October 10-16, 2016 / Vol 35, No 41 / Hawai`i Island, USA

2016 ISPCS in New Mexico: Step by Step Tech Growth for LEO, Beyond


The 2016 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS 2016) with theme We Will Not Stop is being held at New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces, New Mexico October 12-13 with support from 36 sponsors. This 12th meeting of ISPCS (formerly ISPS) will highlight the advancement and diversity of space commerce through participation of 300 entrepreneurs, investors, company leaders, contractors, suppliers and government partners. There will be ~40 speakers contributing to 5 Panel Talks, 13 Keynote Addresses and 4 Spotlight Talks. Presenters include (L-R) Pat Hynes (NMSGC), Robert Bigelow (Bigelow), William Gerstenmaier (NASA), Sandra Magnus (AIAA), and representatives from DSI, SNC, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, FAA, Boeing, ULA, Orbital ATK, and SWF. Major focus will be on international space traffic and security, space resources, industry growth and implications, ISS / LEO space economy, and human spaceflight from USA (including Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson talking on “New Shepard and Beyond”). The 6th Annual Technical Meeting for Center of Excellence – Commercial Space Transportation (COE CST) is being held Oct 11, and a 12-hour “Summit: Power of Inclusion” is being held on Oct 14 for 45 people at Virgin Galactic operating base / Gateway to Space facility at Spaceport America to discuss a more diverse and inclusive workforce. (Image Credit: ISPCS, NMSGC, Bigelow, SpaceX, SNC, VG, SF, Blue Origin, AIAA, et al)


star-grey Oct 10 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Ryzhikov, Borisenko, Kimbrough scheduled to launch to Station Oct 19 to join Expedition 49 members Ivanishin, Onishi, Rubins; current crew to finalize Progress 63P for undocking Wednesday, documenting nutritional and vitamin intake, setting up student Earth observation experiment, maintaining spacesuits, preparing for Orbital OA-5 launch (first Antares launch in two years), will grapple craft with Canadarm2 when it comes within 10-meters.

 Oct 10 — Kepler, Heliocentric Orbit: Operating in K2 Mission on Campaign 10, craft continues search for exoplanets in its 8th year in space, 85% of Kepler original detectors are operating, Module 4 is the 3rd of 21 science modules to have failed in-flight, current tally from Kepler is 5,100 planet candidates, 2,454 confirmed planets.

Oct 10 — New Horizons, KBO 2014 MU69 Trajectory: More than 3,916 days into mission and 36.6 AU from Earth, craft predicted to encounter selected 20-40 km wide KBO in 813 days, research on dwarf planet Pluto continues with data from flyby including 5,000-pixel wide pictures, seas of nitrogen, glaciers, mountains, atmosphere.

circle-full-grey Oct 10 — SpaceX, Hawthorne CA: NewSpace company hopes to resume launches in November, CEO Elon Musk reveals vision of becoming ‘multiplanetary species’ with 122-m tall crewed Interplanetary Transport System featuring 42 Raptor engines capable of carrying 100 people and cargo to Mars 2024, and to Jupiter, Saturn systems.

circle-full-grey Oct 10 — NanoRacks LLC, Houston TX: Providing internal and external payload platforms & CubeSat deployments at ISS, working on 6U / 12U deployers and “haybale” system to launch as many as 192 CubeSats at a time; contracted to launch Active Debris Removal (ADR) experiment Jun 2017.

circle-grey Oct 10 — MxSpace, Anzures, Mexico City, Mexico: Developing and testing satellites, optics and sensors, company to partner with Deep Space Industries to share / promote technologies, enhance international regulatory policies; working with Mexican Space Agency (AEM) to launch indigenously-built satellite in 2018.

oct-dec-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: Venus (WSW), Mars (SW), Saturn (SW), Uranus (E), Neptune (SE); Morning Planets: Mercury (E), Jupiter (E).

