The Future of Space Exploration

What will the future of space exploration hold? At the moment there are more than 70 government space agencies. These include the American agency, NASA and the European agency, ESA. There are also a number of commercial companies, like SpaceX. All of these groups have plans for the next giant leaps forward in space exploration.

Artist's impression of a human Mars colony
Artist's impression of humans on Mars
Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings

Back to the Moon

So far, the Moon is the furthest humans have travelled from Earth. The last humans on the Moon were the Apollo 17 crew in 1972. NASA and ESA are working on a new mission to the Moon, the Artemis mission. The first flight of the Artemis rocket took place on 16th November 2022 with the payload orbiting around the Moon and then returning to Earth. The mission will land on the Moon in 2024, and include the first woman on the Moon. SpaceX plan to send a tourist mission around the Moon in 2023. 

Humans on Mars

Mars is the closest planet to Earth. Many scientists see it as the next place for humans to explore. It could also be a stepping stone for exploration to more distant planets. NASA intends to send the first humans to Mars by 2030. SpaceX also want to send crewed missions to Mars. Their goal is to set up a human colony on the red planet. 

Space Stations

NASA plans to launch a new space station in the late 2020s or 2030s. This will replace the International Space Station which launched in 1998. By then, China's Tiangong space station already has people living on it around the clock. More than 1 space station means more experiments can be carried out in space. 

SpaceX Dragon rocket
Credit: SpaceX


Reusable rockets lower the cost of space flight. This opens up space travel for tourists, though it is still very expensive! Far in the future, robots will replace humans on space flights. Robots can carry out tasks, and cope with more extreme conditions than humans. Space exploration will be automated, so rockets will fly themselves without pilots!


The future of space exploration needs people with the skills to make it happen!

Discover the range of careers linked with space exploration.