Five epic rocket launches to witness in 2024

The launches include ULA’s Vulcan Centaur, SpaceX’s Starship, NASA’s Space Launch System, Arianespace’s Ariane 6, and Rocket Lab’s Neutron
An undated image shows a satellite launch at a space centre. — Unsplash
An undated image shows a satellite launch at a space centre. — Unsplash

Like the year 2023, a lot of rocket launches have been slated for this new year as well, designed by some of the most determined space exploration firms.

But here are the top four rocket launches you shouldn’t miss this year, as they promise to revolutionise the realm of space exploration, and will expand the horizon to unfold the abstract secrets of our solar system, and our neighbouring planets.

We’re sure that these space missions are going to be the vibrant side of the mainstream in the days to come.

Top rocket launches of 2024

These are the top five rocket launches to look out for this year.

  1. ULA’s Vulcan Centaur
  2. SpaceX’s Starship
  3. NASA’s Space Launch System
  4. Arianespace’s Ariane 6
  5. Rocket Lab’s Neutron

ULA’s Vulcan Centaur

The first among those mentioned above might have been launched today, January 8, as United Launch Alliance had planned to debut its newly developed Vulcan Centaur rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 61.6-meter tall Vulcan Centaur is a two-stage rocket that can be equipped with two, four, or six solid rocket boosters, providing a maximum thrust of 3.8 million pounds.

SpaceX’s Starship

Following two unsuccessful attempts, the spaceflight company led by Elon Musk is now focused on turning the third attempt into a significant milestone using a 397-foot-tall (121-meter) rocket. The goal is to utilise the Starship for transporting cargo and crew to destinations such as the moon, Mars, and beyond.

The Starship rocket features 33 Raptor engines on its first-stage booster, generating an impressive 17 million pounds of thrust during launch. The launch depends upon receiving permission from the Federal Aviation Administration.

NASA’s Space Launch System

NASA in November this year plans to conduct its inaugural crewed flight using the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, propelling the Orion spacecraft and four astronauts on the Artemis II mission toward the moon.

The 322-feet-tall (98-meter) rocket boasts an impressive 8.8 million pounds of thrust during launch, surpassing the power of the Saturn V rocket that powered the Apollo astronauts to the moon half a century ago.

Arianespace’s Ariane 6

Arianespace is designing two variants of the Ariane 6 rocket. The Ariane 62 will utilise two strap-on boosters, while the more potent Ariane 64 will incorporate four. The 63-meter tall Ariane 6 will weigh nearly 900 tons with a full payload during launch.

Its upper-stage engine is capable of multiple restarts, making it a perfect fit for missions requiring the deployment of multiple satellites in various orbits.

Rocket Lab’s Neutron

Rocket Lab is a recently established commercial spaceflight firm that is escalating the number of its launches to deploy small satellites for various private companies. Additionally, they are working on a new rocket named Neutron, designed to enable the landing of the first-stage booster.

The company has announced that the inaugural test flight of this 40-meter rocket is scheduled to take place at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.