November 30 – December 6, 2015 / Vol 34, No 48 / Hawai`i Island, USA

ULA and Orbital ATK Set for CRS Launch, SpaceX and Boeing Work Toward Crew Missions

Cygnus ISS

United Launch Alliance is scheduled to launch the Orbital ATK Cygnus OA-4 freighter to the International Space Station on December 3rd from Cape Canaveral AFS FL. This 4th operational flight will rely on ULA, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., with 100% success rate on more than 100 rocket launches since its formation in 2006. Cygnus 4, picking up after the Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) Antares failure in Oct 2014, is carrying 3,500 kg of cargo including 12 Planet Labs Dove nanosatellites dubbed “Flock 2e”, the 3U CADRE CubeSat developed by University of Michigan’s Student Space Systems Fabrication Lab, the MinXSS nanosat for University of Colorado at Boulder, and the STMSat 1 educational CubeSat built by St. Thomas More Cathedral School elementary school students. Orbital ATK President Frank Culbertson (the 2nd American Commander of the ISS) outlines three 2016 CRS missions, the first of which will utilize ULA, followed by the return of operations with upgraded Antares rockets from Wallops Flight Facility. SpaceX is planning to launch its next CRS mission January 3 (after the loss of Dragon CRS-7 in June 2015) while continuing Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) work on Dragon V2 capsule – officially selected to transport Astronauts from KSC to space along with Boeing CST-100 Starliner starting in 2017. (Image Credit: ULA, Orbital, NASA, University of Michigan, CU, STM, Boeing, SpaceX)


Nov 30 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 45 awaiting Cygnus OA-4 arrival, tending plants, working with studies on touch-based technologies, earthquake data, vision, synthetic muscle, intracranial pressure, new exercise techniques; Scott Kelly & Kjell Lindgren undergoing robotics training for its capture / installation to Harmony node; Lindgren, Yui & Kononenko preparing for Dec 11 return to Earth.

Nov 30 — Tiangong-1, LEO: China space station orbiting between 330-370 km with an inclination of 42 degrees, collecting Earth Observation data and information on Sun energetic particles.

Nov 30 — Rosetta, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Orbit: Will continue altitude dips close to comet surface and attempt to make contact with Philae lander at Abydos location, controlled impact into surface planned for late Sep 2016.

 Nov 30 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Observing seasonal changes on gas planet and moons, collecting high-resolution images and data during flybys including temperature, plume, gas and dust analyses; coming within ~150,000 km of Saturn.

 Nov 30 — Blue Origin LLC, Kent WA: NewSpace company planning 24+ tests of fully automated New Shepard reusable launch vehicle while working toward potential 2017 commercial flights, planning operations at KSC, reviewing data from recent successful test of capsule & BE-3 rocket launch to 100.5-km altitude, separation, safe landing.

 Nov 30 — Made in Space, Mountain View CA: Will develop technologies & subsystems under NASA “Archinaut” project to enable additive manufacturing, aggregation, assembly of large & complex systems in space without Astronaut EVAs; working to have Additive Manufacturing Facility ready to launch to ISS in first half of 2016.

 Nov 30 — Zero Gravity Solutions Inc., Boca Raton FL: Developing agricultural biotechnology derived from and designed for Space including BAM-FX ionic micronutrient delivery system & Directed Selection platform using microgravity of LEO to produce large volumes of non-GMO stem cells with unique & beneficial characteristics.

Nov 30 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Mars 2020 Landing Site Selection Discussion.

NOV - JAN 2016 = 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: Uranus (S), Neptune (S); Morning Planets: Venus (E), Mars (E), Jupiter (E).

