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Volume year 1996, Issue 3
March 1996

Table of Contents

Shuttle Tether Fails, Frayed Cable and Spark May Be to Blame

by Jeff Foust

A tether experiment on the shuttle Columbia was cut short -- literally -- Sunday night, February 25th, when the tether snapped near the base as it approached its maximum length.

NASA officials early in the week refused to speculate on the cause of the break, but some sources pointed to a frayed cable and an electrical spark as the reason for the snap.

"The tether has broken at the boom! The tether has broken! It is going away from us!" mission specialist Jeffrey Hoffman said moments after the thin cable snapped.

The tether, only a tenth of an inch thick, broke near the base of the cable system in the shuttle Columbia's cargo bay. Only about 10 meters (33 feet) of the more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) of cable were left attached to the shuttle.

The remaining cable, along with the half-ton $443 million satellite, quickly drifted away from the shuttle. The shuttle was not in any danger from the satellite or the tether at any time.

Video from the shuttle after the break showed that the end of the tether, made of copper, Nomex, and Teflon, was extremely frayed. In the words of one observer, the tether resembled "curly french fries."

According to one astronaut, the end of the tether also had a charred or melted appearance, evidence for one possible cause of the accident.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Italian scientist Marino Dobrowlny suggested that the insulation on part of the tether may have worn away, exposing the copper wire at the core of the tether.

The Nomex and Teflon insulation may have been worn or stripped away from contact within the reel of cable or from the boom that anchored the tether to the Columbia's cargo bay.

At the time the tether snapped, it was generating over 3,000 volts of electricity, 60% of its final goal. Dobrowlny noted that a spark may have occurred between the unprotected cable and the boom which would be strong enough to snap the slender cable.

Data from the experiment shows a spark or other electrical discharge taking place around the time the tether broke.

NASA officials refused to speculate on the cause of the accident. They have impounded all data collected from the five-hour experiment and have turn it over to a board of inquiry.

The snapped tether is the latest, most serious snafu associated with the Tethered Satellite System (TSS), a joint American-Italian project. The TSS first flew in 1992, but astronauts were only able to deploy about 250 meters (850 feet) of the 20-km cable, generating a mere 40 volts of electricity.

The tether jammed when it became snagged with a bolt that protruded out into the path of the tether. The bolt had been added only shortly before launch.

On this flight, tether deployment had been scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but was delayed for one day when several problems with critical computer systems arose. One of the computers also failed on Sunday morning, only hours before tether deployment, but was quickly fixed.

Despite the past problems, the tether deployment was smooth. A small oscillation in the tether was damped out after a short time, and the experiment was proceeding smoothly up to the time the tether snapped.

Scientists and engineers had hoped to show the potential space applications for tethers on this mission. Among those is the ability to generate electricity by passing a conducting wire through the Earth's magnetic field.

"Unfortunately, we've also demonstrated that you can use tethers to launch a satellite into a much higher orbit," Hoffman said.

The seven-man crew will spend the rest of their two-week mission performing a number of microgravity experiments. Among those experiments will be studies of plant growth, materials science, and fuel combustion in weightlessness.

The crew is also the most international in the 75-flight history of the shuttle. Two of the seven astronauts are from Italy and a third is Swiss. One of the four American astronauts, Franklin Chang-Diaz, was born in Costa Rica and is a naturalized American citizen.

The next shuttle mission is set for late March, when the shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir for the third time.

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Recent Space News

Unusual X-Ray Burster Discovered

Astronomers using NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory have discovered a new type of astronomical object: a pulsar that emits steady bursts of intense gamma rays.

The object was discovered in early December, when instruments on the spacecraft detected a series of strong bursts of hard X-rays. The unknown source was initially producing bursts at a rate of 140 per day; it has now decayed to about 20 per day.

Later in December, astronomers found additional radiation from the same point in the sky. The radiation was appearing at the rate of twice a second, consistent with a pulsar. Later analysis showed that the pulsar and the X-ray burster were one and the same, the first such object known to exist.

The bursting pulsar appears to be part of a binary system, which may explain its unusual nature. "The most likely explanation at this time is that the bursts of X-ray energy may result when the lighter of the pair of stars loses its material by gravitational or magnetic forces to the neutron star," said Marshall Space Flight Center astrophysicist Chryssa Kouveliotou.

Inertia Control System Failure Cause of Chinese Rocket Crash

A failure in the inertia platform of a key control system caused the crash of a Chinese Long March 3B rocket February 15, according to a Chinese press release.

The press release from the Great Wall Industry Corporation stated that a failure in the inertia platform in the rocket's control system two seconds after launch caused the rocket to veer 180 degrees, crashing into the ground and exploding. The cause of the failure in the control system is still under investigation.

The crash, the second involving a Long March booster in just over a year, destroyed an Intelsat communications satellite intended to deliver television programming to Latin America for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Outside reports claim that dozens of people were killed in the crash, but Chinese officials maintain damage and injuries from the accident were minimal.

The crash has delayed the next Long March launch. Apstar-1A, scheduled for a March launch, has been rescheduled to April 10 to permit a full investigation of the crash.

POLAR Satellite Launched

NASA launched the Polar Plasma Laboratory (POLAR) satellite February 24th from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a mission to study the solar wind and its interaction with the Earth.

A Delta II launched the $288 million spacecraft into a polar orbit in the early morning hours Saturday. The launch had been delayed one day due to high winds.

The spacecraft carries 11 experiments that will be used to study the effects the solar winds has on the Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere. Such data will be useful to researchers seeking to understand how strong solar events, such as solar flares, can cause communications problems for satellites and electrical blackouts on the ground.

Mir Cosmonauts Return Home

Two Russian and one German cosmonaut returned to Earth February 29th after spending nearly six months aboard the Russian space station Mir.

Sergei Avdeyev, Yuri Gidzenko, and Thomas Reiter safety returned to Earth in a Soyuz capsule, a week after the two-man relief crew of Yuri Onufrienko and Yuri Usachev lifted off from Baikonur.

The three had been on Mir since early September as part of EUROMIR95, a joint project between the Russian and European Space Agencies. They had been scheduled to return in late January, but delays in the manufacture and assembly of the booster used by the relief crew delayed their launch, forcing the three man crew to extend their mission.

The current Mir crew, nicknamed "The Two Yuris" in the Russian press, will be joined by American astronaut Shannon Lucid in late March, when she arrives on the shuttle Atlantis for a five-month stay.

