December 24, 2012 – January 6, 2013 / Vol 31, No 52 – 53 / Hawai`i Island, USA

NewSpace Accelerating: Vast Opportunities and Critical Challenges Ahead

In 2013, continued development of commercial transportation, communication, exploration and in-situ resource utilization in space has the potential to offer great rewards not just in wealth and fame for enterprising NewSpace pioneers, but for all humanity in high-tech economic revitalization and 21st Century education / science. SpaceX has at least 9 launches on the manifest for 2013, including a demonstration flight of the new Falcon Heavy vehicle as well as Falcon 9 / Dragon ISS resupply Flights 2 and 3. Orbital Sciences Corporation plans on April 5 to launch their Antares rocket with Cygnus spacecraft on a demonstration flight to the ISS. Ventures like Planetary Resources Inc. and Golden Spike Company are focused on goals further away in space and time, though with just as much energy and perhaps even more valuable prospects. On July 25-27 the Space Frontier Foundation will hold its annual NewSpace conference in Silicon Valley to propel the industry upward. Apart from the obvious challenges of velocity, pressure and temperature, NewSpace endeavors face restrictive legislation that impedes international collaboration and innovation as well as uncertainty regarding liability, government oversight and Multi World Property Rights. Reevaluation of USA ITAR should continue; private / independent space exploration and development should be encouraged. (Image Credit: SpaceX, OSC, Planetary Resources, GSC, SFF, SNC, Virgin Galactic)

100th India Science Congress and ISRO Shape the Future of India

India begins 2013 with the 100th annual Indian Science Congress hosted at the University of Calcutta in Kolkata, India on January 3-7. The 14th Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is the ISCA general president and will welcome approximately 12,000 attendees such as Nobel laureates, international scientists and academic leaders. This centenary conference received about 2,500 paper submissions under the 14 ISCA sections including agricultural, engineering and communication science, and will have plenary / public lectures, young scientist awards and a Science Exhibition showcasing technologies from leading agencies and institutions. Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013 is a major focus of attending delegates who aim for India to emerge as a leading global scientific power. Likewise, the Indian Space Research Organisation advances India with space technology. During its 12th 5-year plan period from 2012-2017, ISRO is planning 58 satellite and launch vehicle missions. The India-France SARAL ocean altimetry satellite is scheduled to launch mid-February and the India-Russia Chandrayaan-2 lunar orbiter and lander / rover may launch in 2014. Critical for India’s self-reliance in launching heavier payloads and increasing capabilities for future planetary and human space missions is the success of the GSLV test launch scheduled April 2013. (Image Credit: ISCA, CU)


= 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: Mars (SW), Jupiter (E). Morning Planets: Mercury (SE), Venus (SE), Jupiter (S), Saturn (SE).


MONDAY

Dec 24 — ISS, LEO: Rebooting Russian RS1 and RS2 laptops daily; loading equipment / trash onto Progress 48P for disposal upon re-entry to Earth atmosphere scheduled Feb 11, 2013; unloading Progress 49P cargo onto ISS; performing daily Inventory Management System maintenance including updates on stowage locations.

Dec 24 — Curiosity, Yellowknife Bay, Mars: Surveying shallow depression in search of a rock to drill, sample interior for analysis; task set for early 2013; next primary mission is drive toward layered 5-km high ‘Mount Sharp.’

Dec 24 — Juno, Jupiter Trajectory: Traveling at 16 km per second relative to Sun with 1-way radio signal time of 19 minutes, 4 instruments turned on; Earth flyby gravity assist set for Oct 9, 2013; projected Jupiter arrival Jul 2016; will orbit planet about 32 times over 1 year period.

Dec 24 — Shackleton Energy Company, Del Valle TX: NewSpace company intending to launch 2 robotic lunar prospectors to either pole by 2016; if lunar ice extraction for propellant seems feasible will send 6-12 crew members to surface to establish base, then follow with fuel depot stations on Moon and LEO by 2020.

