2024 in spaceflight
Orbital launches
First1 January
Last7 April
Partial failures2
National firsts
Space traveller
Maiden flights
Crewed flights
Orbital travellers11
Suborbital travellers6
Total travellers17

The year 2024 is expected to exceed 2023's 223 orbital launches. So far, the year saw the successful first launch of Vulcan Centaur, Gravity-1, and notably the third developmental launch of SpaceX's StarshipIFT-3. Following the 2020s' trend, it is expected that many more privately-developed launch vehicles will feature a maiden launch in 2024.

In terms of other national-level scientific space missions, NASA's Europa Clipper probe, NASA's EscaPADE probe, ESA's Hera probe, and NISAR Earth observation satellite are planned to launch in 2024. NASA's Ingenuity helicopter ended operation in January due to damages to rotor blades after its 72nd flight. This year is also expected to see many lunar landing attempts. JAXA's SLIM and Intuitive Machines' IM-1 have successfully survived soft-landed on the Moon but were tipped over during final moments of descent. CNSA's Chang'e 6 is expected to attempt humanity's first lunar sample return from the far side of the Moon in May.

Two crewed space stations, the International Space Station (ISS) and Tiangong, are in operation in 2024. In terms of crewed missions, the ISS will be visited by Expedition 70, 71, and 72, while Shenzhou 18 and 19 will visit Tiangong. The ISS will also host private crews of Axiom Mission 3 and Axiom Mission 4. The ISS is also expected to see docking of Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Demo-1.

This year saw Alper Gezeravcı becoming the first Turkish astronaut, as a crew of Axiom Mission 3. Belarus also had its first citizen reach space, when cosmonaut Marina Vasilevskaya launched on Soyuz MS-25.


Astronomy and Astrophysics

On New Year's Day at 3:40 UTC marking the first launch of the new year, ISRO launched their XPoSat for studying X-ray polarization. It will serve as a complement to the present IXPE probe of NASA.[1][2][3] Later the ISRO's Aditya-L1 spacecraft launched 5 months previously was inserted into a halo orbit around the Earth-Sun L1 point on January 6. It will study the solar atmosphere, solar magnetic storms, and their impact on the environment around Earth.

Einstein Probe, X-ray space telescope mission by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in partnership with ESA and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) dedicated to time-domain high-energy astrophysics, was launched on 9 January 2024.[4]

European Space Agency will launch their PROBA-3 dual satellites for solar coronagraphy.

Exploration of the Solar System

NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity flew its 72nd and last flight on Jan. 18, 2024. Because all four of its rotor blades were damaged, NASA announced the end of mission for Ingenuity on Jan. 25, 2024.[5][6]

NASA plans to launch the Europa Clipper in October, which will study the Jovian moon Europa while in orbit around Jupiter.

Hera will launch to Didymos asteroid to study the after effects of Double Asteroid Redirection Test.

NASA's EscaPADE mission to Mars is also planned to launch this year.

Lunar exploration

Peregrine lunar lander was successfully launched on 8 January, but after the launch a propellant leak was detected that precluded any attempt to perform a lunar landing. In the end, the Peregrine spacecraft never left the (highly elliptical) Earth orbit it was injected into by the carrier rocket, and the mission ended ten days later (after one orbit) on 18 January when the spacecraft re-entered the Earth's atmosphere (under control of the mission team) and was destroyed.

SLIM achieved the first-ever lunar soft landing for a Japanese spacecraft.[7] It landed on 19 January 2024 at 15:20 UTC, making Japan the 5th country to soft land on the Moon.[8] Although it landed successfully, its in wrong attitude, because the solar panels are oriented westwards facing opposite the Sun at the start of lunar day, thereby failing to generate enough power.[9] The lander operated on an internal battery power, which was fully drained that day. The mission's operators hope that the lander will wake up after a few days when sunlight should hit the solar panels.[10] SLIM showed perseverance and survived another lunar night waking up on 28 March 2024.[11]

