U.S. space agency NASA has a busy 2018 up ahead with the launch schedule suggesting at least six launches this year that will keep engineers at NASA on their toes.
According to information revealed by NASA, the space agency has on hand six major missions this year over a period of just over six month. The first launch for the space agency is NOAA’s new GOES-S weather observatory on an Atlas 5 rocket scheduled for March 1.
The launch of NOAA’s latest weather satellite will be followed by the launch of a NASA spacecraft with the job of hunting of planets circling other stars. Post that a NASA lander will be travelling to Mars and this mission will be followed by the launch of a small satellite to study the interaction between solar activity and Earth’s atmosphere. After that a probe will be launched closest to the sun than any previous mission, and finally a mission to measure Earth’s thinning polar ice sheets and glaciers.
According to NASA the six launches will be happening through six different rocket configurations and from six different launch sites. The total cost of these missions is around $6 billion.
The scheduled launches with dates, rocket and launch pad are detailed below:
GOES-S: The GOES-S mission will be launching on March 1 aboard Atlas 5-541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
TESS: The TESS mission will be launching on March 20. The launch contract has been awarded to SpaceX. Falcon 9 rocket will launch TESS into space from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
InSight: The InSight mission is launching on May 5 aboard an Atlas 5-401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 3-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base
Parker Solar Probe: The Parker Solar Probe will be launched on July 31 aboard a Delta 4-Heavy rocket from Space Launch Complex 37B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
ICESat 2: The ICESat 2 mission will be launching on September 12 aboard a Delta 2-7420 rocket from Space Launch Complex 2-West at Vandenberg Air Force Base
ICON: ICON’s launch date has to be determine, but it will be launching through Pegasus XL rocket staged from Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands
2018 will also see launch of a cluster of NASA-sponsored CubeSats on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand as soon as May.