February 5-11, 2018 / Vol 37, No 6 / Hawai`i Island, USA

SpaceX Falcon Heavy Debut and a Multi World Civilization

Falcon Heavy maiden launch is set for February 6 at Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A, Cape Canaveral FL, which hosted Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. With 3 cores, 27 Merlin engines in the first stage generating 22,819 kilonewtons thrust, Falcon Heavy is considered the most powerful rocket since NASA Saturn V. It will be capable of carrying 63,900 kg for ~US$90M, twice as much mass as its nearest competitor, Delta IV Heavy, which launches for $400M. SpaceX plans to land the center core on “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship in Atlantic Ocean. The other 2 cores will attempt to simultaneously touch down on ground in a first-of-its-kind engineering feat. Falcon Heavy will endeavor to loft a dummy payload, one of founder and CEO Elon Musk personal Tesla Roadsters, to a Hohmann transfer orbit that could take it near Mars. Falcon Heavy could potentially send NASA Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter or launch James Webb Space Telescope compared to SLS at ~$1B per launch. Falcon Heavy could also launch 16 metric-ton payloads to Mars and smaller payloads to Pluto. Future plans include commercial launch in mid 2018, U.S. government payload in June, a trip for 2 around the Moon possibly 2019 with the capability of seating of 7 humans, and other commercial launches as well as cargo and crew ships to Mars in 2024. (Image Credit: SpaceX, NASA)


Feb 5 — ISS, 405-km LEO: Expedition 54 six-member crew cleaning and stowing gear after recent Russia EVA, expecting arrival of Progress 69P cargo ship; on top of 2.5 hours of daily exercise, crew could perform 70+ activities on task and maintenance list in a given day.

Feb 5 — NewSpace: Planetary Resources Arkyd-6 spacecraft working toward capturing first mid-wave infrared image; startup Airvantis plans to send Brazil 1st lunar CubeSat to Moon ~2021; SpaceWorks Enterprises posts 2018 Small Satellite Report Trends and Market Observations.

Feb 5 — Solar System: LRO deputy project scientist Noah Petro discusses recent lunar eclipse and Moon spacecraft operations; Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shares more images supporting evidence of past water.

 Feb 5 — Galaxy: One of Milky Way Galaxy earliest stars located 7,500 LY from Earth being analyzed for chemical content; Japan FUGIN project using 45-meter Nobeyama radio telescope outlines detailed map of Milky Way; update on data and discovery during Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres.

Feb 5 — Global: Roscosmos CEO Igor Komarov states Russia plans to launch 150 times by 2025; ESA and CNSA continue to develop collaboration for future lunar science / sample return via Chang’e-5; technical discussions regarding Deep Space Gateway (DSG) occur in Japan with international ISS partners.

Feb 5 — USA: Reactions to President State of Union Address not containing Space exploration content; possibility of public-private Lunar exploration $200M allocation in upcoming budget; NASA Administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine still not confirmed, nor is FY2018 budget.

 Feb 5 — Hawai`i: Video on Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope receiving ‘delivery of the decade’ SPIRou spectrograph; awaiting announcement for potential HI-SEAS 6 mission atop Mauna Loa, continued coverage of HI-SEAS 5 in media.

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

Juno to Perform 11th Jupiter Flyby; ESA Advancing JUICE Mission for 2022

The most massive planet in the Solar System, Jupiter, is set to have NASA Juno craft speed by at 209,000 km/h during its 11th perijove and 10th science flyby February 7. It will pass within 3,500 km of swirling cloud tops with all 9 of its instruments collecting data and images. The US$1.1B mission aims to determine the mass of the unseen core of Jupiter, measure the abundance of water, study auroras, and map gravity and magnetic fields, as well as variations in atmospheric composition. Scott Bolton is the Principal Investigator for Juno and Ed Hirst recently took over as Project Manager. Juno 53-day orbit and science investigation is set to continue at least until 2020. In May of 2022 European Space Agency is planning to launch Jupiter Icy moons Explorer (JUICE) with 10 science instruments and an experimental payload, reaching Jupiter October 2029 for at least 3.5 years of study on Jupiter atmosphere and magnetosphere, and Galilean moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The JUICE Industrial Consortium Workshop is being held Feb 8 at ESTEC featuring prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space. With multiple core teams, subgroups, equipment and services to develop JUICE, this meeting will present current mission status, near and far future critical activities and allow participants to learn how they fit into the large-scale JUICE development while producing high-quality, fast-paced work.  to maintain the launch date on 20th of May 2022. (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, JPL-Caltech, SwRI, MSSS, Kevin Gill, Aubrey Gemignani)

Feb 5 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Ghosts of Atmospheres Past – Modeling Atmospheric Formation and Evolution on Rocky Planets; Laura Schaefer of Arizona State University.

Feb 5-8 — SSL, AIAA, Virgin Orbit, SSPI, Space Foundation, Boeing, Ball Aerospace, et al, Mountain View CA: 2018 SmallSat Symposium.

Feb 5-8 — Applied Technology Institute, Albuquerque NM: ATI Course: Space Systems Fundamentals; instructor Mike Gruntman, Professor of Astronautics at University of Southern California.

Feb 5 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 BP6: Near-Earth Flyby (0.009 AU).

Continued from…

Jan 15 – Feb 16 — International Space University, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia: 2018 Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program; intensive, five week, live-in experience built around an international, intercultural and interdisciplinary educational philosophy.

