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

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

Below are some exciting space exploration highlights!

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NASA and SpaceX to Launch a Crewed Mission to ISS in May 2020

For the first time since its conception 18 years ago, SpaceX, along with NASA, will launch a crewed mission to space.

Expedition 64 to Launch on October 14

One NASA astronaut and two Roscosmos cosmonauts of Expedition 64 are scheduled to launch to the ISS on Wednesday, October 14 at 1:45AM ET for a six month stay. Let’s learn the details!

Expedition 63 to Return Home on October 21

After 196 days in space aboard the ISS, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Ivan Vagner are coming home! Let’s learn the details of their return to Earth.

What Could Delay the Historic SpaceX and NASA Launch?

Detailed planning and test after test do not always mean smooth sailing in space flight.

Launch of SpaceX’s Starlink: A “Mega-Constellation” of Internet Satellites

Starlink is a growing network of satellites capable of providing high-speed internet access across the globe. On August 7 at 1:12 AM EDT, a new batch of satellites will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Space Launch LIVE Discussion Guide

Tune into Discovery Channel and use this companion discussion guide to spark meaningful conversation about the next era of space flight.

NASA and SpaceX are Going on a Date, and We're All Invited

Save the date--On May 27th, if everything goes as planned, a rocket will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Watch SPACE LAUNCH LIVE: AMERICA RETURNS TO SPACE on Discovery and Science Channel starting at 2P ET.

NASA's Perseverance Rover is on its Way to Mars!

On Thursday, July 30th at 7:50A ET in Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA successfully launched its Mars Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter into orbit with the help of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket. The mission? Search for signs of ancient life on the red planet.
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