ULA Atlas Launch from Cape Canaveral Carries X-37B and LightSail
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V is set to take flight at 10:45 EDT on May 20 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station SLC-41. The rocket will carry the US Air Force Space Command and Rapid Capabilities Office reusable vertical-landing X-37B space plane on a 200+ day mission carrying a Hall Effect thruster test unit and a NASA materials science experiment known as Material Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS). Hall Effect thrusters are highly fuel-efficient single propellant motors that ionize and expel the fuel using electricity. This is an upgraded version of the orbit correction thrusters already in use on some Air Force satellites. METIS is designed to study the effects on nearly 100 different materials of exposure to the space environment via the X-37B payload bay, which has clamshell doors that open to space similar to the Space Shuttle. The same Atlas rocket also hosts the Planetary Society LightSail Test Flight CubeSat. This will be the first spacecraft to rely solely on sunlight for propulsion. The 3-unit CubeSat will spend about a month in orbit communicating with the ground, before deploying and testing its 32-square meter solar sails and sending images back to Earth. (Image Credit: ULA, Boeing, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Planetary Society)
May 18 — ISS, LEO: Three Expedition 43 members return to Earth delayed until early June due to Progress 59P cargo ship failure, crew training for Robotic Refueling Mission, working with rodent research experiment, preparing for Dragon CRS-6 departure, reviewing procedures for upcoming mission to relocate permanent Multipurpose Module from Unity Module to Tranquility.
May 18 — Chang’e 5-T1, Moon Orbit: China service module in near-circular 200-km orbit testing technologies & making observations of Moon surface for 2017 sample return mission; launched Oct 23, 2014, stayed at Lagrange Point (L2) orbit from Nov-Jan, entered Moon orbit Jan 13.
May 18 — Rosetta, Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Orbit: Trying to reestablish connection with Philae lander as craft get closer to Sun in order to upload data to send back to Earth, detecting molecular nitrogen, working to map remaining 30% of comet southern hemisphere not yet fully illuminated.
May 18 — Altius Space Machines, Louisville CO: NewSpace company developing rendezvous & capture technology for satellites, aerocapture & aerobraking technology for interplanetary CubeSats, low-inertia STEM arm (LISA) manipulators for use on SPHERES robots at ISS to help astronauts with tasks.
May 18 — Final Frontier Design, Brooklyn NY: To design High Pressure EVA Glove (HPEG) for astronaut extravehicular activities through NASA Small Business Innovation Research award (4th one given to company), selling 3rd generation intra-vehicular activity spacesuits & various IVe / EVA gloves.
May 18 — Explore Mars Inc., Beverly MA: Publishing printed Humans to Mars Report (H2MR) annually to address current progress & challenges of achieving humans Mars missions, as well as a website to archive support materials.
May 18-20 — ESA, NASA, JAXA, Frascati, Italy: Conference: The Contribution of Safety and Mission Assurance to Cost-Effective Missions (TRISMAC 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 (W), Jupiter (W); Morning Planets: Saturn (S), Uranus (E), Neptune (ESE).
North America Events: Space Tech Expo in California and ISDC2015 in Canada
May 18 — Moon: 4.7° SSE of Mars, 09:00; 0.98° N of Aldebaran, 17:00; 5.7° S of Mercury, 22:00.
May 18 — Asteroid 2015 JF: Near-Earth flyby (0.023 AU).
Oct 16, 2014 – Jun 11 — NASA, University of Hawai`i, Mauna Loa HI: Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission 3.
May 1 – Jun 30 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, National Space Grant Foundation, Houston TX: 2015 eXploration Habitat (X-Hab); university-level students’ designs for functional space habitat subsystems prototypes to be submitted & evaluated.
May 12-22 — Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX), The University of Western Ontario, Various Locations AZ & UT: Planetary Surfaces Processes Field School.
May 19 — RSA, Launch Proton / Garpun, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Proton Rocket set to deliver Garpun communications satellite for Russia military.
May 19 — British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: Lecture: Space Medicine: On Earth and Beyond; presented by Daniela Petrova.
