Rocket leads the top tweeted trending industry discussions happening on Twitter by key individuals (influencers) as tracked by the platform.

1. Rocket – 1478 mentions

NASA’s Mars rover being launched into space by the Atlas V 541 rocket, the SpaceX Falcon9 rocket carrying astronauts into space and China’s Mars mission were some popularly discussed topics in Q3 2020. According to an article shared by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the official account of John F. Kennedy Space Center, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket launched the Mars Perseverance rover from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July. Perseverance is expected to touch down on Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021. The rover is carrying scientific instruments and is equipped with a solar-powered helicopter.

International Space Station (ISS), the official account of the ISS, further, tweeted a video about NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley who were carried to the ISS by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft launched by the Falcon9 rocket. It was the first spacecraft to be launched from the US with astronauts on board in almost a decade. In the video, the two astronauts discuss working on the spacecraft for five years and the challenges they faced during its development.

Rocket also trended in discussions around China’s Tianwen 1 Mars landing mission in an article shared by Spaceflight, a space news portal. The rover was launched by the Long March 5 rocket and is expected to reach Mars in February 2021. This is the second mission to Mars by China following the previous Yinghuo 1 orbiter, which was stranded in Earth’s orbit after being launched by Russia’s failed Phobos-Grunt mission, the article noted.

2. Astronaut – 310 mentions

The 51st anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission carrying astronauts to the moon, completion of propulsion hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and the importance of inputs from astronauts in space missions were popularly discussed during the third quarter. National Air and Space Museum, an aviation and space museum, shared a presentation on the Apollo 11 mission carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin to the moon and back. The lunar module landed the first humans on the moon and completed 51 years of its mission in July. It was launched by the three-stage Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Further, Aerojet Rocketdyne, a missile propulsion manufacturer, shared an article about the completion of the propulsion hardware for NASA’s SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. The spacecraft will carry the astronaut crew to orbit the moon as part of the Artemis II mission, the article noted.

Another discussion surrounding astronaut was shared by ISS Research, the official account for information on science and research from the ISS, in an article about the Sextant Navigation study. The article notes that inputs from astronauts help in enhancing the tools tested for prospective moon missions. The operation of sextant, a navigation instrument, was tested at the ISS by astronauts. The study established that a hand-held sextant will be useful in space as a back-up navigation tool, once the astronauts perform the appropriate modifications.

3. Spacecraft – 254 mentions

Russian spacecraft’s intervention preventing ISS from entering the red zone, the launch of the Hera spacecraft and testing of the AEHF-6 military communications satellite were popularly discussed in Q3. POCKOCMOC, the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, shared an article about Russian Mission Control Center’s help in preventing the ISS from entering into the red zone, which is filled with space debris. The station escaped collision with space debris after Russia’s Progress MS-14 cargo vehicle performed evasive manoeuvres. The cargo spacecraft switched on its engines for 150 seconds to give an impulse of 0.3m/s to the ISS thereby correcting its orbit, the article noted.

Further, Aerospace Polimi, the official account of the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology of Politecnico di Milano, shared an article about the European Space Agency (ESA) planning to launch the Hera spacecraft in 2024. The spacecraft will travel towards Didymos, an asteroid, and deploy two shoebox-sizes satellites called CubeSats, upon arrival. Hera is part of the joint ESA-NASA Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, which will study ways to deflect the orbital path of an asteroid using high-velocity impact.

Spacecraft was also discussed in an article shared by SpaceNews, a digital publication on the space and satellite industry, about the AEHF-6 military communications satellite. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the satellite was launched in March and completed on-orbit testing. The spacecraft is part of the ten-satellite AEHF-MILSTAR constellation that provides secure communication services to the US military and its partner countries. It will be handed over to the US Space Command for conducting further tests before confirming its operational readiness.

4. Satellites – 239 mentions

The launch of two C-band satellites in 2022, the deployment of technology to improve imaging of distant objects and the startling claims of the US about Russian satellites were popularly discussed in Q3 2020. Chris B – NSF, managing editor of, tweeted about the European Satellite Society (SES) choosing ULA Atlas V rocket for launching two C-band satellites to provide 5G services. The rocket, carrying the two satellites, will be launched in 2022.

DARPA, the official account of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), further shared an article about the agency launching the Deformable Mirror (DeMi) CubeSat. The satellite was deployed with the objective of showcasing a miniature space telescope equipped with a small deformable mirror that can enhance the picture quality of faraway objects in space. The technology will also be effective in enabling space telescopes to be accommodated into small satellites, the article noted.

Satellites also trended in discussions surrounding the US Space Force chief openly claiming that the Russian government performed two on-orbit anti-satellite weapon tests over the last three years, in an article shared by Tyler Rogoway, a defence editor. The accusation comes on the back of the US military charging Russia with sending an ‘inspector’ satellite that was supposedly trailing the US government’s KH-11 spy satellite. In a counter narrative, Russia noted that their inspector satellite was deployed in the orbit only to inspect other satellites and gauge the damage to other satellites in the orbit, the article noted.

5. Airforce – 227 mentions

The US Space Force’s strategy to be distinct from the US Air Force, British fighter jets intercepting Russian aircraft and the US Air Force using 3D printed parts for its aircraft engines were discussed in the third quarter. According to an article shared by SpaceNews, the US Space Force, the new branch of the US Military, has started to brand its units as deltas. The intent behind the step was to have a unique identity, which is different from the Air Force. The 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Airforce Station in Florida will be turned into a space delta, the article noted.

Further, Eurofighter Typhoon, an aerospace consortium, shared an article about UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter planes interrupting Russian aircraft over the Baltic sea for the fifth time. The Russian IL-78 Midas refuelling aircraft was intercepted by RAF Typhoons. The interception was in retaliation for Russian jets transgressing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) air space, the article noted.

Another discussion related to airforce was shared by FlightGlobal, an aerospace news portal, about the US Air Force using 3D printed anti-ice gasket for a US Air Force aircraft engine. The gasket was produced and tested by Tinker Air Force Base as part of a joint project between the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group, the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab, and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Propulsion Sustainment Division, the article noted.