Irrespective of this solar array issue on lander, the two LEV 1 and 2 rovers, deployed during hovering just before final landing are working as expected and LEV-1 communicating independently to the ground stations.[10] LEV-1 conducted seven hops over 107 minutes on lunar surface. Images taken by LEV-2 show the wrong attitude landing with loss of an engine nozzle during descent and even possible sustained damage to lander's Earth bound antenna, that is not pointed towards Earth.[12] Irrespective of wrong attitude and loss of communication with the lander, the mission is already fully successful after confirmation of its primary goal landing within 100 m (330 ft) of its landing spot was already achieved.[13][14][15]

On 29 January, the lander resumed operations after being shut for a week. JAXA said it re-established contact with the lander and its solar cells were working again after a shift in lighting conditions allowed it to catch sunlight.[16] After that, SLIM was put in sleep mode for impending harsh lunar night. SLIM was expected to operate only for one lunar daylight period, or 14 Earth days, and the on-board electronics were not designed to withstand the −120 °C (−184 °F) nighttime temperatures on the Moon. On 25 February 2024, JAXA sent wake-up calls and found SLIM had successfully survived the night on the lunar surface while maintaining communication capabilities. Since it was midday of the lunar day on the moon on 25 February 2024, the temperature of the communications payload was extremely high, so communication was terminated after only a short period of time. JAXA is now preparing for resumed operations, once the temperature has fallen sufficiently. This feat of surviving lunar night without a radioisotope heater unit was only previously achieved by some landers in the Surveyor program.[17]

IM-1 Nova-C Odysseus launched on 15 February 2024 towards the Moon via Falcon 9 on a direct intercept trajectory and later landed in the south polar region of the Moon on 22 February 2024 and became the first successful private lander and the first to do so using cryogenic propellants. Though it landed successfully, one of the lander's legs broke upon landing and it tilted up on other side, 18° due to landing on a slope, but the lander survived and payloads are functioning as expected.[18] EagleCam was not ejected prior to landing.

Just before landing, at approximately 30 m (98 ft) above the lunar surface, the Odysseus lander was planned to eject the EagleCam camera-equipped CubeSat, which would have been dropped onto the lunar surface near the lander, with an impact velocity of about 10 m/s (22 mph). However, due to complications arising from the software patch, it was decided that EagleCam would not be ejected upon landing. It was later ejected on 28 February but was partially failure as it returned all types of data, except post IM-1 landing images that were the main aim of its mission.[19][20][21][22]

On 13 March, China attempted to launch two spacecrafts, DRO-A and DRO-B, into distant retrograde orbit around the Moon, but the mission failed to reach the strived for orbit, remaining stranded in low Earth orbit.[23][24]

On 20 March 2024 China launched its relay satellite, Queqiao-2, in the orbit of the Moon, along with two mini satellites Tiandu 1 and 2. Queqiao-2 will relay communications for the Chang'e 6 (far side of the Moon), Chang'e 7 and Chang'e 8 (Lunar south pole region) spacecrafts. Tiandu 1 and 2 will test technologies for a future lunar navigation and positioning constellation.[25] All the three probes entered lunar orbit successfully on 24 March 2024 (Both were attached to each other and separated in lunar orbit on 3 April 2024).[26][27]

China plans to send Chang'e 6 in May, which will conduct the first lunar sample return from the far side of the Moon.[28] This will be China's second lunar sample return mission, the first was achieved by Chang'e 5 from the lunar near side 4 years ago. Pakistan will send a lunar orbiter called ICECUBE-Q along with Chang'e 6.

Nova-C 2 and 3, VIPER and Blue Ghost are all planned to launch to the Moon this year.

Human spaceflight

On 4 February, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko broke the world record for the most time spent in space, when he surpassed the previous record of 878 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 48 seconds held by retired cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. Kononenko is expected to return in late September, at which point he will have spent a total of 1110 days in space.[29]

ISRO will launch their Gaganyaan uncrewed missions and SPADEX docking experiment this year.

