Space exploration

Fifty years on from the Apollo 11 Moon landing, a new 'space race' is underway.

NASA, the European Space Agency, China, India and more are all planning missions to the Moon. Lunar space stations and Moon bases are not confined to the realms of sci-fi – they are genuine mission objectives.

Robotic rovers meanwhile are right now exploring the surface of Mars, and even more ambitious missions to the 'red planet' are planned in the years ahead. Probes and space telescopes are helping to answer the biggest questions in the universe, from the search for life to the origins of the stars and planets.

The biggest space missions launching in 2020

A computer generate image of Mars at daybreak, showing part of the Gale Crater illuminated (NASA)

Upcoming missions from NASA, the European Space Agency, SpaceX and more

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But it's not just countries who are trying to go where no human has gone before. Commercial space companies, such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing and Virgin Galactic, are investing huge sums in spacecraft and space research. Often working in partnership with agencies such as NASA, these private companies could the face of space travel forever.

Find out more about current and future space missions, and take a trip back through the history of the space race.

Journey through space and time at the Royal Observatory

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis, flying STS-125, HST Servicing Mission 4.

Since its 1990 launch, Hubble Space Telescope has been dazzling the world with images of space and a deeper understanding of how the universe works.

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There are plenty of companies offering (very expensive) flights into space. But how close are we to true 'space tourism'?

Apollo 11 crew primary image © NASA

Michael Collins is the often forgotten third astronaut on the Apollo 11 mission. He remained in the Command Module as Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon’s surface in 1969.

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NASA's Artemis mission aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. But how is it planning to get there? Find out more about the new era in space exploration. 

Apollo 11 lunar module © NASA

Who were the Apollo 11 crew? When did they land? How exactly did they get there?

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Find out about the biggest space missions and rocket launches scheduled for this year, with details of upcoming missions from NASA, the European Space Agency, SpaceX and more.

Valentina Tereshkova

We know the names of the first men in space, and on the Moon - but what about the women?

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What are the main differences between Hubble and the new James Webb Space Telescope?

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Since the very beginning of space exploration, animals have been used in space programmes. Find out what pioneering animals travelled in space, and which was the first to orbit the Earth. 

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NASA's latest mission to Mars could hold the key to discovering life on the Red Planet. With state-of-the-art instruments and revolutionary technology, it's time to meet Perseverance, the Mars 2020 rover.

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