October 31 – November 6, 2016 / Vol 35, No 44 / Hawai`i Island, USA

East Asia Blasts Off: Major Debut for China CZ-5 Rocket, Japan H-2A Going for 25th Straight Success


The maiden flight of China Long March 5 next-generation heavy-lift rocket is set to fully activate the new Wenchang Satellite Launch Center at Hainan Island on November 3. Among the most powerful in the world, this huge 3-stage orbital launch system will be capable of lifting 25,000 kg to LEO or 14,000 kg to GTO with 10,565 KN of thrust. In the 5B configuration it is designed to serve as a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle for payloads to LEO. The CZ-5 is also slated to boost the CNSA Chang’e-5 Lunar Sample Return mission toward the Moon in late 2017. Japan is set to notch up another success for its workhorse H-2A liquid fueled rocket on November 1 boosting the Himawari 9 weather satellite to GTO from Tanegashima Space Center. H-2A is rated to lift 10,000-15,000 kg to LEO or 4,100-6,000 kg to GTO. The JAXA Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) mission is proposed to launch in late 2019 aboard the advanced cost-cutting Epsilon solid-fuel Rocket with payload capacity of  1,200 kg to LEO or 450 kg to SSO. Also progressing is the South Korea KSLV-2 rocket scheduled for completion NET March 2018. This system is slated to boost the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter in Dec 2018 and the Korea Moon Lander & Rover by 2020. (Image Credits: CNSA, JAXA, KARI)


star-grey Oct 31 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Expedition 50 celebrates 16 full years of ISS continuous Human occupation, three-member crew Commander Kimbrough and Flight Engineers Ryzhikov & Borisenko will transfer cargo from Cygnus OA-5, work on NeuroMapping & Air Monitoring studies, install hardware & plant pillows for Veg-03 plant growth experiment.

star-grey Oct 24 — Tiangong-2, 393-km LEO: Banxing-2 cubesat (47-kg) orbiting China Space Lab, providing images of craft taken by 25 megapixel camera; Lab rendezvous, docking and life-support technologies being tested & monitored; 2 Taikonauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong to remain aboard for total 30 days.

star-grey Oct 31 — ExoMars 2016, Mars Orbit: Trace Gas Orbiter successfully reaches desired orbit, will begin science observations of planet; Schiaparelli lander likely crashed into red planet due to computing glitch – heat shield & parachute ejected ahead of time, thrusters for deceleration fired for 3 seconds instead of 30, and lander “just dropped” according to Jorge Vago, project scientist.

circle-full-grey Oct 31 — Bigelow Aerospace LLC, Las Vegas NV: NewSpace company 16-cubic meter Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) being tested for air & surface microbes, radiation levels and potential micrometeoroid impacts being monitored; plans to launch independent habitat module into orbit 2020, working on ground prototypes & concepts for deep space habitats for NASA over 24-month period.

circle-greyOct 31 — ALE Company Ltd., Tokyo, Japan: Start-up developing Sky Canvas Project to launch 2018 and produce the 1st human-made meteor shower; satellite to be filled with ~500 to 1,000 ‘source particles’ released over Earth atmosphere; “We want people to look up” Shinsuke Abe, ALE Research Director.

circle-full-grey Oct 31 — Front Range Airport / Colorado Spaceport, Watkins CO: Awaiting approval from FAA for horizontal launches allowing for space tourism, satellite launches; spaceport to be located 9.6 km from Denver International Airport, participated at 2016 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS).

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 (SW), Mars (SW), Saturn (SW), Uranus (SE), Neptune (SE); Morning Planets: Jupiter (E).

New Worlds 2016: Human Settlement of the Space Frontier


New Worlds Conference 2016 is being held November 4-5 at Renaissance Austin Hotel, Texas to bring together leaders dedicated to human development and settlement of space from commercial companies, institutions, science, engineering and government. Symposium co-chairs are Mary Dittmar (Coalition for Deep Space Exploration), Pete Worden (Breakthrough Prize Foundation) and Phil Metzger (Planetary Physicist) with special guest William Gerstenmaier (NASA). Bob Richards of Moon Express will present the ‘Case for the Moon’ while Robert Zubrin of Mars Society will present the ‘Case for Mars’. Other topics include international policy, space property rights, mining, farming, habitats, transport, solar power, manufacturing, reproduction, life support systems and financing space colonies. Session Chairs and STAR (Science, Technology, Art and Research) speakers are Rick Tumlinson (DSI, New Worlds), John Lewis (Univ of Arizona), Bernard Foing (ESA), Jim Logan (Space Enterprise Institute), Michael Laine (Liftport), Margaret Race (SETI) and Jennifer Lopez (CASIS).  The Cities in Space Competition on Nov 4 will feature 500 high school kids designing their own Moon and Mars cities. The “2116” Space Cowboy Gala at the conclusion of New Worlds 2016 is a celebration of Astronauts throughout time with guests dressing in suits, Texas tuxedos or sci-fi garb. (Image Credit: New Worlds, Liftport, NASA, ME, DSI, ESA, et al)

Oct 31 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Asteroid Radar Science; Sean Marshall of Cornell, 12:30.

Oct 31 – Nov 3 — ESA, University of Strathclyde, University of Rome, Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade, et al, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: Stardust Final Conference on Asteroids and Space Debris: Pushing the Boundaries of Space Research to Save Our Future.

Oct 31 – Nov 4 — International Space Science Institute, Bern, Switzerland: Workshop: Cosmic Dust from the Lab to the Stars.

Oct 31 – Nov 4 — Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan: Compact Stars and Gravitational Waves.

Oct 31 — Moon: At apogee (distance 406,214 km – farthest in year), 10:00.

Oct 31 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 UR36: Near-Earth Flyby (0.003 AU).

