Why 2022 could be an even bigger year for space exploration

(Image credit: MORGAN SETTE/AFP via Getty Images)

If you thought 2021 was a big year for space travel and research, prepare to be dazzled by 2022 — which holds "just as much promise, if not more" than 2021 — as "NASA and the growing space industry" continue what "has amounted to a renaissance of exploration," reports The Washington Post.

Two behemoth rockets — each "more powerful than the Saturn V that flew the Apollo astronauts to the moon" — are prepping to take flight in 2022 as part of NASA's Artemis program, which hopes to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2025.

Rocket Lab, which launches from New Zealand, is also scheduled to send a "small satellite to the moon to serve as a precursor for human missions by testing the orbit for the space station" that NASA hopes to send to the same place, writes the Post.

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Furthermore, a number of new rockets will step onto the scene in 2022, including "the United Launch Alliance's Vulcan rocket, which would be used by the Pentagon to launch national security satellites," and Relatively Space's 3D-printed Terran 1 vehicle to be launched from Cape Canaveral.

Airline company Boeing is also working to complete a test flight for its Starliner spacecraft, with the intent of carrying NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station, per the Post.

And, of course, among next year's other intergalactic ventures and experiments (which will include more from the James Webb Space Telescope), Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin will fly "six or more suborbital flights in 2022," while Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic will work to begin commercial service "on its suborbital spaceplane for paying space tourists." Read more at The Washington Post.

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Brigid Kennedy

Brigid is a staff writer at The Week and a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her passions include improv comedy, David Fincher films, and breakfast food. She lives in New York.