April 25 – May 1, 2016 / Vol 35, No 17 / Hawai`i Island, USA

New Vostochny Cosmodrome Ready for First Launch, Gearing Up for New Rocket and Lunar Missions

From Amur Oblast in the Russian Far East newly certified Vostochny Cosmodrome pivots Russia space access infrastructure to the Pacific and to sovereign territory, away from Baikonur, Kazakhstan in Central Asia. Literally meaning “eastern” Vostochny consists of a vast complex occupying over 500 km2 located at 51°N approximately 600-800 km from the Ocean depending on launch azimuth. The space center is expected to permanently employ 20,000-25,000 people and RSA estimates the total cost of construction at US$2.9B, though other estimates are as high as US$13.5B. The inaugural launch is set for 02:01 UT April 27 with an RSA Soyuz-2.1a & Volga upper stage boosting the Mikhail Lomonosov ultra high energy cosmic ray observatory to Sun-synchronous geocentric orbit. The rocket is also carrying two secondary payloads for Samara Aerospace University: Aist 2, a 53-kg MicroSat in cooperation TsSKB-Progress and SamSat–218/D, a 4-kg 3U CubeSat. There are plans to begin construction at Vostochny in 2017 of an additional launch pad to host operations of the still-in-development Angara heavy-lift rocket that is expected to begin flying in 2021. Crewed flights in the next-generation piloted spacecraft known as Federation are expected by 2025. It was recently announced by RSC Energia that all operations and launches related to the RSA lunar program had been shifted to Vostochny, but had been postponed to 2025 due to budget cuts. (Image Credit: RSA, Google Earth, Anatoly Zak)



April 25 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 47 six-member crew transferring ~3,000 kg of cargo from Dra gon CRS-8 and filling with ~1,000 kg of return science / cargo, setting up specialized microscope to study how particles behave at nanoscales, preparing to deploy Flock-2e-Prime cubesats, collecting samples for Plant Gravity Sensing-3 experiment.

Apr 25 — Tiangong 1, LEO: China space lab continuing its gradual descent into Earth atmosphere over next few months for fiery disintegration in preparation for new space station to be completed by 2020.

April 25 — AKATSUKI, Venus Orbit: JAXA craft, the only one at Venus, planning for regular observations of Venus after successful test observations, will acquire image data (hours at a time) of Venus complete cloud structure.

April 25 Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Moon Elliptical Polar Orbit: Investigating South & North Poles, craft designed to support a Human return to Moon, collecting high-resolution visible, ultraviolet data for global maps – each map encompasses more than 10,000 Wide Angle Camera individual images.

 April 25 — Bigelow Aerospace LLC, Las Vegas NV: NewSpace company Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to ISS will be expanded to its full capacity at 16 cubic meter volume in May, Astronauts will periodically enter for visual inspections & measurements, company will monitor pressure, temperature, radiation protection, micro-meteoroid/debris impact detection for 2 years.

April 25Exoterra Resource LLC, Littleton CO: Receiving NASA Phase 1 award for Nano Icy Moons Propellant Harvester cubesat-scale ISRU system that would harvest water for icy moons sample return missions using micro-landers, also working on SolRider microsatellite to reach Mars, and Lunar Infrastructure including power, ISRU & propellant delivery systems; Founder Michael VanWoerkom.

 April 25Moon World Resorts Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Chairman / CEO Michael Henderson proposing US$4B Moon USA functional & realistic lunar colony across 10 acres under 230-meter tall sphere at Indio CA by 2018 with university-affiliated science & technology campus, convention center, 4,000-suite hotel, health spa, beach club, golf course.

APRIL - JUNE 2016 = All times

for terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for international terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for space events, and…

= All times for international space / astro events in Hawaii Standard Time unless noted. Add 10 hours to obtain UT (‘Universal Time;’ Greenwich, England).

Weekly Planet Watch – Evening Planets: Mercury (WNW), Jupiter (S); Morning Planets: Mars (S), Saturn (SSW).

