December 4-10, 2017 / Vol 36, No 49 / Hawai`i Island, USA

ISS Expedition 53 Continues Legacy of Human Achievement in LEO

The International Space Station Expedition 53 six-member crew is supporting hundreds of experiments for the betterment of life on and off Earth while maintaining the 419,455-kg orbiting lab at 400 km. The disposable Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-8 craft ‘S.S. Gene Cernan’ now empty of 3,350 kg of supplies will be released December 4 for Earth atmosphere reentry, and replaced by the reusable SpaceX Dragon CRS-13 craft. Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei is set to capture Dragon Dec 10 with Canadarm2. Dragon is loaded with ~3,000 kg of cargo and a dozen experiments including studies to explore the Sun’s impact on Earth, accuracy of a new diabetes implant device, effectiveness of synthetic bone material, seed germination rates, muscle atrophy, and optical fiber production. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket used to launch Dragon on Dec 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Complex 40 will attempt to land at Landing Zone-1. Commander Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Paolo Nespoli are scheduled to return to Earth Dec 13 leaving Alexander Misurkin, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba as a 3-member crew until Dec 19 when Anton Shkaplerov, Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai are set to join them in time for the New Year. (Image Credit: NASA, SpaceX, ISS Tracker)


Dec 4 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Expedition 53 to facilitate Cygnus OA-8 freighter departure today filled with waste for Earth atmosphere disintegration (about 2 weeks later) – after it unberths, a NanoRacks deployer will release 14 Cubesats; BEAM module being fitted with new electronics and stowage gear.

Dec 4 — NewSpace: RocketLab may launch second Electron Rocket this week; Alaska Aerospace Corporation plans to start a commercial subsidiary Aurora Launch Services; SpaceX Falcon Heavy engine test-fire to occur this month with launch debut set for Jan 2018.

Dec 4 — Solar System: Chang’e-3 Lander now in Lunar Day 50, heading toward 4 full years operating on Moon; images of Saturn from Cassini end of mission being made public; Interstellar visitor ‘Oumuamua moving 26 km/sec away from Sun; New Horizons target 2014 MU69 naming campaign extended to Wednesday.

Dec 4 — Galaxy: Astronomers find evidence of 11 low-mass stars forming 3 LY from Milky Way Center; ESO VLT in Chile performs deepest-ever spectroscopic survey focusing on Hubble Ultra Deep Field; Sloan Digital Sky Survey granted US$16M to map entire sky starting 2020.

Dec 4 — Global: India working toward Reusable Launch Vehicle 2nd demonstration flight in 2018, PSLV-C40 flight Dec 25 – Jan 7; Russia studying data from recent Fregat-M Upper Stage failure after 2nd launch from Vostochny Cosmodrome; Japan aims to participate in lunar Deep Space Gateway ~2020; China Long March 5 failure details to be published soon.

Dec 4 — USA: Camden County Spaceport in Georgia seeks FAA Launch License, 7 states in USA have active licenses; NASA testing Disruption Tolerant Networking technology at McMurdo Station, Antarctica for extraterrestrial applications; SLS and Europa Clipper timeline questioned.

Dec 4 — Hawai`i: Mauna Kea Observatories celebrate 50 years of World Class Astronomy on the Mountain; W. M. Keck Observatory updates on data of twin exoplanets and rare supernova; Kealakehe students win Maunakea Scholars Award and research time using local telescopes.

= 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), Saturn (SW), Uranus (SE), Neptune (S); Morning Planets: Mars (ESE), Jupiter (ESE).

