International Space Station is an orbital research facility, approximately
340 km above the Earth. Funded by sixteen nations, it has been under
assembly since 1998 and is expected to become fully operational in 2011.
over $100 billion, it is the largest man-made structure ever put into
orbit - measuring nearly 110m wide, with a mass of 345,000 kg and a
living volume of 1,000 cubic metres.
The primary fields
of research on board the station include human research, space medicine,
life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.
is expected to remain in operation until at least 2015, and likely 2020.*
following is a list of future unmanned missions planned by NASA, ESA
and other space agencies. They are listed in chronological order:
2012 - Mars
Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN)
Trace Gas Mission
Interferometer Space Antenna
Sample Return Mission
- Solar Probe Plus
Jupiter System Mission
Saturn System Mission
America will be the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport.
In 2011, it will begin offering sub-orbital flights to the paying public.*
around $225 million, the facility is located on 27 square miles (70
km2) of state-owned desert near Upham, an uninhabited part
of New Mexico. Among
the various companies involved is Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic.*
at over 2,600 mph (4,200 km/h), the spacecraft will carry up to six
passengers at a time, to a height of approximately 68 miles (110 km),
using a single hybrid rocket motor. When maximum altitude is reached,
the engines will be switched off and the passengers will experience
up to six minutes of zero-G whilst looking down on the Earth.
will use a feathered re-entry system, feasible due to the low speed
of re-entry, and designed to re-enter the atmosphere at any angle, for
2020s, a new generation of ships will be developed capable of reaching
much higher orbits. In the decades after that, trips around the Moon
may become possible.
the flights will be around $200,000 per head. However, competition between
various companies is expected to reduce costs.
Above: SpaceShipTwo, in operation from 2011.
are some of the new telescopes being planned by NASA, ESA and other
European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)
new ground-based telescope has the aim of observing the Universe in
greater detail than even the Hubble Space Telescope. A mirror of approximately
42 metres (138 ft) will allow the study of the atmospheres of extrasolar
planets. It will also perform "stellar archaeology" - measuring
the properties of the first stars and galaxies, as well as probing the
nature of dark matter and dark energy. It is planned to become operational
International X-ray Observatory
X-ray Observatory (IXO) is due to be launched in 2021 as a joint effort
between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency (JAXA). Combining a large X-ray mirror with powerful
new instrumentation, it will explore the high energy Universe - peering
through dust and obscuring clouds of gas to reveal supermassive black
holes, supernovae, neutron stars and other hidden objects. IXO will
be designed to operate for a minimum of 5 years, with a goal of 10 years,
so operations may last until the early 2030s.
successor to Hubble, the James Webb telescope will be launched in 2018.
Its primary mirror will have a collecting area six times larger than
Hubble. It will be situated in an L2 orbit, 1.5 million km from Earth.