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Space calendar 2021: Rocket launches, sky events, missions & more!

Hanneke Weitering | Mon, 10 May 2021

LAST UPDATED May 10: These dates are subject to change, and will be updated throughout the year as firmer dates arise. Please DO NOT schedule travel based on a date you see here. Launch dates collected from NASA, ESA, RoscosmosSpaceflight Now and others.

Watch NASA webcasts and other live launch coverage on our "Watch Live" page, and see our night sky webcasts here. Find out what's up in the night sky this month with our visible planets guide and skywatching forecast

Wondering what happened today in space history? Check out our "On This Day in Space" video show here!

May 11: The new moon arrives at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT).

May 15: Mercury reaches its highest point in the evening sky, shining brightly at magnitude 0.3. See it just above the western horizon right after sunset. 

May 15: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch 60 Starlink satellites for the company's broadband network in a mission designated Starlink 27. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, at 6:58 p.m. EDT (2258 GMT). Watch it live

May 16: Conjunction of the moon and Mars. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 2 degrees to the south of Mars in the evening sky.

May 17: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the U.S. Space Force's fifth Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous satellite (SBIRS GEO 5) from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, at 1:35 p.m. EDT (1735 GMT). Watch it live

May 17: Mercury at greatest elongation east. The innermost planet will reach its greatest eastern separation from the sun, shining brightly at magnitude 0.3. Catch the elusive planet above the western horizon shortly after sunset.

May 26: The full moon of May, known as the Full Flower Moon, arrives at 7:14 a.m. EDT (1114 GMT). It will also be the closest "supermoon" of the year. That night, a total lunar eclipse, also known as a "Blood Moon," will be visible from Australia, parts of the western United States, western South America and Southeast Asia.

May 27: Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to launch 36 satellites into orbit for the OneWeb internet constellation. The mission, called OneWeb 7, will lift off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Siberia. Watch it live

May 30: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waning gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the dawn sky. 

Also scheduled to launch in May (from Spaceflight Now):

  • India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk. 2 (designated GSLV-F10) will launch India's first GEO Imaging Satellite, or GISAT 1. It will lift off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.
  • China's Tianwen-1 Mars rover will touch down on the Red Planet.
  • A Chinese Long March 7 rocket will launch the Tianzhou 2 cargo resupply ship on the first cargo delivery mission to the Chinese space station. It will lift off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China's Hainan province.

June 

June 1: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. Just one day before reaching last-quarter phase, the waning gibbous moon will swing about 5 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the dawn sky.

June 3: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo resupply mission (CRS-22) to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

June 10: The new moon arrives at 6:53 a.m. EDT (1053 GMT).

June 10: An annular solar eclipse, also known as a "ring of fire" eclipse, will be visible from parts of Russia, Greenland and and northern Canada. Skywatchers in Northern Asia, Europe and the United States will see a partial eclipse.

June 13: Conjunction of the moon and Mars. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 3 degrees to the south of Mars in the evening sky.

June 17: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will the U.S. Space Force's fifth third-generation navigation satellite for the Global Positioning System (GPS 3 SV05). It will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, in a three-hour launch window that opens at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT). Watch it live

June 20: The solstice arrives at 11:16 p.m. EDT (0316 June 21 GMT), marking the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. 

June 23: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the STP-3 rideshare mission for the U.S. Space Force. It will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Watch it live

June 24: The full moon of June, known as the Full Strawberry Moon, arrives at 2:40 p.m. EDT (1940 GMT).

June 27: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waning gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the dawn sky. 

June 28: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waning gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the dawn sky.

June 30: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Progress 78P cargo resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Watch it live

Also scheduled to launch in June (from Spaceflight Now):

  • A U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman Minotaur 1 rocket will launch a classified spy satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office in a mission called NROL-111. It will lift off from Pad 0B at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Watch it live
  • An Arianespace Vega rocket, designated VV19, will launch the Pléiades Neo 4 Earth observation satellite for Airbus. The mission will lift off from the Guiana Spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana. Watch it live
  • A Chinese Long March 2F rocket will launch the Shenzhou 12 spacecraft with multiple Chinese astronauts on the first crewed mission to the Chinese space station. It will lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

July 

July 1: Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to launch 36 satellites into orbit for the OneWeb internet constellation. The mission, called OneWeb 8, will lift off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Siberia. Watch it live

July 5: Happy aphelion day! Earth is farthest from the sun today. 

July 9: Mercury reaches its highest point in the morning sky, shining brightly at magnitude 0.3. See it just above the southeast horizon just before sunrise. 

July 9: The new moon arrives at 9:16 p.m. EDT (0116 July 10 GMT)

July 12: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 3 degrees to the north of Venus.

July 15: A Russian Proton rocket will launch the Nauka science module to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

July 23: The full moon of July, known as the Full Buck Moon, arrives at 10:37 p.m. EDT (0237 July 24 GMT). 

July 24: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The full moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the dawn sky. 

July 25: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waning crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the dawn sky. 