Europe Exploring Extreme Habitable Worlds and Deep Space Gateway with Symposium and Workshop at ESTEC

ESA hosts 51st ESLAB Symposium December 4-8 at European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, The Netherlands to study Extreme Habitable Worlds. Scientific Organizing Committee Chair Bernard Foing welcomes contributions in the form of keynote talks, oral and poster presentations, interactive presentations and debates. Confirmed presenters include Pete Worden on Breakthrough Starshot Initiative, Olivier Witasse on JUICE, Emeline Bolmont on Habitability in the Trappist-1 System, Agata Kołodziejczyk on MoonMars Simulations, and Christophe Lasseur on Sustainable Life Support for the Moon and Mars. ESA is also holding a workshop for Research Opportunities on the Deep Space Gateway at ESTEC Erasmus Auditorium Dec 5-6. The draft program includes a welcome by Human and Robotic Exploration Strategy Officer James Carpenter, an overview on Deep Space Gateway in the European Exploration Envelope Program by Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration David Parker, an outline of Deep Space Gateway enabled science by NASA Chief Exploration Scientist Ben Bussey and a highlight on Lunar Surface Access and Sample Retrieval by ESA Architecture Analyst Markus Landgraf. The European Space Agency comprises 22 member countries from across the continent, with a combined 2017 budget of US$ 6.8B and a worldwide staff of ~2,000 people. (Image Credit: ESA, NASA)

Dec 4-7 — International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), Group of Astrodynamics for the Use of Space Systems (GAUSS), Rome, Italy: 4th IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions and CubeSat Workshop.

Dec 4-7 — JAXA, Astromaterials Science Research Group, Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center, Tokyo, Japan: Hayabusa 2017; in conjunction with 40th Symposium on Antarctic Meteorites / Polar Science.

Dec 4-8 — ESA, European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Noordwijk, The Netherlands: 51st ESLAB Symposium: Extreme Habitable Worlds; focusing on extreme habitability on Earth, Solar System and throughout the Universe.

Dec 4 — Moon: 4.5° S of M35 cluster, 15:00.

Dec 4 — Amor Asteroid 2017 VR14: Near-Earth Flyby (0.058 AU).

Continued from…

Oct 21 – Dec 4 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston TX: Campaign 4: Mission 3 – Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA 2017); 45 day analog spaceflight / Moon / Mars mission.

NET Dec – Feb 2018 — CNSA, Tiangong-1 Earth Atmosphere Reentry, LEO: China 1st Space Lab to disintegrate during Earth atmosphere reentry; predicted to reenter between 43°N and 43°S latitudes during this time frame.

Dec 2-4 — University Space Engineering Consortium (UNISEC), University of Rome, International Academy of Astronautics, Canon Electronics, Mitsubishi Electric, Rome, Italy: 5th UNISEC-Global Meeting.

Dec 2-7 — International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems, Japan Cabinet Office, Government Of Japan, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan: 12th Meeting of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG-122).

Dec 3-8 — North-West University – Potchefstroom, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa: 29th Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics.


Dec 5 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Colloquium: Alteration History of Mars and Implications for Water Reservoirs; John Mustard, Professor at Brown University.

Dec 5-6 — ESA, European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC),  Noordwijk, The Netherlands: Workshop: Research Opportunities on the Deep Space Gateway.

Dec 5-7 — SpaceCom, Houston TX: Space Commerce Conference and Exposition (SpaceCom Expo 2017); with more than 250 NASA executives, at George R. Brown Convention Center.

Dec 5-8 — Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), St. Louis MO: 129th Annual Meeting ASP: Beyond the Eclipse: Engaging Diverse and Underserved Communities in Astronomy and STEM.

Dec 5 — Moon: 1.1° N of asteroid 8 Flora, 16:00; 12.3° S of Castor, 21:00.

Dec 5 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 WS13: Near-Earth Flyby (0.024 AU).


Dec 6 — Secure World Foundation,Colorado Space Business Roundtable, Colorado Space Coalition, Denver CO: 2017 Colorado Space Round-up; an industry update and networking event for Colorado space community.

Dec 6-7 — Canadian Space Agency, Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada: Dream Chaser for Canada; firms and researchers will be able to propose technologies and science to Sierra Nevada Corp, potentially leading to Canada researchers performing experiments and demonstrations in LEO.

