We have liftoff!: Top 9 Space coast stories of 2021

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — 2021 was one of the busiest years for the Space Coast in years and it only looks to get busier in 2022.

With that in mind, here’s a list of nine of the biggest Space Coast stories of 2021.

1. SpaceX’s multiple Launches

2021 was a busy year for SpaceX.

This year was so busy its launches seemed to be lighting up the Brevard Coast non-stop.

Here are some statistics from the company website:

— Carried eight astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA

— Transported 28,000 pounds of cargo and scientific research to and from the ISS.

— Completed the world’s first all-civilian astronaut mission to orbit.

— Deployed more than 800 Starlink satellites to low-Earth orbit, which are helping to connect over 150,000 customers around the world with high-speed, low-latency internet.

2. Crew-3 successfully blasts off from Kennedy Space Center following delays

As impressive as SpaceX’s record of launches is, nothing compares to the excitement of a manned launch to space.

In November, SpaceX Crew-3 was the third operational flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the fourth overall crewed orbital flight of the Commercial Crew Program.

While there were some delays, the launch brought many first-time spectators from around the globe to the Space Coast.

WATCH: Crew-3 successfully blasts off from Kennedy Space Center following delays

3. Lucy in the sky! Lucy blasts off on a 12 year mission across the universe

The Lucy spacecraft blasted off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket early Oct 16.

The Atlas V took off at 5:34 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

The mission will study the Trojan asteroids around Jupiter and is expected to last 12 years.

READ: Lucy in the sky! Lucy blasts off on a 12 year mission across the universe

4. Dream Chaser to call Kennedy Space Center home

Sierra Nevada Corporation in May signed an agreement for Space Florida’s launch and landing facility at Kennedy Space Center.

The Dream Chaser will fly resupply missions to the International Space Station beginning 2022.

Next year, Dream Chaser is scheduled to begin cargo missions to the ISS. The company also has plans for its own flexible modular commercial space station.

READ: Dream Chaser to call Kennedy Space Center home

5. NASA names first female director for Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center named its  first woman as the new director.

Janet Petro took over as acting director in May after former Director Bob Cabana was promoted to NASA’s associate administrator.

READ: NASA names new director for Kennedy Space Center

“I really feel privileged to be sitting here today and what I call the second generation of workers and the second major leap we’re making during this Artemis generation,” said new Kennedy Space Center Director Janet Petro.

6. Jessica Watkins to be first Black woman on International Space Station Crew

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins was selected as part of an upcoming mission to the International Space Station, and that will make her the first Black woman to be part of the space station crew.

Read: Jessica Watkins to be first Black woman on International Space Station Crew

Watkins is scheduled to fly to the space station in April 2022.

She will join NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, on the SpaceX Crew-4 mission.

7. Kennedy Space Center previews new attraction highlighting the future of space exploration

The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral previewed plans in December for a new attraction focusing on the latest innovations in space exploration.

Already under construction and scheduled to open in March, “Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex” will offer an immersive experience featuring a collection of modern-day spacecraft, a 4D motion theater, and unique launch viewing opportunities.

To learn more, click here.

8. Company begins selling $125K tickets for balloon trips to the edge of space

Have you ever dreamed of going to space? Well, for $125,000, you can make that dream a reality.

Florida space flight company Space Perspective is taking reservations on its Spaceship Neptune for flights in early 2024.

READ: Dreaming of space? Company begins selling $125K tickets for balloon trips to the edge of space

The six-hour trip will include a two-hour ascent above 100,000 feet, two hours for passengers to enjoy 360-degree views from the spaceship before making a two-hour descent to the ocean, where it will splash down

The company is working toward three Florida launch sites in Jacksonville, the Kennedy Space Center and the Space Coast Air and Spaceport in Titusville.

9. Terran Orbital to invest $300 million in Florida’s Space Coast, Gov. DeSantis says

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in September that Terran Orbital would  move its operations to the Space Coast.

The governor said the company would invest $300 million and bring about 2,000 new jobs to the Space Coast.

Terran Orbital plans to launch satellites for the government and commercial customers and is even working on its own satellite constellation.

READ: Terran Orbital to invest $300 million in Florida’s Space Coast, Gov. DeSantis says

More information on Terran Orbital can be found  here.

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Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.