Hawai`i Celebrates AstroDay 2016, Astronomy from Sacred Mountains, and Ideal Moon, Mars Analogs

Hawaii 2016

The 15th annual AstroDay 2016 is being held at Prince Kuhio Plaza, Hawaii April 30 with support from University of Hawaii at Hilo, CFHT, Gemini, Subaru, Keck, IfA, East Asian Observatories, Submillimeter Array, UKIRT and IRTF, and organized by Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee with help from Roy Gal of IfA. There will be over 40 exhibits, demonstrations, activities and musical performances. Also participating will be Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), with Executive Director Rob Kelso, which has 17 partnerships to further Moon and Mars technology development. Examples include Lunar / Mars landing pad construction and MoonRIDERS lunar flight experiment. The CFHT 11th users meeting held May 1-4 in Nice, France will discuss CFHT accomplishments and challenges, the addition of new dome vents which increased image quality, and the establishment of the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer Project Office in Waimea. HI-SEAS 365-day Mission 4 continues on the slopes of Mauna Loa at  2,440-meter altitude until August 28. Six scientists are investigating effects of isolated missions, food research and crew dynamics while performing various experiments. The May 7 Universe Tonight Talk held every 1st Sunday will feature Warren Skidmore of TMT. Other local programs include Mauna Kea Skies at ‘Imiloa on the third Saturday of every month, Under the Night’s Sky at Mauna Kea every fourth Saturday of each month and West Hawai’i Astronomy Club. (Image Credit: Richard Wainscoat/Gemini Observatory/AURA/NSF, HI-SEAS, PISCES, MKAOC)

Apr 25 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Tucson AZ: Lecture: Special Collections – How Tucson Mapped the Way to the Moon and Planets; featuring Peter Smith, Ewen Whitaker, William Hartmann, Melissa Sevigny (moderator), Tim Swindle (opening remarks).

Apr 25 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Cosmological Results from Planck; Simon White from Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, 16:00.

Apr 25 — NASA Astrobiology Institute, Online / Mountain View CA: Webinar: SHERLOC: On the Trail of Potential Biosignatures on Mars; presented by Luther Beegle and Rohit Bhartia (JPL), 13:00.

Apr 25 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston TX: Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Competition (Micro-g NExT).

Apr 25-28 — European Astrobiology Network Association, COST Action “Origins and Evolution of Life in the Universe”, Nordic Network of Astrobiology, Vilnius, Lithuania: From Star and Planet Formation to Early Life; at Art Nouveau style Hotel Artis Centrum.

Apr 25-30 — National Taras Shevchenko University, Main Astronomical Observatory of National Academy of Science of Ukraine, EAS Publications, Kyiv, Ukraine: 23rd Young Scientists’ Conference on Astronomy and Space Physics.

Apr 25 — Moon: 3.3° N of Saturn, 10:00.

Apr 25 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 FY3: Near-Earth flyby (0.017 AU).

Apr 25 — Aten Asteroid 2003 KO2: Near-Earth flyby (0.046 AU).

Apr 25 — Aten Asteroid 2003 KO2: Near-Earth flyby (0.067 AU).

Continued from…

Aug 28, 2015 – Aug 28, 2016 — NASA, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, Mauna Loa HI: Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission 4; at 2,440-meter altitude.

Feb 26 — Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC: Exhibit Open: A New Moon Rises – New Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera.

Apr 22-24 — European Commission (FP7), Athens, Greece: Inspiring Science Education (ISA) Athens; at Ellinogermaniki Agogi.

Apr 22-24 — NASA, JPL, Caltech, Pasadena CA / Worldwide: International Space Apps Challenge; local events taking place simultaneously in 193 locations spanning 72 countries.

Apr 24-27 — American Astronomical Society, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore MD: Workshop: What Shapes Galaxies?


Apr 26 — Iridium 46 Flare, LEO: Iridium 46 satellite flare to occur at 05:01 HST just above Moon, magnitude of -0.1, distance to satellite will be about 917 km.

Apr 26 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: The SOFIA Observatory – Revealing the Hidden Universe with Airborne Science; Pamela Marcum from NASA Ames.

Apr 26 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Tucson AZ: Colloquium: Pluto – The Pugnacious Planet; Dr. Fran Bagenal, 15:45 in Kuiper Space Sciences: Room 312.

Apr 26-27 — The National Academies, Washington DC: Space Studies Board Spring Meeting.

