India Launch Vehicles, Human Spaceflight and Planetary Missions
The space program in India is energetically advancing and propelled by unique expertise in frugal engineering and innovative enterprise. The total budget allocated for the India space program ISRO is US$1B, constituting just 0.34% of the total annual budget of the country and only 5.6% of the annual NASA budget. With these modest resources India is progressing on a variety of projects. High priority is given to continuing development of the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which made a triumphant return to flight January 5, after long delays and a string of failures. The next test scheduled for May-June will constitute an experimental flight of the GSLV MKIII configuration designed to lift 4-5-tonne payloads into geostationary transfer orbit. It will also carry a mock up of the human crew module being developed by ISRO. The proposed 2020 human space flight mission is undergoing initial studies and prototyping, including instrumentation on the crew module structure delivered by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and parachute systems for reentry and landing, but has yet to gain final approval from the government. There are also significant preparations underway for the Chandrayaan-2 mission set to land on and explore the surface of the Moon in 2016, following up on the successful Chandrayaan-1 orbiter and South Pole impactor (2008-9; US$62M). India also recently launched its 1,360-kg Mars orbiter mission Mangalyaan toward the Red Planet with a suite of 5 instruments and a price tag of about US$75M. (Image Credit: ISRO)
China and Japan Advancing Moon Science, Planning Future Moon Missions
China is the only country operating on the surface of the Moon with the Chang’e-3 (CE3) Lander and Yutu Rover currently in their third Lunar night. Situated at Sinus Iridum / Mare Imbrium, 44.12°N 19.51°W, Yutu reaches its 3-month projected lifetime mid-March and CE3 is expected to operate until at least mid-December. CE4 Rover (2015) and CE5 Sample return mission (2017) will build upon successes of CE3: first image of Earth from Moon in over 40 years, chemical and depth analysis of lunar soil, astronomy from the Moon. Construction of the Wenchang Satellite Center in Hainan, the fourth and lowest latitude launch facility in China at 19° N, should be complete by June. It will utilize Long-March 5 and 7 rockets, and launch CE5, deep-space probe missions and space station components. Japan is also aiming for the Moon again with SELENE-2 orbiter, lander, rover mission (2018). The JAXA, NAOJ ‘Selene Symposium 2014: International Symposium of Lunar Science and Exploration using data from Multi-Instruments’ convened by Dr. Takahiro Iwata will occur on Mar 4-5 in Mitaka, Tokyo. As additional countries join the ‘Lunar Club’ and mining / territorial claims are realized, addressing the question of who owns the Moon becomes more urgent. (Image Credit: CCTV, CNSA, JAXA)
= 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 (ESE), Mars (S), Jupiter (S); Morning Planets: Venus (SE), Saturn (S).
Mar 3 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 38 members Kotov, Ryazansky, Hopkins reviewing Soyuz descent procedures, preparing for return to Earth Mar 10; transferring trash to Progress 54P set to undock Mar 25, burn up in Earth atmosphere.
Mar 3 — Tiangong-1, LEO: Material science payload that examines crystal growth in space being observed through still imagery and video downlink.
Mar 3 — Curiosity, Kimberly (KMS-9) Trajectory, Mars: Heading to science waypoint Kimberly (formerly known as KMS-9) about 1 km away to investigate, use sample-collecting drill.
Mar 3 — Juno, Jupiter Trajectory: Spacecraft to reach Jupiter in 854 days, traveling at 83,880 kph with one-way radio signal travel time of about 12 minutes; has traveled 1.983B km (13.25 AU).
Mar 3 — Cassini OTM-373, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #373 today.
Mar 3 — SpaceX, Multiple Locations: NewSpace company with 5 milestones remaining for NASA CCiCap: delta ground systems review, Dragon capsule pad abort test, structure qualification, design review, in-flight abort test.
Mar 3 — Spaceport Sweden, Kiruna, Sweden: Establishing commercial human spaceflight tourism in Sweden; commissioned 3-month feasibility / concept study for the development of Space Visitor and Science Center now complete.
Mar 3 — Saber Astronautics, Austin TX: Developing Compact Microgravity Liquid Storage Container to allow for ‘natural’ drinking of liquid in space (i.e. from bottle, not squeeze tube), and ‘DragEN’ Cubesat Deorbit System.
