February 13-19, 2017 / Vol 36, No 7 / Hawai`i Island, USA

India to Launch Single PSLV Rocket Carrying World Record 104 Payloads, Also Advancing Public and Private Missions to the Moon

India Space Research Organization (ISRO) is set to launch PSLV-C37 with primary passenger Cartosat 2D on February 14 from Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, a barrier island off the Bay of Bengal in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh. Mainstay of India national and commercial launch sectors, PSLV is 44 meters tall with 2.8-m diameter and mass of 320,000 kg. ISRO Chairman A. S. Kiran Kumar announced it was recovering from the foreign payload customers on this 37th launch of PSLV half the cost of launching the latest in its own CartoSat series of Earth-imaging satellites for national cartographic and other geographical information system applications. The USA contingent of secondary payloads is represented by 88 Dove CubeSats being launched for Planet. There are also payloads from Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UAE. The government’s Union Cabinet has declared an average cost of US$31M for production, program management and launch of the 15 PSLV rockets it plans to fly 2017-2020. Hoping to break another record altogether India GLXP competitor Team Indus is vying to become the first company to independently land on the Moon. The Bangalore-based operation is advancing the winning experiment of its Lab2Moon competition and has announced a new Moonshot Wheels initiative in cooperation with Ratan Tata to take science to rural India. The ISRO Chandrayaan-2 lunar lander is being prepared for launch aboard the heavy-lift GSLV in 2017-18. (Image Credit: ISRO, Team Indus, GLXP)


star-grey Feb 13 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Expedition 50 reviewing procedures for Dragon CRS-10 arrival and Progress 66P next week, working with NueroMapping experiment (ongoing since 2014), practicing safety drills including emergency evacuation / Soyuz descent; an HDTV camera to be robotically installed on external Exposed Facility platform for Earth observations.

 Feb 13 — Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, LEO: Identifying the farthest gamma-ray blazars (galaxies whose intense emissions are powered by supersized black holes) from light sources 1.4 billion years old, 2 blazars studied have black holes equaling a billion solar masses or more.

Feb 13 — Dawn, Ceres Orbit, Main Asteroid Belt: Orbiting 965-km wide dwarf planet, studying what is assumed to be the only cryovolcanic mountain on Ceres – Ahuna Mons 4-5 km tall, 200 million years old; collecting data on surface composition including iron, hydrogen, potassium, carbon, salts and ice.

circle-full-grey Feb 13 — BlackSky Global, Seattle WA: NewSpace company prototype Earth observation satellite Pathfinder-1 yielding good results, plans commercial operations this year with fleet of 60 satellites in orbit by 2020 to provide real-time images; BlackSky platform currently provides access to imagery from more than 10 satellites, including Korea KOMPSAT & UrtheCast Deimos-2.

circle-full-grey Feb 13 — Access to Space, Equatorial / Pacific Sites: Alaska Aerospace looking for an equatorial launch site, China completing 19° N Moonport on Hainan Island and Russia building Vostochny Cosmodrome at 51.8° N – clear flight paths and optimal latitudes needed for low-cost, effective access to space; USA Hawai`i offshore / Sea Launching capabilities proposed.

circle-full-grey Feb 13 — Singularity University, Moffett Field CA: Gulf chapter of SU to open in Dubai – led by Paul Epping; SU Global Solutions Program 9-week student program to begin Jun 17, Global Summit 2017 to take place Aug 13-15; SU founders Ray Kurzweil, Bob Richards, Peter Diamandis.

Feb 13 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: The Architecture of Planetary Systems Around the Most Common Stars; Brendan Bowler, Hubble Fellow from University of Texas at Austin , 12:15.

Feb 13-14 — ESA, Rome, Italy: 3rd ESA International Security Symposium (ISS).

= 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 (S), Uranus (SW); Morning Planets: Mercury (ESE), Saturn (SE).

ISS Expedition 50 Looks Forward to Dragon CRS-10, EVAs, CubeSat Deployments

Six-member Expedition 50 crew of Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Andrey Borisenko, Sergey Ryzhikov, Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson and Oleg Novitskiy are circling the Earth 16 times a day at 8 km per second with ~200 experiments ongoing at any given time. During their mission, they are scheduled to perform U.S. EVAs 40 & 41, deploy CubeSats and oversee the rendezvous / departures of Progress 66P, Cygnus OA-7 and Dragon CRS-10. SpaceX CRS-10 resupply is set to take off February 18 from the newly modified Launch Complex 39A at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. LC-39 is also intended to support future SLS and Human missions. SpaceX is working to launch every 2-3 weeks, finish repairs on Cape Canaveral launch pad, complete construction of 4th launch site in Texas, debut Falcon Heavy this year, start carrying Astronauts to ISS late 2018 and build the Interplanetary Transport System for Solar System settlement. The other Human-rated Space Lab in LEO, Tiangong-2, may see its second crew before the end of the year, and is planned to receive Tianzhou-1 cargo ship in April for 305-day mission to test technologies related to cargo transport system, propellant re-supply, rapid rendezvous and docking. (Image Credit: NASA, SpaceX)

Feb 13 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 BT93: Near-Earth Flyby (0.076 AU).

Continued from…

Oct 15 – Sep 4, 2017 — Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA: Lunar Attraction Exhibit; featuring 60 Apollo memorabilia, paintings, sculptures, photographs, books, movies, jewelry that illustrate our profound connection to the Moon.