Private human spaceflight and space tourism

Polaris Dawn, featuring the first commercial spacewalk, is planned to launch this year.

SpaceX launched Axiom Mission 3 aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) on 18 January 2024. The successful mission ended with a splashdown on 9 February 2024. SpaceX plans to launch Axiom Mission 4 to the ISS later in the year 2024.

On 26 January[30] Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity was successfully launched from Spaceport America on Galactic 06 suborbital space tourism mission.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard also planned to return to space tourism launches with the NS-25 mission.

Rocket innovation

The maiden flight of United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur took place on 8 January 2024. Vulcan is the first methane fueled rocket to reach orbit on its first attempt, and the first methane fueled rocket to reach orbit from the US.[31]

China's Orienspace's Gravity-1 rocket completed its successful maiden flight on January 11, 2024, debuting on a new mobile sea platform in the Yellow Sea while breaking records as both the world's largest solid-fuel carrier rocket and China's most powerful commercial launch vehicle to date (as of early 2024).

On 5 March, for the first time due to their fast turnaround of 1 hour 51 minutes between launches, SpaceX launch operations for a mission (in this case, Starlink Group 6-41) coincided with that of a preceding launch (in this case, payload deployment of Transporter-10:(53 payloads SmallSat Rideshare).[32]

On 13 March, the KAIROS rocket from Space One company attempted its maiden flight. The rocket was destroyed in an explosion 5 seconds after lift-off. No injuries were caused by the explosion.

Space Pioneer (aka Tianbing) of China plans to launch its Falcon 9 class kerolox rocket Tianlong-3 in June.

The maiden flight of Blue Origin's New Glenn is planned for August 2024.[33]

Satellite technology

NISAR, the most expensive and largest radar imaging satellite will be launched from India onboard GSLV Mk-II on 30 March 2024.[34]

Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem or PACE, a NASA Earth observing satellite, launched on 8 February 2024.

NASA's Dream Chaser spaceplane, developed by Sierra Space, is scheduled to have its first flight in June.[35] It will visit the International Space Station.[36]

Orbital launches

Main articles: List of spaceflight launches in January–June 2024 and List of spaceflight launches in July–December 2024

List of orbital launches
Month Num. of successes Num. of failures Num. of partial failures
January 22 0 0
February 19 0 0
March 19 1 2
April 5 0 0
September TBD TBD TBD
November TBD TBD TBD
December TBD TBD TBD
Total 65 1 2

Deep-space rendezvous

Date (UTC) Spacecraft Event Remarks
19 January SLIM Lunar landing Success[37]
Late January Peregrine Lunar orbit insertion Precluded due to propellant leak developing shortly after launch.[38]
3 February Juno 58th perijove On the day of this perijove, Juno flew by Io at a distance of 1,500 km. Orbital period around Jupiter reduced to 33 days.[39][40]
21 February Nova-C (IM-1 Odysseus) Lunar orbit insertion Success[41]
22 February Nova-C (IM-1 Odysseus) Lunar landing Partial success; lander touched down successfully, but one of the footpads came to rest on a rock, and the lander leaned over, then toppled on its side. The lander survived the fall, with instrumentation and solar panels oriented upward.[42]
24 March Queqiao-2 Lunar orbit insertion Success[43]
24 March Tiandu 1 and 2 Lunar orbit insertion Success[43]
23 August JUICE Gravity assist at Earth and Moon
5 September BepiColombo Fourth gravity assist at Mercury
6 November Parker Solar Probe Seventh gravity assist at Venus
2 December BepiColombo Fifth gravity assist at Mercury
13 December Lucy Second gravity assist at Earth Target altitude 350 km
24 December Parker Solar Probe 22nd perihelion, closest approach to the Sun

Extravehicular activities (EVAs)