Southeast Asia Region Building Cohesive 21st Century Future with Astronomy and Astronautics

calendar feature - SEA 2015The 7th Southeast Asia Astronomy Network Meeting SEAAN 2015 is being held November 30 – December 4 at the Peace Laguna Resort in Krabi on the shores of the Andaman Sea along the West coast of the Thai peninsula. SEAAN has been strengthening research and education among the State of Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Union of Myanmar, the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam since it was initiated by the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) in 2007. The conference program includes a welcome by Prof. Boonrucksar Soonthornthum, talks by Mr. Savio Fong (Galaxy Scientific Group-Hong Kong) on “High altitude astronomical developments in Tibet”, Dr. Zamri Zainal Abidin (University of Malaya-Malaysia) “Development of the UM-UPSI 7-meter radio telescope”, Dr. Hakim L. Malasan (ITB-Indonesia) “A fast and efficient spectrograph for emission line objects”, Dr. Pham Ngoc Diep (VNSC-Vietnam) “Research at DAP”, Dr. Yee Yee Oo (Yadanabon University – Myanmar) “Present and Future Aspects of Astronomical Education in Myanmar”, as well as an entire “free-day” with optional excursions to 4 nearby islands. The 22nd Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) meets Dec 1-4 in Bali, one of the more popular of 922 permanently inhabited islands out of a total 18,307 which make up the Indonesian Archipelago. The theme is Sharing Solutions through Synergy in Space. The major working group and plenary sessions are accompanied by SAFE and Kibo-ABC Workshops, a water rocket event, poster contest, exhibition, and other activities. (Image Credit: NASA, GoogleEarth)

Nov 30 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Dr. David Livingston talks with Dr. Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientist.

Nov 30 – Dec 2 — ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: 6th European Space Cryogenics Workshop: Innovation and Challenges; at European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC).

Nov 30 – Dec 4 — Southeast Asia Astronomy Network, Krabi, Thailand: 7th Southeast Asia Astronomy Network (SEAAN) Conference.

Nov 30 – Dec 5 — European Southern Observatory (ESO), Garching, Germany: Workshop: The Solar System as Seen by the ELTs.

Nov 30 – Dec 5 — International Academy of Astronautics, Kyutech Institute, Rome, Italy: 3rd IAA Conference on University Satellite Missions and CubeSat Workshop & International Workshop on Lean Satellite Standardization.

Nov 30 — Moon: 5.2° SSW of Beehive Cluster, 05:00.

Nov 30 — Mars: At heliocentric conjunction with Jupiter, 16:00.

Nov 30 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 VW105: Near-Earth flyby (0.098 AU).

Continued from…

Sep 14 – Dec 7 — SSERVI, NASA, Online: SSERVI teams at University of Central FL (CLASS) and Brown University/MIT (SEEED) give 13 lectures on Planetary Evolution: Phobos and Deimos, every Monday; live coverage available.

Nov 24 – Dec 22 — IEEE, edX, Online: Course: From Goddard to Apollo: The History of Rockets, Part 1; with instructor Burton Dicht.

Nov 29 – Dec 4 — American Astronomical Society, Waikoloa HI: Conference: Extreme Solar Systems III.


NET Dec — Hayabusa 2, Asteroid 1999 JU3 Trajectory: JAXA Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Explorer mission expected to fly by Earth this month and arrive at C-type asteroid “1999 JU3” June / July 2018.

NET Dec — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / Jason-3 satellite, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: Jason-3 satellite will measure ocean topography for U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Europe EUMETSAT.

Dec 1 — Deep Space, Jupiter Trajectory: Juno science team preparing for upcoming New Year activities beginning with spacecraft Jupiter Approach phase, checkouts and data transfer, before Jupiter insertion planned on July 4, 2016 (217 days from today).

Dec 1 — Wiltshire Astronomical Society, Wiltshire, United Kingdom: Presentation: Neptune a Calculated Guess; by Andrew Lound.

Dec 1 — Royal Aeronautical Society, London, United Kingdom: Conference: Human Spaceflight – UK Strategy in the Run-Up to Tim Peake’s Flight.

Dec 1-3 — Applied Technology Institute, Columbia MD: Satellite Communications – An Essential Introduction course; with instructor Dr. Mark Chartrand.

Dec 1-3 — Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center, NASA, KSC FL: Astronaut Encounter; featuring Astronaut Bruce Melnick.

Dec 1-4 — Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum, Bali, Indonesia: Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-22); at Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel.

Dec 1 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 WG: Near-Earth flyby (0.046 AU).

Dec 1 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 VB65: Near-Earth flyby (0.052 AU).

