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2020 Year in Review: Out of This World

To recap 2020, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we covered last year. Today we’re looking at some of the year’s big stories of space exploration.

SpaceX Completes Rocket Safety Test

Illustration of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket during the company’s uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test
SpaceX, a company working to supply NASA with spacecraft, has successfully tested its emergency escape system. During the test, the part of the ship that holds people was safely carried away, while the main rocket exploded.

Record-Setting Astronaut Christina Koch Returns to Earth

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft just minutes after she, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.
Last Thursday, American astronaut Christina Koch arrived back on Earth after 328 days in space. That’s the longest spaceflight ever made by a woman, and just one of the many things Ms. Koch achieved in space.

Thousands Apply to Become NASA Astronauts

The 2017 Class of Astronauts participate in graduation ceremonies at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
In early March, the US space agency NASA asked people who wanted to become astronauts to apply. Over 12,000 people applied, showing that interest is still very strong in the US space program.

United Arab Emirates Launches Mars Mission

Image of the UAE's Hope Mars probe.
The United Arab Emirates has launched the first mission to Mars by an Arab country. After several delays caused by bad weather, the probe, named “Hope”, was successfully launched early Monday morning.

Does Unlikely Chemical on Venus Suggest Life?

Artist’s impression of Venus and the phosphine (PH3) detected in the atmosphere.
Scientists have detected a chemical on Venus that wasn’t expected to be there, based on our current understanding of Venus. That leads them to wonder what is producing the chemical. One possible explanation is an unusual form of life.

NASA Spacecraft Grabs Samples Off of Asteroid

TAGSAM collector touching down on Bennu. This image was taken from the surface of Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft just after it landed on the asteroid.
On Tuesday, a NASA spacecraft touched down on an asteroid for a few seconds to collect samples that will be brought back to Earth. The operation will help scientists learn more about conditions when the solar system was first formed.

SpaceX Launch Marks a Big Change for NASA

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi onboard, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
On Sunday, the rocket company SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station. It’s NASA’s first full flight with a private American space company, and marks a big change in the way that space travel will happen in the future.

News Roundup: Asteroid Samples, Moon Samples, & Monolith Mysteries

Artist's idea of what the Hayabusa2 might look like as it came close to the asteroid.
In today’s news roundup, Japan’s Hayabusa2 space probe returns asteroid samples to Earth, China’s Chang’e-5 moon mission is on its way back with lunar samples, and a series of metal monoliths have appeared and disappeared around the world.

China’s Chang’e-5 Brings Moon Samples Back to Earth

Chang'e-5 Orbiter Returner Separation
China’s Chang’e-5 moon mission has successfully returned samples from the moon to Earth. The mission’s success is a huge boost for China, making it just the third country to ever bring back samples from the moon.



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