A science news preview of 2018

From next steps in the commercial space revolution to a rocket-powered supercar, there's much to look forward to in 2018.

BBC News looks ahead to some of the biggest science and environment stories coming this year.

World in motion

2018 will see a raft of space missions that highlight the international nature of present-day space exploration. First up is Chandrayaan 2, India's follow-up to its groundbreaking lunar mission launched in 2008.

While its predecessor was an orbiter, Chandrayaan 2 will comprise an orbiter, lander and rover developed by the country's space agency, ISRO. The mission is currently slated to launch on a GSLV rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh around March.

In May, Nasa will launch its Insight spacecraft to Mars. Insight will use a sophisticated suite of instruments to probe deep beneath the surface of the Red Planet, looking for clues to how it formed. It will also listen for "marsquakes" which could shed light on the planet's internal structure.

In July, the Japanese space agency's (Jaxa) Hayabusa 2 spacecraft will arrive at its target, the asteroid 162173 Ryugu, in an effort to return samples of this space rock to Earth. Its predecessor, Hayabusa, captured the world's imagination when, in 2005, it reached asteroid Itokawa.

Although that mission suffered some mishaps, it managed to return to Earth with some tiny specks of asteroid material – enough for scientists to get information from.

Engineers have made several improvements for Hayabusa 2, which aims to build on its pioneering predecessor by returning even more asteroid material and successfully deploying several small landers to Ryugu's surface.

Japan won't be the only country to visit an asteroid next year. Nasa's Osiris-Rex spacecraft, launched in 2016, is due to rendezvous with the object known as 101955 Bennu in August. Osiris-Rex will also aims to collect a sample of soil and rock and get it back to our planet for analysis.

Finally, Europe and Japan could despatch a mission to explore the first planet from the Sun: Mercury. The mission, Bepi Colombo, will seek to deepen and extend the knowledge gained at Mercury by the US space agency's recent Messenger spacecraft.

BepiColombo consists of two spacecraft launched on one rocket; the mission will carry out detailed mapping and investigate the planet's magnetic field. Scientists hope to shed light on key questions, such as why Mercury seems to consist of a large iron core with just a thin shell of silicate rocks on the outside.

Commercial space race

2018 should be the year Elon Musk's private launch company SpaceX lofts one of the most powerful rockets ever built: the Falcon Heavy.

In December, Mr Musk tweeted tantalising photos of the huge vehicle under assembly at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The heavy-lift rocket consists of two of the company's existing Falcon 9 boosters strapped to a central core stage. The 70m-long leviathan has been designed to launch payloads up to 57 metric tonnes into space, allowing SpaceX to move into new satellite launch markets and – eventually – loft astronauts beyond Earth orbit.

Private firms could also take significant steps towards their goal of transporting crews to the International Space Station (ISS) – but it's always possible the schedule could slip to 2019.

Under current plans, SpaceX and aerospace giant Boeing would perform the first crewed launches from US soil since Nasa's space shuttle was retired in July 2011. Since then, the US has been reliant on Russia's Soyuz launcher for transporting crew to the ISS – something that has rankled many who work in the American spaceflight sector.

Both companies plan to test their launch systems, performing uncrewed demonstrations in the first instance to gather engineering data. Then, they are expected to launch astronauts in the vehicles. But with the lives of Nasa astronauts at stake on a brand new launch system, nobody will be taking any chances – so delays are not out of the question.

But successful tests (whenever they happen) should lead to both systems being human-certified by the US space agency, allowing SpaceX and Boeing to begin fulfilling contracts to transport astronauts to the space station.

These craft should later be joined by Nasa's own launch system – the long-awaited (and expensive) Orion capsule and SLS rocket, which will be used to send people beyond low-Earth orbit. If everything proceeds to plan, Orion could be launched on an uncrewed test flight in 2019 and a launch with astronauts in 2021.

Need for speed

After several schedule slips, the UK's Bloodhound car should step up its assault on the land speed record in the autumn.

Powered by a rocket bolted to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine, the car was put through its paces on the runway at Newquay airport in 2017. That was "slow speed" testing – at just 200mph (320km/h).

Next, the team aims to exceed 500mph (800km/h) on South Africa's Hakskeen Pan this coming October.

That's still short of the existing world land speed record (763mph/1,228km/h), but it ought to provide the necessary engineering data to push the car to ever higher speeds in 2019 and 2020.

The eventual goal is to pass 1,000mph (1,610km/h).

Original Article


Related Articles


  1. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s tough to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appearance. I must say you’ve done a excellent job with this. Additionally, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Opera. Exceptional Blog!|

  2. Wow, wonderful weblog format! How long have you ever been blogging for? you make blogging glance easy. The overall look of your site is magnificent, let alone the content!

  3. Hi there are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you require any coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!|

  4. Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a superb article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.|

  5. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?|

  6. Hey there, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!|

  7. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!|

  8. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all folks you really realize what you are talking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly also consult with my web site =). We may have a link alternate contract among us|

  9. Hey there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the great work!|

  10. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me breakfast because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your website.|

  11. I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.|

  12. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.|

  13. I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today.|

  14. whoah this blog is great i really like reading your articles. Keep up the great work! You understand, lots of people are hunting round for this information, you could aid them greatly. |

  15. My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking into your web page yet again.|

  16. Hello! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?|

  17. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is excellent blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back.|

  18. Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up very fast! What web host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol|

  19. Новинки фільми, серіали, мультфільми 2021 року, які
    вже вийшли Ви можете дивитися
    українською на нашому сайті Link

  20. Новинки фільми, серіали, мультфільми
    2021 року, які вже вийшли Ви можете дивитися українською на нашому сайті Link

  21. Нові сучасні фільми дивитися українською мовою онлайн в хорошій якості HD Link

  22. Нові сучасні фільми дивитися українською мовою онлайн в
    хорошій якості HD Link

  23. Everyone loves what you guys tend to be up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the good works guys I’ve included you guys to my personal blogroll.|

  24. I have been surfing on-line more than 3 hours lately, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the net might be much more helpful than ever before.|

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button