February 6-12, 2017 / Vol 36, No 6 / Hawai`i Island, USA

20th Commercial Space Transportation Conference Expecting 300 Attendees

The Federal Aviation Administration and Commercial Spaceflight Federation are holding the 20th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference February 7-8 in Washington DC. Alan Stern (L), Chairman of the Board for CSF, will give a welcome and keynote introduction, followed by George Nield (C) and Eric Stallmer (R). Featured speakers include George Whitesides (Virgin Galactic), Michael Huerta (FAA), Bill Gerstenmaier (NASA), Ariane Cornell (Blue Origin), Phil Larson (SpaceX) and Mike Gold (SSL). The “Spaceports – A Roadmap Upwards” Panel will highlight major issues facing the spaceport community with Craig Campbell of Alaska Aerospace, Steve Howard of Camden County, Jim Kuzma of Space Florida, Dan Hicks of Spaceport America and Dale Nash of Virginia Space. There are currently 10 active launch site operators in USA, 12 launch licenses for 6 companies, and to date 253 total licensed commercial launches have occurred since 1989. This year SpaceX is planning to debut the Falcon Heavy rocket, launch multiple Dragon CRS missions / other payloads on Falcon 9. Blue Origin testing New Shepard VTVL system, under FAA active experimental permit, will continue this year in Texas, hopefully leading to human test flights by the end of 2017. Virgin Galactic VSS Unity completed its first free flight late last year. Orbital ATK Antares rocket is scheduled to launch Cygnus ISS resupply missions starting in July. World View Enterprises is working toward near-space (30-km altitiude) balloon flights for tourists. It won the classification as a launch vehicle and will need launch licenses for its commercial missions. (Imaged Credit: FAA, CSF, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX, World View Enterprises, Orbital ATK, NASA)


star-grey Feb 6 — ISS, 330-435-km LEO: Expedition 50 collecting biological samples for 2.5-year study on immune system and metabolism in space, using SPHERES satellites to test potential space debris removal technologies, Soyuz MS-02 and MS-03 docked to station, 1-Year Twins Study results being released to public; First Britain Astronaut Time Peake to return to ISS, date TBD.

Feb 6 — Juno, 53-day Jupiter Orbit: Craft heading away from Jupiter after 4th close flyby at ~4,300 km from cloud tops, will send data collected by 8 science instruments to Earth; science revealing Jupiter magnetic fields & aurora are larger & more powerful than originally thought.

star-grey Feb 6 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Pan flyby scheduled at 96,000-km altitude, Janus at 91,000-km, Methone at 84,000 km.

circle-full-grey Feb 6 — Lunar Occultation Explorer (LOX), Washington DC: Proposed medium-class NASA mission could take advantage of Moon quiet environment to detect gamma-rays for Type Ia supernova in Milky Way Galaxy and beyond.

circle-full-grey Feb 6 — Moon Express, KSC FL: NewSpace company recent US$20M investment funding to allow company to land “small robotic spacecraft on the surface of the Moon in November or December of 2017” according to Chairman Naveen Jain.

circle-full-grey Feb 6 — Generation Orbit Launch Services, Atlanta GA: Advancing GOLauncher 2 system to launch 20-30 kg payloads to LEO on weekly basis, wind-tunnel and hot-fire testing upcoming, plans for live-fire flight test at end of 2018.

Feb 6 — Clyde Space, Glasgow, United Kingdom: Developing ground station to control its low-orbit CubeSats, company employs 80 people, produces 6 satellites a month, has in-house vibration and thermal vacuum testing equipment with 12 identical integration stations.

Feb 6 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Lecture: The Journey to the Extreme; Dr. Feryal Ozel, Professor of Astronomy and Physics, University of Arizona, 19:00.

Feb 6-7 — Caltech, JPL, Pasadena CA: Meeting: Critical Measurements in Martian Geobiology with Mars-2020 – Finding Signs of Past Rock-Hosted Life.

= 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), Jupiter (S), Uranus (SW); Morning Planets: Mercury (ESE), Saturn (SE).

3rd Space Environment and Kibo Utilization Workshop Organized by APRSAF in Bangkok, Thailand


The Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) is collaborating with local Thai organizations Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) and National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) as well as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to hold the Space Environment and Kibo Utilization Workshop Feb 9-10 at the Vayupak Convention Center in northern Bangkok, Thailand. This Workshop, co-chaired by Kritsachai Somsaman of NSTDA and Fumiaki Tanigaki of JAXA, provides leading edge information on microgravity experimentation and various other fields of space research with the intention of encouraging utilization of experimental capacity provided by Kibo. The Japan Experimental Module aka “Kibo” is the largest single International Space Station module with total mass over 24,000kg. It was provided by Japan to advance science research on orbit and consists of 6 major elements: Pressurized Module, Exposed Facility, Experiment Logistics Module-Pressurized Section, Experiment Logistics Module-Exposed Section, Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System, and Inter-orbit Communication System. APRSAF in its 25th year of operations to enhance space activities in the Asia-Pacific region includes participation of Space agencies, governmental bodies, private companies, universities, and research institutes from 45 countries and regions as well as 28 international organizations. (Image Credit: APRSAF, JAXA, GISTDA)

Feb 6-8 — SSL, ViaSat, Arianespace, Boeing Co. Ball Aerospace, Clyde Space, Pumpkin Space Systems, Mountain View CA: SmallSat Symposium 2017.

