January 29 – February 4, 2018 / Vol 37, No 5 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Commercial Small Launch Capacities Developing in 2018

Rocket Lab 2nd successful test of Electron places 3 satellites in orbit and potentially sets the company up for fast-paced commercial operations having produced Electrons 3-4, working on 5-7, and securing launch contracts with Moon Express, NASA, Spire, Planet and Spaceflight. Founder Peter Beck states Rocket Lab is hoping to eventually launch about 50 rockets a year. Electron is 2 stages, 17-meters tall and made using carbon fiber composite. With 9 oxygen-kerosene Rutherford engines it can loft 225 kg for the price of US$4.9M. Alongside companies such as Vector Space Systems and Virgin Orbit (and perhaps ~35 others), micro-satellite launch vehicles will fill the gap for low-cost launch needs of smaller companies that can’t afford SpaceX launches at $60M. Virgin Orbit, led by CEO Dan Hart, is aiming to fly LauncherOne before 2018 Q3 and begin commercial operations this year. LauncherOne is a 2-stage, air-launched vehicle using Newton refined petroleum-1 / liquid oxygen rocket engines capable of carrying 300 kg to sun-synchronous orbit and 450 kg to equatorial orbit for about $10M. Vector Space Systems, founded by Jim Cantrell, plans to launch microsats (up to 60kg) on Vector-R from Cape Canaveral. It is currently testing its prototype carbon fiber split fairing, payload adapter and deployment tower, and hopes for an additional test flight this summer; the first was an engineering model in May 2017. The Vector-H model could launch up to 125-kg. (Image Credit: Rocket Lab, Vector Space, Virgin Orbit, ESA)

Jan 27 – Feb 1 — Ad Astra Astronaut Observances: Space memorials, celebrations and appreciations occur this week to honor 3 Astronauts lost in Apollo 1 launch pad test 1967, Challenger STS-51L loss of 7 in 1986, and Columbia STS-107 loss of 7 in 2003.   _


Jan 29 — ISS, 405-km LEO: Expedition 54 six-member crew continuing with EVAs and gear maintenance, working with studies on station lighting, strains of bacteria, microgravity impacts on the brain; Christa McAuliffe experiments from 32 years ago to be taught by Astronauts Joe Acaba & Ricky Arnold over next months.

Jan 29 — NewSpace: Rocket Lab launches Humanity Star; Google Lunar XPrize founder Peter Diamandis reports Moonshot competition will end without a winner; SpaceX aiming for Falcon Heavy test launch; Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp updates timeline for human Mars flyby ~2031, speaks on human Venus & Jupiter missions.

Jan 29 — Solar System: Chang’e 5 T1 service module surpasses 3 years in lunar orbit; JAXA Akatsuki releases images of Venus; India Mars Orbiter Mangalyaan built to last ~180 days is well into its 5th year in space, operating nominally.

Jan 29 — Galaxy: Team uses computer simulation to plot correlation between dark matter and the oldest stars; K2-138 is first exoplanetary system discovered by citizen scientists using Kepler K2 data; Sofia observatory data aids researchers in star and planet formation study.

= 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 (SE), Saturn (SE).

Singapore Hosts EmTech Asia Conference and Global Space Technology Convention This Week

About 1,200 individuals in the emerging and space technology sector will gather in Singapore for EmTech and Global Space and Technology Convention (GSTC). On January 30-31, MIT Technology Review is hosting EmTech Asia, an annual global emerging technologies conference. Expecting over 700 participants, this event covers 14 key themes, including “New Frontiers in Space and Aerospace Innovation”. Among the speakers are Shana Diez, Director of Build Reliability at SpaceX, Adam Gilmour, CEO of Gilmour Space Technologies, and Jonathan Hung (pictured), President of Singapore Space and Technology Association. Just prior to GSTC, Space Generation Advisory Council is holding the inaugural Space Generation (ASEAN) workshop on Jan 31. This is an all-day workshop for ~40 university students and young professionals in the ASEAN region who will be upcoming leaders in space development. On February 1-2, SSTA is holding the 10th annual GSTC, anticipating ~500 international delegates. The first panel of the 1st day invites leaders of space agencies from Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, UAE and Russia. On the 2nd day, the CEO Rahul Narayan of Axiom Research Labs, which runs Team Indus, will give a presentation titled “A New World Beyond Earth Orbit”. GSTC will conclude with an awards ceremony for Singapore Space Challenge, an annual national design competition challenging student teams to design realistic space-related projects. Registration for GSTC is still open. (Also Pictured: SSTA Executive Director Lynette Tan; Image Credit: MIT Technology Review, SGAC, SSTA, Fawwaz Baktee)

