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Photo: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University

Space fans have a lot to look forward to this year as the space industry builds on the momentum that pushed it to a record-setting 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

What's happening: Multiple countries are headed to Mars, and several new missions to other destinations are expected to launch.

1) Mars: Three missions — NASA's Perseverance rover, China's Mars mission and the United Arab Emirates' Hope orbiter — are expected to make it to Mars in February.

2) The Moon: NASA has plans to launch its first uncrewed Artemis mission around the Moon by the end of the year using its Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule.

  • Yes, but: The space agency still has multiple tests to clear ahead of that flight, with more possible delays expected for the rocket and capsule.
  • Other parts of NASA's lunar plans are expected to move ahead, with the selection of a company or companies to build a human lunar lander and private companies aiming to send uncrewed missions to the Moon.

3) Earth's orbit: Boeing is expected to launch an uncrewed test of its Starliner capsule and possibly its first crewed mission to the International Space Station.

  • Axiom, a company planning to one day build a private space station, is working to launch its first crewed mission using a SpaceX Crew Dragon to the space station as well.
  • China is expected to launch the Tianhe module of its space station — slated to be fully built and in orbit around Earth by 2023.

4) Deep space: NASA is also planning to launch the DART probe designed to help scientists learn more about how to redirect an asteroid if a dangerous one is ever found on a collision course with Earth.

  • Another NASA mission, named Lucy is also scheduled for launch this year on a mission to study a group of interesting asteroids orbiting Jupiter.
  • NASA is also planning to launch the James Webb Space Telescope — Hubble's successor — to learn more about the evolution of the universe and possibly characterize potentially habitable planets around other stars.

What to watch: It’s possible not one but two companies — Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin — could launch their first paying customers to suborbital space this year.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 19, 2021 - Science

The inner lives of galaxies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The finest details of galaxies — from star explosions to halos of dust — are emerging via new techniques that allow scientists to peer deep into these cosmic behemoths.

Why it matters: How galaxies form, grow and change is key to understanding the evolution of the universe as a whole.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
24 mins ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

Mike Allen, author of AM
56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.