December 14-20, 2015 / Vol 34, No 50 / Hawai`i Island, USA

International Human and Robotic Moon Missions 2015-2030: China Chang’e-3 Lander, ESA / ESTEC Symposium

calendar feature - IHMM Dec 2015

As the only operational mission on the lunar surface China Chang’e-3 spacecraft continues to carry the torch for Moon Explorers around the world. Many more missions are on the way and in the next 15 years we should see permanent robotic villages begin to spring up and bear witness to the return of humans to the surface and eventual development of sustainable crewed habitats. CE5 sample return is planned to launch 2017 with 2 backup craft on deck: CE4 far side mission in collaboration with Europe, others in 2018 and CE6 sample return by 2020. It is widely expected that China will integrate the Shenzhou / Tiangong human spaceflight program to manifest Human missions to the Moon in the 2020s. In Europe ESA’s Estrack network and flight dynamics team provided critical support to CE3 during the 5-day lunar cruise, descent and after landing. ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner is extremely enthusiastic and more ambitious about Moon exploration than perhaps any of his predecessors, speaking of a “Moon village”. On Dec 15-16 ESA/ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands is hosting the 1st International Symposium On Moon 2020-2030: A New Era Of Coordinated Human and Robotic Exploration with a program chaired by Bernhard Hufenbach and James Carpenter. Elsewhere: Japan is planning SLIM Lander 2018-19 & SELENE-2 in 2019; Russia hopes for Luna-25 to Moon South Pole in 2018; South Korea lander / rover on track for 2020; Lunar Mission One out of UK is projecting a lander for 2024; Golden Spike Co. led by Alan Stern developing commercial Human Moon Missions for 2020; Bigelow Aerospace is developing inflatable habitats for lunar surface stations. (Image Credit: ESA, ESTEC, CNSA, ILOA)


Dec 14 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 46 transferring ~3,200 kg of cargo from Cygnus AO-4 freighter, preparing for arrival of Progress 62P Dec 23 & undocking of Progress 60P Dec 19, new crew members will begin orientation, U.S. and Russia EVA to be conducted early 2016 to help prepare ISS for commercial craft, maintain external payloads.

Dec 14 — NEOWISE, LEO: NASA Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft (redubbed Near-Earth Object WISE – NEOWISE) begins 7th year in Space today; launched 2009.

Dec 14 — Chang’e-3 Lander, Guan Han Gong, Sinus Iridum / Mare Imbrium, 44.12°N 19.51°W, Moon Surface: Spacecraft enters 3rd year on Moon; landed 2013.

 Dec 14 — New Horizons, Kuiper Belt Trajectory: Releasing closest-ever images of small bodies in Kuiper Belt (the Solar System “third zone”), and sharpest high-resolution of Pluto from July flyby.

Dec 14Astrobotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh PA: NewSpace company signing various customers to piggyback on Griffin Lander before securing launch contract (potentially with SpaceX) to launch to Moon; confirmed rideshares include Japan Team Hakuto & Chile Team AngelicvM.

Dec 14 — PlanetiQ, Bethesda MD: Working with India Antrix Corp. to launch its first 2 satellites on PSLV Q4 2016; in total, planning to develop 12 Pyxis-RO micro-satellites to monitor space weather, Earth weather & climate.

Dec 14 — Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, Chattanooga TN: Planning for 2016 TVIW Feb 28 – Mar 2 with ~100 attendees including John Lewis (Mining the Sky), Greg Matloff (TVIW), Marc Mills (Tau Zero); posting monthly series of video casts on Space / Interstellar travel.

Dec 14 — Canadian Space Agency, Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada: CSA begins its 26th year since its creation.

Dec 14 — NASA, Washington DC / Online: Applications being accepted until mid-Feb 2016 for Astronaut candidates; candidates will be chosen mid-2017 and may fly to ISS, aboard commercial spacecraft and/or aboard Orion.

Dec 14 — Silicon Valley Space Center, Mountain View CA: SVSC TechTalk: The CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster; at Hacker Dojo.

Dec 14-16 — IEEE, Orlando FL: 2015 IEEE International Conference on Wireless for Space and Extreme Environments.

DEC - FEB 2016 = 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: Mercury (SW), Uranus (S), Neptune (S); Morning Planets: Venus (SE), Mars (SE), Jupiter (SE), Saturn (S).

Launch of ISS Expedition 46/47 with UK Astronaut Tim Peake, Tim Kopra, Yuri Malenchenko

Exp 46

Three members of Expedition 46/47 crew are set to launch December 15 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on a Russia Soyuz rocket for a 6-hour voyage to the ISS. This will be the 128th flight of a Soyuz craft and it will be commanded by (C) Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko on his 6th spaceflight, with flight engineers Timothy Kopra (L) of NASA on his second spaceflight and Timothy Peake (R) of ESA on his first spaceflight. The trio will spend 6 months aboard the Station and join rew members Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. On March 2, Kelly and Kornienko will finally make their journey home aboard Soyuz TMA-18M after spending 341 days in Space. The 1st UK Government-backed British Astronaut and the 1st British Astronaut to visit the ISS, Tim Peake represents a new era in UK human spaceflight and enthusiasm. The country’s ministers are planning for a spaceport to be completed by 2018, and recently published a National Strategy stating “UK will be a recognised and valued participant in human spaceflight and space environments research – in low Earth orbit, on analogue platforms and in deep space exploration.” Expedition 46 has ~45 experiments they will be conducting, as well as keeping up with cargo transfers, lab and equipment maintenance / monitoring, and participating in public events. (Image Credit: NASA, ESA)

Dec 14-17 — The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China: 11th Pacific Rim Conference on Stellar Astrophysics: Physics and Chemistry of the Late Stages of Stellar Evolution.

