November 27 – December 3, 2017 / Vol 36, No 48 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Soyuz Launch of Meteor M2-1 from Vostochny Cosmodrome, Pacific Russia

Roscosmos Soyuz 2-1B rocket with Fregat upper stage to lift the Meteor M2-1 weather monitoring satellite into polar orbit November 28 at 14:41:46 local time. Meteor-M 2-1 is a 2,778-kg global weather research platform for monitoring the ozone layer, ocean surface temperatures, ice conditions in polar regions on Earth and the radiation environment in near-Earth space — part of a series of satellites developed around the Resurs-UKP bus by Moscow-based VNIIEM. Also on the manifest are 18 secondary payloads including Baumanets-2, Scout, SEAM, AISSat-3, CubeBel-1, multiple Dove Flock-2, Lemur-2 and Lemur-3 satellites. This is only the second launch from Russia’s newly redeveloped Pacific region Spaceport 600-800 km inland in the far east of the country. Vostochny Cosmodrome is designed as the deep space exploration hub of the future for Russia, easing reliance on access to former Soviet facilities at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. There are plans to upgrade infrastructure at Vostochny to accommodate super-heavy class rockets for interplanetary spacecraft and Vladimir Putin has expressed interest in international cooperation on various activities, as well as efforts to jointly explore Moon and Mars. The second phase of construction is projected to require US$636M, while the first liftoff of the Angara-A5M Heavy rocket from the PU1 launch pad is scheduled for 2021. (Images Credit: Roscosmos, VNIIEM, Planet, UTIAS, Spire, BMSTU)


Nov 27 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Expedition 53 six-member crew with Commander Randy Bresnik transferring cargo from Cygnus OA-8, inspecting Bigelow Expandable Activity Module & replacing old BEAM hardware with new electronics and stowage gear, deploying more smallsats from Japan Kibo module.

Nov 27 — NewSpace: Sea Launch proposes Roscosmos cooperation to revive launches; Final Frontier Design to perform 4th round of testing of 3G IVA suit for suborbital missions; Japan ALE making progress toward 1st satellite creating artificial meteor shower planned over Hiroshima 2019.

Nov 27 — Solar System: New study shows Mercury topography erodes at least twice as fast as that of the Moon; Japan planning sample return mission from Mars moon Phobos in 2024; Juno data show Jupiter N and S auroras pulsating at different intervals.

Nov 27 — Galaxy: Vela supercluster observed through Milky Way (sometimes called ‘Zone of Avoidance’) being mapped to help narrow down motion within Laniakea – our Local Group of galaxies. 

Nov 27 — Global: ISECG to release 3rd edition of Global Exploration Roadmap in Jan 2018; Canadian Space Agency Lunar Exploration Analogue Deployment Project aims to identify lunar science & technology to develop HERACLES Moon South Pole mission concept; International team of 13 organizations to monitor Tiangong-1 Earth atmosphere re-entry expected ~Jan 2018.

Nov 27 — USA: NASA Administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine final vote in 100-member full Senate expected before 2018; Wired update on SLS / Orion testing and progress.

Nov 27 — Hawai`i: Further data / images being released for 1st interstellar object `Oumuamua discovered by Pan-STARRS 1 of Maui; new type of extremely energetic cosmic explosion observed by telescopes in Hawaii and La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.

Nov 27-29 — Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), Daejeon, Korea: East Asia ALMA Science Workshop 2017.

= 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: Venus (ESE), Mars (ESE), Jupiter (ESE).

Blue Origin Rocket Facility Readying for December Opening at Kennedy Space Center

Cutting-edge upgrades to Kennedy Space Center and the 299-acre Exploration Park include the 750,000-sq ft. Blue Origin facility on Space Commerce Way aiming for a grand opening before December 20. The new facility will be responsible for manufacturing and testing 2-stage and 3-stage New Glenn rockets prior to launching from Complex 36 with plans to reach orbit NET 2020. New Glenn reusable first stage utilizes 7 BE-4 methane / oxygen engines providing 17.1 Meganewton thrust. Six orbital launches have been contracted so far: five for OneWeb and one for Eutelsat. Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin 260,000-sq ft. Headquarters on 26 acres is also expanding its office, manufacturing and warehouse space. It intends to build an engine manufacturing facility in ‘Rocket City’ Huntsville AL to support BE-4 production needed to supply ULA Vulcan rockets. The New Shepard reusable suborbital systems are tested and flown at the Culberson County, Texas site. The third propulsion module New Shepard (NS3) capsule is the first to contain real windows and an initial flight test is expected before end of 2017. NS4 will carry the first test pilots in 2018. The next project is New Armstrong, an even larger booster capable of lunar missions. Bezos has also proposed Blue Moon lunar lander to deliver cargo to Moon South Pole to support human settlement. (Image Credit: Blue Origin)

Nov 27-30 — International Academy of Astronautics, Shenzhen, China: 21st IAA Humans in Space Symposium; at Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center.

Nov 27 – Dec 1 — ESA, Belgian Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence, Space Weather Working Team, Brussels, Belgium: 14th European Space Weather Week.

Nov 27 – Dec 1 — Knowledge4Innovation, Ostend, Belgium: 9th European Innovation Summit.

