December 1-7, 2014 / Vol 33, No 48 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Orion Capsule First Test Flight Crucial for Human Deep Space Missions

Orion EFT-1

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is set to launch to ~5,800 km altitude atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket on December 4, 2014 at 07:05 EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 37B in Florida. It will travel farther from Earth than any crew vehicle has since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. The 4-hr 23-min 29-sec Exploration Flight Test-1 will test the 5-meter diameter heat shield, parachute systems, avionics, launch abort system and attitude control. After 2 orbits of Earth, the 8,600-kg crew module is expected to separate from the mock-up service module / Delta 4 upper stage and reenter Earth atmosphere at ~32,000 kph, reaching temperatures of ~2,200°C (4,000°F) – about 80% as hot as Orion would experience returning from lunar orbit. Its parachute system should deploy about 4 minutes before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean ~1,000 km west of Baja CA to slow the spacecraft to ~32 kph. This test must be successful to reach the target date of September 30, 2018 for uncrewed circumlunar trajectory 7-day Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) launching aboard the Space Launch System rocket. The first crewed spaceflight EM-2, planned for 2021, will consist of a 10-14 day mission in Moon orbit. Pictured: NASA Orion Program Manager Mark Geyer and part of the NASA/Lockheed Martin Orion team. (Image Credit: NASA, Lockheed Martin Corp.)


Dec 1 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 42 six-member crew including Cristoforetti (1st woman astronaut from Italy) and Serova (1st woman from Russia to visit ISS) to install small satellite deployer in Kibo module, work on European Physiology Module in Columbus Laboratory, transfer cargo from Soyuz TMA-15M & Progress 57P.

Dec 1 — Tiangong-1, LEO: Orbiting Earth ~16 times a day, collecting data to detect & analyze Sun energy particles, atmosphere properties & ionosphere disturbances; data from hyperspectral imaging to be sold commercially to fund China R&D space efforts.

Dec 1 — Chang’e-3 Lander & Yutu Rover, Sinus Iridum / Mare Imbrium, 44.12°N 19.51°W, Moon Surface: Spacecraft to wake for Lunar Day 13 starting Dec 2; sending radio signals & data back to Earth; Lunar-based Ultraviolet Telescope & Extreme UV Camera on lander, and 4 instruments on rover operating nominally.

Dec 1 — Rosetta, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Orbit: Studying comet body as it becomes more active / travels toward Sun closet approach Aug 13; planned to reach 20-km altitude orbit Dec 6, over next few months will fly in distant ‘unbound’ orbits, make series of close flybys some within 8 km of comet center.

Dec 1 — Deep Space, Ceres Trajectory: Traveling at 63,543 kph with one-way radio signal travel time of ~1 hour, Dawn spacecraft to begin imaging dwarf planet Ceres Jan 13 and arrive at Ceres NET Mar 2015.

Dec 1 — XCOR Aerospace Inc., Mojave CA: NewSpace company working on new R&D center in Midland TX; testing liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen engine, working toward running engine in fully closed cycle mode.

Dec 1 — SpaceX, Multiple Locations: Preparing for Dec 16 launch of Dragon CRS-5 ISS resupply mission aboard Falcon 9 v1.1, will attempt to land first stage on floating 90 x 35 meter platform on Atlantic Ocean.

Dec 1 — Explore Mars Inc., Beverly MA: Working to design, build, launch first privately-funded, student-led CubeSat carrying digital data to land on Mars surface by 2019; aiming to raise US$25M.

dec - feb 2015 = 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 (SW); Morning Planets: Jupiter (ENE).

21st APRSAF Conference in Tokyo, Japan

Calendar Feature - APRSAF 21

Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum Session 21 is set for December 2-5 at Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science And Innovation and Plaza Heisei – Tokyo International Exchange Center. Hosted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology MEXT and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA the theme is Leap to the Next Stage: Delivering Innovative Ideas and Solutions. Four days of extensive programming includes a special session on Space Exploration moderated by Astronaut Soichi Noguchi who is also President of the Association of Space Explorers; country reports from 14 ASPRAF national partners; as well as technical tours of the Tsukuba and Tanegashima Space Centers. Four working groups cover Space Applications, Space Technology, Space Environment Utilization and Space Education. There will also be presentations by Kiyoshi Higuchi, President of the International Astronautical Federation and David Turner Deputy Director at the Office of Space and Advanced Technology, US Department of State. As of 2014, ASPRAF membership consisted of 472 organizations from 42 countries and regions, supplemented by 27 truly international organizations like the Asian Development Bank, ASEAN Secretariat, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and International Space University. Activities and related projects include a Water Rocket Event at Nihon University, an Asia-Pacific Regional Space Generation Workshop, a Poster Contest and a Kibo-ABC workshop. (Image Credit: APRSAF, JAXA, NASA)


NET Dec 1 — ISRO, Launch GSLV Mk 3 / Atmospheric Test Flight, Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India: Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk 3 to launch on suborbital test flight, will carry mock-up human crew module.

Dec 1-3 — The National Academies, Washington DCMeeting: A Strategy to Optimize the U.S. Optical and Infrared System in the Era of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST); at Keck Center.

Dec 1-5 — United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy: United Nations/International Centre for Theoretical Physics Workshop on the Use of Global Navigation Satellite Systems for Scientific Application.