Jan 29 — Global: India and Israel planning cooperation in space with new MoU; Rocket Lab plans to launch from New Zealand, Cape Canaveral FL and Alaska Pacific Spaceport Complex; first Kenya nanosat to be launched to ISS; European Space Policy Conference advances European Space Strategy and 2019 Roadmap of ESA.

Jan 29 — USA: Bridenstine invites Bill Nye from Planetary Society to 2018 State of Union Address; Director of Johnson Space Center, Astronaut Ellen Ochoa to retire in May.

Jan 29 — Hawai`i: EnVision Maunakea initiative to publish results this spring from public talks on future of Mauna Kea; ice and snow atop Mauna Kea affects Onizuka Center for International Astronomy visitor hours at 9,000 ft level.

Jan 29 — ISS, U.S. Extra Vehicular Activity #47, 405-km LEO: Expedition 54 members Mark Vande Hei & Norishige Kanai to perform 6.5-hour spacewalk for Space Station Remote Manipulator System Canadarm2 Latching End Effector B Removal and Replacement; starts 07:10 EST, live coverage available.

Jan 29 – Feb 2 — ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: ESA Satcom Final Presentations Days 2018: Technology, Products, Systems and Applications.

Jan 29 – Feb 2 — Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand: 7th Bangkok Workshop on High-Energy Theory (BKK2018HEPTH).

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.

Jan 29 — Moon: 12.2° S of Castor, 19:00; at perigee (distance 358,995 km), 23:48.

Continued from…

Dec 19, 2017 – Mar 6 — CNSA, Online / Beijing, China: CNSA collecting 20,000 digital messages  to be stored in Chang’e-4 relay satellite launching May-June 2018 to Moon South Pole missions.

NET Jan – Mar — 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.

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 22 – Feb 2 — Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan: 2018 ELSI Origins Network-Earth-Life Science Institute (EON-ELSI) Winter School.


Jan 30 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / SES 16/GovSat 1, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to launch SES 16/GovSat 1 communications satellite for LuxGovSat, a joint venture between SES and government of Luxembourg.

Jan 30 — 2018 USA State of the Union Address, Washington DC: President Trump to give speech to Congress; will address range of issues, perhaps including Space Policy Directive 1, Human Return to Moon, National Space Council.

Jan 30 — Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt MD: 2nd NASA Satellite Servicing Technology Transfer Industry Day.

Jan 30 — British Interplanetary Society (BIS) Scotland Branch, Glasgow, United Kingdom: Lecture: Emerging Space Technologies – Opportunities for the Future.

Jan 30 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: A Bird’s Eye View of Extrasolar Planets; Erik Petigura from Caltech, 16:00.

Jan 30 — Silicon Valley Space Center, AIAA San Francisco Section, Santa Clara CA: Tech Talk: Numerical Simulation for NewSpace and Beyond; at Hacker Dojo.

Jan 30 — Keck Institute for Space Studies, Caltech, Pasadena CA: Symposium: Virtual and Augmented Reality for Space Science and Exploration.

Jan 30-31 — MIT Technology Review, EmTech, Singapore: EmTech ASIA: The Conference on the Emerging Technologies That Matter.

Jan 30 — Moon: 8.6° S of Pollux, 00:00; 2.0° S of Beehive Cluster, 21:00.

Jan 30 — Aten Asteroid 2017 BG136: Near-Earth Flyby (0.78 AU).


Jan 31 — Global Space and Technology Convention, Space Generation Advisory Council, Singapore: Inaugural Space Generation Workshop 2018.

Jan 31 — Foothill College Observatory, Los Altos CA: Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party; 04:00-06:00 local time.