Jan 16 – Feb 16 — NASA, Online / Chico CA: Kickstarter Campaign: First to the Moon – The Journey of Apollo 8; to create a feature documentary film about Apollo 8 mission that brought back ‘Earthrise’ photo and the three astronauts that crewed it – Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders.

Jan 29 – Feb 9 — United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Vienna, Austria: 55th UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPOUS) Scientific and Technical Subcommittee.

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 6 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon Heavy Demo, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: SpaceX maiden falcon heavy planned to launch today, launch window 13:30-16:00; will attempt to place Tesla Roadster on an Earth escape trajectory into Hohmann transfer orbit; rocket consists of standard Falcon 9 rocket core with 2 additional strap-on boosters (total of 27 Merlin engines).

Feb 6 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Colloquium: Reading Between the Lines – Using Fractures to Understand Icy Satellite Evolution; Alyssa Rhoden, Assistant Professor ASU, 15:45 at Kuiper Space Sciences Room 312.

Feb 6-9 — National Tsing Hua University, NRAO, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA), Hsinchu, Taiwan: Magnetic Fields or Turbulence: Which is the critical factor for the formation of stars and planetary disks?

Feb 6-11 — APT Showfreight, StarHub, Axxel Marketing, Singapore: Singapore Airshow 2018.

Feb 6 — Aten Asteroid 2017 YS8: Near-Earth Flyby (0.077 AU).

Feb 6 — Aten Asteroid 2018 BB5: Near-Earth Flyby (0.090 AU).


Feb 7 — Juno, Perijove 11 / 10th Science Close Flyby, Jupiter Orbit: NASA craft in 53-day orbit to come within ~3,500 km of Jupiter cloud tops during Perijove 11, its 11th close flyby of Jupiter and 10th science flyby with instruments turned on.

Feb 7— Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt MD: Colloquium: Black Hole Entropy, Entanglement, and Holographic Spacetime; Ted Jacobson from University of Maryland, 15:30.

Feb 7-8 — Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Federal Aviation Administration, Washington DC: 21st Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference; at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Feb 7-9 — Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: Conference: International Global Navigation Satellite Systems (IGNSS) 2018.

Feb 7 — Moon: At last quarter, 05:55; 4.1° NNE of Jupiter, 12:22.

Feb 7 — Apollo Asteroid 505657 (2014 SR339): Near-Earth Flyby (0.054 AU).


Feb 8 — ESA, ESTEC, Airbus Defence and Space, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: JUICE Industrial Consortium Workshop.

Feb 8 — Lunar and Planetary Society, Houston TX: Cosmic Explorations Speaker Series: Titan; by Ralph Lorenz from Johns Hopkins University.

Feb 8 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Beyond Detection – Constraining Properties of Exoplanet Atmospheres; Nikole Lewis of Space Telescope Science Institute.

Feb 8 — AIAA San Francisco Section, Mountain View CA: Dinner Meeting – The Century of Biology on Earth and Beyond; with Jill Tarter of SETI, 19:00.

Feb 8 — Institute of Physics in Ireland, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, British Council, Northern Ireland Science Festival, Dublin, Ireland: Standing Up For Science Workshop; at Dublin City University.

Feb 8-9 — ESA, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: Space Science Horizon 2000 A Retrospective View.

Feb 8 — Moon: 4.3° N of Mars, 21:00.

Feb 8 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 BJ3: Near-Earth Flyby (0.056 AU).


Feb 9 — Royal Astronomical Society, London, United Kingdom: Royal Astronomical Society Ordinary Meeting; From the Outer to the Inner Solar System – The Origin and Evolution of Comets; The Epoch of Reionisation – UK Community Update.

Feb 9-10 — Astronomy Now Magazine, London, United Kingdom: European AstroFest  2018; at Kensington Conference & Events Centre .

Feb 9 — Moon: 9.4° N of Antares, 01:00; 0.93° S of 4 Vesta, 02:35.

Feb 9 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 BN509: Near-Earth Flyby (0.033 AU).

Feb 9 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 BL1: Near-Earth Flyby (0.043 AU).


NET Feb 10 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / Paz, Vandenberg AFB CA: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to launch Paz radar imaging / Earth observation satellite for Hisdesat of Madrid, Spain.

Feb 10 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Pasadena CA: Educator Workshop: Engineering a Journey to Mars; for teachers of grades 4-12.

Feb 10 — Aten Asteroid 2015 FV118: Near-Earth Flyby (0.093 AU).


Feb 11 — Roscosmos State Corporation, Launch Soyuz / Progress 69P (MS-08), Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Russia Soyuz rocket to launch Progress 69P resupply ship to ISS.

Feb 11— International Astronautical Federation, Online: Applications Due for 2018 IAF Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme, held in conjunction with 69th International Astronautical Congress to be held Oct 1-5.

Feb 11 — Moon: at apogee (distance 405,701 km), 04:00; 2.5° N of Saturn, 05:00; 5.1° N of Antares, 16:00.

Feb 11 — Aten Asteroid 2014 WQ202: Near-Earth Flyby (0.039 AU).

Feb 11 — Apollo Asteroid 1991 VG : Near-Earth Flyby (0.047 AU).

Feb 11 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 WQ3: Near-Earth Flyby (0.095 AU).