May 23-29, 2011 / Vol 30, No 21 / Hawai`i Island, USA

JFK Moon Commitment Speech Continues to Impact USA Space Initiatives

On May 25, the nation will observe the 50th commemoration of President John F. Kennedy’s (T) inspirational 1961 speech to Congress in which he proposed landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth before the end of the decade.  His vision helped the USA land the 1st humans on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, which forever redefined the realm of possibilities in space exploration. Events have been planned worldwide to celebrate the 50th commemorative speech. On May 24, The California Space Authority will hold ‘California Space Day’ in Sacramento. Participants will meet with key state legislators to discuss vital issues for California space enterprise. On May 25, NASA will host a musical celebration, ‘Human Spaceflight: The Kennedy Legacy’ at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC which will feature NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (BL). That same day, Buzz Aldrin (BR) will give the keynote address at the JFK Presidential Library’s 50th JFK Anniversary event. In London, England, The British Interplanetary Society will host a lecture by Space Scientist Alan Lawrie on ‘How the Saturn 5 Rocket was Built and Tested.’ The Saturn rocket transported the Apollo spacecraft a quarter of a million miles to the Moon.  (Credit: NASA,,

Lunabotics Mining Competition Inspiring Future Lunar Explorers

46 teams of undergraduate and graduate students from USA, Bangladesh, Canada, Columbia and India will participate in the NASA Lunabotics Mining Competition on May 26-28 at Kennedy Space Center.  Student teams operate telerobotic or autonomous robots they have designed and built to excavate lunar regolith simulant during a 15-minute time limit. The minimum excavation requirement is 10kg and the excavation hardware mass limit is 80kg. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will be awarded with US$5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 scholarships respectively. NASA will fill its Lunarena with compacted lunar regolith stimulant, 3 randomly placed obstacles and 2 craters. 2 teams participate at a time, with each team required to move their lunabot across the obstacle zone to the mining zone and then back to the collector box to deliver the simulant. The competition is designed to promote interest in space activities and STEM fields while also helping to advance lunar regolith mining technologies. (Credit: NASA)

= 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 – Morning Planets: Mercury (E), Venus (E), Mars (E), Jupiter (E) / Evening Planets: Saturn (S).


May 23 — International Space Station, LEO: STS-134 crew members Chamitoff and Feustel to perform several spacewalks this week to install a new package of experiments to ECL-2 and an external wireless communication antenna on the Destiny laboratory.

May 23 — NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Lunar Orbit: All systems nominal in scientific phase of mission as LRO continues to make digital elevation and terrain maps that will be a fundamental reference for future human exploration.

May 23 — Mars Rover Opportunity, Red Planet: NASA rover continues trek to Endeavour Crater, recently passing 29km of total mission odometry.

May 23-24 — The SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: ‘2011 Enceladus Focus Group Meeting.’

May 23-28 — NASA, Kennedy Space Center FL: ‘2nd Annual Lunabotics Mining Competition.’

May 23 — Cassini OTM-285, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #285 today.

May 23Asteroid 9000 Hal: Closest Approach to Earth (1.003 AU).

Continued from . . .

May 9 — Google Lunar X Prize Foundation, LEGO Group, Online: Free registration and Phase 1 of ‘Moonbots 2.0 Challenge‘ open; through Jun 13.

May 22 — American Astronomical Society, Boston MA: ‘218th Meeting of the AAS;’ through May 27.

May 22 — Carnegie Mellon University, Ames Research Center, Moffet Field CA: ‘Disaster Management Initiative;’ through May 23.

May 22 — ESA, Hyeres, France: ‘20th ESA Symposium on European Rocket and Balloon Programs and Related Research;’ through May 26.

May 22 — Science Council of Japan, Japan Geoscience Union, Chiba-City, Japan: ‘Japan Geoscience Union Meeting 2011;’ through May 27.


May 24 — California Space Authority, Sacramento CA: ‘2011 California Space Day.’

May 24 — Endeavour Institute, Discovery Institute, et al, San Luis Obispo CA: ‘Central Coast STEM Education Forum Event.’

May 24-25 — NASA, Cape Canaveral FL: ‘NASA Commercial Crew Program Requirements Workshop.’

May 24Moon: At Last Quarter; 08:51.

May 24Asteroid 2009 U01: Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU).


May 25 — 50th Commemoration of Speech by USA President John F. Kennedy, Nationwide: May 25, 1961 speech to a joint session of Congress in which President John F. Kennedy proposed sending Americans to the Moon “before this decade is out.”

May 25 — NASA, Washington DC: ‘NASA Presents: Human Spaceflight – The Kennedy Legacy,’ a musical celebration honoring 50 years of American spaceflight at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center.

May 25 — John F. Kennedy Library, Washington DC: ‘50th Anniversary Events for JFK Speech,’ featuring keynote speaker, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

May 25 — The British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: ‘Lecture: How the Saturn 5 Moon Rocket was Built and Tested,’ Alan Lawrie.

May 25 — The SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Colloquium Series Lecture: ‘Why Can’t Mimas be More Like Enceladus,’ Bill McKinnon.

May 25 — Space Transportation Association, Washington DC: ‘STA Breakfast Meeting,’ Doug Cooke.

May 25-27 — The National Academies, Boulder CO: ‘A Decadal Strategy for Solar and Space Physics.’

May 25-30 — Riverside Astronomical Society, Sky and Telescope, et al, Big Bear City CA: ‘43rd Annual Riverside Telescope Makers Conference Astronomy Expo.’


May 26 — Committee on Science, Space & TechnologyThe Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Washington DC: ‘Hearing: NASA’s Commercial Cargo Providers – Are They Ready to Supply the Space Station in the Post – Shuttle Era.’

May 26 — Australia Telescope Users Committee (ATUC), Sydney, Australia: ‘ATUC Open Session Meeting 2011.’


May 27Moon: At Apogee (Distance 63.50 Earth-Radii); 00:00.

May 27Asteroid 2011 HT: Near-Earth Flyby (0.094 AU).


May 28 — San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego CA: ‘2011 Space Day Celebration.’

May 28Asteroid 2001 Einstein: Closest Approach to Earth (0.921 AU).


May 29Moon: 5.4° NNW of Jupiter; 01:00.

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