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Space Travel in 2012NASA's space shuttle program is over, but that won't mean a lack of launches in 2012.
From space tourist projects and the first private spaceships to visit the International Space Station to a new Mars landing and China's first manned space lab, here's a look at 12 missions to watch in 2012.
Humans Will Still Be In SpaceSlide 2 of 26
Humans Will Still Be In SpaceIt's easy to overlook because it's been happening for more than a decade, but the five partner space agencies behind the International Space Station will continue to send people to the outpost to maintain the human presence in space that's been constant since 2000.
Twelve spaceflyers are scheduled to travel to the space station on four different launches in 2012. These men and women will spend around six months each living and working in space, performing experiments in a wide range of sciences inside humanity's only permanently staffed space laboratory.
NEXT: Planetary Mission MilestonesSlide 3 of 26
Planetary Mission MilestonesSlide 4 of 26
Planetary Mission MilestonesMany of the robotic probes currently exploring the solar system will reach milestones next year.
The Cassini orbiter, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, will make multiple flybys of the moons Titan and Enceladus, as well as distant flybys of many other moons, including Helene, Mimas, Janus, Polydeuces, Telesto, Pallene and Dione. NASA's Messenger mission at Mercury will continue its up-close study of the planet closest to the sun. And the agency's New Horizons mission, which launched in 2006, will come closer to Pluto than any other spacecraft yet. New Horizons is due to reach its target in 2015.
In the meantime, NASA's Opportunity rover on Mars continues to perform while the far-flung Voyager probes continue on their way out of our solar system.
Many other planetary probes will continue plugging along to advance scientists' understanding the solar system.
NEXT: Space Station Gets New Additions?Slide 5 of 26
Space Station Gets New AdditionsSlide 6 of 26
Space Station Gets New AdditionsThe International Space Station is a $100 billion, football field-size collaboration among the United States, Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and Canada.
In May 2012, Russia will launch the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MPLM), a new room to be added onto the space station's Zvezda nadir port, replacing the older Pirs docking compartment currently there. Nauka will house science experiments and cargo and will be used for docking, as well as work and rest areas for the crew. The same Russian Proton rocket that launches Nauka will carry the European Robotic Arm.
NEXT: Secret Air Force Space Plane LandingSlide 7 of 26
Secret Air Force Space Plane LandingSlide 8 of 26