Dec 1 — Asteroid 2014 UY: Near-Earth flyby (0.035 AU).

Continued from…

Oct 20 – Dec 12 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Space Frontier Foundation, Online: Commercial Space Executive Leadership Training Course; with instructors Dan Rasky and Bruce Pittman.

Nov 24 – Dec 12 — National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, Chiang Mai, Thailand: International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA 2014).

Nov 29 – Dec 4 — Northwestern University Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics, Waikoloa HI: Extreme Solar Systems III.

Nov 30 – Dec 5 — International Astronomical Union, Punta Leona, Costa Rica: The Sun to Stars and Stellar Environments.


Dec 2 — ISS, ATV-5 Undocking, LEO: 5th (and final) ESA Automated Transfer Vehicle, named Georges Lemaitre, to undock from Zvezda module, live coverage available, burn up upon Earth atmosphere reentry.

Dec 2-3 — The National Academies, Online / Washington DC: Teleconference: Review of MEPAG Report on Planetary Protection for Mars Special Regions.

Dec 2-3 — The National Academies, NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington DC: Workshop: Sharing the Adventure with the Student – Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education.

Dec 2-5 — APRSAF, Tokyo, Japan: 21st Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-21).

Dec 2-5 — Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy: Meeting: Swift – 10 Years of Discovery.

Dec 2-5 — University of Colorado, Boulder CO: L5 Consortium Meeting 2014; to discuss current efforts, pathways toward Sun-Earth L5 mission to study heliophysics.

Dec 2 — Asteroid 2014 WC201: Near-Earth flyby (0.004 AU).

Dec 2 — Asteroid 2014 SF145: Near-Earth flyby (0.061 AU).


Dec 3 — Silicon Valley Space Center, AIAA San Francisco Section, Santa Clara CA: TechTalks: Earth Images from the ISS; 18:30 – 20:30 PST.

Dec 3 — London Science Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Multiple Locations: Press Conference to Announce Asteroid Awareness Day.

Dec 3-5 — ESA, ASI, DLR, Taormina, Italy: Plato 2.0 Science Conference; to discuss Plato 2.0 exoplanet mission scheduled to launch 2024.

Dec 3-5 — ESA, CNES, DLR, University of the Federal Armed Forces Munich, Noordwijk, The Netherlands7th ESA Workshop on Satellite Navigation Technologies & European Workshop on GNSS Signals and Signal Processing.

Dec 3 — Asteroid 2014 WZ120: Near-Earth flyby (0.047 AU).


Dec 4 — Kennedy Space Center, NASA, Launch Delta IV Heavy / Orion EFT-1, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: Exploration Flight Test-1 of Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to launch craft into highly elliptical orbital trajectory, launch window 07:05 – 09:44 EST; will return to Earth at nearly 80% of the velocity of a return from Moon.

Dec 4 — Arianespace, Launch Ariane 5 / GSAT 16 & DirecTV 14, Kourou, French Guiana: Arianespace to launch Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA221, to deploy GSAT 16 (communications satellite for ISRO) & DirecTV 14 (broadcast satellite for USA).

Dec 4 — AIAA, Online: Live Lecture: How the Commercial Leverage Model will help you succeed in the Emerging Space Industry; presented by Daniel Rasky & Bruce Pittman, 13:00 – 14:00 EST.

Dec 4 — British Geological Survey, Nottingham, United Kingdom: Odyssey Dramatic Presentation: Into The Cosmic Ocean.

Dec 4, 5 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech/NASA, Pasadena CA: Lecture Series: Coming Soon to a Dwarf Planet in Your Solar System – NASA’s Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt; presented by Dr. Marc Rayman, Dawn Project Mission Director.

Dec 4-5 — JAXA, Sagamihara, Japan: Hayabusa 2014: 2nd Symposium of Solar System Materials; at JAXA Sagamihara Campus.

Dec 4 — Mercury: 3.9° NNE of Antares, 04:00.

Dec 4 — Asteroid 2014 JV54: Near-Earth flyby (0.097 AU).


Dec 5 — JAXA, APRSAF, Tsukuba Science City, Japan: Technical Tour of JAXA Tsukuba Space Center.

Dec 5 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Dr. David Livingston talks with Chris Newman about UK space programs & more.

Dec 5 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, Leroy Chiao; US$49.95 adult.

Dec 5 — Moon: 7.5° S of Pleiades, 00:00; 1.7° NW of Aldebaran, 17:00.

Dec 5 — Asteroid 2014 VP35: Near-Earth flyby (0.058 AU).


Dec 6 — New Horizons, Pluto Trajectory: Spacecraft to be awakened this month in preparation for Jul 14, 2015 Pluto, Charon encounter.

Dec 6-7 — JAXA, APRSAF, Tsukuba Science City, Japan: Technical Tour of JAXA Tanegashima Space Center.

Dec 6 — Moon: Full (Cold Moon), 02:26.


Dec 7 — Cassini OTM-397, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #397 today.

Dec 7 — Puppids Meteor Shower Peak: Up to 10 meteors per hour, coming from area of Puppis, Vela & Carina, may be seen from southern hemisphere.

Dec 7 — Moon: 5.8° S of M35, 11:00.