Mar 3 — American Astronautical Society, Online / Springfield VA: Abstracts Due: International Space Station (ISS) Research and Development Conference.
Mar 3-5 — National Research Council Space Studies Board and Board on Physics and Astronomy, the National Academies, Washington DC: Space Science Week 2014; at National Academy of Sciences Building.
Jan 21 – Mar 7 — Zybek Advanced Products, Kickstarter Inc., Online / Boulder CO: Project Moon Dust: Synthetics for Outer Space Education – Kickstarter Campaign.
Feb 1 – Dec 31 — Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), Multiple Locations: Cycle 2 of science flights to observe universe consists of 47 science flights grouped into multi-week observing campaigns totaling about 350 research flight hours.
Mar 1-8 — IEEE, AIAA, Prognostics and Health Management Society, Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society, Big Sky MT: 2014 IEEE Aerospace Conference; at Yellowstone Conference Center.
Mar 4 — Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt MD: NASA Officials to Discuss Fiscal Year 2015 Budget; NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, CFO Elizabeth Robinson, GSFC Director Chris Scolese; live coverage available, 14:00 EST.
Mar 4 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: SETI Talks: Refactoring Space Exploration with Soft Machines; presented by Vytas SunSpiral of NASA Ames, 12:00 PST.
Mar 4 — The National Academies, Washington DC: Lecture: Exoplanets and the Real Search for Alien Life; presented by Sara Seager, MIT Professor of Planetary Science and Physics, 18:30 EST.
Mar 4-5 — JAXA, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan: Selene Symposium 2014: International Symposium of Lunar Science and Exploration using data from Multi-Instruments.
Mar 4-6 — American Astronautical Society, Greenbelt MD: 52nd Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium: Science and Exploration – Engineering the Future.
Mar 5 — The British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: L.J. Carter Memorial Lecture – Astronauts and the Highs and Lows of Solar Activity; presented by Dr Lucie Green.
Mar 5 — Asteroid 2014 DP21: Near-Earth flyby (0.027 AU).
Mar 6 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Titan flyby scheduled at 1,500-km altitude.
Mar 6 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: Cosmic Explorations: A Speaker Series: Exploding Stars, Cosmic Blowtorches, and the Runaway Universe; presented Dr. Jeffrey Silverman from University of Texas at Austin.
Mar 6 — Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, Sydney, Australia: Colloquium: The Radio/Gamma-Ray Connection in Active Galactic Nuclei in the Fermi Era; presented by Marcello Giroletti.
Mar 6 — Moon: 6.7° S of Pleiades, 14:00.
Mar 6 — Asteroid 2014 DO7: Near-Earth flyby (0.071 AU).
Mar 7 — Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt MD: Goddard Scientific Colloquium: Collisions in Space – The Threat of Asteroid Impacts; presented by Melissa Hayes-Gehrke from University of Maryland.
Mar 7 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, Ken Cameron; US$49.95 adult.
Mar 7-8 — JAXA, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi, Japan: Moon and Mars vertical hole lava tube exploration Study Group.
Mar 7 — Moon: 2.1° N of Aldebaran, 12:00.
Mar 7 — Asteroid 2014 CP13: Near-Earth flyby (0.080 AU).
Mar 8 — Sacramento L5 Society – NSS Chapter, Sacramento CA: Meeting of the Sacramento L5 Society.
Mar 8 — Moon: At first quarter, 04:26.
Mar 8 — Asteroid 2013 YR2: Near-Earth flyby (0.076 AU).
Mar 9 — ISS, LEO: Change of Command Ceremony, Oleg Kotov hands over ISS command to Koichi Wakata, 06:20 UT, live coverage available.
Mar 9 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Host Dr. David Livingston talks with Dr. Gilbert Levin about Mars Viking Experiments.
Mar 9 — Daylight Saving Time (USA): Set clock ahead 1 hour; does not include Hawai’i, American Samoa or Arizona (except the Navajo Reservation).
Mar 9 — Asteroid 357622 (2005 EY95): Near-Earth flyby (0.068 AU).