Ad Astra Rocket Co. Advances Game-Changing VASIMR Engine


Under the NASA NextSTEP program the Ad Astra Rocket Company based near Johnson Space Center in Houston TX is developing its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) technology toward Test Readiness Level 5 prior to space flight. The TRL-5 goal is to operate the VASIMR engine in thermal  steady-state by operating it continuously for 100 hours at a power level of 100 kW. Phase-a testing is to begin this October running through the end of January 2017 with pulse lengths on the order of minutes; Phase-b tests begin June 2017 fully cooled with operation times on the order of hours; Phase-c tests begin February 2018 with a full 100 hour test by May 2018. VASIMR is a new type of electromagnetic thruster which uses radio wave couplers to ionize and heat cold gas propellant into superheated plasma, and a magnetic nozzle to convert the thermal motion into a directed jet to generate thrust. The variable and large thrust capacity potential would make VASIMR a versatile and powerful tool for moving large payloads in LEO, Earth-Moon transfers and further out into the Solar System. With initial mass of 50 metric ton in LEO a 200 kW VASIMR could deliver 37 metric ton of payload to L1. A similar system could be used to sling-shot payloads to Jupiter at velocities of up to ~50 km/s relative to the Sun. (Image Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Oct 10 — Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT), JAXA, Online / Manila, Philippines: Last Day to Register: Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-23); to be held Nov 15-18.

Oct 10-14 — Space Research Institute (IKI), Moscow, Russia: 7th Moscow Solar System Symposium; to discuss formation and evolution of Solar System, planetary systems of other Stars, interplanetary environment, astrobiology problems, exploration of planets, moons, small bodies.

Oct 10-14 — Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: 11th INTEGRAL Conference: Gamma-Ray Astrophysics in Multi-Wavelength Perspective.

Oct 10 — Mercury: 0.79° NNE of Jupiter, 00:00.

Oct 10 — Amor Asteroid 2010 SG15 : Near-Earth flyby (0.088 AU).

Oct 10 — Aten Asteroid 2013 LC1: Near-Earth flyby (0.097 AU).

Continued from…

NET Q4 — Interorbital Systems Corp., Launch Neptune 5 (5 CPM) vehicle / 30 Nanosats, Mojave CA: Planning to launch Neptune 5 Common Propulsion Module (CPM) to loft 30 nanosats to LEO, including payloads for GLXP teams Team Synergy Moon, Part-Time Scientists, Plan B & EuroLuna.

Oct 4-10 — World Space Week Association, Global: World Space Week 2016; to celebrate international contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition; Oct 4 is 59th observation of 1st Space mission Sputnik One launched by Soviet Union 1957; Oct 10 is 49th observation of Outer Space Treaty going into effect 1967.

Oct 9-13 — International Astronomical Union, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia: IAU Symposium 327: Fine Structure and Dynamics of the Solar Atmosphere.


Oct 11 — Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, Las Cruces NM: 6th Annual Technical Meeting of Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation.

Oct 11 — Rotary Club Meriden, Coventry, United Kingdom: Odyssey Dramatic Presentation: Skywalking – Living in Earth’s Orbit.

Oct 11 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Lecture: Getting to Know Pluto; Associate Staff Scientist Veronica Bray, 19:00-20:00.

Oct 11 — Institution of Engineering and Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Ada Diamonds, Meromore Press, et al, London, United Kingdom: 2016 Ada Lovelace Day; international celebration of achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Oct 11 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 TJ10: Near-Earth flyby (0.011 AU).


Oct 12 — Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO, Sydney, Australia: Colloquium: Deeper, Wider, Faster – Chasing the fastest Transients in the Universe; Jeff Cooke of Swinburne University, 15:00-16:00.

Oct 12 — Foothill College, SETI, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, NASA ARC, Los Altos Hills CA: 17th annual Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series: The Science of Star Wars: The Lowdown on Space Travel, Aliens & The Force; Seth Shostak of SETI Institute, 19:00.

