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March 10, 2020
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March 10, 2020


This is an important year for space initiatives. Some of the planned missions involve humans, others are for robots only, and a handful will bring earthly agriculture into space.

Key Insight 

Space: the final frontier. A new generation of astrophysicists, cosmologists, engineers, astrobiologists, planetary scientists, astrochemists, astrobotanists, atmospheric scientists, aerospace professionals, computer scientists, businesspeople, and government leaders hope to go where no human has gone before. Not just to the Moon and back, but to asteroids, black holes, Mars, and exoplanets beyond our solar system.

What You Need To Know

This is an important year for space initiatives. Some of the planned missions involve humans, others are for robots only, and a handful will bring earthly agriculture into space. Some estimates value the space industry at $330 billion, with that figure potentially set to double by 2026.

Why It Matters

Human ambition, our quest for knowledge, and our curiosity have driven our endeavors to explore space. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic voyage to the lunar Sea of Tranquility, which punctuated a space race that had pitted the U.S. against the U.S.S.R. Five decades later, the race has many more competitors. This year will see spacecraft launches from India, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, China, and Israel, as well as from commercial companies like Blue Origin, SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, and Boeing.

Deeper Dive

A Busy Year for Off-Planet Exploration


The long-awaited Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint mission from NASA and the European Space Agency, will take high-resolution images of the Sun’s poles for the first time, and give us a better understanding of how our main source of energy, heat, and light works.


In humanity’s first attempt at collecting lunar samples since 1976, China’s Chang’e 5 mission will head to the Moon.


Once every 26 months, the launch window for Mars missions opens, and July presents a new opportunity for America, Europe, the United Arab Emirates, and China to send up unmanned orbiters, research tools, and rovers. The ExoMars program, a joint effort by the European Space Agency and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, will send an exploratory spacecraft to Mars on a Russian Proton rocket. China’s Huoxing 1 Mars rover and NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will both be launched to the Red Planet. The UAE’s Hope Mars Mission will send an orbiter to study the atmospheric chemistry of the planet from above.

Human cargo tests

For the first time since 2011, American astronauts are scheduled to launch into space from a U.S. launchpad. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will launch an historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with people on board. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are scheduled to make the journey. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will take its first crewed mission to the ISS, too. China’s Long March 5B rocket will launch an unpiloted test flight with the ultimate goal of bringing humans back to the Moon. Virgin Galactic has said that it will start taking its first prepaid customers—six at a time, plus two pilots—for 15-minute space flights on its SpaceShipTwo craft this year. Though a date hasn’t yet been announced, Blue Origin has said it expects to send humans into space sometime this year as well.


From massive rockets carrying heavy satellite payloads to tiny microsats you can hold in your hand, there are thousands of satellites scheduled for launch this year.


Numerous industries and businesses, even those firmly rooted on the ground, will be impacted by space exploration: those working in insurance, on the 5G network expansion, in finance and in science-fiction and game design, to name a few.

Watchlist for section

3gimbals, Aerial & Maritime Ltd., Aerospace Corporation, Airbus D&S, Amazon, Astro Digital, Astrobotic, Astrocast, AXA XL, Boeing, California Polytechnic University, Capella Space, China National Space Administration, ConsenSys, Cornell University, DARPA, Delft University of Technology, DigitalGlobe, Earthcube, Elysium Space, European Space Agency, Fleet Space Technologies, GeoOptics, Google, Government of Luxembourg, Hera Systems, Hexcel, Indian Space Research Organization, Inmarsat, Interorbital Systems, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Kanagawa University, Kepler Communications, Lancashire Holdings, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Los Alamos National Lab, Masten Space Systems, MDA, MIT, MIT Lincoln Lab, Morgan Stanley, Mojave Air and Space Port, NASA, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National University of Defense Technology (China), Naval Postgraduate School, Northrop Grumman, NRL Naval Center for Space, OneWeb, Orbital Insight, Planet, Santa Clara University, Satellogic, Scaled Composites, Shanghai Engineering Center, Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites (China), Shenzhen Aerospace Dongfanghong, Sky and Space Global, Space and Missile Defense Command, Spaceflight Industries, SpaceKnow, SpacePharma, SpaceX, SRI International, Stratolaunch, Technische Universität Berlin, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Toray, Transcelestial, University of Tokyo, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Space Command, Viasat, Virgin Galactic.

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