August 14-20, 2017 / Vol 36, No 33 / Hawai`i Island, USA

New Global Wave of Small and Low-Cost Launchers Broaden Space Access Opportunities

Interstellar Technologies Inc of Japan, led by Takafumi Horie, is working to bring online its 10-meter tall, 1-ton rocket Momo with a launch cost of about US$440,000. Landspace Technology is a company in China founded by Zhang Changwu to allow civilian engagement in the global commercial launch market with its new rocket based on the proven 20-meter tall Long March 11. There is also a plan for sea-launch technology put forth by Tang Yagang of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation to use Long March vehicles to lift commercial payloads up to 500 kg to 500-km SSO (sun-synchronous orbit) from a converted 10,000-ton freighter positioned in open ocean at equatorial latitudes. Rocket Lab, a USA-based company led by New Zealander Peter Beck, is conducting test flights of its 17-m tall, 1.2-m diameter Electron Rocket with capacity of 150 kg to 500 km SSO and a price tag less than US$5M. Vector Space Systems led by Jim Cantrell in Arizona is on track towards commercial launches in 2018 with its Vector-R rocket lifting 45 kg to 800 km orbit. Virgin Orbit under the leadership of Dan Hart is pushing forward with development of Launcher One, designed to air-launch 200 kg payloads to SSO from a high altitude carrier aircraft. Spanish startup PLD Space helmed by Raúl Torres is working on the Arion 2 orbital rocket with a baseline lift capacity of 150 kg to LEO and the goal of achieving Europe’s first reusable rockets. (Image Credit: Interstellar Technologies, Landspace, Rocket Lab, Vector Aerospace, Virgin Orbit)


Aug 14 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Expedition 52 six-member crew to facilitate grapple of SpaceX Dragon CRS-12 during rendezvous scheduled Thursday, planning for Russia EVA#43 science and maintenance tasks as well as deployment of tiny satellites on Thursday – it will be 202nd EVA at station, ISS reboost by Progress MS-06 to occur next week to prep for Yurchikhin, Fischer, Whitson departure Sep 2.

Aug 14 — Solar System: Tiangong-2 Space Lab hosting Tianzhou-1 cargo ship, atomic clock, POLAR gamma-ray burst, Tiangong-1 to fall to Earth by Apr 2018; New Horizons heading to KBO 2014 MU69 which now appears to be either singular 30-km long or binary objects each 9-12 km diameter; Neptune unusual 9,000-km storm being monitored, winds at planet can reach up to 1,610 kph; Cassini has 5 final orbits of Saturn before Sep 15 impact.

Aug 14 — Galaxy: New study shows 4 potential Earth-sized planets, 2 of which may be habitable, orbiting tau Ceti, the nearest Sun-like star (12 LY away); Milky Way could contain as many as 100 million black holes; University of Central Lancashire Prof. Cristina Popescu & co-authors calculate how stellar light is distributed throughout the Galaxy by tracking photons, including those emitted by interstellar dust.

Aug 14 — Global: China to build its 1st Mars simulation base with education, tourism, science research facilities in Mongolian-Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Haixi; Ghana All Nations University awaiting signals from 1st Ghana satellite in LEO since July; UK Snowdonia Aerospace Centre and B2Space hope to win bid to launch commercial satellites from Llanbedr; Purdue University researchers develop micropropulsion system using small bursts of water to drive small satellites; China Chang’e-5 may be delayed to 2019.

Aug 14 — NewSpace: Sierra Nevada Corp. set to conduct approach & landing test of full-scale Dream Chaser engineering article this summer; For All Moonkind planning to present formal plan to UNOOSA in 2018 to obtain international protection of Apollo Landing Sites; Intergalactic Education launches free Falcon 9 landing mini game; Vector Space Systems analyzing data from recent launch at Spaceport Camden GA, planning next flight from Mojave CA; Virgin Galactic performs successful dry run of SpaceShipTwo, working toward powered flights.

= 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: Jupiter (WSW), Saturn (S); Morning Planets: Venus (E), Uranus (SE), Neptune (SE).

