April 17-23, 2017 / Vol 36, No 16 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Cislunar Developments, New Moon Vision with ULA, Lockheed, Boeing, NASA Planning

The Race to Cislunar Space is at the forefront of public / private plans, one of which may see GLXP contestants launch to the Moon before 2018. United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno is promoting Cislunar 1000 transportation system utilizing Vulcan rockets, Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES) and Xeus VLVT lunar lander to support a potential US$3 trillion cislunar economy. He envisions commercial habitats & space metals prospecting within 5 years, space tourism & Moon mining in 15, and asteroid mining, Moon settlement and 1,000 people living in space in 20-30 years. Boeing Co. is advancing Deep Space Gateway concept powered by a Solar Electric Propulsion system  for global government or commercial partnership opportunities. Lockheed Martin proposal for a cislunar habitat would take full advantage of Orion capabilities including radiation protection and life support systems. Bill Gerstenmaier stresses NASA’s immediate priority to choose technologies to be launched on SLS missions to support cislunar outpost development. U.S. administration is requesting NASA to study feasibility of sending Astronauts on the 1st SLS flight, EM-1 in 2018. NASA and ISS partners (ESA, RSA, CSA, JAXA) are outlining initial plans for Power and Propulsion Bus to launch in 2023 to elliptical Lunar orbit (1,500 km to 70,000 km altitude) to house 4 people for 90 days at a time. It could serve as hub for robotic and human landers returning from Moon surface, and may include China collaboration. (Image Credit: ULA, Boeing, NASA, Off World Consortium, Zuber, M.T., Nature, et al)


Apr 17 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Expedition 51 to receive 3 crew members & cargo from Soyuz on Friday, OA-7 cargo ship expected by end of week, Commander Peggy Whitson & ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet cleaning / preparing spacesuits for May EVA and tending to rodent research, Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy maintaining Russia Orbital Segment.

Apr 17 — Solar System: Model suggests Mars is small because of Jupiter influence in early solar system; Researchers find 24,000 x 12,000 km great cold spot’ on Jupiter; Cassini circling nearer and near to Saturn sends detailed images of C-ring; Hubble views Uranus auroras; New Horizons heading to KBO 2014 MU69, will hibernate until Sep 11.

Apr 17 — Galaxy: Event Horizon Telescope may soon release first ever picture of Sagittarius A* supermassive black hole; Astronomers find atmosphere around Earth-sized exoplanet orbiting red dwarf Gliese 1132 (39 LY away); 14,000+ Zooniverse volunteers provide 2 million+ classifications on new 4-planet system 597 LY away in constellation Aquarius.

Apr 17 — Global: Russia phasing out Rockot launchers for Angara-1.2 and Soyuz-2.1v boosters; ESA to support Russia Luna-25 Moon mission in 2019 with high-res cameras; thermal testing on China Chang’e-5 Moon sample return mission fully underway; Canadian Space Agency selecting newest Astronauts (down to 32 finalists); NASA funding 22 Visionary Exploration Concept studies; JAXA & NASA may replace Hitomi X-ray space telescope.

Apr 17 — NewSpace: SpaceX Gwynne Shotwell talks about the future of women in Space, Elon Musk releases video of historic orbital rocket booster landing; Sierra Nevada secures agreement to use Europe docking system on Dream Chaser; Team Indus selects Space4Life “Radio-Shield” experiment to fly to Moon; Deep Space Industries to be granted US$125K to develop asteroid mineral extraction technology; Made in Space innovating 3D printer using recycled plastic / space junk and Archinaut for large space structures.

Apr 17 — NASA SSERVI, University of Central Florida, Online / Orlando FL: Online Seminar: Toward a Space-Based Economy.

= 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: Mars (W), Jupiter (ESE); Morning Planets: Venus (E), Saturn (S).

Space Debris Conferences in Germany Exploring New Solutions and Opportunities

ESA is hosting the 7th European Conference on Space Debris April 18-21 at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany. Billed as the largest dedicated gathering on this subject, the conference includes internationally recognized scientists, engineers, operators, lawyers and policy makers. Topics cover measurement techniques, environment modeling theories, risk analysis techniques, protection designs, mitigation & remediation concepts and policy & legal issues. On Friday Apr 21 the Secure World Foundation of Broomfield, Colorado is hosting a side event in Darmstadt by invite-only. The Workshop on Principles for Safe and Responsible Active Debris Removal will feature a facilitated interactive discussion focused on technical progress and concepts towards the fielding of active debris removal approaches. Multiple commercial enterprises are working in this area. Astroscale is a Singapore-based company launched in 2013 by Nobu Okada. It is actively preparing for its first 2 missions, IDEA OSG 1 a 22-kg orbital debris monitoring microsat and ELSA-d a demonstrator for spacecraft retrieval services. Launchspace Technologies is an orbital debris solutions and space consulting company led by serial technology entrepreneur John Bauman. Tethers Unlimited is a company founded in 1994 to develop products based on space tether technologies and has made proposals for debris capture and spacecraft grapple technologies. LeoLabs based in Menlo Park CA is working on Collision Avoidance and Space Debris Mapping Services to enable the LEO economy. (Image Credit: ESA, Tethers Unlimited, LeoLabs)

Apr 17 — NASA, Online / Washington DC: Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) Neutron and Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (NGRS) Preproposal Teleconference.

Continued from…

Oct 15, 2016 – Sep 4 — Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA: Lunar Attraction Exhibit; featuring 60 Apollo memorabilia, paintings, sculptures, photographs, books, movies, jewelry that illustrate our profound connection to the Moon.


 Apr 18 — United Launch Alliance, Launch Atlas 5 / OA-7, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: ULA Atlas 5 rocket to launch 8th Cygnus cargo freighter dubbed “S.S. John Glenn” on 7th operational cargo delivery flight to ISS for Orbital ATK; carrying many secondary payloads.

Apr 18 — Library of Congress Science, Technology and Business Division, Washington DC: Lecture: The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope: Opening a Window on the Extreme Universe; by Julie McEnery, NASA.

Apr 18 — Silicon Valley Space Center, Palo Alto CA: CSF Ambassadors Program Webinar Phase Four (P4); plasma engine company currently focused on small satellite propulsion.

Apr 18 — Discovery Channel, Broadcast: Cooper’s Treasure premiere; film based on Gordon Cooper (1 of the 7 original Astronauts in Project Mercury) setting out to uncover shipwrecks from Space; 22:00.

Apr 18-21 — ESA, Darmstadt, Germany: 7th European Conference on Space Debris; at European Space Operations Centre.

Apr 18 — Moon: At last quarter, 23:57.

Apr 18 — Apollo Asteroid 143404 (2003 BD44): Near-Earth Flyby (0.056 AU).

Apr 18 — Apollo Asteroid 2006 HE2: Near-Earth Flyby (0.063 AU).


Apr 19 — NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), Online / Moffett Field CA: Abstracts Due: 4th annual NASA Exploration Science Forum (2017); to be held Jul 18-20.

Apr 19-21 — Europlanet, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Pierre and Marie Curie University, Roscoff, France: Workshop: Planetary Mapping and Virtual Observatory.

Apr 19 — Mercury: At inferior conjunction, 20:00.

Apr 19 — Apollo Asteroid 2014 JO25 Near-Earth Flyby: Near-Earth Flyby at 0.012 AU or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to Moon of estimated 650-meter wide rocky asteroid.

Apr 19 — Aten Asteroid 2014 UR: Near-Earth Flyby (0.048 AU).


Apr 20 — Roscosmos State Corporation, Launch Soyuz MS-04 / ISS 50S, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Expedition 51/52 members Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Jack Fischer of NASA to launch to ISS.

Apr 20 — CNSA, Launch Long March 7 (Y2) / Tianzhou-1, Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, Hainan Island, China (19° N): Cargo ship to launch to Tiangong-2 space lab for 305-day mission; will test technologies related to cargo transport, propellant re-supply, rapid rendezvous, docking, other experiments; will be 2nd Long March 7 launch.

Apr 20 — Library of Congress Science, Technology and Business Division, Washington DC: Lecture: Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean; by Jonathan White, NASA.

Apr 20 — AIAA San Francisco Section, Mountain View CA: Dinner Meeting: History of Lick Observatory; featuring Rod Norden Public Outreach Telescope Operator at Lick Observatory.

Apr 20-21 — United Nation’s Institute for Disarmament Research’s (UNIDIR), Secure World Foundation, Simons Foundation Canada, Geneva, Switzerland: 2017 UNIDIR Space Security Conference – The Outer Space Treaty’s 50th Anniversary: Reviewing the Regime.

Apr 20-21 — The National Academies, Washington DC: Meeting: Advice to the US Global Change Research Program.

Apr 20 — Mars: 3.4° N of Pleiades, 22:16.

Apr 20 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 GM4: Near-Earth Flyby (0.034 AU).

Apr 20 — Amor Asteroid 2017 GL4: Near-Earth Flyby (0.045 AU).


Apr 21 — Secure World Foundation, ESA, ESTEC, Darmstadt, Germany: Workshop on Principles for Safe and Responsible Active Debris Removal; during 7th European Space Debris Conference.

Apr 21 — `Imiloa Astronomy Center, University of Hawai`i – Hilo, Hilo HI: Mauna Kea Skies Talk; astronomers from Mauna Kea observatories speak about recent discoveries; this session features Submillimetre Array (SMA); 19:00 HST, US$8-10.

Apr 21-22 — University of Massachusetts, Lowell MA: Conference to Focus on Space Exploration in Next Decade: The Domestication of Space; celebrating the 60th anniversary of the start of the Space Age, focusing on Space travel, human off-Earth habitats and research that benefits life on Earth.

Apr 21 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 UW80: Near-Earth Flyby (0.072 AU).


Apr 22 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft scheduled to begin orbits inside Saturn D ring, the innermost ring.

Apr 22 — Earth Day Network, Worldwide: Earth Day 2017: Environmental & Climate Literacy; “Adopt the Planet” campaign; and the 2017 March for Science; to broaden, diversify & activate the environmental movement worldwide; originally proposed to occur March 21 (first day of Spring) by creator John McConnell.

Apr 22 — Ad Astra Kansas Foundation, Washburn University, Topeka KS: Ad Astra Kansas Day Space Celebration; TRAPPIST-1 Planetary Discoveries in the “Goldilocks” Zone; featuring panel led by KU Professor of Astronomy Dr. Barbara Anthony-Twarog, 19:00.

Apr 22 — British Interplanetary Society, Droitwich, United Kingdom: British Interplanetary Society Midlands Talks; at the Gardeners Arms.

Apr 22 — Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), SpaceUp, Moscow, Russia: SpaceUp Skoltech; space unconference, where participants decide the format, subject, presentations; 10:00-19:00.

Apr 22 — Lyrid Meteor Shower Peak: Lyrids derived from Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher with period 415 years, are medium-swift (49 km/sec), often bright with persistent trains and can offer 15-20 per hour, peak 02:00.

Apr 22 — Aten Asteroid 2016 JP: Near-Earth Flyby (0.065 AU).


Apr 23 — ISRO, Launch PSLV / Cartosat 2E, Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, flying on PSLV-C38 mission, to launch ISRO satellite 2E of the Cartosat series, the current generation of Indian remote sensing satellites.

Apr 23-28 — EGU, Vienna, Austria: European Geosciences Union: General Assembly 2017.

Apr 23 — Moon: 5.2° S of Venus, 07:59.

Apr 23 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 GK4: Near-Earth Flyby (0.092 AU).