Dec 24 — Space Operations Inc., Huntsville AL: Seeking investors to fund development of ECLIPSE orbital spacecraft capable of carrying 2 people and 4,536 kg of cargo; teamed with 3 other companies, will use Gemini Program technologies to create flying prototype within 10-13 months after project is funded.

Dec 24 — Tethers Unlimited Inc., Bothell WA: Developing CubeSat Terminator Tape Modules weighing 83 g to rapidly deorbit / incinerate satellites, preventing space debris; to be tested on upcoming Aerospace Corp. AeroCube-­5 flight experiment.

Dec 24 — Moon: 5.4° S of Pleiades, 19:00.


Continued from…

Oct 3 – Jan 1, 2013 — Ontario Science Centre Exhibit, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration; future technologies on display including lunar elevator model, inflatable space living habitat and robotic submersible potentially useful in search for life on Europa.

Oct 22 – Jan 18 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Universities Space Research Association, Houston TX: Accepting undergraduate applications for 2013 LPI Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science.

Nov 30 – Jan 9 — NASA, Online: Accepting USA K-12 teacher team applications for Teaching from Space Flight Week; a MicroGravity eXperience (Micro GX) involving online course and development / performance of reduced gravity experiment to occur Jul 12-20, 2013.

Dec 3 – Mar 15 — Coordinate Metrology Society, Online: Accepting abstracts for 29th Annual Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC 2013); to be held on Jul 22-26, 2013.

Dec 15 – Mar 3 — American Textile History Museum, The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, et al, Lowell MA: Suited for Space Exhibition; displaying the evolution of spacesuit design and development; US$8 adult.


TUESDAY

Dec 25 — Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Titusville FL: Holidays in Space; open on Christmas Day for 1st time in 45 years; free child admission with purchase of 1 adult ticket US$50.

Dec 25 — The Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston TX: The Star of Bethlehem; in The Burke Baker Planetarium; various showings; US$8 adult.

Dec 25 — Moon: At Apogee (Distance: 405,641 km), 12:00; 0.42° S of Jupiter, 14:00; 4.2° NNE of Aldebaran, 17:00.

WEDNESDAY

Dec 26 — Asteroid 2010 BB: Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU).

THURSDAY

Dec 27 — Chesapeake Planetarium, Chesapeake VA: The Christmas Star; free to the public, reservations required; 08:00 EST.

Dec 27 – Jan 1, 2013 — U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville AL: Winter Break Space Camp; young adults ages 9-18 from around the world to go through 1 week of astronaut training; US$779.

Dec 27 — Asteroid 2012 XP55: Near-Earth Flyby (0.023 AU).

FRIDAY

Dec 28 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, Brian Duffy; US$49.95 adult.

Dec 28 — ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, University of Hawai`i – Hilo, Hilo HI: Mystery of the Christmas Star Planetarium Show; trace the footsteps of ancient Babylonian astronomers; US$8 members, US$10 non-members; 19:00 HST.

Dec 28-31 — Science College Nagpur, Abant Izzet Baysal University, et al, Nagpur, India: International Conference on Mathematical Sciences; to include topics of relativity, astrophysics, dark matter, cosmology, quantum mechanics, gravity.

Dec 28 — Moon: Full Moon (Cold Moon), 24:22.

Dec 28 — Asteroid 2012 VF37: Near-Earth Flyby (0.039 AU).

SATURDAY

Dec 29 — U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville AL: Build Tangram Rockets; ages 7-12; US$10 members, US$15 non-members; 10:30 – 12:00 CST.

Dec 29 — Taylor Observatory, Kelseyville CA: Mystery of the Christmas Star; produced by Evans & Sutherland Digital Theater; shown in Norton Planetarium; US$5 adult.

Dec 29 — Moon: 11.0° S of Pollux, 08:00.

Dec 29 — Asteroid 2003 UC20: Near-Earth Flyby (0.066 AU).

SUNDAY

Dec 30 — Moon: 6.2° SSW of Beehive Cluster, 13:00.