ISU SSP17 Students Near Completion of
2 Month Intensive Studies in Ireland

The International Space University 30th graduate-level Space Studies Program (SSP17) held in Cork, Ireland June 26 to August 25 is bringing together 112 students and 320 international space professionals from 26 countries, including 5 astronauts. The Space Job Fair “Gateway to Work in Space” Aug 12-13 will have workshops and interview training, company presentations, candidate success stories, meeting and networking events, and discussions about the future of space jobs. The Team Projects final presentation day will be Aug 24 under the topics: Entrepreneurial and Innovation Ecosystem for Space led by Gary Martin and Norah Patten; The Future of ISS led by Dan Glover and Jan Walter Schroeder; Roadmaps and Strategies for Space Sector National Capacity Building led by Ed Chester and Rob Hill; and The Future of Internet of Things and Their Applicability to Space and Energy led by Joseph Pellegrino. Inspirational and educational talks have been given by Dan Tani, Nicole Stott, Robert Thirsk, Yi So-yeon, Jeffrey Hoffman, David Levy, Simon “Pete” Worden and John Logsdon. Some of the countries represented at SSP17 include USA, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Nigeria, India, Turkey, Australia, Poland, Papua New Guinea, Spain, UK, Netherlands, and Germany. The 31st Space Studies Program is to be held summer 2018 in the Netherlands with help from Delft University of Technology, Leiden University and ESA European Space Research and Technology Centre. ISU also hosts the Master of Space Studies Program, Southern Hemisphere Program and Executive Short Courses. (Image Credit: ISU, Alan Landers)

Aug 14 — SpaceX, Launch Falcon 9 / CRS 12, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: Falcon 9 rocket to launch 14th Dragon spacecraft on 12th operational cargo delivery mission to ISS.

Aug 14-17 — Moonchild Theatre Company, London, United Kingdom: Pluto, The Play; written by Callum O’Brien, 19:00, £10.

Aug 14-18 — National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Mitaka, Japan: 10th Meeting on Cosmic Dust.

Aug 14-18 — Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia: Conference: Bursting Universe by Robots Eyes.

Aug 14-19 — Rencontres du Vietnam, Quy Nhon, Vietnam: 5th Vietnam School of Astrophysics Physics (VSOA): Galaxies.

Aug 14 — Moon: At last quarter, 15:16.

Continued from…

Jun 15 – Aug 15 — International Space Elevator Consortium, Online: ISEC 2017 Summer Internship Program.

Jun 26 – Aug 25 — International Space University, Cork Institute of Technology, Cork, Ireland: ISU 30th Space Studies Program (SSP 2017).

Jun 17 – Aug 19 — Singularity University, Moffett Field CA: SU 2017 Global Solutions Program

Aug 5 – Sep 18 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston TX: Campaign 4: Mission 2 – Human Exploration Research Analog; 45 day analog spaceflight / Moon / Mars mission.

Aug 13-15 — Singularity University, San Francisco CA: SU 2017 Global Summit; meet fellow changemakers while discovering the world’s breakthrough innovations in technology and business.

Aug 13-16 — Hong Kong Polytechnic University, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS), Hong Kong: 2017 International Symposium on Planetary Remote Sensing and Mapping.


NET Aug 15 — Rocket Lab, Launch Electron Rocket Flight 2 “Still Testing”, Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand: Second orbital test flight of Rocket Lab Electron dubbed “Still Testing” from new site at Mahia Peninsula, carrying several commercial CubeSats; possibly not until October.

Aug 15 — Library of Congress Science, Technology and Business Division, Washington DC: Lecture: Venus—the Forgotten, Mysterious Planet; by Lori Glaze, NASA.

Aug 15-17 — Caltech, Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Lockheed Martin Corp., Pasadena CA: Low-Cost Planetary Missions Conference (LCPM-12); opportunity for scientists, technologists, engineers, project and agency managers to exchange information to enhance viability and science return of low-cost robotic missions.

Aug 15-18 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: The First Billion Years Initiative – Accretion: Building New Worlds Conference.