Oct 31 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 TB57: Near-Earth Flyby (0.013 AU).

Oct 31 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 UP36: Near-Earth Flyby (0.013 AU).

Oct 31 — Apollo Asteroid 164121 (2003 YT1): Near-Earth Flyby (0.035 AU).

Oct 31 — Aten Asteroid 2016 UC31: Near-Earth Flyby (0.057 AU).

Oct 31 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 PN38: Near-Earth Flyby (0.079 AU).

Continued from…

Oct 30 – Nov 1 — Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics, Vietnam Institute of Physics, et al, Hanoi, Vietnam: Hanoi International Workshop: Gravitation and the Universe.

Oct 30 – Nov 4 — Korea Institute for Advanced Study, Seoul, South Korea: 7th KIAS Workshop on Cosmology and Structure Formation.


Nov 1 — Deep Space: New Horizons heading into Kuiper Belt toward 30-40 km diameter object 2014 MU69 for January 1, 2019 flyby; recent observations show reddish surface on KBO – possibly more red than Pluto, indicating presence of tholin molecules.

Nov 1 — Cassini: Flyby of moon Telesto (104,000-km altitude) and Polydeuces (107,000-km altitude).

Nov 1 — JAXA, Launch H-2A / Himawari 9, Tanegashima Space Center, Japan: H-2A rocket to launch Himawari 9 weather satellite for Japan Meteorological Agency to collect weather imagery over East Asia & Western Pacific regions.

Nov 1 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: LPL Colloquium: Geochemistry of Martian Basalts with Constraints on Magma Genesis; Justin Filiberto of Southern Illinois University, 15:45.

Nov 1 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: Geological field trip to Gale crater, Mars: a view from the ChemCam on MSL; Marion Nachon, UC Davis 12:00.

Nov 1-3 — Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), Columbia MD: 2016 Annual Meeting of the LEAG; at USRA Headquarters.

Nov 1 — Apollo Asteroid 2006 KC: Near-Earth Flyby (0.086 AU).


Nov 2 — International Space Station, LEO: Today marks start of 17th year of continuous Human occupation of ISS; first component launched Nov 20, 1998, occupation began Nov 2, 2000.

Nov 2 — United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), New Delhi, India: Asia-Pacific Space Leaders Forum; pre-conference event to Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR)

Nov 2 — UK Space Agency, ESA, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom: Principia Schools Conferences; Tim Peake to join educational conference on space exploration for students.

Nov 2 — British Interplanetary Institute, London, United Kingdom: Lecture: US Spy Satellites 1954-2016; David Baker.

Nov 2 — Keck Institute for Space Studies, Pasadena CA: Artificial Intelligence Support of Rosetta Orbiter Science Operations; Steve Chien of JPL, 17:00.

Nov 2-4 — ESA, Madrid, Spain: Gaia 2016 Data Release #1 Workshop; at European Space Astronomy Centre.

Nov 2 — Moon: 9.6° N of Antares, 01:00; 3.7° N of Saturn, 10:00; 6.8° N of Venus, 20:00.

Nov 2 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 UX5: Near-Earth Flyby (0.018 AU).


Nov 3 — CNSA, Launch Long March 5 Maiden Flight, Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, Hainan Island, China (19° N): Next-generation heavy lift launch system, Long March 5 inaugural flight from new launch pad at Hainan.

Nov 3 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Characterizing Planetary Systems Orbiting Low-mass Stars; Courtney Dressing from Caltech, 16:00.

Nov 3-4 — Aveiro University, Aveiro, Portugal: Gravitational Lensing and BH Shadows Workshop.

Nov 3-5 — National Centre for Radio Astrophysics – Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Goa, India: SKA Pathfinders Radio Continuum Surveys 2016.

Nov 3 — Aten Asteroid 2012 XS111: Near-Earth Flyby (0.077 AU).

Nov 3 — Amor Asteroid 2016 UW35: Near-Earth Flyby (0.085 AU).


Nov 4 — Caltech, Pasadena CA: Caltech Astronomy Public Lectures: How to Prepare for the Great American Eclipse of 2017; Erika Hamden, 19:00.

Nov 4 — Challenger Center, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Sacramento CA: Return to the Moon; simulated space mission supporting astronauts from Mission Control and hands-on science experiments, robotics, space probe development.

Nov 4-5 — New Worlds Institute, University of Texas, Austin TX: New Worlds Conference 2016; Cities in Space Competition; Space Cowboy Gala 2016; at Renaissance Austin Hotel & Conference Center.

Nov 4 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 TG55: Near-Earth Flyby (0.010 AU).


Nov 5 — UK Space Agency, ESA, University of York, York, United Kingdom: Principia Schools Conferences; Tim Peake to join educational conference on space exploration for students.

Nov 5-9 — UNOOSA, Iranian Space Agency, Inter-Islamic Network on Space Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran: United Nations/Islamic Republic of Iran Workshop on the Use of Space Technology for Dust Storm and Drought Monitoring in the Middle East Region.

Nov 5 — Moon: 3.0° N of Pluto, 00:00.

Nov 5 — Mars: At heliocentric conjunction with Neptune, 09:00.

Nov 5 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 UE: Near-Earth Flyby (0.014 AU).


Nov 6 — United Launch Alliance, Launch Atlas 5 / WorldView 4, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: ULA Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-062, to launch WorldView 4 Earth observation satellite for DigitalGlobe.

Nov 6 — Standard Time (USA): Change clocks back 1 hour from Daylight Saving to Standard Time; does not include Hawai’i, American Samoa or Arizona (except the Navajo Reservation).

Nov 6 — Moon: 5.3° N of Mars, 01:00.

Nov 6 — Apollo Asteroid 468583 (2007 LS): Near-Earth Flyby (0.086 AU).