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I - International Space Station

M - Missions (unmanned)

S - Spaceport

T - Telescopes


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International Space Station

The International Space Station is an orbital research facility, approximately 340 km above the Earth. Funded by sixteen nations, it has been under assembly since 1998 and is expected to become fully operational in 2011.

Costing over $100 billion, it is the largest man-made structure ever put into orbit - measuring nearly 110m wide, with a mass of 345,000 kg and a living volume of 1,000 cubic metres.

The primary fields of research on board the station include human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The station is expected to remain in operation until at least 2015, and likely 2020.*


international space station iss nasa esa future space exploration travel technology 2015 2020
Credit: NASA



Missions (unmanned)

The following is a list of future unmanned missions planned by NASA, ESA and other space agencies. They are listed in chronological order:

2012 -
Mars Science Laboratory

2012 - Northern Light

2012 - Phobos-Grunt

2013 - Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN)

2013 - Chandrayaan-2

2014 - Rosetta/Philae

2015 - Dawn

2015 - New Horizons

2016 - Astrobiology Field Laboratory

2016 - Juno

2016 - Mars Trace Gas Mission

2018 - ExoMars

2019 - Laser Interferometer Space Antenna

2019 - Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher

2021 - International X-ray Observatory

2022 - Mars Sample Return Mission

2024 - Solar Probe Plus

2026 - Europa Jupiter System Mission

2029 - Titan Saturn System Mission




Spaceport America will be the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport. In 2011, it will begin offering sub-orbital flights to the paying public.*

Costing around $225 million, the facility is located on 27 square miles (70 km2) of state-owned desert near Upham, an uninhabited part of New Mexico. Among the various companies involved is Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic.*

Travelling at over 2,600 mph (4,200 km/h), the spacecraft will carry up to six passengers at a time, to a height of approximately 68 miles (110 km), using a single hybrid rocket motor. When maximum altitude is reached, the engines will be switched off and the passengers will experience up to six minutes of zero-G whilst looking down on the Earth.

The ships will use a feathered re-entry system, feasible due to the low speed of re-entry, and designed to re-enter the atmosphere at any angle, for maximum safety.

In the 2020s, a new generation of ships will be developed capable of reaching much higher orbits. In the decades after that, trips around the Moon may become possible.

Initially, the flights will be around $200,000 per head. However, competition between various companies is expected to reduce costs.


spaceshiptwo virgin galactic spaceport america 2010 2011 future private commercial spacecraft
Above: SpaceShipTwo, in operation from 2011.




Below are some of the new telescopes being planned by NASA, ESA and other space agencies.

European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)

This revolutionary new ground-based telescope has the aim of observing the Universe in greater detail than even the Hubble Space Telescope. A mirror of approximately 42 metres (138 ft) will allow the study of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets. It will also perform "stellar archaeology" - measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies, as well as probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy. It is planned to become operational in 2022.


european extremely large telescope 2018
Credit: ESO


International X-ray Observatory

The International X-ray Observatory (IXO) is due to be launched in 2021 as a joint effort between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Combining a large X-ray mirror with powerful new instrumentation, it will explore the high energy Universe - peering through dust and obscuring clouds of gas to reveal supermassive black holes, supernovae, neutron stars and other hidden objects. IXO will be designed to operate for a minimum of 5 years, with a goal of 10 years, so operations may last until the early 2030s.


international x-ray observatory 2021 telescope nasa esa jaxa future space
Credit: NASA


James Webb

The long-awaited successor to Hubble, the James Webb telescope will be launched in 2018. Its primary mirror will have a collecting area six times larger than Hubble. It will be situated in an L2 orbit, 1.5 million km from Earth.


james webb telescope future
Credit: NASA






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1 International Space Station, Wikipedia:
Accessed 25th April 2010.

2 Spaceport America:
Accessed 25th April 2010.

3 Virgin Galactic:
Accessed 25th April 2010.


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