Feb 6-10 — Federal University of Rio Grande, Sao Paulo, Brazil: International Workshop on Spectral Stellar Libraries; at Orotour Hotel.

Feb 6 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 BG30: Near-Earth Flyby (0.006 AU).

Feb 6 — Apollo Asteroid 459872 (2014 EK24): Near-Earth Flyby (0.060 AU).

Feb 6 — Moon: At perigee (distance 368,817 km) 03:59.

Continued from…

Jan 9 – Feb 10 — International Space University, Adelaide, Australia: 2017 Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program; at Mawson Lakes Campus, University of South Australia.

Jan 30 – Feb 10 — United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Vienna, Austria: 54th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee.

Feb 3-8 — American Astronautical Society Rocky Mountain Section, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Breckenridge CO: 40th Annual AAS Guidance & Control Conference; at Beaver Run Resort.


Feb 7 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: The Past, Present, and Future of 21cm Cosmology; Adrian Liu from UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy, 16:00.

Feb 7 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: Stellar occultations of planetary rings: from Palomar to Cassini; Phil Nicholson from Cornell, 12:00.

Feb 7-8 — Federal Aviation Administration, Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Washington DC: 20th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference; Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Feb 7-9 — Keck Institute for Space Studies, Caltech, JPL, Pasadena CA: Workshop: Optical Communication on SmallSats: Enabling the Next Era in Space Science – Part 2.

Feb 7-9 — National Academies, Washington DC: Meeting: A Midterm Assessment of Implementation of the Decadal Survey on Life and Physical Sciences Research at NASA.

Feb 7 — Mercury: At aphelion, 04:00.

Feb 7 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 BQ6: Near-Earth Flyby (0.017 AU).

Feb 7 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 BU: Near-Earth Flyby (0.039 AU).

Feb 7 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 BN509: Near-Earth Flyby (0.042 AU).

Feb 7 — Amor Asteroid 2017 BF29: Near-Earth Flyby (0.055 AU).

Feb 7 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 YN1: Near-Earth Flyby (0.078 AU).


Feb 8-10 — NASA, Pasadena CA: 2020 Mars Rover Third Landing Site Workshop; at Doubletree Hotel – Monrovia.

Feb 8 — Aten Asteroid 2017 BM3: Near-Earth Flyby (0.032 AU).

Feb 8 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 YJ4: Near-Earth Flyby (0.045 AU).


Feb 9, 10 — JPL/Caltech, NASA, Pasadena CA: von Kármán Lecture Series 2017: Glacial Ice Melt and Sea Level Rise; Alex Gardner, Earth Scientist, JPL.

Feb 9-10 — Geo-Informatics and the Space Technology Development Agency, National Science and Technology Development Agency, JAXA Space Environment Utilization Working Group, Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF), Bangkok, Thailand: Space Environment and Kibo Utilization Workshop.

Feb 9-11 — Space Center Houston, NASA JSC, Houston TX: 23rd Annual Space Exploration Educators Conference; all teachers for kindergarten to 12th grade, program focus on Moon, Mars, ISS with Astronaut lectures and hands-on learning.

Feb 9 — Moon: 3.9° S of Beehive Cluster, 13:46.

Feb 9 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 BP30: Near-Earth Flyby (0.038 AU).


Feb 10 — Royal Astronomical Society, London, United Kingdom: Meetings – Understanding the Space Environment Before the Space Age; Timing and Spectroscopy in the New Era of X-ray Astronomy.

Feb 10 — NASA, Online: Application Due: NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Undergraduate Research Program – Summer 2017.

Feb 10 — Moon: Full (Snow Moon), 14:33.

Feb 10-11 — Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: Sun, Earth, and Moon align in an almost straight line; visible in Europe, Much of Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica; begins 22:34:14 UT, max 00:43:49 Feb 11, ends 02:53:25.

Feb 10 — Aten Asteroid 2014 DV110: Near-Earth Flyby (0.025 AU).


Feb 11 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA/Caltech, Pasadena CA: Marsbound and the Search for Life – Educator Workshop; grades K-12 educators learn how to use engineering design process while teaching students to identify criteria for success and work within project limitations, 10:00-13:00.

Feb 11 — Moon: 0.8° S of Regulus, 04:04.

Feb 11 — Amor Asteroid 2017 BX6: Near-Earth Flyby (0.057 AU).

Feb 11 — Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova: Near-Earth Flyby (0.083 AU).


Feb 12-17 — Swiss Institute for Particle Physics (CHIPP), Swiss Academy of Sciences, Sorenberg, Switzerland: Swiss Institute for Particle Physics (CHIPP) Winter School of Particle Physics.

Feb 12-18 — Univeristy of KwaZulu-Natal, Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit, National Institute for Theoretical Physics, National Research Foundation, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: Cosmology on Safari 2017.

Feb 12 — Apollo Asteroid 2017 BK32: Near-Earth Flyby (0.027 AU).

Feb 12 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 QR3: Near-Earth Flyby (0.034 AU).

Feb 12 — Aten Asteroid 2017 BO6: Near-Earth Flyby (0.047 AU).

Feb 12 — Apollo Asteroid 2014 QC3: Near-Earth Flyby (0.050 AU).