission was to study the dwarf planet Ceres and the giant asteroid Vesta in an asteroid belt.
The images and data retrieved from the mission gave insight into the origin of our solar system and its evolution in the early years. It also featured a close-up of the dwarf planet and a view of the asteroid, suggesting that ice was under that rocky outside. Now that it is no longer functional, the spacecraft Dawn will orbit the dwarf planet Ceres.
Kepler Space Telescope out of service
After Kepler's Space Telescope, after nine long years in space, was searching for new planets, the fuel finally ran out and delivered the last images in 2018. The telescope leaves behind a right legacy. It was only operational for 3.5 years, but thanks to NASA scientists, who continued to operate the telescope for another five years, it was long gone. During this time, the telescope collected data from thousands of planets outside our solar system. Much of this information is now available to the public.