Watch NASA's 2021 hype video full of moon dreams and Mars hopes

NASA has big plans for this year, but exploring space is still hard.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This Orion spacecraft will fly on NASA's uncrewed Artemis I mission, possibly in late 2021.

NASA/Marvin Smith

Last year was big for space missions. Now that we're officially in 2021, NASA is looking ahead to a packed schedule of space exploration as it aims for the moon, Mars and beyond. The space agency released a video preview hyping its plans for the new year, and the moon is the star of the show.

The NASA 2021 video kicks off with all eyes on the moon and the planned launch of Artemis I. 

While the video is full of hope and optimism, the reality is that getting space missions off the ground on time is a challenge. A NASA report released in late 2020 cited Space Launch System (SLS) rocket delays, coronavirus pandemic scheduling issues, and high costs as obstacles to the agency's stated goal of landing humans on the moon in 2024 through the Artemis program.

The first big test of the SLS and Orion spacecraft is in the works for 2021 with Artemis I, but we'll have to wait and see if the uncrewed mission is able to launch this year after all. 

Beyond Apollo: See NASA aim for the moon with Artemis 2024

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Other NASA goals for 2021 are well on track. The Perseverance rover is all set for a landing on Mars on Feb. 18. If all goes well, it will mark the start of a long-range plan to bring Martian rock samples back to Earth. The much-delayed James Webb Space Telescope is still on the calendar for an Oct. 31 launch date.

The moon, Mars and James Webb are just a few of the highlights. The full video will take you all the way from the International Space Station to the DART asteroid-redirection mission. If NASA manages to check most of these items off its 2021 to-do list, we'll be in for another epic year in space. 

Follow along with NASA and other agencies' exploits all year long with our 2021 space calendar.