Jan 31 — National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Washington DC: Event: A Celebration of the Explorer 1 Mission and the Discovery of Earth’s Radiation Belts.

Jan 31 – Feb 1 — European Southern Observatory, Garching, Germany: Workshop: Planning ESO Observations of Future Gravitational Wave Events.

Jan 31 – Feb 2 — Spire, Ecometrica, SpaceKnow, DigitalGlobe, AstroSat, Glasgow, United Kingdom: DATA.SPACE 2018 Conference.

Jan 31 — Moon: Super, Blue, Blood, Full Snow Moon, 03:29.

Jan 31 — Total Eclipse of Moon: Totality lasting 77 minutes, starts 02:51 HST with maximum at 03:29; best viewing from Pacific Ocean, followed by Central and East Asia, Indonesia, New Zealand and most of Australia; will be first total eclipse of a Blue Moon in nearly 152 years.

Jan 31 — Aten Asteroid 2003 CA4: Near-Earth Flyby (0.54 AU).

Jan 31 — Aten Asteroid 2017 BB30: Near-Earth Flyby (0.98 AU).


Feb 1 — Deep Space, Kupier Belt: Historic New Horizons mission heading toward first-ever Kuiper Belt Object encounter on 1 Jan 2019, remains in hibernation mode for 3 more months.

Feb 1 — Roscosmos State Corporation, Launch Soyuz / Kanopus-V 3 and 4, Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia: Roscosmos Soyuz rocket to launch Kanopus-V 3 and 4 Earth observation satellites.

Feb 1 — Columbia STS-107 15th Observation, Nationwide USA / Global: Annual international conferences and events take place to further space exploration efforts in remembrance of Columbia 7 loss: Commander Richard D. Husband, Mission Specialist Laurel Clark, Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon (the ‘1st Israeli astronaut’) and Astronauts: William C. McCool, Michael P. Anderson, David M. Brown and Kalpana Chawla (the ‘1st Indian American astronaut’ and ‘1st Indian woman in space’).

Feb 1-2 — Singapore Space and Technology Association (SSTA), Singapore: Global Space and Technology Convention 2018; alongside GSTC 10th Year Celebration Dinner; and Singapore Space Challenge 2017/18 Award Ceremony; sign up at GSTCSATmob2018.eventbrite.sg with passcode Friendsof SSTA.

Feb 1-7 — American Astronautical Society – Rocky Mountain Section, Breckenridge CO: 41st Annual AAS Guidance. Navigation and Control Conference.

Feb 1 — Moon: 0.92° NNE of Regulus, 09:00.

Feb 1 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 AG12: Near-Earth Flyby (0.75 AU).


Feb 2 — ISS, Russia Extra Vehicular Activity #44, 405-km LEO: Expedition 54 crew members Anton Shkaplerov and Alexander Misurkin to perform 6.5-hour spacewalk to retrieve science samples and install a high gain antenna on rear of Zvezda service module; live coverage available.

Feb 2 — Apollo Asteroid 2002 CB19: Near-Earth Flyby (0.27 AU).

Feb 2 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 AQ2: Near-Earth Flyby (0.035 AU).

Feb 2 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 BH5: Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU).

Feb 2 — Apollo Asteroid 2008 OC9: Near-Earth Flyby (0.083 AU).


Feb 3 — JAXA, Launch SS-520-5 / TRICOM 1R, Uchinoura Space Center, Japan: Second flight of SS-520-5 rocket, modified sounding rocket with an added third stage, to launch experimental demonstration flight with TRICOM 1R spacecraft.

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 3 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 BG3: Near-Earth Flyby (0.030 AU).

Feb 3 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 BN5: Near-Earth Flyby (0.041 AU).


Feb 4-8 — Asia Oceania Geosciences Society, European Geosciences Union, Tagaytay, Philippines: New Dimensions for Natural Hazards in Asia: An AOGS-EGU Joint Conference.

Feb 4 — Apollo Asteroid 2018 AH12: Near-Earth Flyby (0.014 AU).

Feb 4 — Apollo Asteroid 276033 (2002 AJ129): Near-Earth Flyby (0.028 AU).