Also scheduled to launch in July (from Spaceflight Now):

  • A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the USSF-44 mission for the U.S. Air Force. The mission will lift off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and is expected to deploy two undisclosed payloads into geosynchronous orbit. Watch it live
  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter 2 rideshare mission with several small satellites for commercial and government customers. It will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Watch it live
  • India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will launch the Indian RISAT 1A radar Earth observation satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.
  • Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA254, to launch the Star One D2 and Eutelsat Quantum communications satellites from the Guiana Spaceport near Kourou, French Guiana. Watch it live

August

Aug. 1: A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket will launch the Cygnus NG-16 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Pad 0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia. Watch it live

Aug. 2: Saturn at opposition. The ringed planet will be directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth all year. This means it will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year. Saturn will reach its highest point in the night sky around midnight. 

Aug. 8: The new moon arrives at 9:50 a.m. EDT (1350 GMT)

Aug. 11: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 4 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset. 

Aug. 11-12: The annual Perseid meteor shower, which is active from mid-July to the end of August, peaks overnight. 

Aug. 18: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo resupply mission (CRS-23) to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Aug. 19: Jupiter at opposition. The gas giant will be directly opposite the sun in Earth's sky around the same time that it makes its closest approach to Earth of the year. The planet will shine at its biggest and brightest tonight and will be visible all night long. 

Aug. 20: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 3 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky. 

Aug. 22: The full moon of August, known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, occurs at 8:02 a.m. EDT (1202 GMT). This will also be a so-called "Blue Moon" because it is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons. 

Aug. 22: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The Blue Sturgeon moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the night sky. 

Also scheduled to launch in August (from Spaceflight Now):

  • Starliner OFT-2: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on its second uncrewed mission to the International Space Station, following a partial failure in December 2019. The Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) mission will lift off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Watch it live
  • A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the USSF-8 mission for the Space Force's Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP). It will lift off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Watch it live
  • Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket to launch the SES-17 and Ovzon 3 communications satellites from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana. Watch it live

September

Sept. 3: Mercury reaches its highest point in the evening sky. Shining at magnitude 0.1, the innermost planet will be barely visible above the western horizon at sunset.

Sept. 6: The new moon arrives at 8:52 p.m. EDT (0052 Sept. 7 GMT).

Sept. 9: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 4 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset. 

Sept. 13: Mercury at greatest elongation east. The innermost planet will reach its greatest eastern separation from the sun, shining brightly at magnitude 0.1. Catch the elusive planet above the western horizon shortly after sunset.

Sept. 14: Neptune at opposition. The gas giant will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year, shining at magnitude 7.8. (You'll need a telescope to see it.)

Sept. 15: SpaceX will use a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch the first all-civilian orbital mission, known as Inspiration4. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Sept. 16: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 3 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky. 

Sept. 18: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky. 

Sept. 20: The full moon of September, known as the Full Harvest Moon, occurs at 7:55 p.m. EDT (2355 GMT).

Sept. 22: The equinox arrives at 3:21 p.m. EDT (1921 GMT), marking the first day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sept. 24: The waning gibbous moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 1.3 degrees of each other. Shining at magnitude 5.7, Uranus may be bright enough to spot with the naked eye under dark skies. 

Also scheduled to launch in September (from Spaceflight Now):

  • An Arianespace Soyuz rocket will launch two satellites for Europe's Galileo navigation constellation. It will lift off from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana. 
  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the first two WorldView Legion Earth observation satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Watch it live

October

Oct. 5: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Soyuz MS-19 crew capsule to the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and two space tourists: Russian film director Klim Shipenko and a (not-yet-named) Russian actress, who plan to film a movie while spending one week in space. (The two filmmakers are scheduled to return to Earth on the Soyuz MS-18 crew capsule.) Watch it live

Oct. 6: The new moon arrives at 7:05 a.m. EDT (1105 GMT)

Oct. 8: The Draconid meteor shower, which is active Oct. 6-10, will peak overnight.

Oct. 9: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 3 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset. 

Oct. 14: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky. 

Oct. 15: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waxing gibbous moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky. 

Oct. 16: NASA will launch its Lucy mission to study the Trojan asteroids. It will lift off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Watch it live

Oct. 20: The full moon of October, known as the Full Hunter's Moon, occurs at 10:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT). 

Oct. 21: The waning gibbous moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 1.3 degrees of each other. Shining at magnitude 5.7, Uranus may be bright enough to spot with the naked eye under dark skies.

Oct. 21-22: The annual Orionid meteor shower, which is active all month long, peaks overnight.

Oct. 23: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Crew-3 mission, the third operational astronaut flight to the International Space Station. On board will be NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer. (The fourth crewmember has not yet been announced). It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Oct. 24: Mercury at greatest elongation west. The innermost planet will reach its greatest western separation from the sun, shining brightly at magnitude -0.6. Catch the elusive planet above the eastern horizon shortly before sunrise. The following day (Oct. 25) Mercury will reach its highest point in the morning sky.

