• A NASA video shows what's in store for the agency in 2020
  • Testing the SLS rocket and launching the Mars 2020 rover are some major 2020 projects
  • Preparations for future missions are also in the works

What’s in store for NASA in 2020? A quick video gives a rundown of the agency’s big plans for the first year of the new decade.

Artemis Mission

Under the Artemis program, NASA plans to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, and explore more parts of the Moon’s surface than ever before. The plans to go back to the Moon then eventually to Mars will take years to accomplish, but major steps to mission accomplishment will be taken in 2020.

For instance, this year, NASA will be test firing the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, the most powerful rocket in the world that will send both humans and cargo to the moon and beyond. Other important tasks such as preparing a rover to search for water on the moon and testing next-generation spacesuits that are designed for a broader range of movements are also scheduled for the year.

Launching American Astronauts From U.S. Soil

It has been nearly a decade since American astronauts last launched from American soil, the last instance being in 2011. Since then, American astronauts have been traveling to the International Space Station (ISS) via Russian Soyuz Rockets.

With partners SpaceX and Boeing, NASA is hoping to finally bring American astronauts straight from American soil through the Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner. Only recently, CST-100 conducted an uncrewed test launch that ended up being cut short due to glitches in the capsule’s clocks. Even so, the next test sometime in 2020 is expected to be a crewed one.

Similarly, SpaceX tests for the Crew Dragon also experienced some setbacks in 2019, but it is expected to be ready for another test launch by February of 2020. If things go according to plan, the hopes of sending astronauts straight from American soil will come to fruition in 2020, after nearly a decade.

Humans In Orbit

The ISS has been home to over 200 astronauts from 15 countries for two decades. The research laboratory has been home to various science experiments, from testing how fires behave in space to making beer in microgravity. In 2020, the ISS will continue to be the home of unique experiments, including ones that will prepare astronauts for longer journeys in the future.

Beyond Moon Exploration

This year, the Mars 2020 rover will finally launch from the Earth with the mission of finding signs of past life on the Martian surface. Part of its mission also includes certain preparations for future crewed missions to Mars, such as bringing a spacesuit to see how it deteriorates in the Martian atmosphere as well as the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) to see how future astronauts might be able to produce oxygen on Mars.

This year, the Osirix-Rex spacecraft is also set to obtain samples from asteroid Bennu in hopes of better understanding the role asteroids might have played in delivering the building blocks of life on Earth and see how such asteroids may be of value to future human space missions.

By February, the European Space Agency, with NASA participation, will be launching the Solar Orbiter, which will take high-resolution images of our Sun's poles for the very first time.

Flight Innovations

2020 is not only a year for space exploration, however, because this year NASA will also work on innovations for the flight here on Earth. This includes the X-57 Maxwell, the all-electric research plane that is quieter, more efficient and environment-friendly, the experimental X-59 QueSST quiet supersonic aircraft, which was cleared for presumably in December, and drones for traffic control.

Apart from these big projects, NASA will also be celebrating major milestones in human history such as the 50th year anniversary of the Apollo 13 as well as the 50th Earth Day.

With all of these set for 2020, it is clear the NASA is certainly ready for a big year.

Advance space suit engineer, Kristine Davis (R), waves next to space suit engineer Amy Ross (L) during a press conference displaying NASA's next generation of space suits
Advance space suit engineer, Kristine Davis (R), waves next to space suit engineer Amy Ross (L) during a press conference displaying NASA's next generation of space suits AFP / Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS