February 19-25, 2018 / Vol 37, No 8 / Hawai`i Island, USA

USA Prioritizing Human Return to Moon ~2023, Cislunar Gateway, Private-Public Partnerships

The 2017 U.S. Administration is further clarifying its vision for Space with the proposed NASA FY19 budget and goals: Return to Moon, Deep Space Exploration and R&D, Commercial and Industrial Partnerships, SLS and Orion. A long-awaited, national shift toward and support of the Moon includes a potential US$200 million for commercial robotic landings 2020, leading to human-rated lander developments 2023. Astrobotic, Moon Express, Blue Origin, Bigelow Aerospace, Masten and others may have more opportunities to help establish a permanent and sustainable Moon presence. The Lunar Orbital Platform / Gateway has garnered support from international agencies and private enterprises alike. The Lunar Exploration Campaign and Space Policy Directive-1 are topics of next National Space Council meeting headed by V.P. Mike Pence on February 21 at Cape Canaveral. To show support for an ambitious national space program, the Space Exploration Alliance ‘Legislative Blitz 2018’ is planned for Feb 25-27, followed by the  Alliance for Space Development, NSS, SFF ‘March Storm 2018’ on March 11-15, and American Astronautical Society ‘Congressional Visits Day 2018’ March 12-14. While final allocations need to go through Senate approval process, the overall NASA FY19 budget proposal calls for a slight increase of $372.4 million totaling $19.892 billion with a decrease and stagnation at $19.592 billion for 2020-2023 (essentially a pay cut each year due to inflation). Earth science, education and the ISS have been, as expected, designated to receive less-to-zero funding in coming years. (Image Credit: NASA, ME, Astrobotic, Bigelow, Blue Origin, CNBC)


Feb 19 — ISS, 405-km LEO: Expedition 54 six-member crew studying digestive and muscular issues in microgravity, transferring ~2,800 kg cargo from Progress 69P including ISS external payload ICARUS animal tracking system; Misurkin, Vande Hei, Acaba readying for return to Earth next week with Soyuz preparations and lower body negative pressure exercises.

Feb 19 — NewSpace: SpaceX hopes to launch Falcon Heavy in June with customer payloads, crewed flight of Dragon Crew by end of 2018; Space Decentral initiative plans to expand and democratize permanent Human presence in Space.

Feb 19 — Solar System: New Horizons image of ‘Wishing Well’ stars breaks record for picture taken farthest from Earth at 6.12B km; ocean of moon Titan recreated in WSU laboratory to test submarine mission ideas; raw data from Juno latest science pass of Jupiter now available.

Feb 19 — Galaxy: Interstellar object ‘Oumuamua data indicates it may have been spinning chaotically for many billions of years; Hubble telescope adds to Trappist-1 system details – 3 planets could have atmospheres; new result from CFHT deep-space imaging shows galactic cannibalism in Stephan’s Quintet.

Feb 19 — Global: China advances its 1st interplanetary mission 2020 Mars orbiter, lander, rover; UAE receives more than 3,000 applicants to become country’s first astronaut, also launches Space Settle Challenge.

Feb 19 — USA: NASA FY19 budget proposal outlines imperatives for permanent American lunar presence, commercial partnerships, SLS / Orion funding and defunding ISS completely by 2025; longest period of time without NASA Administrator, and no Deputy Administrator has been nominated.

Feb 19 — Hawai`i: Mayor Harry Kim finalizing Mauna Kea committee to create World Park; Senate Bill proposed to begin new management of Mauna Kea; University of Hawaii ATLAS telescope images Tesla Roadster in Space; International MoonBase Alliance working to establish Hawaii as center for Moon mission testing & training.

Feb 19 — Southern Illinois University, Carbondale IL: Astronaut Guion “Guy” Bluford Jr talks on ‘The Future of the Space Program and International Space Station’.

= 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’).

Weekly Planet Watch – Evening Planets: Venus (WSW), Uranus (SW); Morning Planets: Mars (ESE), Jupiter (ESE), Saturn (SE).

JAXA Holds Workshops On Global Exploration Roadmap & Lunar Polar Exploration

On February 18 and 19, JAXA is convening two all-day public workshops in Tokyo, one to introduce the status of Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) and another to discuss exploration of the polar regions of the Moon. GER is being developed by International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG), which is facilitating discussions among 14 space agencies to expand human presence into the Solar System through coordinated effort. January 2018 edition of GER “reflects consensus about the importance of the Moon on the pathway to Mars”. The Feb 19 workshop on exploration of lunar polar region is the 2nd one following a 2-day workshop on this topic held on Dec 8-9, 2017. It will draw on results from the previous event to deepen discussion toward realizing international collaboration related to scientific instruments and exploration vehicles for investigating water ice at the poles. The GER workshop will be led by JAXA international space exploration advancement team head Naoki Sato (R), and the lunar polar workshop by JAXA scientist Makiko Ohtake (L) and university professors. Also on the horizon this week for Japan is the launch of H-2A rocket #38 from Tanegashima Space Center, scheduled for Feb 25. It will deliver Information Gathering Satellite – Optical 6. Finally, Japanese government is preparing for the 2nd International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF2) to be held March 3, along with I-ISEF for industries on Mar 2 and Y-ISEF for young professionals on Feb 28 – Mar 3. I-ISEF will have panelists including ispace founder Takeshi Hakamada and Moon Village Association president Giuseppe Reibaldi. (Image Credit: JAXA, earth-planets-space.org, ISECG, SPC)

Feb 19 — Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, Sydney, Australia: Colloquium: SKA Update; Robert Braun from Square Kilometre Array.