Oct 12 — International Space Representatives, Paris, France: Announcement to be made at Salon Psyché Room, the Ritz Hotel, 10:30-11:00.

Oct 12-13 — New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, SpaceX, Space Foundation, ULA, Space News, Boeing, Secure World Foundation, et al, Las Cruces NM: 2016 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS).

Oct 12-14 — ESA, CNES, DLR, European Space Components Coordination, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: Space Passive Component Days; at ESTEC.

Oct 12 — Moon: 1.1° NNW of Neptune, 19:00.


Oct 13 — Orbital ATK, Launch Antares / OA-5, Wallops Island VA: Upgraded Antares rocket return to flight, after nearly 2 years, scheduled to launch 7th Cygnus cargo freighter (dubbed S.S. Alan G. Poindexter) on 6th operational flight to the ISS with 2,400 kg of cargo to ISS, pending weather conditions.

Oct 13-18 — Space and Particles Laboratory of Montpellier (LUPM), Antananarivo, Madagascar: 8th High-Energy Physics International Conference (HEPMAD 16).

Oct 13 — Aten Asteroid 2007 TR68: Near-Earth flyby (0.050 AU).


Oct 14 — Juno, Jupiter Orbit: Spacecraft to enter Period Reduction Phase today lasting ~5.25 days.

Oct 14 WayPaver Foundation, Online / Chattanooga TN: Letter of Intent Due for 2017 Fellowship Program; US$100,000 unrestricted grant supporting research technologies in both terrestrial and lunar applications, winner announced February 28, 2017.

Oct 14 — Virgin Galactic, International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS), Las Cruces NM: The Summit: The Power of Inclusion; diversity in the workplace summit for 45 people at Spaceport America, US$500.

Oct 14 — Birmingham Science Fiction Group, Birmingham, United Kingdom: Odyssey Dramatic Presentation: Out of The Darkness: Pluto and the Outer Worlds.

Oct 14 — Royal Astronomical Society, London, United Kingdom: Meeting: Industrial Revolution in Galactic Astronomy.

Oct 14-15 — UK Astro Show, Astronomy Now, Stoneleigh Park, United Kingdom: International Astronomy Show.

Oct 14 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 RW: Near-Earth flyby (0.056 AU).

Oct 14 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 SJ1: Near-Earth flyby (0.099 AU).


NET Oct 15 — CNSA, Launch Long March 2F / Shenzhou 11, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Inner Mongolia: Two Astronauts to launch to new Tiangong-2 space lab to test space docking and rendezvous, re-entry of the crew space module and flight support technologies for future astronauts; crew to perform 30-day mission, return mid-November.

NET Oct 15 — Ad Astra Rocket Company, Webster TX: Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) prototype VX-200SS to be integrated with all sub-systems and conduct first high power plasma firings by end of this month.

Oct 15 — Ad Astra Kansas Foundation, Topeka KA: Ad Astra Kansas Day 2016; 17:00-20:00, at Washburn University Stoffer Science Hall; held in conjunction with Topeka Science and Tech Festival.

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.

Oct 15 — Moon: Full (Hunter’s / Beaver Moon), 18:23.

Oct 15 — Uranus: At opposition, 01:00.


Oct 16 — ExoMars to Release Schiaparelli, Mars Orbit: ESA Trace Gas Orbiter planning to release Entry, Descent & Landing Demonstrator Module (Schiaparelli) today in order to land ~3/4 days later at same time orbiter enters Mars orbit.

Oct 16-21 — American Astronomical Society, Pasadena CA: 48th Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society / 11th European Planetary Science Conference (DPS 48 / EPSC); at Pasadena Convention Center; Educator Workshop: Journey to the Outer Worlds to be held Oct 16.

Oct 16 — Aten Asteroid 2016 TH10: Near-Earth flyby (0.019 AU).

Oct 16 — Moon: At perigee (distance 357,476 km), 13:47.

Oct 16 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 PR38: Near-Earth flyby (0.053 AU).