6 Space Missions to Watch in March 2024: SpaceX, Rocket Lab and More

March's space watch list includes two crewed ISS missions and two Rocket Lab launches.

SpaceX has an ISS mission scheduled and is clear to apply for the next Starship test. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

February is ending on an exciting note for the space industry. Last Thursday (Feb. 22), “Odysseus,” a cargo moon lander made by Intuitive Machines, a Houston-based aerospace company, became the nation’s first spacecraft since 1972 to successfully make a soft landing on a lunar surface. As the winter season comes to a close, countries across the globe are gearing up to send more vessels into space.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is expected to launch a crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS) delayed from February. The company will also begin preparing for the next orbital test flight of Starship now that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has closed its mishap investigation of the last test in November 2023. Peter Beck’s Rocket Lab will be launching its reusable Electron rocket for the 45th and 46th time in one month. And on the government side, Japan and Russia have two science missions scheduled.

Here are six space missions to watch in March: 

  • March 1: SpaceX’s eighth Crew Dragon mission to ISS. SpaceX and NASA originally scheduled this mission, named “Crew-8,” for Feb.15. They are now aiming March 1 to send four astronauts to the ISS for a six-month stay. Liftoff is scheduled in the very early morning at 12:04 a.m. EST from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four-person crew include NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps, as well as Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin.
  • March 9: Japan’s Space One launches KAIROS maiden flight. One week after the SpaceX mission, Japanese space company Space One is scheduled to launch a rocket called KAIROS for the first time from Spaceport Kii in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture. The private company will launch a four-stage small satellite vehicle for the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center, which operates information-gathering satellites (IGS) for Japan’s spy satellite program.
  • March 10: Rocket Lab’s 45th Electron launch from New Zealand. New Zealand- and U.S.-based space startup Rocket Lab is scheduled to launch its 45th Electron mission, this time for Synspective, a Japanese company that operates Earth-imaging satellites. A two-week launch window will open on March 10. The mission, named “Owl Night Long,” will lift off from a launch pad in New Zealand.
  • March 20: Rocket Lab’s 46th Electron launch from Virginia. Rocket Lab is scheduled to launch another Electron mission later in March for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), an agency under the Department of Defense that operates reconnaissance satellites for the U.S. government. The 46th Electron mission, named “Live and Let Fly,” will lift off from Wallops, Va. during a launch window opening on March 20.
  • March 21: Russia sends three astronauts to the ISS. In addition to SpaceX’s Crew-8, Russia is also sending astronauts to the ISS in March. The crew include cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky of Russia and Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus, as well as NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell DysonDyson will spend six months aboard the space station, conducting scientific experiments on matters such as the behavior of fire in space, while Novitskiy and Vasilevskaya will only be on the space station for 12 days.
  • TBD: Blue Origin’s New Shepard tourism flight. While there is no date specified yet, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin may resume launching space tourists using its New Shepard rocket after being grounded for more than 15 months. The space company received clearance from the FAA in December 2023 to resume New Shepard operation. Prior to the ban, triggered by a mid-flight explosion in late 2022, Blue Origin had been launching the rocket roughly once every two months. 
6 Space Missions to Watch in March 2024: SpaceX, Rocket Lab and More