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Up to 14 Large Rockets and Tiny Competitors Are Poised for Launch in 2024

ULA’s Vulcan has completed a series of tests ahead of a planned January flight.” with the launch now successful, change to “ULA’s Vulcan completed a series of tests ahead of its successful January flight. Credit: ULA

Space leaders in 2023 pondered a lack of launch vehicles to lift anticipated swarms of satellites to orbit. But 2024 could bring relief.

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The S-Network Space Index℠ 2023 Performance

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket goes through a wet dress rehearsal on April 28, 2023, before the May 8 launch of NASA’s TROPICS satellites. Even though the company suffered a failure during one of its 10 launch attempts in 2023, it was one of the highest performing companies in the index. Credit: Rocket Lab/NASA

The S-Network Space Index℠ tracks a global portfolio of publicly traded companies that are active in space-related businesses such as satellite-based telecommunications; transmission of television and radio content via satellite; launch vehicle and satellite manufacturing, deployment, operation, and maintenance; manufacturing of ground equipment that relies on satellite systems; development of space technology and hardware; and space-based imagery and intelligence services.

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Led by Sharp Uptick in Commercial Demand and U.S. Space Launches, All-time Records Topple for Attempts and Successful Space Flights in 2023

A Soyuz rocket lifts off in one of Russia’s 19 launches of 2023. Russia maintained its third-place rank among spacefaring nations. Credit: Roscosmos

In what was the busiest year of the Space Age, 2023 set records with 223 launch attempts and 212 successful launches. A sharp uptick in commercial space launches drove much of the increase, with the highest number of launches coming from the United States.

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As Experts Debate Leap Seconds, Universal Time Tangle Grows in Importance

Sundials like this one at the Royal Museum at Greenwich, England, have given way to atomic clocks. But arguments about time remain. Credit: Royal Museum Greenwich

Time, the measurement that science still has difficulty explaining, has allowed everything from transatlantic exploration to space travel and now is the fabric that holds together financial institutions, supply chains and the internet. But if you counted down the closing seconds of 2023 with New Year’s revelers, you were almost certainly wrong.

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Nation in Review: Japan

JAXA and NASA’s X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) was launched from Tanegashima Space Center on Sept. 6, 2023. This mission, which is capable of measuring the chemical composition of black holes, galaxy clusters and more, is one of Japan’s latest international collaborations. Credit: NASA

As the space economy continues to grow, Japan is capitalizing on new opportunities in the public and private sectors. Government budget increases, private industry investment, and international cooperation are contributing to the nation’s plans to double its space market in the coming decade.

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Axiom-3 private mission brings new nation, science to the ISS

The Axiom-3 private mission launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Jan. 18, 2024, one day later than initially expected. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the ISS as early as 9:19 a.m. UTC on Saturday.

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Facing safety, budget concerns, NASA delays Artemis moon missions

With budget cuts on the horizon and technical hurdles to vault before astronauts return to the Moon, NASA pushed the brakes on its Artemis program launch schedule Tuesday, delaying a planned lunar fly-by mission into 2025 and its planned landing into 2026. The agency cited safety concerns for the delay, including an ongoing investigation into problems with a heatshield, which was damaged when the uncrewed Artemis I capsule re-entered Earth’s atmosphere after a 2022 test flight. The move also comes as congressional negotiators mull slimming the agency’s budget by more than $500 million from its 2023, and $2.2 billion short of NASA’s 2024 budget request.

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With maiden flight, ULA’s Vulcan joins 2024’s stampede to space

ULA's Vulcan launch vehicle blasts skyward for its maiden flight early Monday, Jan. 8, 2024. Credit: ULA

United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan launch vehicle successfully roared aloft Monday on its maiden flight from Florida, carrying lunar payloads and keeping up a blistering pace of spaceflight that could drive 2024 past annual records for payloads sent to space and launches set in 2023. The first eight days of 2024 have seen four launches from the United States, including three by SpaceX, along with missions to orbit from India and China.

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Policy bill offers Space Force $29 billion for 2024, more flexible personnel rules

The Space Force would get $29 billion under compromise plan for 2024 included in the National Defense Authorization Act. Credit: Space Force

The Space Force would get new, more flexible personnel rules under a compromise version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets the Pentagon budget at $841 billion nest year, which was approved by lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate. The $29 billion Space Force budget was trimmed by just over $1 billion from an earlier Pentagon request, but is boosted by $3 billion when compared to the service’s 2023 budget.

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Second Starship test flies higher before failure

With 33 Raptor engines belching flame, SpaceX’s Starship demonstrated the full power of its main booster, reaching an altitude of 91 miles before the second uncrewed attempt to launch the massive rocket from Boca Chica, Texas, ended when the second stage apparently failed.

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