December 30, 2012

2012 Space Re-cap, What 2013 Holds

The year is closing in, and here is a little re-cap into what the New Year holds, and what the past year has bestowed upon us.

During 2012, NASA has found success on Mars, and also seen new endeavors on our closest celestial neighbor, the Moon.

NASA’s GRAIL mission came to a crashing halt recently as its twin probes smacked into the Moon’s surface. The twin spacecraft not only helped scientists map out the Moon’s gravity field, but also gave engineers a calibration for the next-generation lunar-probes and their fuel needed.

As the GRAIL spacecraft made their final descent towards the lunar surface, they began to burn out all of their fuel, helping engineers get an idea of how much fuel was left during the mission. The LRO mission began on New Year’s Day last year and ran almost a full year.

NASA also was able to successfully land its Curiosity rover on Mars during the “seven minutes of terror.” JPL engineers devised a way to land the most sophisticated Martian rover onto the Red Planet all in one piece.

The space agency used a Sky Crane technique to lower down the multimillion-dollar piece of equipment onto the Martian surface after a 300 million mile journey.

Earlier this year, SpaceX not only became the first company to dock with the International Space Station, but also became the first company to help resupply the astronauts onboard the orbiting laboratory.

SpaceX is just the first of many companies with a bright future in the space industry. We are just beginning to see the future of a science fiction America, where people can board space ships for quick flights, and into a science fact future.

As we look forward to the immediate future, we can expect the beginning of some new NASA missions, as well as some new commercialized space missions. Not only with the U.S. space agency be toying with some futuristic concepts and launching some new spacecraft to uncover a little more about our Solar System, but other companies will be launching some tests for the next-generations spacecraft.

2013 holds a special year for both NASA and the commercialized space industry as a stepping-stone. Although it won’t be the year astronauts land on Mars, it could become the year that Virgin sends tourist to space, and kickstarts a whole new way of travel.

Image Credit: iurii / Shutterstock

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