Dec 14-17 — Polytechnic University of Bari, Antwerp/CERN, Cairo, Egypt: Dark Matter Workshop.

Dec 14-17 — Applied Technology Institute, Columbia MD: Space Environment & Its Effects On Space Systems course; with instructor Dr. Vincent Pisacane.

Dec 14-18 — American Geophysical Union, San Francisco CA: 2015 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting.

Dec 14-18 — Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali (IISERM), Mohali, India: International Conference on Cosmology and Gravitation.

Dec 14 — Geminid Meteor Shower Peak: Appearing to radiate from constellation Gemini, shower may produce 50-130 meteors per hour; bright, medium-slow meteors (35 km/s), few leave persistent trains.

Continued from…

Nov 24 – Dec 22 — IEEE, edX, Online: Course: From Goddard to Apollo: The History of Rockets, Part 1; with instructor Burton Dicht.

Aug 28 – Aug 28, 2016 — NASA, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, Mauna Loa HI: Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission 4; at 2,440-meter altitude.


Dec 15 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #433 today

Dec 15 — RSA, Launch Soyuz TMA-19M / ISS 45S, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: An RSA Soyuz rocket set to launch members of Expedition 46/47: Timothy Peake of ESA, Yuri Malenchenko of RSA, Timothy Kopra of NASA.

Dec 15 — ISRO, Bengaluru, India: Proposals Due for India researchers or organizations to work with Data From Chandrayaan-1 Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) & Hyperspectral Imager (HySI): finalists May Be Announced Dec 31.

Dec 15 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: High Temperature Volcanism on Earth: Physical Volcanology, Mineralogy, and Geochemistry of Archean Komatiites; presented by Michael Lesher of Laurentian University, Sudbury.

Dec 15 — The National Academies, Washington DC: NASA Science Mission Extensions: Scientific Value, Policies, and Review Process.

Dec 15-16 — ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands: 1st International Symposium On Moon 2020-2030: A New Era Of Coordinated Human and Robotic Exploration.

Dec 15-17 — NRAO, Associated Universities, Kavli Foundation, Chicago IL: U.S. Radio/Millimeter/Submillimeter Science Futures in the 2020s; at Hyatt Regency O’Hare.

Dec 15-17 — Applied Technology Institute, Columbia MD: Space Mission Analysis and Design course; with instructor Edward L. Keith.

Dec 15-20 — Pacifichem, Australian Peptide Association, Brunei Darussalam Institute of Chemistry, Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering, Hong Kong Chemical Society, et al, Honolulu HI: International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies.

Dec 15 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 XN55: Near-Earth flyby (0.006 AU).


Dec 16 — ISRO, Launch PSLV / TeLEOS 1, Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India: India Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, flying on PSLV-C29 mission in PSLV-CA configuration, to launch TeLEOS 1 Earth observation satellite & 5 smaller satellites for Singapore.

Dec 16 — The National Academies, Online / Washington DC: Teleconference: Review of Progress Toward the Decadal Survey Vision in New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Dec 16 — Moon: 2.7° NW of Neptune, 19:00.


Dec 17 — Arianespace, Launch Soyuz / Galileo 11 & 12, Kourou, French Guiana: Arianespace Soyuz rocket, designated VS13, to launch two Galileo satellites for Europe’s Galileo navigation constellation.

 Dec 17 — NASA, Orbital ATK, Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wallops Flight Facility VA: Media tour focusing on 2016 commercial cargo resupply missions to ISS; featuring Bill Wrobel (Wallops Director), Dale Nash (Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority), Mike Pinkston (Orbital ATK).

 Dec 17-18 — The National Academies, Washington DC: Meeting: The Science of Science Communication: A Research Agenda.


Dec 18 —  ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo HI: Mauna Kea Skies Talk: Mapping the Milky Way without Leaving Earth; presented by Nicolas Chene of Gemini Observatory, 19:00.

Dec 18 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Secure World Foundation webinar.

Dec 18-19 — University of Lisbon – Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Lisbon, Portugal: Conference: General Relativity 100 Years in Lisbon.

Dec 18 — Moon: At first quarter, 05:14.

Dec 18 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 MW53: Near-Earth flyby (0.046 AU).


Dec 19 — Gaia, LEO: ESA spacecraft enters 3rd year in orbit today; 5-year planned mission aims to map more than 1 billion stars; launched in 2013.

Dec 19 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Flyby of Aegaeon (3,000 km), Enceladus (4,999 km), Calypso (92,000 km) planned for today.

Dec 19 — RSA, Launch Proton / Express AMU1, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Russia government Proton rocket to launch Express AMU1 communications satellite for Russian Satellite Communications Co.

Dec 19 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / Orbcomm OG2, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: SpaceX to launch 11 OG2 satellites for communications company Orbcomm.

Dec 19 — Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles CA: Griffith Observatory Star Party; free public event, 14:00-21:45.

Dec 19 — Moon: 3.8° S of Pluto, 11:00; 1.1° SSE of Uranus, 15:00.

Dec 19 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 XE1: Near-Earth flyby (0.034 AU).

Dec 19 — Amor Asteroid 2015 XF: Near-Earth flyby (0.064 AU).


Dec 20-21 — Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, NASA, KSC FL: Fly with an Astronaut; tour of KSC and Apollo/Saturn V Center with Astronaut Jon McBride.

Dec 20 — Moon: At perigee (distance 367,988 km), 23:14.