Nov 27 — Amor Asteroid 2017 VX14: Near-Earth Flyby (0.068 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 reenter between 43°N and 43°S latitudes during this time frame.


Nov 28 — Roscosmos State Corporation, Launch Soyuz / Meteor M2-1 (MS-08), Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia: Russia Soyuz rocket to launch Meteor M2-1 polar-orbiting weather satellite and secondary payloads including Earth observation CubeSats for Planet and Spire at 14:41:46 local time.

Nov 28 — Lunar and Planetary Society, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: LPL Colloquium: Physical Properties of the Trans-Neptunian Objects; Audrey Thirouin of Lowell Observatory, 15:45.

Nov 28 — British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: Lecture: The Fermi Paradox; featuring Alistair Scott, Gerry Webb, Dave Gifford, Alan Bond, many others; 10:00-16:30.

Nov 28 — 50th Observation of First Pulsar Discovery: To date, over 2,000 pulsars have been discovered, and various sources provide maps; on this day in 1967, Jocelyn Bell & Antony Hewish observed pulses separated by 1.33 seconds that originated from pulsar PSR 1919+21.

Nov 28-30 — ESA, SatCen, JRC, CNES, Toulouse, France: 2017 Conference on Big Data from Space (BiDS’17).

Nov 28 – Dec 1 — Keck Institute for Space Studies, Caltech, Pasadena CA: Workshop: Unlocking the Climate Record Stored within Mars’ Polar Layered Deposits – Part II.

Nov 28 – Dec 1 — ESA, European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), Madrid, Spain: ESAC Data Analysis and Statistics Workshop 2017.


Nov 29 — SETI Institute, Menlo Park CA: Lecture: Kepler, K2, and Beyond – The Era of Exoplanets Has Arrived! by Jeff Coughlin and Geert Barentsenat; at SRI International Conference Center.

Nov 29-30 — International Space Exploration Coordination Group, Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, Ames Research Center, NASA, Moffett Field CA: Global Exploration Road Map Workshop.

Nov 29-30 — ESA, Cologne, Germany: RAMS Awareness Workshop on Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration (PA3); at European Astronaut Centre.

Nov 29 – Dec 1 — National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Irvine CA: Meeting: Review of Progress Toward Implementing the Decadal Survey Vision and Voyages for Planetary Sciences.

Nov 29 – Dec 2 — Caltech, NRAO, ALMA, Pasadena CA: Symposium: The Origin of Galaxies, Stars, and Planets in the Era of ALMA.

Nov 29 — Aten Asteroid 2010 VD139: Near-Earth Flyby (0.013 AU).

Nov 29 — Amor Asteroid 2017 VQ14: Near-Earth Flyby (0.080 AU).

Nov 29 — Mars: 3.1° NNE of Spica, 13:00.


Nov 30 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Ocean Worlds – From Familiar to Exotic and Extreme Planets; Dimitar Sasselov, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA, 16:00.

Nov 30 — 6th International Cosmic Day: Students, teachers and scientists come together to talk and learn about Cosmic Rays at multiple locations around the World.

Nov 30 — Moon: 4.1° SSE of Uranus, 02:00.


NET Dec — ExoMars 2016 Orbiter, Mars Orbit: Science operations to begin this month after entering orbit 14 months ago – ESA science mission to continue until at least Dec 2019, will also support data relay operations for NASA landers on Mars; in 2021 expected to support communications for ExoMars 2020 rover & lander, and operate until Dec 2022.

NET Dec — JAXA, Launch Epsilon / ASNARO 2, Uchinoura Space Center, Japan: Epsilon rocket to launch Advanced Satellite with New system ARchitecture for Observation (ASNARO) 2 radar Earth observation satellite developed by Japan Space Systems and NEC Corp.

NET Dec — Blue Origin, KSC FL: Construction of company’s new facility at Exploration Park, KSC to be completed this month; site will be used for orbital rocket development, testing, launch.

Dec 1 — Deep Space, Interstellar Space & Heliosheath: Voyager 1 and 2 Project Scientist Ed Stone gives in depth update on the spacecraft, now 141 AU and 116.5 AU from Earth with radio signal delay of 19.5 and 16 hours, respectively.

Dec 1 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, Tom Jones, adult US$69.95.

Dec 1 — Phoenicid Meteor Shower Peak: Meteor shower may produce 2-5 per hour, slow moving (18 km/sec) meteors from debris of comet 289P Blanpain; peak 20:00.


Dec 2 — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), LEO: ESA / NASA craft studying sun, begins 23rd year of operations today, launched 1995; has discovered more than 3,000 comets.

Dec 2 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Pasadena CA: Educator Workshop: Lunar and Meteorite Sample Certification.

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 2 — Moon: 9.0° SSE of Pleiades, 12:00.


Dec 3 — Hayabusa 2, Asteroid 162173 Ryugu Trajectory: JAXA Hayabusa 2 begins 4th full year in space today, launched Dec 3, 2014; expected to reach asteroid June / July 2018.

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

Dec 3 — Moon: 0.80° N of Aldebaran, 03:00; Full (Cold / Super Moon), 05:47; at perigee (distance 357,496 km), 22:59.

Dec 3 — Apollo Asteroid 2008 WM61: Near-Earth Flyby (0.010 AU).