Oct. 28: A Russian Soyuz rocket will launch the Progress 79 cargo resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. It will lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Watch it live

Oct. 31: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to lift off from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. Watch it live

Also scheduled to launch in October (from Spaceflight Now):

  • A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the USSF 52 mission for the U.S. Space Force. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live
  • The Soyuz MS-18 crew capsule will return to Earth from the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, as well as two space tourists: Russian film director Klim Shipenko and a (not-yet-named) Russian actress, who will have arrived on the Soyuz MS-19 mission in September and plan to film a movie in space. Watch it live

November

Nov. 2-3: The annual South Taurid meteor shower peaks overnight. Active from mid-September to mid-November, the Southern Taurids rarely produce more than five visible meteors per hour, but the nearly-new moon should make them easier to spot against a dark sky. 

Nov. 4: The new moon arrives at 5:15 p.m. EDT (2115 GMT).

Nov. 4: Uranus is at opposition, meaning it will appear at its biggest and brightest of the year. Shining at magnitude 5.7, the planet will be visible all night long in the constellation Aries. Uranus may be to the naked eye from dark locations but is best seen through a telescope or binoculars. 

Nov. 7: Daylight Saving Time ends. Turn your clocks back one hour at 2 a.m. local time. 

Nov. 8: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 1 degree to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset. Skywatchers in parts of Eastern Asia will see the moon occult Venus, meaning it will briefly pass in front of the planet, blocking it from sight.

Nov. 10: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky. 

Nov. 11: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The first-quarter moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky.

Nov. 11-12: The annual North Taurid meteor shower peaks overnight. The shower, which is active from late October to mid-December, is not expected to produce more than a handful of visible "shooting stars" per hour.

Nov. 16-17: One of the most anticipated meteor showers of the year, the Leonid meteor shower peaks overnight. The Leonids are expected to produce about 15 meteors per hour on the night of the peak, but the shower is active all month long. 

Nov. 17: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Nov. 19: The full moon of November, known as the Full Beaver Moon, occurs at 3:58 a.m. EST (0858 GMT). 

Nov. 19: A partial lunar eclipse will be visible from North and South America, Australia, and parts of Europe and Asia. The moon will enter Earth's faint outer shadow, known as the penumbra, at 1:02 a.m. EDT (0602 GMT). The partial eclipse, when the moon will darken more noticeably, begins at 2:18 a.m. EDT (0718 GMT). Maximum eclipse occurs at 4:02 a.m. EDT (0902 GMT). The entire event will last about six hours. 

Nov. 24: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Watch it live

December

Dec. 4: The only total solar eclipse of the year (and the last total solar eclipse until 2023) will be visible from Antarctica. Skywatchers in South Africa, Namibia, the southern tip of South America and some islands in the South Atlantic will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, with the moon blocking a portion of the sun from view. 

Dec. 4: The new moon arrives at 2:44 a.m. EST (0744 GMT).

Dec. 4: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch a Dragon cargo resupply mission (CRS-24) to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch it live

Dec. 6: Conjunction of the moon and Venus. The waxing crescent moon will pass about 2 degrees to the north of Venus. Look for the pair above the western horizon after sunset.

Dec. 7: A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket will launch the GOES-T weather satellite for NASA and NOAA. It will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, at 4:40 p.m. EST (2140 GMT). Watch it live

Dec. 7: Conjunction of the moon and Saturn. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Saturn in the evening sky. 

Dec. 9: Conjunction of the moon and Jupiter. The waxing crescent moon will swing about 4 degrees to the south of Jupiter in the evening sky.

Dec. 13-14: The annual Geminid meteor shower, one of the best meteor showers of the year, peaks overnight. The Geminids are active Dec. 4-17 often produce up to 50 visible meteors per hours, but this year the 78% full moon will outshine the fainter meteors. 

Dec. 18: The full moon of December, known as the Full Cold Moon, occurs at 11:37 p.m. EST (0437 Dec. 19 GMT).

Dec. 21: The solstice arrives at 10:59 a.m. EST (1559 GMT), marking the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Dec. 21-22: The annual Ursid meteor shower peaks overnight. Typically active around Dec. 17-26, the Ursids produce about five to 10 visible meteors per hour on the morning of the peak.

More coming in 2021...

Q1: A Rocket Lab Electron rocket will launch on its first mission from a new launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at Wallops Island, Virginia. It will launch an experimental mission for the U.S. Air Force's Space Test Program called Monolith, which carries a space weather instrument.

Mid-2021: An Arianespace Vega C rocket will launch the LARES 2 satellite for the Italian space agency. It will lift off from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana. 

Q4: India's Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) will launch on its first orbital test flight from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India. The mission was delayed from April 2021.

Q4: India's Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) will launch its first commercial mission with four Earth observation satellites for the Seattle-based company BlackSky Global. It will lift off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India.

Q4: The United Launch Alliance's Vulcan Centaur rocket will launch on its debut flight with the Peregrine lunar lander for Astrobotic. It will lift off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Q4: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Turksat 5B communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Watch it live

Late 2021: Boeing plans to launch the first crewed test flight of its Starliner spacecraft, which will send NASA astronauts Mike Fincke, Nicole Mann, and Barry "Butch" Wilmore to the International Space Station on an Atlas V rocket. The mission will lift off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. 

Please send any corrections, updates or suggested calendar additions to hweitering@space.com. Follow Space.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.



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