Apr 26-28 — Digital Globe, Catapult, SFF, Aerospace & Defense Forum, et al, Milpitas CA: Space 2.0; visionary Silicon Valley funders and the satellite industry come together to ignite a new era in space commercialization, at Crowne Plaza hotel.

Apr 26 — Asteroid 3 Juno: At opposition, 10:00.

Apr 26 — Mars: 4.9° N of Antares, 11:00.


Apr 27 RSA, Launch Soyuz / Mikhail Lomonosov, Aist 2 & SamSat 218v, Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia: First launch from new Vostochny Cosmodrome set to carry payloads Mikhail Lomonosov with instruments to study high-energy cosmic rays, gamma rays and Earth upper atmosphere & magnetosphere, the Aist-2D satellite and student nanosatellite SamSat-218.

Apr 27 — British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: Lecture: Keeping an Eye on the Universe – The Hubble Servicing Missions; David J. Shayler.

Apr 27-29 — Group on Earth Observations, Research Council of Zimbabwe, Government of Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: 2016 AfriGEOSS Symposium: Earth Observations for the Africa We Want.

Apr 27 — Mercury: 6.8° WSW of Pleiades, 13:00.


Apr 28 — ISRO, Launch PSLV / IRNSS 1G, Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India: India Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, flying in PSLV-XL configuration, to launch 7th spacecraft in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

Apr 28 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / JCSAT 14, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: Falcon 9 rocket to launch JCSAT 14 communications broadcast / communications satellite for Tokyo SKY Perfect JSAT Corp.

Apr 28 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: Lecture: NASA’s Juno Mission to Jupiter: What’s Inside the Giant Planet?; Dr. Fran Bagenal from University of Colorado-Boulder.

Apr 28 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: The Baryon Content of Dark Matter Halos; Simon White.

Apr 28 — National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), Online: Proposals Due for 1mm Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) using the phased output of ALMA and the Event Horizon Telescope.

Apr 28 — Moon: 3.1° N of Pluto, 00:00.

Apr 28 — Aten Asteroid 2013 KJ6: Near-Earth flyby (0.095 AU).


Apr 29 — Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Arlington VA: Proposers Day; to provide information to potential proposers on objectives of XS-1 program.

Apr 29 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: Seminar: Water, Hydroxyl, and Ice in the Asteroid Belt; Andrew Rivkin from JHU/APL.

Apr 29 — European Nodes of Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), Online / Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Extended registration Deadline: 4th European Lunar Symposium; to be held May 18-19.

Apr 29 – May 1 — Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, Parkes, Australia: Workshop for Science Teachers: Astronomy from the Ground Up!

Apr 29 — Moon: At last quarter, 17:29.

Apr 29 — Apollo Asteroid 2002 CX58: Near-Earth flyby (0.043 AU).


Apr 30 — Hubble Space Telescope, LEO: Telescope, launched in 1990, extended operations contract ends today; further evaluation / mission planning to occur.

Apr 30 — UH Hilo, Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee, CFHT, East Asian Observatories, IfA, Gemini Observatory, W. M. Keck Observatory, Subaru telescope, et al, Hilo HI: AstroDay 2016; at Prince Kuhio Plaza.

Apr 30 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 FP12 : Near-Earth flyby (0.049 AU).

Apr 30 — Aten Asteroid 2008 PR9: Near-Earth flyby (0.077 AU).


NET May — ISRO, Launch PSLV / Cartosat 2C, Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India: India Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, flying PSLV-C34 mission, to launch Cartosat 2C high-resolution Earth observation satellite and 21 other satellites.

 May 1 — Deep Space, Ceres Orbit 385-km altitude: Dawn mission expected to continue science observations at largest known object in Main Asteroid Belt until at least June 30 of this year – if not into 2017; observing hydrogen, potential water ice & salt deposits, craters, fractures, mountains, ridges.

May 1 — May Day or Beltane: Festival of Beltane “the return of the Sun” commonly held on this day (or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice) to celebrate fertility, fire, and abundance; celebrated as Lei Day in Hawaii.

May 1-4 — Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Nice Observatory, Nice, France: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) 11th Users’ Meeting.

May 1-8 — Texas Star Party Inc., Fort Davis TX: 38th Annual Texas Star Party.

May 1 — Apollo Asteroid 2014 US115: Near-Earth flyby (0.024 AU).