Dec 1 — Aten Asteroid 2014 WM7: Near-Earth flyby (0.080 AU).


Dec 2 — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), LEO: ESA / NASA craft studying sun, enters 21st year of operations today; mission extended to this month, further mission plans to be decided; has discovered more than 3,000 comets.

Dec 2 — RSA, Launch Proton / Garpun, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Proton rocket with a Breeze M upper stage to launch Garpun communications satellite into orbit for Russia military.

Dec 2 — Arianespace, Launch Vega / LISA Pathfinder, Kourou, French Guiana: Launch of ESA / NASA JPL spacecraft to Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange point for first-phase of LISA mission; will be capable of detecting gravitational waves generated by massive objects, advance understanding of how space and time are interconnected.

Dec 2-4 — University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM: Science at Low Frequencies II Workshop; at Phillips Technology Institute building.

Dec 2 — Moon: 2.8° SSW of Regulus, 01:00; at last quarter 21:40.


Dec 3 — PROCYON (PRoximate Object Close flYby with Optical Navigation), Earth Flyby: University of Tokyo and JAXA / ISAS (Institute of Space and Astronautical Science) 50-kg PROCYON microsatellite, to fly by Earth today putting it on trajectory to fly into Main Asteroid Belt (and rendezvous with a TBD asteroid); launched Dec 4, 2014 as secondary payload with Hayabusa 2.

Dec 3 — Hayabusa 2, Asteroid 1999 JU3 Trajectory: JAXA Hayabusa 2 begins 2nd year in space today, launched Dec 3, 2014; expected to reach asteroid June / July 2018.

Dec 3 — United Launch Alliance, Launch Atlas 5 / OA-4, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: ULA Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-061, to loft 5th Cygnus cargo freighter on 4th operational flight to the ISS for Orbital ATK.

Dec 3 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Our New View of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons Mission; presented by Cathy Olkin by Southwest Research Institute.

Dec 3 Space Frontier Foundation, LightSpeed Innovations Accelerator, Los Angeles CA: Second of five regional qualifying NewSpace Business Plan Competitions to be held.

Dec 3, 4 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech/NASA, Pasadena CA: von Kármán Lecture Series: The InSight Mission: Journey to the Center of Mars; presented by Dr. Bruce Banderdt, InSight Principal Investigator.

Dec 3 — Moon: 1.9° SW of Jupiter, 18:00.


Dec 4 — International Lunar Observatory Association, Space Age Publishing Company, Scarsdale NY: Galaxy Forum New York 2015 – Scarsdale; featuring presentation by Dr. Kimberly Ennico Smith on New Horizons / Pluto System, at Scarsdale High School, Little Theatre.

Dec 4 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 VX2: Near-Earth flyby (0.053 AU).

Dec 4 — Apollo Asteroid 2013 RZ53: Near-Earth flyby (0.078 AU).


Dec 5 — University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Mann Fest; to celebrate Robert Mann’s 60th birthday, presentations will cover black holes, quantum information theory, quantum gravity, neutron stars, gravitational waves, cosmology

Dec 5 — Moon: At apogee (distance 404,303 km), 05:00; 0.13° WSW of Mars, 17:00.

Dec 5 — Apollo Asteroid 2011 WN15: Near-Earth flyby (0.083 AU).

Dec 5 — Amor Asteroid 2015 SV2: Near-Earth flyby (0.099 AU).


Dec 6 — ISS, Cygnus Orb-4 Rendezvous & Berthing, LEO: Orbital ATK Cygnus Orb-4 craft to arrive at ISS and berth to Unity node.

Dec 6 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Flyby of Epimetheus (3,000 km), Atlas (21,000 km), Prometheus (21,000 km) planned for today.

Dec 6 — Phoenicid Meteor Shower Peak: Meteor shower may produce 2-5 per hour, slow moving (18 km/sec) meteors from debris of comet 289P Blanpain.

Dec 6 — Moon: 4.3° NNE of Spica, 13:00.

Dec 6 — Amor Asteroid 2015 VA3: Near-Earth flyby (0.083 AU).