Spacecraft and Space Missions

We learn about space by going there — either in person or by sending spacecraft. During the Space Age humanity has launched dozens of missions, sending orbiters to Mars and wayfarers such as Voyager 1 and 2 and New Horizons on grand odysseys to the farthest reaches of the solar system. We also peer far beyond the Sun’s family of planets, using the Hubble Space Telescope and other high-tech space observatories to look at distant stars and galaxies, stretching our vision to span every wavelength band of light, from radio to gamma ray.

Here you’ll find the news about our endeavors in space. Whether it be the latest planetary mission, a new space telescope, or the future of space exploration, we’ll keep you up to speed on where our spacecraft are and what they’re doing.

Hayabusa 2 spacecraft

Hayabusa 2 is Asteroid Bound

Japan's second asteroid-sample mission launched successfully on December 3rd after weather delays. If successful it will reach asteroid 1999 JU3 in 2018, explore for 18 months, and then return to Earth with souvenirs.

This image shows an artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN)  spacecraft, which reached the Red Planet on September 21, 2014.Lockheed Martin

MAVEN Makes It to Mars

On September 21st, after a 33-minute-long rocket firing, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft slipped into orbit around the Red Planet.

Artist's rendering of Mars 2020 rover.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA Gears Up for Mars 2020 Rover

Six years from now, there will be a new NASA robot heading to the Red Planet: the Mars 2020 rover. On July 31st mission planners unveiled the rover’s seven scientific instruments, which will pave the way for human exploration of Mars.

New Horizons visits Pluto in 2015

One Year Until New Horizons

New Horizons will reach Pluto a year from today, and the scientific community is abuzz with speculation about what the space probe might see when it gets there. Meanwhile, the New Horizons team scours the skies for a Kuiper Belt Object that New Horizons can visit after its Pluto flyby.