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 Qualification Exams

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 Crew Waves Farewell

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

November: What's New in Space Exploration This Month?

It’s a November to remember in space. Here are some exciting space exploration highlights to look forward too!

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

Below are some exciting space exploration highlights!

Expedition 64 to Return Home on April 17

After 185 days in space aboard the ISS, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov are coming home. They are scheduled to land back on Earth in their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft at 12:56A EDT on Saturday, April 17.

Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic Successfully Travels to Space

On Sunday, July 11, around 11:30A ET, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, soared to the edge of space as a passenger aboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity. The space plane then landed safely at Spaceport America in New Mexico, making Branson's space tourism dream come true.

Liftoff of Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-14 Scheduled for January 14

Blue Origin will attempt its next test flight of New Shepard on January 14 at 10:45A ET from Launch Site One in West Texas. Let’s learn more about Mission NS-14.

What You Need to Know About Blue Origin’s Launch into Space with Billionaire Jeff Bezos

The countdown has begun for Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight. On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, at 9:00A ET, Jeff Bezos and three crewmates are lifting off into space from Blue Origin’s Launch Site near Van Horn, Texas. Watch SPACE LAUNCH LIVE: BLUE ORIGIN & JEFF BEZOS GO TO SPACE on Discovery and Science Channels at 8:00A ET or at washingtonpost.com.

Liftoff of NASA and SpaceX Crew-2!

The NASA and SpaceX Crew-2 mission launched on Friday, April 23 at 5:49A ET from the NASA Launch Complex 39A. This historic milestone marks the second operational mission of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Onboard was NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. After a 23-hour journey, Crew-2 successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on April 24 at 5:08A ET. Here's everything that happened from launch day to the Crew-2's arrival at the ISS. (Updated April 24, 2021)

It’s the Edge of Space for Virgin Galactic

On May 22, Virgin Galactic’s first human spaceflight successfully launched into space from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Mothership, VMS Eve, the carrier and launch platform for the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, carried VSS Unity to 44,000 feet in the air and then released it as the spaceship began a rocket powered flight to the edge of space.

Expedition 65 to Launch on April 9

On April 9 at 3:42A ET, Expedition 65 will launch with three space travelers aboard a Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.

Countdown to Launch: NASA and SpaceX Crew-2 Mission

Liftoff set for Friday, April 23, at 5:49A EDT marks the second operational flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. Four space explorers are heading to the International Space Station for a six-month stay. It will take them 23 hours to reach their destination.
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