This Year, in Space…

My latest article for Popular Mechanics is a calendar of 13 big space events coming up this year. There’s a lot going on in space exploration these days.  Later in 2015, one American spacecraft will reach Pluto, another will crash into Mercury, and other’s will study Earth’s magnetic field and provide advance warning about solar storms. A Japanese spacecraft will (hopefully) enter orbit around Venus.  A European spacecraft and lander will ride a comet all the way to its closest approach to the sun, while another will carry out experiments with gravitational waves.

I focused on science events – either space exploration missions, or Earth science missions based in space – but along the way, I read about several really exciting launches of communications satellites and even (probably) spy satellites.  Did you know that a few times this year, commercial spaceflight company United Launch Alliance’s cargo manifest includes “classified payloads” for the National Reconnaissance Office?  This year will also bring several awesome commercial spaceflight launches and demos – I’m looking forward to seeing SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch, along with (hopefully) the first flights of XCOR’s Lynx suborbital spacecraft.

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