Crew March

What's Happening in Space: March 2024

  • 4th Mar 2024

There are some exciting space happenings lined up for March so come with us now on a journey through the stars! Dhara Patel is, as always, your friendly guide to the cosmic calendar... 

3rd March – SpaceX Crew-8 launch

The eighth crewed operational flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program includes NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, Matthew Dominick, and Jeanette Epps along with Alexander Grebenkin from Roscosmos. They are scheduled to launch on board the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Centre no earlier than 4:16am (UK time) on 3rd March.

Crew-7 would return home shortly after launch, giving a few days for crew handover. Having launched in August 2023, NASA’s Jasmin Moghbeli, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, JAXA’s Satoshi Furukawa, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov will return to Earth on their Crew Dragon spacecraft, Endurance, after a 6-month stint in space.

Crew-8 will conduct more than 200 scientific experiments and technology demonstrations to help prepare for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit and for humanity’s benefit on Earth. This new research will include using stem cells to create organoid models to study degenerative diseases, studying the effects of microgravity and UV radiation on plants at a cellular level, and testing whether wearing pressure cuffs on the legs could prevent fluid shifts and reduce health problems in astronauts.

8th – 17th March – British Science Week

The theme this year is time – keep an eye on our social media channels for activities and content related to this celebratory week.

And check out this blog on time travel written by Cat Hauxwell in our part-time Space Comms team:

10th March – new moon (9:00am)

The new moon on 10th will occur in the constellation of Aquarius. We have a blog on ‘phases of the moon’ written by Mike Darch in our Space Comms team: What are the Phases of the Moon? (

13th March – close approach of the Moon and Jupiter

After midnight on 14th March, the waxing crescent moon will be in conjunction (sharing the same right ascension – coordinate) with Jupiter. But at the time of conjunction, the pair will be well below the northwestern horizon. Instead look out for the pair in close approach as the sun sets on 13th March. They’ll be nice and high in the western sky and will remain visible until they set in the northwest just before 11:00pm. During the evening, they’ll be visible to the naked eye and may be seen together through a pair of binoculars, but will be too far separated to be seen within the field of view of a telescope. Find out more about conjunctions, close approaches and other astronomical phenomena in our blog written by David Southworth in our Education Team: Astronomical phenomena (

mid/end March – Starship – Test Flight 3

Following the first test flight of the fully integrated Starship rocket on 20th April 2023 and a second attempt on 18th November 2023, SpaceX are gearing up for a third test flight. Starship is made of the Super Heavy booster – a first stage rocket with 33 of SpaceX’s raptor engines and on top of that sits the upper stage, rather confusingly also called Starship, which hosts 6 engines. And when its fully developed it will be a completely reusable rocket – both first and second stages.

Back in April 2023, the upper stage failed to separate from the booster a few minutes into its flight and SpaceX experienced a ‘rapid unscheduled disassembly’ a.k.a. an explosion.

In November 2023, the stages separated but shortly after, the first stage had multiple engine failures and after beginning its boost back burn, ended up exploding. Meanwhile the Starship second stage continued to fly for over 8 minutes, but an anomaly caused the flight termination system to kick in, so it too was destroyed after reaching an altitude of 148 km.

The FAA have now closed their investigation of the second flight, it’s now up to SpaceX to implement all the corrective actions and receive a license modification from the FAA that addresses all safety, environmental and other applicable regulatory requirements. Early- to mid-March is a reasonable timeline for the regulatory process to conclude, so a launch attempt is likely to follow soon after.

The third test flight will aim to complete their objective of sending a Starship upper stage craft around the Earth before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, with the Super Heavy first stage coming down in the Gulf of Mexico shortly after launch. Find out more about Starship and SpaceX’s other rocketry achievements in this blog by Ed Turner in our Education team:

20th March – vernal / spring equinox (3:06am)

The Sun crosses the celestial equator going south to north, marking the first day of astronomical spring for the northern hemisphere. The length of daytime and nighttime are almost equal. Find out more about equinoxes in this blog by Catherine Muller in our Space Comms team:

24th March – Mercury at greatest eastern elongation

Mercury will be at its furthest separation from the Sun on 24th March when it reaches greatest eastern elongation, making it a great time to try and spot the Sun’s closest planet. Look to the west around sunset – it will be close to the horizon, so you’ll need a clear view without tall buildings and trees. Check out the astronomical phenomena blog above to find out more about greatest elongations.

25th March – full moon (7:00am)

Known as the Worm moon (according to the old Farmers’ Almanac), it is named as such because as the cold thawed, people were able to see worm trails on the warming grounds. Check out the “Full Moon: Full Facts” blog written by Mike Darch in our Space Comms team:

While there is a penumbral lunar eclipse on this day (reaching maximum at 7:13am), it won’t be visible from the UK as the Moon will be below the horizon at that time. You can find out more about lunar eclipses in this blog written by our Duty Manager Daniel Milankovic:

31st March – daylight savings begins (go from GMT/UTC to BST)

To make better use of the daylight available in the UK between March and October, an hour of daylight is borrowed from the morning and added to the end of the day, so during these months we follow BST – British Summer Time. At 1:00am on the last Sunday of March (31st) the clocks will go forward to 2:00am – *sad face*, we lose an hour of sleep!

Please note: As this summary is created at the end of the month before, dates (especially launch dates) can often change or be updated, so this content may become outdated - we always recommend checking on the relevant organisation's pages.

Image below showing SpaceX Crew-8 by NASA Johnson on