Feb 19 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Colloquium: Physical Manifestations of Evolution, Regularity and Chaos In and Around Our Galaxy; Kathryn Johnston, Professor Columbia University, 16:00.

Feb 19-20 — Astrobiology Center, National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), Tokyo, Japan: 6th Workshop on Life in the Universe.

Feb 19-24 — IAU, ISRO, Birla Institute of Scientific Research, NAOC, COSPAR, et al, Jaipur, India: IAU Symposium 340: Long-Term Datasets for the Understanding of Solar and Stellar Magnetic Cycles.

Feb 19 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 CP2: Near-Earth Flyby (0.016 AU).

Continued from…

Dec 19, 2017 – Mar 6 — CNSA, Online / Beijing, China: CNSA collecting 20,000 digital messages from public to be stored in Chang’e-4 relay satellite launching May-June to Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange Point to support Moon South Pole missions.

Feb 3 – Mar 19 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston TX: Campaign 4: Mission 4 – Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA 2017); 45 day analog spaceflight / Moon / Mars mission.

Feb 15-19 — American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS), European Union Horizon 2020 Programme, University of Texas at Austin, Austin TX: AAAS Annual Meeting.

Feb 15 – Oct 15 — Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), 2,500-meter Elevation, Mauna Loa HI: HI-SEAS 6 six-member ‘Lavanaut’ crew on 8-month space mission simulation.

Feb 18-19 — JAXA, International Space Exploration Collaboration Group, Tokyo, Japan: Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) meeting focusing on Human Mars exploration; and lunar polar workshop; open to public.

Feb 18-20 — UCLA, Los Angeles CA: Dark Matter Advanced Training Institute (DA ATI).


Feb 20 — Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (OPAG), NASA, Online / Washington DC: MEPAG Meeting.

 Feb 20-22 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston TX: Media invited to Canadian Space Agency Astronaut David Saint-Jacques mission training for ISS Expedition 58/59 including Active Response Gravity Offload System, Virtual Reality Laboratory, Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, Exercise Countermeasures Laboratory.

Feb 20 — Moon: 4.4° SSE of Uranus, 01:00.

Feb 20 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 CJ: Near-Earth Flyby (0.024 AU).

Feb 20 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 BJ7: Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU).


Feb 21 — U.S. National Space Council (NSC), Kennedy Space Center FL: Next meeting of NSC to occur today with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and NSC council, as well as members of Florida space coast enterprise / industry.

Feb 21 — SETI Institute, Menlo CA: Big Astronomy Begins: Searching for Exoplanets with AI; Jeff Smith of SETI Institute and Chris Shallue of Google.

Feb 21-23 — UCLA, Los Angeles CA: UCLA Dark Matter 2018 Symposium.

Feb 21-23 — Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG), NASA, Hampton VA: OPAG Update Meeting; at Crown Plaza Hampton Marina.

Feb 21 — Venus: 0.54° SSE of Neptune, 09:00.

Feb 21 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 VX1: Near-Earth Flyby (0.099 AU).


Feb 22 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Planets Close-in and Far-out; Eve Lee from Caltech, 16:00.

Feb 22, 23 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA/Caltech, Pasadena CA: Lecture: Looking Deep – The InSight Mission to Mars; Troy Lee Hudson Technologist at JPL.

Feb 22 — Moon: 9.1° SSE of Pleiades, 15:00; at first quarter, 22:08.

Feb 22 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 CO246: Near-Earth Flyby (0.039 AU).


Feb 23 — Caltech, Pasadena CA: Lecture: Galaxies Aren’t Great at Making Stars; by Matt Orr, 19:00.

Feb 23 — Institute of Physics in Ireland, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, British Council, Northern Ireland Science Festival, Belfast, United Kingdom: Standing Up For Science Workshop; at the Black Box.

Feb 23 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, Anna Fisher, adult US$69.95, child $35.95.

Feb 23 — Moon: 0.70° N of Aldebaran, 07:00.


Feb 24 Humanity Star, LEO: Optimal viewing for Rocket Lab Humanity Star tonight over New Zealand Gisborne-East Coast region at 20:53 local time.

Feb 24 — JAXA, Launch H-2A / IGS Optical 6, Tanegashima Space Center, Japan: JAXA H-2A rocket to launch Information Gathering Satellite with an optical reconnaissance payload for Japan government.

Feb 24 — Moon: 4.5° S of M35 cluster, 21:00.

Feb 24 — Aten Asteroid 2017 DR109: Near-Earth Flyby (0.009 AU).


Feb 25 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / Hispasat 30W-6, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: Falcon 9 rocket to launch Hispasat 30W-6 communications satellite for Madrid-based Hispasat.

Feb 25-27 — Space Exploration Alliance, NSS, AIAA, Moon Society, Federation of Galaxy Explorers, Planetary Society, SEDS, et al, Washington DC: SEA Legislative Blitz 2018; advocating for the exploration and development of Space.

Feb 25 – Mar 2 — Rencontres du Vietnam, Quy Nhon, Vietnam: 2nd Rencontres du Vietnam on Exoplanetary Science.

Feb 25 – Mar 2 — Sexten Center for Astrophysics, Sexten, Italy: Conference: Exploring Star Formation in the Remote Universe.

Feb 25 — Mercury: 0.43° SSE of Neptune, 03:00.