Hubble Finds Another Black Hole

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discovered yet another black hole, the third found using the orbiting telescope, Space Telescope officials announced.

The black hole, which has the mass of two billion suns, is located in the center of galaxy NGC 3115, 30 million light-years from the Earth.

Unlike the two previous discoveries of black holes, which relied on the discovery of swirling gas disks in galaxies, this discovery used the Hubble's Faint Object Spectrograph to detect the movement of stars around the galactic center, providing evidence for the existence of a small but massive object in the center: a black hole.

The discovery was made by a team of astronomers led by John Kormendy of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

McDonnell Douglas Selected for Rocket Contract

NASA has selected McDonnell Douglas as the winner of the Med-Lite competition to develop an inexpensive medium-light expendable launch vehicle.

The contract, worth about $500 million, calls for McDonnell Douglas to provide boosters to launch scientific payloads weighing up to 2,000 kg (4,400 lbs).

The company plans to use the Delta II 7300, Taurus, and the to-be-developed Delta-Lite launch vehicles under this contract. Up to 14 launches are planned under the contract, with five firm launches and options for up to nine additional ones.

Among the scheduled launches include the Far Ulraviolet Spectroscopy Explorer (FUSE), 1998 Mars Surveyor Orbiter-2 and 1998 Mars Surveyor Lander-1. The three spacecraft are scheduled for launch in 1998 and early 1999.

Orbital Sciences Corporation will be a major subcontractor to McDonnell Douglas for Med-Lite, providing its Taurus launch vehicle.

Other News

NASA has renamed the X-Ray Timing Explorer in memory of astrophysicist Bruno B. Rossi. The Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), as it is now called, was launched into Earth orbit last December on a mission to study cosmic sources of X-rays. Bruno Rossi was a professor of physics at MIT until his death in 1993. He was considered to be a pioneer in both X-ray astronomy and space plasma research... In what may be a good omen for this month's Oscars, Apollo 13 won the Screen Actors' Guild award for best ensemble cast, the equivalent of best picture, at an awards ceremony February 24. Ed Harris also won an award for best supporting actor for his portrayal of flight director Gene Krantz... A malfunction in a Proton booster stranded a Raduga communications satellite in a transfer orbit February 19. The cause of the failure is unknown.

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The Ultimate First Stage to Orbit

by Harold Hamblet

Robert Forward designs mega-structures. In his books Future Magic and Indistinguishable From Magic he describes how to build an elevator to orbit, using existing technology. Successful construction requires an active suspension, moving parts holding the building up, and a host of controls that must work perfectly 100% of the time, or the building falls down. To describe why we would want to construct an elevator to orbit, he casually mentions that conventional construction using existing materials can build structures up to 30 kilometers or so.

I'd love to see Forward's elevator to space built, but suspect that politicians would never allow such construction to occur, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Critics of single stage to orbit designs argue, quite convincingly, that SSTO requires existing materials technology be stretched right to the limit with existing and probable propellants. Any design weight slippage requiring a heavier airframe, which is a very likely construction outcome, and payload capacity to orbit disappears, if not total ability to achieve orbit.

The Blackhorse design, mid-air high altitude refueling, gives people the shudders. Mid-air refueling is dangerous. To mid-air refuel, and put a strain on the tether, and do it safely and consistently just isn't a feasible scenario.

Any other totally reusable multi-stage to orbit design is criticized because of the real dangers posed by high speed vehicle separation.

What we need is an all purpose first stage that can be mated to any launch vehicle to give it a boost to orbit. Why not a high speed elevator on a very tall building? Chart 1 shows the velocities in miles per hour that can be obtained with modest accelerations over fixed distances.

Chart 1

miles   1   1.4   5    7   10   14   20

 .5    280  231  626  741  886 1048 1253

  1    396  468  886 1048 1253 1482 1772

  2    560  663 1253 1482 1772 2097 2506

  3    686  812 1535 1816 2170 2568 3070

  4    792  937 1772 2097 2506 2965 3545

  5    886 1048 1981 2344 2802 3316 3963

 10   1253 1482 2802 3316 3963 4689 5605

Orbital velocity is 18,000 MPH. The 30 kilometer high limit of existing materials using conventional building techniques is no problem. With a ten mile high building with one side sloped at 45 degrees, 10 G's gives us a velocity or 4689 MPH; more than 25% of the velocity needed for orbit, at ten miles high. Even a more modest 5 G's gives us 3316 MPH, more than 15% of needed velocity. Blackhorse, DC-X, X-33 or X-34, or any virtually any other horizontal or vertical take off and land single stage design becomes feasible. With payload. Allowing the design engineers some margin of error for design weights. Even .5 G with a ten mile high straight up boost puts a vehicle ten miles up with a vertical velocity of 886 MPH. The boost design is real simple for this kind of acceleration. At ground level on one side of the building, you place an elevator platform with your vehicle on it. At the top of the other side of the building, you hang a weight at least twice as heavy as the vehicle plus platform. Connect them with Kevlar cables run over some pulleys, and let go the weight. The weight goes down, the vehicle goes up. You brake the weight by dropping into a large pool of water. You brake the launch platform with something similar to aircraft carrier arresting cables. Lift the weight back up, and you're ready for the next launch. By varying the ratio of weight size to payload plus platform, acceleration of up to about .9 G could be achieved.

For accelerations 1 G and above, linear induction motors are used. If going straight up, build a cylindrical elevator right in the middle of the structure, with linear induction motors located around the periphery. For a launch up the sloped side of a building, a series of linear induction motors, with a simple open air platform for the launch vehicle to rest on. At the top, electrically brake the platform in a very short distance, leaving the launch vehicle to fly off.

The next question is, of course, how much does this ultimate first stage to orbit cost? I don't know. The World Trade Center in New York cost about $900 million to build. A ten mile high building is 30 times as high, so figure roughly 30 times as much, rounded off to about $30 billion. This isn't a perfect estimate, for several reasons. One, most of a conventional building's construction costs are in habitability items such as elevators, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment, floors and walls, and other amenities. The UFSTO doesn't need any of these. On the other hand, the UFSTO is going a lot higher, and needs a bigger base, and more material. Plus the cost of the launch systems.

Does $30 billion sound like a lot? Compare it to some other recent ventures. A ten mile long interstate extension in Boston to serve Logan Airport cost about $10 billion, $1 billion per mile. It serves people and traffic in one city and one destination. For three times that we can build a ten mile high entry ramp to the stars that will serve all humanity.

The 10 G acceleration limit was picked as a reasonable acceleration for a healthy human in fairly good physical shape to withstand for a short period of time. For inert payload objects that are not acceleration sensitive forces, we can build an evacuated electromagnetic launch tube up the side of the UFSTO. At 148 G's, a tube full of water, rocket fuel, or construction I-beams for a solar power satellite would leave the launcher at 18,000 MPH. You position a space tug to catch it at apogee, and voila!, payload to orbit a negligible price per pound compared to the shuttle. This should certainly be something to be designed into the UFSTO.

If the calculations are carried a bit further, a 210 mile long launch ramp gives us 18,000 MPH. Even at 20 miles high, the aerodynamic shock of a launch vehicle exiting an evacuated tube and hitting the tenuous atmosphere would probably be a bit much for living payloads. At the very best, it would be disconcerting to passengers. For a start, a ten mile high building with a 45 degree side with a launch ramp on it should be enough to reduce launch costs to the point where space construction becomes economically feasible.

The very rough estimate here for construction costs for the UFSTO may be low or high by quite a bit. I've heard people talk about electromagnetic launchers, but I have never actually seen a concrete proposal for the best way to build one. Consider this the first iteration of a launch assist building. The launch building in this case could serve two kinds of payload - inert payload, and g-sensitive payload, such as humans. It would drastically lower the cost of inert payload to orbit.

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Book Reviews

by Jeff Foust

Impact Jupiter: The Crash of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
by David H. Levy
Plenum Press
290pp., illus., 1995
ISBN 0-306-45088-7

More than a year and a half has passed since fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into the planet Jupiter. The excitement and public interest surrounding the impacts has faded, just as the scars left by the impacts on Jupiter, giving us a chance to step back and look at the larger picture. David Levy, amateur astronomer and co-discoverer of the famous comet, has given us one such viewpoint in his book Impact Jupiter.

Levy provides a personal account of comet-related events, starting one partially-clear night at the 18-inch Schmidt telescope at Palomar Mountain. Weather had frustrated Levy and his colleagues, Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker, in their photographic search for near-Earth asteroids. However, the fortuitous combination of marginally clear skies and partially exposed film that could be "wasted" on the poor sky conditions gave the team the opportunity to take several images of the sky around Jupiter, one of which turned up the now-famous comet as a peculiar bar on the film.

Levy moves forward from there to describe the events between discovery and impact: the discoveries that the comet was a set of fragments from a tidally-disrupted comet, that the comet was in orbit around Jupiter and not the Sun, and that the comet would slam into Jupiter at 60 kilometers a second in July 1994. Levy l ooks at both the science being conducted in the pre-impact period and the growing public interest in the impending collision.

Levy then goes into great detail during the week of the impacts. He spent the impact week at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, shuttling down to several events in Washington (including meeting President Clinton) during that time. He also discusses in detail the work of astronomers around the world observing the impacts.

Levy, who is not a professional astronomer, is able to discuss in clear and precise language many of the scientific questions raised by the impacts, based on results presented at a number of meetings before and after the impacts Levy attended. Background information about comets and Jupiter gives the layperson a good foundation that is built upon throughout the book.

While Levy does a good job explaining the science at work, it should be clear that Impact Jupiter is as much a human drama as a scientific one. Levy tells the story of the discovery and its effect on him as much as he discusses the effect of the comet impacts on Jupiter. Levy had a behind-the-scenes look at the events behind the impact, and he uses that perspective to put a human face on the cosmic collisions.

Despite a few minor errors (for example, he states that an important pre-impact meeting took place in Baltimore when in fact it occurred at the University of Maryland in College Park, just outside Washington) Impact Jupiter works on several levels. For someone unfamiliar with the impacts (which should be only a very few people!) the book is a good description of the events and the science behind them. For those already familiar with the events, the book provides an important human perspective on the events. Many other books on the impacts are certain to follow, but few will have the insight and perspective of Impact Jupiter.

Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed
by Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr.
The Johns Hopkins University Press
199pp., 1 illus., 1995 (originally published, 1972)
ISBN 0-8018-5097-5

The interest in the "successful failure" of Apollo 13, sparked by the 25th anniversary of the mission last April and brought to a fever pitch by the release of the blockbuster movie Apollo 13 last summer, has subsided. The Academy Awards at the end of March may revive interest the mission to a limited degree, as its namesake movie vies for nine awards, but after that the mission will disappear from the media's radar screens, likely for good. If the movie and the hype around it has left you searching for more information about the mission, Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr.'s book Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed may be what you're looking for.

Originally published in 1972 as Thirteen: The Flight That Failed and reissued in 1995 under the slightly modified title, Cooper's narrative provides a no-nonsense account of the mission's events both on board the crippled spacecraft and at mission control. The short book starts when the explosion in Apollo 13's service module occurs and ends just after splashdown. The book is very highly focused: there is essentially no discussion of events leading up to the accident, and no discussion about the effects of the accident on the astronaut's families, the media, or the general public. This is a story of how the astronauts and ground crew alone worked to solve the problems with the mission.

Cooper writes from the perspective of a detached observer. We rarely get inside the heads of the astronauts or ground personnel, study how they're feeling, get a chance to sympathize with them. Cooper lays out the events as they took place, with little or no editorializing. This provides a striking contrast to Jim Lovell's account of the accident in Lost Moon, which is a highly personal retelling of events.

Which is better? As with all things, it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a highly personal account of the events, Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed will be disappointing when compared to Lost Moon. If, however, you're looking for a detailed account of the events from the accident to splashdown, you would be hard pressed to find anything better, and certainly nothing as concise and straightforward, as Cooper's book.

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Space Frontier Foundation Congressional Briefing Project

by Michael Heney

The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) is organizing a Congressional briefing project during the week of March 24-29, 1996 (Sunday - Friday). This briefing is a follow-on to last year's successful effort, where a team of 9 individuals - acting as private citizens - briefed 52 members of Congress on the X-33 Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program and Rep. Robert Walker's commercial space legislation. The target of this year's project is to brief at least 150 members of Congress, with a focus on the Senate, and again focusing on the X-33 program and private enterprise in space.

We are looking for people to participate in this event in any way they can - especially by coming to Washington, DC during the week of March 24-29. This is a great way to show that you're a space activist! Last year's briefings resulted in $25 Million being added to the DoD's budget for RLV technology development - that works out to almost $3 Million per activist for their week on the Hill! We made a difference last year, and we're looking to repeat our success in 1996.

A WWW page is being developed to include details for the March 1996 event as they develop, a look back at the March 1995 briefings, an article which appeared in "SpaceFront" and "The Spacefaring Gazette", briefing materials as they become available, and more. The page is located at - the page is under development, so please check in often and pass the word around.

The preliminary agenda for the March 24-29 event is:

Sunday, March 24th: Train & Organize
Citizens will be trained on briefing Members of Congress, and on the specific policy issues of the briefing. Teams will be organized for the week-long effort.
Monday, March 25th: Conference
A conference to showcase the vision of the Space Frontier Foundation - a bright future of a united humankind expanding into the Solar System with abundant resources for all. Major national leaders will rub elbows and talk with Foundation Advocates and Friends of the Foundation.
Tuesday - Friday, March 26-29th: Congressional Briefings
Private citizens, or Friends of the Foundation, will brief at least 150 Members of Congress on the X-33 program and other important policy issues. Meet with other important national leaders on a more informal basis.

How You Can Help!

  1. Meet us in Washington, DC! Plan now for a one week vacation in March in our nation's capitol. Note: a full week is not required. Even a day or two of your time can make a huge difference. This is your $3 Million Contribution!
  2. Help us set up a DC meeting with your Senator or Congressional Representative. Even though you can not go to Washington, D.C. you can set up a meeting and tell them "The Space Frontier Foundation will be speaking for me!"
  3. Meet with your Member of Congress in your local area. While we are talking to them in Washington, D.C., you can speak to them in their local office. We will even send you the SFF Briefing Package to help you with the meeting.
  4. Tell your friends about the project! Invite them to go to Washington, D.C., or to join you in a meeting at your local congressional office.

To get involved now, send your name, address, phone numbers and email to:

Charles MillerMichael K. Heney
National Field DirectorDC Area Contact
Space Frontier FoundationSpace Frontier Foundation
1200 Spyglass Parkway907 Helena Drive
Vallejo, CA 94591Silver Spring, MD 20901
For More Information:(301) 754-0057

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Space Access '96

by Henry Vanderbilt

Space Access '96 is Space Access Society's fourth annual conference on the technology, economics, and politics of the near-term prospects for radically cheaper access to space. SA'96 takes place Friday evening April 26th through Sunday evening April 28th this year. We will have a cross-section of the players in the affordable access field, including all three X-33 reusable rocketship bidders, their NASA and DOD partners, several of the commercial low-cost launch startups, and an assortment of the leading lights of the affordable space access movement.

SA'96, like our previous conferences will be done on an informal basis, with no proceedings published. If you want to get up to the minute on this fast-moving field, you need to be there.

The Safari is a comfortable rambling resort-style hotel, with a good mid-price restaurant, a 24-hour coffee shop, right next to downtown Scottsdale with lots of shopping and fine dining a short walk away.

The SA'96 room rate is $62 a night single or double, $92 for suites, good from the previous Tuesday through the following Wednesday morning. Reserve early as our room block is limited, and after they're gone the rate will be higher. How much so depends on what the hotel thinks the traffic will bear, so reserve early. Arizona is a popular tourist destination in April - a typical day is sunny and in the eighties.

Call (800) 845-4356 for reservations, and tell the Safari you want the Space Access '96 rate. (Actual convention dates are Friday evening April 26 through Sunday evening April 28.) You will need to confirm your room with a credit card or a mailed check, or they'll release it for general rental a week beforehand. If you need to confirm via check, get the details from them when you call.

The Safari is twenty minutes from the Phoenix airport via 'Super Shuttle' van. Once you're there everything you need is within walking distance. Super Shuttle runs $12 for one, $17 for two, 602 244-9000 for info and reservations. Phoenix is a major airline hub and served by several low-fare carriers; getting here can be surprisingly affordable if you shop around and book your tickets early.

Space Access '96 registration is $90 US through the end of February, $100 thereafter, $120 at the door, $50 for students with proof of full-time student status. SAS membership, with emailed "Space Access Updates", is $30 for one year (include your email address). Mail checks to:

4855 E Warner Rd #24-150
Phoenix AZ 85044.

(A side note: We hear that our former partners in SAS's first annual conference, "Making Orbit '93", took a number of advance memberships for MO'96 before canceling it. As a goodwill gesture, anyone who can show us a canceled check or a receipt for their MO'96 membership can have a membership to Space Access '96, free. Y'all come down and check us out, y'heah? And see who knows how to do these things right!)

Space Access Society
4855 E Warner Rd #24-150
Phoenix AZ 85044
602 431-9283 voice/fax

"Dedicated to promoting affordable reliable access to space for all."

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Space Horizons Conference

by David Goldstein

Space Horizons: A Summit on Emerging Applications, Missions, and Technology

Sponsored by AeroAstro, LLC. / Boston University / Launchspace, Inc. / National Space Society / New Space

Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 2*, 3, 4, 1996
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

Space is at a crossroads. National space and defense budget cuts mean the space community must become more viable commercially and contribute increased net benefit to the world economy. Paradoxically, the classical space industry is now shrinking - as the number of new space applications is rapidly growing and technologies for doing space efficiently are finally maturing.

The two-day Space Horizons conference brings together leaders and experts from space industry, government, and academia. In an informal workshop setting the conference engages all the participants in a series of dialogues on leveraging new technical and financial realities to create the next generation of space applications and missions. In addition, a *pre-summit seminar entitled, "New Approaches to Economics, Design, Development and Maintenance of Space Systems", led by three respected leaders in the fields of space transportation and microsatellites, will be held on May 2nd.

Twelve focused working group sessions will focus on emerging opportunities created by new, forcing function technologies. Common to every session is the theme: We stand at a crossroads - In what directions can and will space industry proceed from here?

At the conclusion of the summit, participants will take with them a new outlook on many aspects of space:

You will work closely with people from all areas of the space community - industry leaders, innovators and technological visionaries, investors and market experts, educators, government planners, university researchers - an interdisciplinary mix of all those involved in space. The Summit provides an opportunity to seed contemporary space activity with a new generation of initiatives and applications - plotting a new course in space. Be a part of it.

Details and the most up-to-date information are on the Space Horizons Conference Web site at:

To register or to speak with someone, call or email:
David J. Goldstein
Space Horizons Summit Chair
(401) 331-8975

Access to Space:
Moderated by Dr. Marshall H. Kaplan, Chairman of Launchspace, Inc.
Education and Outreach:
Moderated by Dr. Paul J. Coleman, Jr., President of Universities Space Research Association (USRA)
Financing Space Ventures:
Moderated by Mr. Robert D. Leppo, Director of the Belasarius Fund
Future Space Industries:
Moderated by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman, X-Prize Foundation
Government's Role in the Future:
Moderated by Mr. Alan Ladwig, Associate Administrator for NASA Policy and Plans
Media and the Public:
Moderated by Ms. Lori Garver, Executive Director of the National Space Society
Next Generation Communications Concepts:
Moderated by Dr. James Stuart, Vice President for Space Infrastructure, Teledesic Corporation
Opportunities for Small Countries:
Moderated by Mr. Sven Grahn, Swedish Space Corporation
Remote Sensing Applications:
Moderated by Dr. John Mustard, Brown University, 'Narragansett Bay from Space' Program
Responsible Space Development:
Moderated by Mr. Leonard David, Space News correspondent
Robotics Applications:
Moderated by Dr. Red Whittaker, Director, Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University
Scientific Applications:
Moderated by Dr. Supriya Chakrabarti, Boston University, TERRIERS program
Keynote Speaker:
Colonel Simon P. Worden, commander,US Air Force Space Command, 50th Space Wing

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ISDC96 Update

by Greg Zsidisin

ISDC 96: National Space Society's 15th International Space Development Conference

Grand Hyatt New York, New York City
May 23-27, 1996 (Memorial Day Weekend)


The National Space Society annual convention features a multi-track program of astronauts, visionaries, entrepreneurs, activists and educators. ISDC 96 will take place in a discounted, luxury hotel in the heart of New York City, within walking distance of such world-famous sights as the Empire State Building and United Nations, as well as a huge range of dining and shopping.


A number of separate space-related events are being held in conjunction with ISDC 96. See below for details.

Interstellar Flight Symposium
day symposium on the state of starflight technology
Thur-Fri May 23-24
1996 New York Space Expo
Astronaut / Scientist Speaker Program
Space Collectibles / Stamp / Merchandise Show
US Postal Service Station / ISDC 96 Postal Cover
"Art of the Distant Earth" Space Art Exhibit
1-Day Professional Space Courses (extra fee)
Students for the Exploration & Development of Space (SEDS) Annual Conference

Scheduled Speakers (as of 15 Feb 96) Include:


National Space Society
Space Frontier Society of New York City
Space Expos of America, Inc.


Philadelphia Area Space Alliance
New York University
Space Studies Institute
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
US Space Foundation


Please note that the following program is subject to change. Visit the ISDC 96 Web site for updates:
Rugged Individualism Track (Space projects by individuals; entrepreneurship.)
Space Business Case Studies (Thur 5/23)
Space Tourism (Sat 5/25)
Amateur Satellite & Rocket Projects (Sat-Sun 5/25-26)
Private Space Missions (Fri 5/24)
Large-Scale Programs Track (Government and Big Business in space)
Space Shuttle / Space Station (Thur-Fri 5/23-24)
New Launch Vehicles (Sat 5/25)
Planetary Exploration (Sat-Mon 5/25-27)
Solar Power Satellites (Sun 5/26)
Technology Frontiers Track (Space technology and more.)
Space Biomedical Session (Fri 5/24)
In-Situ Materials (Fri 5/24)
Biospheres and Space Habitation (Sat 5/25)
Asteroids: Peril or Promise? (Sun 5/26) (Special session by the Phila Area Space Alliance)
Education Track (Educator / student programming.)
Space on the Internet Session (Sun 5/26)
Space Education Workshops (Sat-Mon 5/25-27)
Additional ISDC Activities
Asteroids: Promise or Peril? Session Philadelphia Area Space Alliance (Sun 5/26)
The Foundry (space project workshop) (Sat-Sun 5/25-26)
Many Roads to Space ("open mike" room) (Sat-Sun 5/25-26)
NSS Chapters Assembly Meeting (Fri 5/26)
NSS Board Meeting (Sun 5/26)
NSS Awards Banquet (Sun Eve 5/26)


Co-located special programming includes:
1996 New York Space Expo
Talks by astronauts and space visionaries
Space exhibits hall, collectibles show
Art of the Distant Earth exhibit
Students for Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) Annual Conference
SEDS college/university space project updates
Friday, May 24 at Grand Hyatt New York

Professional-Level One-Day Short Courses (extra fee)

Launch Vehicle Technology (Thur 5/23)
Dr. Marshall Kaplan, Launchspace Inc.
Overview of, trends in expendable, reusable launchers.
Introduction to Remote Sensing (Thur 5/23)
Dr. Scott Madry, International Space University
Basics of Earth imaging, including applications, software.
Chaos, Orbital Dynamics & Fuzzy Boundaries (Fri 5/24)
Dr. Edward Belbruno, The Geometry Center, U of Minn.
New low-energy planetary missions through chaos theory.
Spacecraft & Satellite Systems (Fri 5/24)
Mr. Robert Cenker, PE, Launchspace Inc.
Introduction to spacecraft system technologies, trends.


New York City is a great vacation spot, with the Grand Hyatt New York right in the middle of it all. Organized sightseeing, shopping and dining trips will be available, as will child day care. Scheduled extra-fee tours include:


Please use the form below.
$60 regular / $25 student (through 1 Mar 96)
$75 regular / $30 student (through 1 May 96)
$90 regular / $35 student (through Conference)


Grand Hyatt New York, 42 St & Park Ave, NYC
(800) 233-1234 or (212) 883-1234
Discount Code: ISDC 96 / Space Expos
$ 99 / night plus tax, single/double
$114 / night plus tax, triple
$129 / night plus tax, quad
Discounts available for suites.
Discounts good for May 20 - 30 inclusive.


(800) 433-1790 Star File S4156MA
5% - 10% fare discount
Discount good for travel to NYC May 20-30 inclusive.

(800) USA-RAIL Code X-81A-912
10% fare discount
Discount good for travel to NYC May 20-30 inclusive.


Greg Zsidisin, Chair
Space Expos, PO Box 71, Maplewood, NJ, 07040, USA
(212) SAM-8000 (voicemail)

Make checks or money orders payable to: Space Expos of America, Inc. MasterCard, VISA & American Express accepted. (Sorry, not Discover). Visit the ISDC 96 World Wide Web Site for updates and additional information, including site views and area map:


Dr. Gregory Matloff, Chair
417 Greene Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11216
(718) 638-7586


Return to:
Space Expos, PO Box 71, Maplewood, NJ, 07040, USA

Make checks payable to SPACE EXPOS OF AMERICA, INC.






Eve Phone_______________________________________________

Day Phone_______________________________________________



Registration Type (circle one):   Regular       Student

$60 ($25 Student) to Mar 1:                     $_______

$75 ($30 Student) to May 1:                     $_______

$90 ($35) afterward (pay at door)

Intro to Remote Sensing Course ($149)           $_______

Launch Vehicle Technology Course ($149)         $_______

Chaos & Orbital Dynamics Course ($149)          $_______

Spacecraft & Satellite Systems ($149)           $_______

Combination, Launch Vehicle & Spacecraft        $_______
Systems ($249)

Other:                                          $_______

TOTAL ENCLOSED / AUTHORIZED:                    $_______


Card (circle one):        M/C       Visa       AmEx
(Sorry, not Discover)

Card Number______________________________________________

Expiration Date__________________________________________



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Upcoming Boston NSS Events

Thursday, March 7, 7:30pm

"Solar Power Satellites (SPS)"
by Peter Glaser

Solar power satellites were first proposed by Peter Glaser in the late 1960s as a way to provide nearly limitless amounts of energy to the Earth cleanly. Since that proposal, SPS's have been believed by many to be an important long-term benefit of space exploration and development, but we are no closer to building an SPS today than we were nearly 30 years ago. Peter's talk will look at the history of the SPS concept, and future directions for solar power from space.

Thursday, April 4, 7:30pm

"Rating SETI Targets"
by Drew LePage

Knowing where to look in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is important. With millions of potential targets available, a means of rating these targets in order to obtain a short target is essential. Local free-lance writer and researcher Andrew LePage has developed such a rating system that was first described in SETIQuest Magazine and later presented at the OSETI II conference in San Jose, CA this past January. At the April meeting, he will talk about this proposed rating system, the habitability of planets, and the impact of the recently discovered extra-solar planets on SETI.

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Boston NSS Officers' Meeting, Educational Plans

There will be a meeting of all Boston NSS Officers and Directors on Thursday, March 7, at 6:30 pm before the main lecture at 7:30 pm. We will be selecting nominations for all officer positions. All interested members are welcome to attend. This is your opportunity to help keep the Chapter going strong, either by nominating a qualified individual or running for a post yourself!

Boston NSS, in conjunction with the MIT chapter of SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) is starting work on an educational outreach program where NSS and SEDS members would give presentations on space-related topics (astronomy, planetary science, space flight, etc.) If you're interested please come to the March meeting or contact Jeff Foust,, 617/646-1166.

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Metro Orlando Space Society News

by Michael Gilbrook

January's meeting saw us making our long-awaited tour of the Amsat Corp. satellite processing facility. Since the tour was confirmed after the newsletter deadline, we relied on the MOSS Email & Phone Trees to alert members of the change. Most got the word (apologies to those who did not!). Among the missing were our Chapter Secretary, making a pilgrimage to family in South Florida, and our Vice President, who opted for watching Super Bowl XXX. Our tourguide was Robert "Ozzie" Osband, a long time NSS member and ham radio operator. The satellite processing facility maintained by Amsat (aka, the Amateur Satellite Corporation) is located in the Free Trade Zone at Orlando International Airport to eliminate import/export duties on hardware entering or leaving the country as part of the project.

Standing on its side behind the Plexiglass wall of a clean room, the satellite was surprisingly huge. Unlike some earlier Amsats, which measured as small as 9" across, this hexagonal spacecraft is about 8 feet in diameter. The intended launch vehicle will be the 2nd Ariane 5 test flight, for which Amsat will pay the bargain-basement price of $1 M. The Amsat payload may be bumped by a commercial customer, in which case Amsat will get an Ariane 4 launch (worth $30 M!) for the same $1 M cost of flying the unproven Ariane 5. The satellite will be raised to its highly elliptical Molniya-type orbit by a hypergolic kick motor employing nitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine propellants. From that orbit, the satellite will be available for ham radio relay between sites across one-third of the northern hemisphere every three days for a period of several hours before and after apogee. A different part of the globe appears beneath the satellite at each apogee. Power will be supplied by solar panels which cover the small sides of the hexagon, as well as two deployable rectangular wings. MOSS members were shown the many ingenious control features which will be installed on the satellite, including its electromagnetic force system for controlling rotation, and the flywheels providing three axis gyroscopic stabilization. Even an aluminum serving bowl from K-Mart has been pressed into service as an antenna! Thanks to Ozzie and the folks at Amsat for anamazing tour!

Following the Amsat tour, MOSS reconvened at a nearby Olive Garden for the "business meeting." Members signed petitions for NSS Board candidates, and evaluated ISDC logo designs. Business was concluded before the main course arrived, making this possibly the most productive MOSS business meeting on record.

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Mirwatch: March 1996

by Ben Huset

The C.I.S. manned space station Mir with Mir-21 crew, Yuri Ivanovich Onufrienko and Yuri Vladimirovich Usachyov (call sign Skif-1 and Skif-2) and will be appearing in the midwest US evening skies Feb 11th to March 5th and return to the morning skies March 18th to April 8th.

Amateur radio operators can log into the Mir 'Packet' (R0MIR-1) BBS on 145.550MHz simplex and soon on 435.775MHz uplink / 437.975 downlink MHz. The cosmonauts also use the frequencies 145.200MHz, up and 145.800MHz down or 435.725MHz up /437.925MHz down or 145.550Mhz simplex to talk or send SSTV video with amateur radio operators on the ground during their off-hours.

Look for MIRWATCH and other great space stuff on my web page at Check out the Russian Space Forces Home Page at An excellent review of Russian space activities can be found at

Message from Mir:

Hello Folks!

Today, at 17:20 Moscow time, our follow-up crew docked to the Mir-station. We are now 5 onboard: 3 Yuris, 1 Sergei and 1 Thomas. After finishing the initial checks and procedures, we already have had some time to celebrate their docking and, of course, to celebrate the imminent weekend.

Well, as we have mentioned before, this will be our (i.e. Yuri's, Sergei's and Thomas') last TGIF-message. But we certainly will introduce this habit to the new crew.

We are looking forward to the next Friday, not only because we will be together with our wives, children and friends again, but also because we will be able to take our famous TGIF-drinks in the old fashioned way in gravity! However, for today we still would like to ask you to have a few drinks for the five of us too (it might be a tough night ahead...).Thanks a lot for all the TGIF drinks you took extra for Yuri, Sergei and myself during the last half year. We hope, no one of you became addicted.
Many greetings, 73's
Yuri, Yuri, Yuri, Sergei and Thomas.
[Info via Jan, ZS6BMN]

3rd Spacewalk (EVA): Gidzenko and Reiter made an EVA on Feb 8th,.1996. For the Euromir95 astronaut this was the 2nd EVA. The planned duration of the EVA was 5 hrs and 30 minutes. Due to the cancellation of the 2nd part of the operation the EVA lasted considerably less. The cosmonauts opened the hatch at 14:03 UTC. First Gidzenko and Reiter moved the SPK (the motorized backpack, MMU) to the outside of Module-D (Kvant-2). The SPK had been stowed in the airlock (Sh.S.O) of the module and had been hindering cosmonauts during preparations for EVA's. The SPK has been tested during EVA's twice: on Feb. 1, 1990 by Serebrov and on Feb. 5, 1990 by Viktorenko. Though the SPK functioned well and was very convenient it had never been used since. The cosmonauts prefer using of the Strela girder during activities outside the MIR-complex. The US has also mothballed their MMU 'jetpack'.

Gidzenko and Reiter then transported themselves by the Strela girder to the surface of the Spektr module. After the necessary checks they removed the scientific samples of the ESEF-experiment (European Space Exposure Facility). Reiter and Avdeyev installed these samples during the EVA on Oct 21,.1995. Reiter brought back 2 cassettes which have been collecting natural cosmic dust and man-made space debris. He also installed a new one on the outside of the Spektr-module. These cassettes could be opened and closed by remote control from inside MIR. This was for protection from pollution by the engines of the Atlantis during the docking in November 1995.

The 2nd part of the EVA had to be canceled. They were to work on the joint mechanism of an antenna on the Kristal-module. The bolts were so tight that the cosmonauts were unable to unscrew them with the equipment at their disposal. So TsUP ordered them to stop those activities and to return to the station. The cosmonauts closed the hatch behind them at 17:09 UTC. The duration of this EVA was 3 hrs and 6 minutes. After the EVA Gidzenko and Reiter were reported in good health and mood. [EVA Info from Chris v.d. Berg]

Launch of the Mir EO-21 crew, Commander Yuri Ivanovich Onufrienko, 35, and Engineer Yuri Vladimirovich Usachyov ,38, (call sign Skif-1 and Skif-2) took place on Feb 21 aboard Soyuz TM-23. The Soyuz TM-23 docked with the Mir on 2/23/96 at 5:23 p.m. Moscow time (8:23 a.m. CST).

ITAR-Tass reported that the MIR EO-21 cosmonauts had been forced to lose 13 pounds between them because of the decision to use a less expensive, lower-grade fuel for the rocket's third stage. "Now the cosmonauts obviously will try to eat better," the news agency said.

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Jonathan's Space Report No. 277

by Jonathan McDowell


The next Shuttle mission is STS-75/Columbia, due on Feb 22. [Ed. Note: it launched on that date]


Launch of the EO-21 crew, Yuriy Ivanovich Onufrienko and Yuriy Vladimirovich Usachyov (callsign Skif-1 and Skif-2) took place on Feb 21. At 1300 UTC Soyuz TM-23 was in a 200 x 233 km x 51.6 deg orbit. It was expected to dock with Mir on Feb 23. The new crew will replace Gidzenko, Avdeev and Reiter who are due to return to Earth on Feb 29.

Recent Launches

A Raduga comsat built by NPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki was launched using a Proton rocket from Baykonur on Feb 19. The three-stage Proton-K launch vehicle entered a 185 km circular orbit inclined at 51.6 deg to the equator. The Raduga and the Blok-DM2 upper stage separated from the Proton-K's third stage, and the Blok-DM2 ignited for its first burn, placing the spacecraft in a 241 x 36502 km x 48.6 deg transfer orbit. The Blok-DM2 should have restarted six hours later at apogee to circularize the orbit at geostationary altitude, but this did not occur, and the payload separated in transfer orbit. This is the first failure of a Blok-DM2 stage since Feb 1988, when three Glonass/Uragan satellites were stranded in low orbit.

Six small comsats were launched by a Tsiklon-3 rocket from Plesetsk on Feb 19. Three of the satellites replenished the existing Strela military network, while three were the new Gonets civilian variant. The satellites were placed in 1400 km circular orbits with an inclination of 82.6 deg.

Payloads no longer in orbit

Jan 20	Endeavour	Landed at KSC

Table of Recent Launches

Date UT       Name            Launch Vehicle  Site            Mission    INTL.

Jan 11 0941   Endeavour        Shuttle        Kennedy LC39    Spaceship	  01A
Jan 12 2310   Panamsat 3R  )   Ariane 44L     Kourou ELA2     Comsat	  02A
              Measat 1     )                                  Comsat	  02B
Jan 14 1111   Koreasat 2       Delta 7925     Canaveral LC17B Comsat	  03A
Jan 14 1132   OAST-Flyer                      OV105, LEO      Science	  01B
Jan 16 1533   Kosmos-2327      Kosmos-3M      Plesetsk LC132  Navsat	  04A
Jan 25 0956   Gorizont         Proton-K/DM2   Baykonur LC200  Comsat	  05A
Feb  1 0115   Palapa C-1       Atlas IIAS     Canaveral LC36B Comsat 	  06A
Feb  5 0719   N-STAR b         Ariane 44P     Kourou ELA2     Comsat	  07A
Feb 14 1901   Intelsat 708     Chang Zheng 3B Xichang         Comsat	  FTO
Feb 17 2043   NEAR             Delta 7925-8   Canaveral LC17B Space probe 08A
Feb 19 0100?  Gonets-D1  )						  09A?
              Gonets-D1  )						  09B?
              Gonets-D1  )     Tsiklon-3      Plesetsk        Comsats     09C?
              Kosmos-2328)						  09D?
              Kosmos-2329)						  09E?
              Kosmos-2330)						  09F?
Feb 19 0830?  Raduga           Proton-K/DM2   Baykonur        Comsat      10A
Feb 21 1234   Soyuz TM-23      Soyuz-U2       Baykonur        Spaceship   11A

Current Shuttle Processing Status

Orbiters		Location	Mission/Launch Due
OV-102 Columbia 	LC39B	STS-75  Feb 22
OV-103 Discovery 	Palmdale	OMDP
OV-104 Atlantis		OPF Bay 1	STS-76  Mar 21
OV-105 Endeavour 	KSC RW15	STS-77  May 16

ML/SRB/ET/OV stacks

ML1/RSRM-54/			VAB Bay 1	STS-77
ML2/RSRM-46/ET-77		VAB Bay 3	STS-76
ML3/RSRM-53/ET-76/OV-102	LC39B		STS-75

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Space Calendar

by Ron Baalke

* denotes items added or changed since last month

March 1996

* Mar ?? - DSP 18 Titan 4 Launch
* Mar ?? - Cosmos/Faisat-2 Launch (Russia)
* Mar ?? - IRS-P3 Launch
Mar 01 - 30th Anniversary (1966), Venera 3 Impact on Venus
* Mar 02 - Intelsat 707 Ariane 4 Launch
Mar 04 - 215th Anniversary (1781), Herschel's Discovery of Uranus
Mar 06 - 10th Anniversary (1986), Vega 1, Comet Halley Flyby
* Mar 08 - Asteroid Massalia at Opposition
* Mar 07 - Space Shuttle Columbia Returns to Earth (STS-75)
Mar 08 - 10th Anniversary (1986), Suisei, Comet Halley Flyby
Mar 09 - 10th Anniversary (1986), Vega 2, Comet Halley Flyby
Mar 11 - 10th Anniversary (1986), Sakigake, Comet Halley Flyby
* Mar 12 - Apstar-A1 Long March Launch
* Mar 12 - Asteroid 62 Erato Occults 9.7 Magnitude Star in Libra
Mar 13 - Galileo, Probe Data Playback Completed
Mar 13 - 10th Anniversary (1986), Giotto, Comet Halley Flyby
Mar 14 - Galileo, Orbital Trim Maneuver #3 (OTM-3), Apojove Maneuver
* Mar 16 - Einstein's Relativity Manuscript Auction, Sotheby's, New York
Mar 16 - 30th Anniversary (1966), Gemini 8 Launch
* Mar 17 - Asteroid 6 Hebe Occults 8.8 Magnitude Star in Taurus
* Mar 20 - Vernal Equinox
Mar 21 - STS-76, Atlantis, 3rd Shuttle-Mir Mission, SPACEHAB
* Mar 21 - Asteroid 137 Meliboea Occults 8.9 Magnitude Star in Scutum
* Mar 22 - Mars Passes 1.3 Degrees North of Saturn
* Mar 23 - Mercury Passes 0.3 Degrees North of Saturn
* Mar 23 - Mercury Passes 0.9 Degress Sought of Mars
* Mar 25 - Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) Near-Earth Flyby (0.10 AU), Possible Naked Eye Object
* Mar 27 - GPS-7 Delta 2 Launch
Mar 28 - Astra 1F Proton Launch (Russia)
* Mar 28 - Asteroid 517 Edith Occults 6.3 Magnitude Star in Scorpius
Mar 28 - 10th Anniversary (1986), ICE, Comet Halley Flyby
Mar 31 - Asteroid 1990 VA, Near-Earth Flyby (0.2253 AU)
Mar 31 - Asteroid Bacchus, Near-Earth Flyby (0.0678 AU)
* Mar 31 - Asteroid Eunomia at Opposition
* Mar 31 - Venus Reaches Greatest Elongation (46 Degrees)
Mar 31 - 30th Anniversary (1966), Luna 10 Launch, 1st Moon Orbiter

April 1996

* Apr ?? - MSAT-1 Ariane 4 Launch
Apr ?? - Italsat-2/Amos-1 Ariane 4 Launch
* Apr ?? - US Air Force Titan 4 Launch
* Apr ?? - MSX Delta 2 Launch
Apr 01 - Progress M-31 Launch (Russia)
* Apr 01 - Chiron Closest Approach to Earth (7.457 AU)
* Apr 02 - Kuiper Belt Object 1994 JR1 Occults 10.7 Magnitude Star
Apr 03 - Inmarsat 3 Atlas IIA Launch
Apr 03-04 - Lunar Eclipse
* Apr 05 - Comet Hale-Bopp's Closest Approach to Jupiter (0.7711 AU)
Apr 07 - Daylight Savings, Set Clock Ahead One Hour (USA)
* Apr 08 - Moon Passes 1 Degree South of Asteroid Ceres
* Apr 08 - Trojan Asteroid 617 Patroclus Occults 7.3 Magnitude Star
* Apr 11 - Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) Near-Venus Flyby (0.23 AU)
* Apr 11 - Asteroid Harmonia at Opposition
Apr 12 - 35th Anniversary (1961), 1st Man in Space, Yuri Gagarin
Apr 12 - 15th Annivesrary (1981), 1st Space Shuttle Launch, Columbia, STS-1
* Apr 15 - MISTI-3 Pegasus XL Launch
* Apr 15 - Priroda Proton Launch (Russia)
Apr 17 - 20th Anniversary (1976), Helios-2 Perihelion (.29 AU from Sun)
Apr 17 - Partial Solar Eclipse, Visible from New Zealand
Apr 18 - Asteroid Pallas at Opposition
* Apr 19 - Galaxy 9 Delta Launch
Apr 19 - 25th Anniversary (1971), Salyut 1 Launch, 1st Space Station (Soviet Union)
* Apr 20 - Astronomy Day
Apr 20 - Lyrids Meteor Shower
* Apr 22 - Mercury At Its Greatest Elongation (20 Degrees)
* Apr 24 - Comet Mueller 1 Perihelion(2.74 AU)
* Apr 28 - Asteroid Flora at Opposition
* Apr 30 - SAX (X-ray Astronomy Satellite) Atlas Launch

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