MONDAY

Dec 31 — NRAO, NSF, ALMA, Associated Universities Inc., Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, et al, Online: Abstract Deadline, for the Transformational Science with ALMA: From Dust to Rock to Planets Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems; on Apr 8-12, 2013.

TUESDAY

Jan 1 — Deep Space: New Horizons, traveling at 15.9 km per second, is now about 930 days and 7.48 AU from Pluto and 26 AU from Earth; set to exit hibernation period early this month; will cross orbit of Neptune Aug 2014; observations of Pluto / Charon estimated to begin Feb 14, 2015 with closest approach on Jul 14, 2015.

Jan 1 — X PRIZE Foundation, Santa Monica CA: Google Lunar X PRIZE open for another 1,094 days; 24 privately-funded, international teams competing for US$20M grand prize.

NET Jan — Orbital Sciences Corporation, Launch Antares, Wallops Island VA: OSC Antares rocket will launch maiden flight, gather data on internal launch environment and deploy 4 Pico-Satellites.

NET Jan — Sea Launch, Launch Zenit 3SL / Intelsat 27, Odyssey Platform, Equator at 154° W: Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket to deliver Intelsat 27 communications satellite to orbit.

NET Jan — International Launch Services, Launch Proton / Satmex 8, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: International Launch Services Proton rocket with Breeze M upper stage to launch Satmex 8 communications satellite.

NET Jan — Sierra Nevada Corp., Edwards CA: To begin drop tests of Dream Chaser by end of first quarter 2013.

NET Jan — The Spaceship Company, Mojave CA: Powered flights of SpaceShipTwo set to commence this month.

Jan 1 — Earth: At Perihelion (0.983 AU), 19:00.

Jan 1 — Moon: 5.6° SSW of Regulus, 09:00.

WEDNESDAY

Jan 2 — American Astronomical Society, Associated Universities Inc., Online: Deadline to RSVP, for the Free Educational Astronomy Event for Long Beach Students occurring Jan 8 at 11:00 EST during the 221st Meeting of the AAS.

THURSDAY

Jan 3 — WISH Aerospace Scholars, NASA, Online: Application Deadline, for female USA high school juniors with cumulative 3.25 GPA to participate in Women In STEM High School (WISH) Aerospace Scholars 2013 Program; online experience runs Jan 7 – May 13; in-person Jun 23-28 or Jul 7-12; free.

Jan 3-7 — Indian Science Research Organization Association, University of Calcutta, et al, Kolkata, India: 100th Indian Science Congress, with thousands of delegates analyzing, interacting on matters of science; held at University of Calcutta.

Jan 3-31 — U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville AL: Winter Home School Program; for ages 9-14 to learn about the history, technology, evolution of space travel; 08:30 – 11:30 CST every Thursday; US$99.

Jan 3, 4 — Quadrantids Meteor Shower Peak: Appearing to radiate from constellation Quadrans Muralis; can produce up to 40 meteors per hour; visibility limited due to waning gibbous Moon; peak 24:00 each night.

FRIDAY

Jan 4 — NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland OH: James Free takes over as Director of NASA Glenn Research Center.

Jan 4 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, Ken Cameron; US$49.95 adult.

Jan 4 — Moon: At last quarter, 17:58.

SATURDAY

Jan 5-6 — NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group, Long Beach CA: 7th ExoPAG Meeting; held at Renaissance Long Beach Hotel; open to scientific community.

Jan 5 — Moon: 1.0° SE of Spica, 11:00.

Jan 5 — Asteroid 2012 XD112: Near-Earth Flyby (0.073 AU).

Jan 5 — Asteroid 2012 TJ146: Near-Earth Flyby (0.084 AU).

SUNDAY

Jan 6-10 — American Astronomical Society, Long Beach CA: 221st Meeting of the AAS.

Jan 6-10 — American Meteorological Society, Austin TX: 2nd Symposium on Planetary Atmospheres; to discuss advances in modeling, data assimilation, spacecraft observations of planetary atmospheres; held in conjunction with 93rd AMS Annual Meeting.

Jan 6 — Moon: 3.7° SSW of Saturn, 14:00.