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Month in Space: April 2016

Rockets launch, rockets land, a rover on Earth controlled from space and other cosmic highlights from April 2016.


A Soyuz rocket lifts off from the launch pad carrying satellites lifts off at the new Vostochny cosmodrome in the Russian far east on April 28, 2016.


The "Spider Nebula" glows fluorescent green in an infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) released on April 15. Nebulae are clouds of interstellar gas and dust where stars can form. The Spider, officially named IC 417, is located about 10,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Auriga.

AFP - Getty Images

A prototype Mars rover is controlled remotely from the International Station at the Airbus Defense and Space company in Stevenage, England, on April 29.

Orbiting British astronaut Tim Peake successfully navigated the rover through a simulated Martian landscape as part of the ESA Meteron project for robotic missions to Mars, the Moon and other celestial bodies. 

ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP - Getty Images
Image: Expedition 46 On International Space Station

The Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, glow above the Earth in an image taken by European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station on April 17.

Peake is performing more than 30 scientific experiments and taking part in numerous others from ESA's international partners during his six-month mission, named Principia, after Isaac Newtons ground-breaking Naturalis Principia Mathematica, which describes the principal laws of motion and gravity.

Tim Peake / ESA via Getty Images

External Tank, ET- 94, NASA's only remaining external space shuttle tank, is transported by tug and barge down the Intracoastal Waterway from the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans on April 10. The tank was travelling via the Gulf of Mexico and the Panama Canal to the California Science Center in Los Angeles where it will become part of the Space Shuttle Endeavour display.

Gerald Herbert / AP
Image: An aeroplane flies past the setting sun near Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai

An airplane flies past the setting sun near Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai, China, on April 13.

ALY SONG / Reuters

The first Filipino satellite, DIWATA, is deployed from the International Space Station by ESA astronaut Tim Peake on April 27.

Tim Peake / ESA
Image: Handout photo The New Shepard rocket booster lands in West Texas

The New Shepard rocket booster lands in West Texas on April 2. Jeff Bezos' space transportation company Blue Origin successfully launched and landed for the third time a suborbital rocket capable of whisking six passengers off their home planet, taking another step on the company's quest to develop reusable boosters, the company said.

Blue Origin via Reuters

Colombian astronaut Diego Urbina tests the Gandolfi 2 spacesuit next to the "Yemo" robot during the MOONWALK project's first Mars mission simulation in Minas de Riotinto, Spain, on April 22. Funded by the European Commission, the goal of the project is to develop and test technologies and training procedures for future human missions to Moon and Mars.

Jorge Guerrero / AFP - Getty Images

A team of steel workers gather to watch a topping-out ceremony at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center structure, test stand 4693, as the final steel beam is placed on April 12 in Huntsville, Ala. NASA Marshall Center Space Launch System Test Facilities will test at this site in hopes of a future mission to Mars.

Brynn Anderson / AP

The Fornax Galaxy Cluster appears in an image released by the European Southern Observatory on April 11. This new VLT Survey Telescope image shows the central part of the cluster in great detail. At the lower-right is the elegant barred-spiral galaxy NGC 1365 and to the left the big elliptical NGC 1399.

Aniello Grado, Luca Limatola / ESO via AFP - Getty Images

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship begins the final approach to the International Space Station on April 10. The spacecraft delivered about 7,000 pounds of science and research investigations, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, known as BEAM.

Dragon's arrival marked the first time two commercial cargo vehicles have been docked simultaneously at the space station. Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the station just over two weeks ago.

Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successful landing on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean

The main-stage booster of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on a platform at sea in the Atlantic Ocean April 8.

The rocket launched earlier in the day carrying the Dragon cargo ship on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. About 2 and a half minutes after the launch, the main part of the two-stage SpaceX rocket separated, turned around and headed toward the landing platform floating in the Atlantic about 185 miles of Cape Canaveral. The feat marked yet another major milestone in the quest by high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk's launch service to develop a cheap, reusable rocket.

Image: People release balloons with an image of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, during a gathering to mark \"Cosmonautics Day\" near the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow

Russians release balloons decorated with an image of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin during a gathering to mark "Cosmonautics Day" in Moscow on April 12. Gagarin became the first person in space when he orbited the Earth aboard Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961.

Month in Space: March 2016