October: What's New In Space Exploration This Month?

From launches to landings, here are some exciting space exploration highlights for this month!

October 01, 2020

1. World Space Week is October 4 – October 10

World Space Week, held on the same dates every year, is an annual event around the globe and observed in over 90 countries. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Satellites Improve Life.” On December 6, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 4 – October 10 as a time to “celebrate the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.” The dates reflect pivotal moments in the history of space exploration. For example, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, into low Earth orbit. This began the Space Race. On October 10, 1967, the Outer Space Treaty came into effect; it’s a document that reflects the do’s and don'ts of International Space Law.

2. The 14th batch of Starlinks is preparing to launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is planning to launch the 14th batch of about 60 satellites this month to low Earth orbit for SpaceX’s Starlink, a broadband internet system.

SpaceX vs. the Universe

Fans of space are having a tough time picking sides over a recent controversy between SpaceX and astronomers. But what's the big debate all about? Astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter digs into both perspectives.

3. Launch of Expedition 64 Crew to the ISS

The crew of Expedition 64 is scheduled to launch on October 14 in a Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at 1:45AM EDT from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Kathleen (Katie) Rubins, Cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov, and Cosmonaut Sergey Kud-verchkov will be joined on the ISS by NASA SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts at a later date.

Expedition 64 crew members Russian cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos, left, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, center, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, pose for a photo during Soyuz qualification exams, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in Star City, Russia, in advance of their scheduled launch October 14 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

Expedition 64 Crew Qualification Exams

Expedition 64 crew members during the Soyuz qualification exams on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in Star City, Russia, in advance of the scheduled launch October 14 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

Photo by: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

Expedition 64 crew members during the Soyuz qualification exams on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) in Star City, Russia, in advance of the scheduled launch October 14 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

4. Landing of the Expedition 63 Crew from the ISS

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin, and Cosmonaut Ivan Vagner of Expedition 63 are scheduled to return home from the ISS on October 22. They are expected to land near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan around 10:58PM EDT.

Expedition 63 crewmembers Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, top, Chris Cassidy of NASA, center, and Anatoly Ivanishin wave goodbye as they prepare to climb aboard the Soyuz MS-16 rocket at Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Thursday, April 9, 2020. They launched a short time later to the International Space Station for the start of a six-and-a-half month mission. Photo Credit: (NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

Expedition 63 Crew Waves Farewell

Expedition 63 crewmembers Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, top, Chris Cassidy of NASA, center, and Anatoly Ivanishin wave goodbye as they prepare to climb aboard the Soyuz MS-16 rocket at Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Thursday, April 9, 2020. They launched a short time later to the International Space Station for the start of a six-and-a-half month mission.

Photo by: NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin

Expedition 63 crewmembers Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, top, Chris Cassidy of NASA, center, and Anatoly Ivanishin wave goodbye as they prepare to climb aboard the Soyuz MS-16 rocket at Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Thursday, April 9, 2020. They launched a short time later to the International Space Station for the start of a six-and-a-half month mission.

5. Virgin Galactic is scheduled to launch its first suborbital spaceflight this month

Virgin Galactic is planning its next crewed spaceflight test on October 22 from Spaceport America in New Mexico. This flight will be the first of two that is scheduled for testing of its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft system. There will be two test pilots on board. Once all tests have been completed, Virgin Galactic will fly its founder, Richard Branson, into space aboard the SpaceShipTwo in early 2021.

Virgin Galactic vehicle SpaceShipTwo completes it's successful first glide flight at Mojave on October 10, 2010 over Mojave in California.

Photo by: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic/Getty Images

Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic/Getty Images

Virgin Galactic vehicle SpaceShipTwo completes it's successful first glide flight at Mojave on October 10, 2010 over Mojave in California.

6. Launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Mission

The assigned NASA astronauts for this mission are Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker along with mission specialist Soichi Noguchi from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). These four astronauts will launch in a brand-new Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi will be aboard the space station (ISS) for six months. They will be joining the three astronauts already on board. Together, this crew will be known as Expedition 64. Crew-1 will be the first operational mission for SpaceX and is currently scheduled to launch on October 31.

7. Celebrating 20 Years aboard the ISS

The year 2020, and particularly this month, marks the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station. Expedition 1 launched Oct. 31, 2000. This is a major milestone in space exploration.

Photo by: NASA/ISS

NASA/ISS

Next Up

Quiz: Test Your Space Exploration Knowledge

Ahead of the historic May 27th NASA and SpaceX crewed space launch, test your space exploration knowledge!

The James Webb Space Telescope Launches!

Finally! It was initially proposed way back in 1998 and named the James Webb Space Telescope in 2002. After a decade of delays and over 10 billion dollars past its original budget, NASA’s next great observatory finally launched from the European Space Agency’s Guiana Space Centre in South America.

Here Comes Artemis I (Rescheduled, again)

NASA's long-awaited Artemis 1 uncrewed moon mission and next generation of spacecraft has been delayed for a second time. The rocket was initially scheduled to launch on Aug. 29, 2022, at 8:33 AM ET, but was delayed due to an issue with the engine bleed. Watch Space Launch Live: Artemis-1 on Science Channel to see the moment of liftoff. (Launch Date Pending) (Updated Sept 7, 11:00AM)

NASA Has a New Supersonic Jet and It’s Super-Quiet

There’s more to NASA than space. The agency’s full acronym stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I’ve covered plenty of interesting stories in the space sector, so it’s time to the aeronautics side some love too.

6 Months in Space Permanently Ages Bones by 10 Years

Astronauts on long-term space missions can experience bone loss equivalent to two decades of aging. New research suggests more weight-bearing exercises in space could help offset that decline.

How Exoplanets Became the Next Big Thing in Astronomy

To date, we know of over 5,000 planets outside the solar system. And astronomers suspect that there may be *checks notes* around a trillion more in our galaxy alone. The search for exoplanets is one of the hottest topics in astronomy, with expensive telescopes and giant collaborations all searching for the holy grail of the 21st century: an Earth 2.0, a habitable world like our own.

South Korea Joins Space Race by Sending its First Spacecraft to the Moon

South Korea is launching its first lunar probe to the moon on August 4th. The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) or Danuri, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) is being launched to study moon carters, magnetic fields, and surface weathering.

How Astronomers Use a Trick of Gravity to See the Most Distant Objects in the Universe

Let’s say you’re an astronomer (work with me here) and you want to take a picture of something incredibly, deeply far away. You know, the typical business of astronomy.

A Guide to this August’s Best Astronomy Attractions

Learn more about the exciting things happening in the night sky this month! From the rings of Saturn to the most popular meteor shower of the year, August 2022 has us stargazing all month.

Why Astronomers Care About Super-Old Galaxies?

A long time ago, our universe was dark.It was just 380,000 years after the big bang. Up until that age, our entire observable cosmos was less than a millionth of its present size. All the material in the universe was compressed into that tiny volume, forcing it to heat up and become a plasma. But as the universe expanded and cooled, eventually the plasma changed into a neutral gas as the first atoms formed.

Related To: