December 15-21, 2014 / Vol 33, No 50 / Hawai`i Island, USA

SpaceX Set to Launch Dragon CRS-5, Attempt Landing of Falcon 9 on Floating Platform

Dragon CRS-5

SpaceX is preparing to launch Dragon Commercial Resupply Mission 5 to International Space Station December 19 on a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral AFS in Florida at 13:20 EST. Dragon is set to rendezvous and be grappled by Canadarm2, operated by members of Expedition 42 crew on Dec 21. This mission is carrying 1,678 kg of scientific experiments and supplies, and the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) which will be mounted to the external Kibo facility for at least 6 months (up to 3 years) to characterize and measure the worldwide distribution of clouds and aerosols. Dragon will also deliver the Texas A&M 50-kg AggieSat4 / Bevo-2 and Brazil 3U CubeSat built by SERPENS (Space System for the Realization of Research and Experiments with Nanosatellites) university consortium to be deployed from ISS. SpaceX will be attempting to advance its reusability capabilities by landing the Falcon 9 first stage (equipped with landing legs and grid fins) on a 91×52-meter floating platform, called the autonomous spaceport drone ship, on the Atlantic Ocean. The company has projected the likelihood of a successful landing at 50% or less. Future reusability goals include turning a booster around for re-flight and returning boosters to landing sites on land. (Image Credit: NASA, SpaceX, Andrew Shell, Texas A&M, SERPENS, Nathan Koga)


Dec 15 — ISS, LEO: Six-member Expedition 42 crew preparing for Dragon CRS-5 arrival, will grapple & berth craft to Harmony mode, maintaining spacesuits, setting up micrometeoroid detection experiment, participating in studies of ocular health, body shape & body temperature.

Dec 15 — Chang’e-3 Lander & Yutu Rover, Sinus Iridum / Mare Imbrium, 44.12°N 19.51°W, Moon Surface: Now more than 1 year on Moon surface, China lander expected to continue making Lunar-based Ultraviolet & Extreme UV camera observations, rover instruments still functioning nominally.

 Dec 15 — MAVEN, Mars Orbit: NASA orbiter relaying information from Curiosity Mars rover on surface; will finish commissioning phase including calibration of science instruments & fine tuning orbit before science phase begins.

NET Dec 15 — 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 15 — Canadensys Aerospace Corp., Toronto, Ontario, Canada: NewSpace company advancing ILOA flagship mission ILO-1 intended for Moon South Pole; conducting study on potential Canada contribution to NASA Mars 2020 rover mission.

Dec 15 — Bigelow Aerospace LLC, Las Vegas NV: Working on Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to launch to ISS in 2015 for 2-year technology demonstration; wants to follow with launch of BA330 to LEO.

Dec 15 — NovaWurks Inc., Los Alamos CA: Planning to launch 7-kg modular eXCITe satellite during the third quarter of 2015 aboard SpaceFlight Inc’s SHERPA in-space transportation platform.

Dec 15-19 — American Geophysical Union, San Francisco CA: 2014 AGU Fall Meeting; at the Moscone Center.

Dec 15-19 — Paris Institute of Astrophysics, Paris, France: Colloquium: The Primordial Universe After Planck; at IAP amphitheater.

Dec 15 — Asteroid 2014 WD497: Near-Earth flyby (0.041 AU).

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: Venus (SW), Mars (SW), Jupiter (ENE); Morning Planets: Saturn (ESE).

AGU 2014 in San Francisco

Calendar Feature - AGU 14

The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union is set for December 15-19 at the The Moscone Center in South of Market district, San Francisco CA, USA. It is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world, attracting nearly 24,000 attendees. There are more than 1,700 sessions consisting of 23,000+ oral and poster presentations, 50 networking and career advancement opportunities and 250 exhibitors showcasing new and relevant research tools and services. The Union Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture will be presented by Jeffrey Sachs in the Gateway Ballrooms 103-104 starting at 12:30pm Monday. Sachs is a renowned economist, special adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. There are also a series of SWIRLS, sessions designed to help find interdisciplinary solutions through the sharing of research, discoveries and approaches. The topics include Comparative Planetology and Habitability, Characterizing Uncertainty, Volatile Cycles, Carbon Dioxide Sequestration, and Convection and Circulation Across Scales. While the meeting covers the broad spectrum of geophysics, there are a number of sessions and papers focused specifically on space exploration missions including A Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) for the Japan Hayabusa 2 Mission, BepiColombo a joint ESA / JAXA mission to explore Mercury and the NASA missions New Horizons to explore Pluto and the outer Solar System, and Juno to explore the Jupiter system. (Image Credit: AGU, ESA/JAXA, NASA, Reuters/N. Roberts)