Dec 6-8 — University of Warsaw, University of Cambridge, Warsaw, Poland: 8th OPTICON Gaia Science Alerts workshop.

Dec 6 — Puppid Meteor Shower Peak: Appearing to radiate from constellations Puppis, Vela and Carina, up to 10 meteors per hour expected (some very bright) seen from southern hemisphere; followed closely by Monocerotid meteors which offer ~2 per hour at most.

Dec 6 — Moon: 8.7° S of Pollux, 01:00; 2.1° S of Beehive Cluster, 23:00.

Dec 6 — Mercury: 1.2° SSW of Saturn, 16:00.

Dec 6 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 WF28: Near-Earth Flyby (0.045 AU).

Dec 6 — Amor Asteroid 2017 WA13: Near-Earth Flyby (0.076 AU).


Dec 7 — Akatsuki, Venus Orbit: JAXA first successful planetary orbiter imaging Venus atmosphere, monitoring weather changes begins 3rd year at Venus today.

 Dec 7 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Jupiter’s Deep Flows Revealed by Juno; by Yohai Kaspi from Weizmann Institute of Science, 16:00.

 Dec 7 — Library of Congress – Science, Technology and Business Division, Washington DC: Lecture: Holiday Lights Show Culture from Space; Miguel Roman, 11:30.

Dec 7 — Stanford University, US-Asia Technology Management Center, Stanford CA: Space Communications Infrastructure and the Sharing Economy; featuring Naomi Kurahara, Co-Founder and CEO of Infostellar.

Dec 7 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 WP1: Near-Earth Flyby (0.058 AU).


 Dec 8 — Rocket Lab, Launch Electron ‘Still Testing’, Launch Complex Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand: Rocket Lab to launch Electron rocket on second test flight, planned to deploy 1 satellite for Planet, 2 satellites for Spire; 10-day launch window opens today.

Dec 8 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / CRS 13, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket set to launch 15th Dragon spacecraft on 13th operational cargo delivery mission to ISS from Launch Complex 40; scheduled to arrive 2 days later.

Dec 8 — Royal Astronomical Society, London, United Kingdom: Royal Astronomical Society Ordinary Meeting; Meeting: Dynamic Coupling in the Terrestrial Atmosphere; Meeting: The link Between AGN and Galaxy Formation.

Dec 8 — Caltech, Pasadena CA: Brown Dwarfs: Too Small a Star, Too Massive a Planet; Kaew Tinyanont, 19:00.

Dec 8 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, Ken Cameron, adult US$69.95.

Dec 8 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Dr. David Livingston talks with Space educator and consultant Bruce Cordell.

Dec 8 — Moon: 0.70° NNE of Regulus, 13:00.


Dec 9 — New Horizons, KBO 2014 MU69 Trajectory: Spacecraft to perform trajectory maneuver today for 1 Jan 2019 encounter.

Dec 9 — Tucson L5 Space Society – NSS Chapter, Tucson AZ: Tucson L5 Space Society monthly meeting.

Dec 9 — Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, Mauna Kea HI (2,800 meters): Star Gazing program, 18:00-22:00, weather permitting, free.

Dec 9 — Venus: 5.0° N of Antares, 01:00; at last quarter, 21:52.

Dec 9 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 WV12: Near-Earth Flyby (0.009 AU).


Dec 10 — ISS, Dragon CRS-13 Rendezvous and Capture, LEO: Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei set to facilitate capture of Dragon cargo ship using Canadarm2, live coverage available.

Dec 10 — XMM-Newton, Very Eccentric Elliptical LEO: ESA craft studying X-ray emissions, star-forming regions, galaxy clusters, environment of supermassive black holes, mapping dark matter, begins 19th year in space today, launched 1999.

Dec 10-16 — National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), National Institute of Nuclear Research (ININ), Punta Mita, Mexico: Meeting: VII Essential Cosmology for the Next Generation – Cosmology on the Beach.

Dec 10 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 WX: Near-Earth Flyby (0.090 AU).