2020 was historic for NASA. We launched humans to the International Space Station from America again, made progress on our plans to return humans to the Moon and explore Mars, had an unprecedented encounter with an asteroid, and displayed perseverance and resilience in space and on Earth … all, while helping the country deal with a global crisis. Here’s a look back at highlights from those and other things we did this year at NASA.When NASA asked if we were ready for 2020, it said its 2020 plans were "Launching Americans from U.S. soil, sending a new rover to Mars, and continuing to prepare for human missions to the Moon." My response was "'Here's to another great year in space for 2020!' If all goes as NASA plans, it will be." All that did happen, so as bad as 2020 was with the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying recession, it ended up being a good year in space and elsewhere for NASA.
It was also a good year for the European Space Agency, which is cooperating with NASA on several projects. Watch ESA highlights 2020 to see which ones they are.
2020 has been another year of progress for ESA. The launch and commissioning of Solar Orbiter heralded a new era of space science, whilst Eutelsat Konnect revolutionised telecommunications. The new Vega SSMS began a cost-effective new launch system for small satellites, deploying exciting new technologies such as PhiSat and ESAIL. ESA’s Earth Observation activities were also showcased, with the launch of Sentinel-6 and an international effort to monitor the environmental and economic impact of COVID-19. Gaia and Cheops yielded new findings about our universe; ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano returned successfully from orbit. With a lunar programme agreement signed and new steps being taken to control debris, ESA is set to begin 2021 at the forefront of space exploration.Here's to 2021 being another great year in space!