Continued from…

Feb 1 – Dec 31 — Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), Multiple Locations: Cycle 2 of science flights to observe universe consists of 47 science flights grouped into multi-week observing campaigns totaling about 350 research flight hours.


Dec 16 — NASA, Online / Kennedy Space Center FL: NASA to make decision on Asteroid Redirect Mission between Option A: shift orbit of 10-meter diameter NEA into lunar orbit, or Option B: move small ( 3 meter) boulder from asteroid into lunar orbit.

Dec 16 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Dr. David Livingston talks with Bob Zimmerman, space historian and author.

 Dec 16-17 — The National Academies, Potsdam, GermanyMeeting: Review of MEPAG Report on Planetary Protection for Mars Special Regions; at German Research Center for Geosciences.

 Dec 16-18 — Satellite Industry Association, Arlington VASIA’s 10th Annual DoD Commercial SATCOM Users Workshop.

Dec 16 — Moon: 2.7° NNE of Spica, 17:00.

Dec 16 — Asteroid 2014 WM365: Near-Earth flyby (0.054 AU).


 Dec 17 — Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy: Seminar: Space-Time Symmetries of the Quantum Hall Effect.


Dec 18 — Arianespace, Launch Soyuz / O3b, Kourou, French Guiana: Arianespace Soyuz rocket, designated VS10, to launch four satellites for O3b Networks.

 Dec 18 — NASA, Online / Paris, France: Space Station partners hold Paris news conference to discuss upcoming yearlong mission; featuring one-year mission astronaut Scott Kelly & cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, as well as astronauts Andreas Mogensen (ESA), Soichi Noguchi (JAXA), Jeremy Hansen (CSA); 15:00 UT, live coverage available.

Dec 18 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: SETI Weekly Colloquium: Exploring the Inner Edge of the Habitable Zone in the Early Solar System; presented by Michael Way.

 Dec 18-19 — Aveiro University, Portugal Foundation for Science and Technology, Aveiro, PortugalVII Black Holes Workshop.


Dec 19 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / CRS 5, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket set to launch 7th Dragon spacecraft on 5th operational cargo delivery mission to ISS, 13:20 EST; will also carry Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, AggieSat4 / Bevo-2, SERPENS; rocket will attempt soft landing on ocean platform.

Dec 19 — W. M. Keck Observatory, Kamuela HI: Astronomy Talks: The Art and Science of the Weather on the Island of Hawaii; presented by University of Hawai`i Meteorology Professor Steven Businger, 19:00 HST.

 Dec 19 — University of Athens, University of Porto, Athens, Greece: Xmas Theoretical Physics Workshop.

Dec 19 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, John-David Bartoe; US$49.95 adult.

Dec 19 — Moon: 1.5° N of Saturn, 11:00.


Dec 20 — Cassini OTM-399, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #399 today.

Dec 20 – Mar 15 — Cantor Arts Center, Stanford CA: Exhibition: Loose in Some Real Tropics: Robert Rauschenberg’s “Stoned Moon” Projects, 1969–70; 34 large-format lithographs with scenes of Apollo 11 astronauts, machinery, facilities.

Dec 20 — Moon: 8.6° N of Antares, 05:00.


 Dec 21 — ISS, Dragon CRS 5 Rendezvous & Grapple, LEO: Dragon set to arrive at ISS 11:00 UT, live coverage available.

Dec 21 — Winter Solstice: The Sun, appearing to travel along the ecliptic, reaches the point where it is farthest South of the celestial equator; 13:03.

Dec 21 — Moon: New Moon, 15:35.