NASA Ends the Year With Many Achievements, but Their 2021 Shows Even Bigger Plans

By Thomas Price Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges. However, despite these difficulties, many industries and organizations have still found room to thrive in spite of it, or even, partially because of it. Especially in the world of space travel, which saw incredible launches and discoveries over the course of the last year, 2020 ended with several achievements worth celebrating. For NASA, this is certainly true as the organization saw several major accomplishments happen throughout the year both directly and indirectly related to space travel. So, what exactly did NASA accomplish in the previous year, and what plans, if any, are on the docket for 2021?

NASA’s Last Year Accomplishments

While many different plans or missions from NASA were simply advanced in 2020, the organization also concretely accomplished things over the course of the year, not all regarding space. The COVID-19 pandemic caused major problems regarding shortages of personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and vital life-saving tools such as ventilators. With these items in short supply, NASA worked quickly to develop a surface decontamination system to help reduce the spread of the virus in hospitals, an oxygen helmet for COVID-19 patients, and a ventilator created by NASA engineers in just 37 days.

This effort by NASA could quite possibly have saved many lives and was a major part of the United States’ response to the pandemic, especially when many states were still scrambling to properly react to the influx of cases and hospitalizations.

Outside of the pandemic, NASA made history in regard to space travel. In 2020, the space agency presided over the first astronauts that will be launched to the International Space Station on American soil since 2011. Additionally, these astronauts will be the first-ever to do so on an American commercial spacecraft.

On other fronts, NASA made major headway into further Mars exploration with the launch of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission in July. As it stands, the rover is over halfway to its destination.

On a more human-oriented level, NASA has also had an extremely successful year in terms of engagement and social media. Collectively NASA now has over 240 million social media followers. This is a 15% increase from 2019, where the agency had 207 million. All of these varied different accomplishments and developments from NASA, however, only represent a portion of the work being done as many of the missions and plans for the agency are ongoing and will likely not be completed or even launched until further notice.

NASA’s Progress on Future Plans in 2021

For NASA, the agency has two major overarching plans for the oncoming future. The first involves all aspects of the Artemis program. The Artemis program is NASA’s plan to send a man and the first-ever woman to the moon for research purposes, and perhaps more excitingly, as a stepping stone to eventually bring manned missions to Mars. In 2021, NASA’s big step will be accomplishing its first two robotic deliveries, with manned missions to the moon not taking place until 2024. The other major plan for NASA is the James Webb Space Telescope. The telescope will serve as the agency’s next major observatory and will be launched at the end of this year around October.

This past year, NASA found new ways to engage with the public while also accomplishing major missions and plans. In addition to their space launches, the agency developed tools that helped hospitals fight the spread of COVID-19. On top of this, NASA continued to make progress on longer scale missions and projects that will soon yield the fruits of their labor.

About the Author

Headshot for author Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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