See also: List of spacewalks since 2015

Start Date/Time Duration End Time Spacecraft Crew Remarks
1 March 2024
7 hours 52 minutes 05:32 (next day) Shenzhou 17
TSS Wentian airlock
China Tang Hongbo
China Jiang Xinlin
Fourteenth EVA from the Tiangong space station. Tasks included maintenance of the solar panels of the Tianhe core module, which have sustained minor damage caused by impacts of space debris and micrometeoroids; evaluation and analysis of the performance status of the solar panel power generation and also inspection of the status of the space station modules.[44]

Orbital launch statistics

By country

For the purposes of this section, the yearly tally of orbital launches by country assigns each flight to the country of origin of the rocket, not to the launch services provider or the spaceport. For example, Electron rockets launched from the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand are counted under the United States because Electron is an American rocket.

China: 15Europe: 0Germany: 0India: 2Iran: 2Israel: 0Japan: 3North Korea: 0Russia: 5South Korea: 0USA: 41
Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
 China 15 14 0 1
 India 2 2 0 0
 Iran 2 2 0 0
 Japan 3 2 1 0
 Russia 5 5 0 0
 United States 41 40 0 1 Includes Electron launches from Mahia
World 68 65 1 2

By rocket

Long March

By family

By type

By configuration

By spaceport

New Zealand
South Korea
United Kingdom
United States
Site Country Launches Successes Failures Partial failures Remarks
Baikonur  Kazakhstan 3 3 0 0
Cape Canaveral  United States 16 16 0 0
Jiuquan  China 4 4 0 0
Kennedy  United States 8 8 0 0
Kii  Japan 1 0 1 0 First launch
Mahia  New Zealand 3 3 0 0
MARS  United States 1 1 0 0
Plesetsk  Russia 1 1 0 0
Satish Dhawan  India 2 2 0 0
Semnan  Iran 1 1 0 0
Shahroud  Iran 1 1 0 0
South China Sea  China 1 1 0 0
Starbase  United States 1 0 0 1
Taiyuan  China 1 1 0 0
Tanegashima  Japan 2 2 0 0
Vandenberg  United States 12 12 0 0
Vostochny  Russia 1 1 0 0
Wenchang  China 3 3 0 0
Xichang  China 5 4 0 1
Yellow Sea  China 1 1 0 0
Total 68 65 1 2

By orbit

Low Earth
Medium Earth / Molniya
Geosynchronous / Tundra / transfer
High Earth / Lunar transfer
  •   Transatmospheric
  •   Low Earth
  •   Low Earth (ISS)
  •   Low Earth (CSS)
  •   Low Earth (SSO)
  •   Low Earth (polar)
  •   Low Earth (retrograde)
  •   Medium Earth
  •   Molniya
  •   Geosynchronous
  •   Tundra
  •   High Earth
  •   Lunar transfer
  •   Heliocentric
Orbital regime Launches Achieved Not achieved Accidentally
Transatmospheric 1 0 1 0
Low Earth / Sun-synchronous 57 56 1 1 Including flights to ISS and Tiangong (CSS)
Geosynchronous / Tundra / GTO 6 6 0 0
Medium Earth / Molniya 0 0 0 0
High Earth / Lunar transfer 4 3 1 0
Heliocentric orbit / Planetary transfer 0 0 0 0
Total 68 65 3 1

Suborbital launch statistics

By country

For the purposes of this section, the yearly tally of suborbital launches by country assigns each flight to the country of origin of the rocket, not to the launch services provider or the spaceport. Flights intended to fly below 80 km (50 mi) are omitted.

Spain: 0Brazil: 2Canada: 0China: 0France: 0Germany: 1India: 1Iran: 0Israel: 0Japan: 0The Netherlands: 1North Korea: 0Pakistan: 0Russia: 1Slovenia: 0South Korea: 0Taiwan: 0Turkey: 0United Kingdom: 0USA: 7Ukraine: 0Yemen: 0
Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
 Brazil 2 2 0 0
 Germany 1 1 0 0
 India 1 1 0 0
 Netherlands 1 0 0 1
 Russia 1 1 0 0
 United States 7 6 1 0
World 13 11 1 1

Planned maiden flights



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