Aug 15 — Moon: 9.3° SSE of Pleiades, 05:00; 0.39° NNW of Aldebaran, 21:00.

Aug 15 — Apollo Asteroid 414990 (2011 EM51): Near-Earth Flyby (0.078 AU).


Aug 16 — Roscosmos State Corporation, Proton / Blagovest No. 11L, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Russia Proton rocket and Breeze M upper stage to launch Blagovest No. 11L communications satellite.

Aug 16 — SETI Institute, Menlo Park CA: SETI Talks featuring Research Experience for Undergraduate Class of 2017; at SRI International Conference Center, 19:00.

Aug 16-19 — The Astronomical League, Casper WY: Astronomical Convention – Astrocon 2017; lectures, presentations and workshops scheduled mornings and afternoons each day, with astronomy related tours of nearby facilities, and a vendor area.

Aug 16 — Moon: 0.11° E of asteroid 8 Flora, 10:00.

Aug 16 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 HV3: Near-Earth Flyby (0.099 AU).


Aug 17 — ISS, Russia EVA #43, LEO: Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy to perform 6.5-hour spacewalk starting 10:45 EDT for science tasks, external maintenance and to deploy tiny satellites during orbital excursion, live coverage available.

Aug 17 — ISS, SpaceX Dragon CRS 12 Rendezvous and Grapple, LEO: SpaceX 14th Dragon spacecraft on 12th operational cargo delivery to arrive at ISS 07:00 EDT, docking to Harmony Module 08:30; live coverage available.

Aug 17-26 — Orthodox Academy of Creta (OAC), Kolymbari, Crete, Greece: 6th International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics (ICNFP 2017).

Aug 17 — Moon: 5.1° S of M35 cluster, 10:00.

Aug 17 — Apollo Asteroid 2002 CY58: Near-Earth Flyby (0.068 AU).

Aug 17 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 CD137: Near-Earth Flyby (0.099 AU).


Aug 18 — United Launch Alliance, Launch Atlas 5 / TDRS M, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: ULA Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-074, to launch TDRS M communications and data relay satellite for NASA; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) connects mission control with ISS & other satellites.

Aug 18 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Lunar and Planetary Laboratory Conference.

Aug 18 — `Imiloa Astronomy Center, University of Hawai`i – Hilo, Hilo HI: Mauna Kea Skies Talk; astronomers from Mauna Kea observatories speak about recent discoveries; this session features PISCES; 19:00 HST, US$8-10.

Aug 18 — Moon: A perigee (distance 366,129 km), 03:16; 13.0° S of Castor, 18:00; 2.2° S of Venus, 18:00; 9.4° S of Pollux, 22:00.

Aug 18 — Venus: 10.7° S of Castor, 04:00.

Aug 18 — Apollo Asteroid 2012 BD14: Near-Earth Flyby (0.067 AU).


Aug 19 — Ad Astra Kansas Foundation, Space Age Publishing Company, Hutchinson KS: Galaxy Forum Kansas 2017: Cassini and the “Great American Eclipse” and Mars Curiosty; at Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

Aug 19-26 — Union of Radio Science, Montreal, Quebec, Canada: 32nd URSI General Assembly and Scientific Symposium.

Aug 19-26 — Merritt Astronomical Society, Loon Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada: Merritt Summer Star Quest 2017.

Aug 19 — Moon: 2.8° S of Beehive Cluster, 21:00.


Aug 20 — Voyager 2, Interstellar Space: NASA spacecraft begins 41st year in space today, launched Aug 20, 1977 – seventeen days before Voyager 1; expected to send data to Earth until ~2025 when power may run out.

Aug 20-24 — Boise State University, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Mississippi State University, et al, Boise ID: Conference: Exoclipse 2017 – Exploring New Worlds In the Shade.

Aug 20-24 — American Astronomical Society, Washington DC: Conference: Molecules in Space – Linking the Interstellar Medium to (Exo)planets.

Aug 20-24 — American Astronautical Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stevenson WA: 2017 AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference.

Aug 20 — Venus: 7.2° S of Pollux, 03:00.