May 19 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: SETI Weekly Colloquium: Geology before Pluto: Pre-encounter considerations; presented by Jeff Moore, 12:00.
May 19 — Planetary Society, Cape Canaveral FL: Bill Nye to Discuss LightSail Spacecraft at Media Meet & Greet; at Air Force Space & Missile History Center, 16:00-17:00.
May 19-21— International Academy of Astronautics, Yuzhnove Design Office, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine: 5th IAA Conference on Space Technologies: the Present and Future.
May 19-21 — Smartershows, ATK, Space Frontier Foundation, Commercial Spaceflight Federation, et al, Long Beach CA: Space Tech Expo: Design – Build – Test; bringing together global decision-makers involved in designing, building, testing spacecraft, satellite, launch vehicle, space-related technologies.
May 19-22 — Planetary Crater Consortium, JHU/APL, Universities Space Research Association (USRA), Lunar and Planetary Institute, NASA, Laurel MD: Conference: Crater Studies and the Dating of Planetary Surfaces.
May 19-22 — U.S. Geological Survey, Boise State University, Space Science Institute, Boise ID: Fourth International Planetary Dunes Workshop: Integrating Models, Remote Sensing, and Field Data.
May 19 — Asteroid 2015 HB117: Near-Earth flyby (0.080 AU).
May 20 — ULA, Launch Atlas V / AFSPC-5 (X-37B) & LightSail CubeSat test, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: ULA to launch U.S. Air Force mission with military’s X-37B space plane & secondary CubeSat payloads including Planetary Society LightSail to test technologies for LightSail mission.
May 20 — Society of Satellite Professionals International’s (SSPI) Northern California Chapter, San Francisco CA: What has a Satellite Done for You Lately? mix and mingle forum at Menlo Park.
May 20 — Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt MD: Goddard Scientific Colloquium: Fast Radio Bursts: The Story So Far; presented by Duncan Lorimer.
May 20-21 — Euroconsult, Mexico Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, Mexico City, Mexico: Latin American Satellite Communication & Broadcasting Summit (LATSAT).
May 20-24 — National Space Society, Canadian Space Commerce Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: 2015 International Space Development Conference (ISDC2015); at Hyatt Regency hotel.
May 20 — Moon: 6.0° S of M35, 08:00.
May 21 — ISS, SpaceX CRS-6 Return to Earth, LEO: Dragon CRS-6 capsule to be unberthed for de-orbit & landing, filled with ~3,000 kg of science samples & cargo.
May 21, 22 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech/NASA, Pasadena CA: von Kármán Lecture Series: The Search for Planets, Habitability, and Life in our Galaxy; presented by Dr. Nick Siegler of JPL.
May 21 — Australia Telescope National Facility Colloquium, Sydney, Australia: Colloquium: A NASA Triple Header – Three Space Missions.
May 21 — Moon: 7.9° S of Venus, 07:00.
May 21 — Asteroid 2015 HA1: Near-Earth flyby (0.078 AU).
May 22 — Arianespace, Launch Ariane 5 / DirecTV 15 & Sky Mexico 1, Kourou, French Guiana: Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA223, to launch DirecTV 15 & Sky Mexico 1 satellites.
May 22 — Heritage Auctions, Online / Dallas TX: Space Exploration Signature Auction; selling Apollo 13 & 14 artifacts.
May 22 — Moon: 11.6° S of Pollux, 00:00.
May 22 — Saturn: At opposition, 16:00.
May 22 — Asteroid 2011 WV4: Near-Earth flyby (0.066 AU).
May 23 — Moon: 5.8° SSW of Beehive Cluster, 03:00; 1.8° SW of asteroid 3 Juno, 19:00; 5.0° SSW of Jupiter, 19:00; 3.6° SSW of Regulus, 23:00.
May 23 — Asteroid 2013 YG: Near-Earth flyby (0.085 AU).
May 24-28 — Japan Geoscience Union, Chiba, Japan: Japan Geoscience Union Meeting 2015.
May 24-29 — Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), Sydney, Australia: 8th Southern Cross Astrophysics Conference: Multiwavelength Dissection of Galaxies.