Feb 12-17 — Swiss Institute for Particle Physics (CHIPP), Swiss Academy of Sciences, Sorenberg, Switzerland: Swiss Institute for Particle Physics (CHIPP) Winter School of Particle Physics.

Feb 12-18 — University of KwaZulu-Natal, Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, National Institute for Theoretical Physics, National Research Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Cosmology on Safari 2017.


Feb 14 — ISRO, Launch PSLV-C37 / Cartosat 2D & Multi-payload, Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India: ISRO 37th Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle to launch 104 satellites setting world record; 101 payloads for international customers from Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland, USA; and 3 from India – Cartosat 2D, INS-IA and INS-1B.

Feb 14 — Arianespace, Launch Ariane 5 / Intelsat 32e / Sky Brasil 1 & Telkom 3S, Kourou, French Guiana: Arianespace Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA235, to launch Intelsat 32e / Sky Brasil 1 and Telkom 3S communications satellites.

Feb 14 — Team Indus, Bengaluru, India: Winner Announced for Lab2Moon experiment allowing selected project to fly on GLXP Team Indus craft to Moon surface 2017; project should fit inside 330-ml can, weigh less than 250 grams & ‘catalyze the evolution of Humankind as a sustainable Multi-Planetary Species.’

Feb 14 — Asteroid Day, Multiple Locations: Asteroid Day to Announce increased global support and preview 2017 events live from Luxembourg City, Berlin, Silicon Valley, Bucharest, London; 08:30 EST.

Feb 14 — Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, NASA, Titusville FL: 2017 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Inductees to be Announced.

Feb 14 — Space Telescope Science Institute, NASA, Baltimore MD: Lecture: Moving Target Observations; J. Stansberry, at Baltimore STScI Muller CafeCon.

Feb 14 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Revealing the Formation and Atmospheres of Exoplanets with Direct Imaging; Brendan Bowler, Hubble Fellow from University of Texas at Austin, 16:00.

Feb 14 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: Constraining the Evolution of a Delta Deposit on Mars from Orbit; Tim Goudge from Jackson School of Geosciences at UT Austin, 12:00.

Feb 14-16 — Ames Research Center, NASA, Mountain View CA: K2 Supernova Cosmology Experiment Workshop; at NASA Ames Conference Center (Building 152).

Feb 14 — Amor Asteroid 2017 BX5: Near-Earth Flyby (0.073 AU).


Feb 15 — Foothill College, Los Altos Hills CA: Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series: Beyond: Our Future in Space; Chris Impey of University of Arizona will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk. 19:00.

Feb 15 — Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD: Colloquium: Desert Dust, Wildfire Smoke, Volcanic Ash, Urban and Industrial Pollution – Grasping the Role Particles Play in Global Climate and Regional Air Quality; Ralph Kahn, NASA Senior Research Scientist. 15:30.

Feb 15-17 — The National Academies, Washington DC: Meeting: Large Strategic NASA Science Missions: Science Value and Role in a Balanced Portfolio; at Keck Center.

Feb 15 — Moon: 2.7° N of Jupiter, 04:55.

Feb 15 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 CN248: Near-Earth Flyby (0.096 AU).


Feb 16 — International Astronautical Federation, Online / Paris, France: Call for Nominations Due – IAF World Space Award; recognizing people with exceptional merit in space science, space technology, space medicine, space law or space management.

Feb 16 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: LPI Seminar Series: Evolutionary Crystal Structure Prediction: From Complex Crystals to Materials Defects; Qiang Zhu, University of Nevada – Las Vegas, 15:30.

Feb 16-18 — The National Academies, Irvine CA: Meeting: Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space – Panel on Weather and Air Quality: Minutes to Subseasonal.

Feb 16-20 — American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Boston MA: 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting.


Feb 17 — Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS), LEO: Three satellites in magnetosphere (two in Moon orbit – now called ARTEMIS) enter 11th year in space today; launched 2007.

Feb 17 — NASA, Online / Washington DC: CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) winners to be selected today; winning experiments to be deployed from ISS between 2017-2020.

Feb 17 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 BW: Near-Earth Flyby (0.012 AU).


Feb 18 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / CRS 10, Pad LC-39A KSC FL: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket set to launch 12th Dragon spacecraft on 10th operational cargo delivery mission to ISS.

Feb 18 — International Lunar Observatory Association, Skyworld Indonesia, Space Age Publishing Company, Jakarta, Indonesia: Galaxy Forum Southeast Asia 2017 – Indonesia: Astronomy From The Moon; at Among Putro Skyworld Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.

Feb 18-19 — Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), si-Cluster, Athens, Greece: Space Generation – Greece; students & young professionals work in groups with space experts to propose innovative ideas on how to improve / advance space sector; Europe Astronaut talk included.

Feb 18 — Moon: At last quarter, 09:33; at apogee (distance 404,376 km), 11:14.

Feb 18 — Jupiter: At aphelion, 11:00.

Feb 18 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 CA138: Near-Earth Flyby (0.059 AU).

Feb 18 — Amor Asteroid 2017 BL123: Near-Earth Flyby (0.095 AU).


Feb 19-22 — Kyoto University, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Kyoto, Japan: Workshop: Quarks and Compact Stars 2017.

Feb 19-25 — University of Alberta, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: Lake Louise Winter Institute 2017 (Particle Physics); at Chateau Lake Louise in Canadian Rocky Mountain range.