Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

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Station Buzzing With Science in Middle of Spacewalk Preps

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is buzzing today with a broad array of research to improve life for humans on and off the Earth. The five-person Expedition 63 crew has also been preparing for a set of spacewalks as the pace of space science ramps up.

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Progress Resupply Ship Docks with Space Station

Progress 75 supply ship. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Traveling about 260 miles over Northwestern China, south of the Mongolian border, the unpiloted Russian Progress 75 cargo ship docked at 1:12 a.m. EDT to the Zvezda Service Module on the Russian segment of the complex.

Progress 75 will remain docked at the station for more than seven months before departing in December for its deorbit in Earth’s atmosphere.

For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavor, 239 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA TV to Provide Live Coverage of Progress Resupply Ship’s Launch and Docking

A Soyuz rocket launches the Progress MS-13 cargo ship to the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of a Russian cargo spacecraft delivering almost three tons of food, fuel, and supplies to the International Space Station beginning at 9:30 p.m. EDT Friday, April 24.

The uncrewed Russian Progress 75 is scheduled to launch on a Soyuz rocket at 9:51 p.m. (6:51 a.m. Saturday, April 25, Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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