January 12-18, 2015 / Vol 34, No 2 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Silicon Valley: A Growing Nexus for Space Endeavor

Calendar feature -- SV 2015

Silicon Valley Space Center and AIAA San Francisco are hosting the next TechTalk at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View CA, USA on January 15. The theme is Project Spartan Spear, a dedicated CubeSat launcher being built by San Jose State University to provide considerably more flexibility to designers in terms of payload content, orbit and time of launch than traditionally available to CubeSats as secondary payloads on larger rockets. Upcoming SETI Institute public events include a lecture on Theia’s Date with Destiny by Billy Quarles of NASA Ames on Jan 13 and a Colloquium on Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction and the Identification of Habitable Conditions on Ancient Earth and Mars Using Clay Minerals by Tom Bristow. American Association for the Advancement of Science is hosting its 2015 Annual Meeting in San Jose on February 12-16. As a central hub of SV space activity, NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, is set to host a wide variety of events including workshops on Potential for Finding Life in a Europa Plume on Feb 18 and Planetary Protection Knowledge Gaps for Human Extraterrestrial Missions on March 24-26, a meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group on Feb 19-20, the 2nd Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets Conference on July 7-10 and the flagship Exploration Science Forum at the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute on July 21-23. Space Frontier Foundation hosts its annual commercial-focused NewSpace 2015 conference on July 23-25. (Image Credit: Google, SVSC, SJSU, NASA)


Jan 12 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 42 six-member crew awaiting arrival of SpaceX CRS 5 Dragon capsule with ~490 kg of cargo & Cloud Aerosol Transport System, working with ESA experiment to remote control robots on Earth from orbit, preparing for 3 EVAs planned in Feb.

Jan 12 — Chang’e 5-T1 Service Module, Moon Trajectory: Departing Lagrange point 2, China module will head into Lunar orbit mid-January for future long-range guidance tests & surveys of landing sites for Chang’e-5 sample return mission; launched Oct 23, 2014.

Jan 12 — Chandra X-ray Observatory, HEO: Observing continuously for 55 out of 65-hour highly-elliptical orbit; recently recorded largest X-ray flare ever detected from black hole Sagittarius A*, 400 times brighter than usual output.

Jan 12 — XCOR Aerospace Inc., Mojave CA: NewSpace company continues to make progress on Lynx suborbital vehicle, will integrate wing strakes; 300 tickets for future flights sold at ~US$95,000.

Jan 12 — Firefly Space Systems, Austin TX: Developing Firefly Alpha rocket with carbon fiber composite body & methane-fueled aerospike engine; intending to evolve launcher into a reusable system.

Jan 12 — Space Adventures Ltd., International Locations: Providing training programs for missions to ISS, around Moon, suborbital spaceflights; Satoshi Takamatsu to be first Japan private astronaut qualified to visit ISS.

Jan 12 — Royal Astronomical Society, London, United Kingdom: 195th Birthday of RAS (1820).

Jan 12 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Colloquium: The Planetary Radar Program at the Arecibo Observatory – History and Recent Results; presented by Dr. Michael Nolan, Deputy Director for Planetary Sciences at Arecibo Observatory.

Jan 12 — Moon: At Last quarter, 23:46.

Jan 12 — Asteroid 2014 YT34: Near-Earth flyby (0.037 AU).

JAN - MAR 2015 = 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: Mercury (SW), Venus (SW), Mars (SW), Jupiter (ENE); Morning Planets: Saturn (SE).

Major Focus on Mars Missions for Public / Private Enterprises

Mars 2015

India, the first Asia country to reach Mars, continues successful operations of Mars Orbiter Mission and plans for a more advanced mission likely consisting of a lander and rover between 2018-2020. China, with a clear space exploration strategy of ‘Moon first,’ intends to launch an orbiter and rover to Mars before 2020 and sample return mission in 2030. The ESA ExoMars mission, with Russia collaboration, will include launch of an orbiter and Entry, Descent, Landing Demonstrator Module January 2016; a lander and rover is expected in 2018. NASA is working toward a 2030 goal of landing humans on Mars after launching InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander in 2016 and the 5th U.S. Mars rover in 2020. The ‘2015 Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop: Integrated Pathways to Mars’ in Galveston, Texas held Jan 13-15 will feature (L-R) Dr. Janice Huff, Dr. Peter Norsk and Dr. Michele Perchonok and address space radiation, habitability, and human health / performance. Elon Musk of SpaceX announced plans for the Mars Colonial Transport system capable of taking 100 metric tons to the surface of Mars and a spacesuit for Mars astronauts by the end of this year. The Netherlands-based Mars One still hopes to launch a communication satellite in 2016, rover / satellite in 2018 and land the first human settlers in 2024. (Image Credit: NASA, JPL, ISRO, ESA, Mars One, SpaceX)

Continued from…

Dec 20 – Mar 15 — Cantor Arts Center, Stanford CA: Exhibition: Loose in Some Real Tropics: Robert Rauschenberg’s “Stoned Moon” Projects, 1969–70; 34 large-format lithographs with scenes of Apollo 11 astronauts, machinery, facilities.

Jan 11-15 — American Astronautical Society, AIAA, Williamsburg VA: 25th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics.

Jan 11-15 — Zewail City of Science and Technology, Giza, Egypt: International Conference on Quantum Gravity, Cosmology and String Theory.


Jan 13 — Dawn, Main Asteroid Belt: Spacecraft approach imaging of Ceres to begin.

Jan 13 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: Theia’s Date with Destiny – Possible Conditions Leading to a Giant Impact; Billy Quarles of NASA Ames.

Jan 13 — Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ: Colloquium: The Diverse Population of Near-Earth Asteroids; presented by Dr. Michael Nolan, Deputy Director for Planetary Sciences at Arecibo Observatory.

Jan 13-15 — NASA Human Research Program, National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Galveston TX: 2015 Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop: Integrated Pathways to Mars; in conjunction with Space Radiation Investigators’ Workshop & Behavioral Health and Performance Working Group.

Jan 13-15 — Keck Institute for Space Studies, Pasadena CA: Science and Enabling Technologies to Explore the Interstellar Medium II.

Jan 13 — Moon: 3.0° NNE of Spica, 02:00.


Jan 14 — Cassini OTM-401, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #401 today.

Jan 14-15 — The National Academies, Irvine CA: Meeting: Development of a Strategic Vision and Implementation Plan for the U.S. Antarctic Program at the National Science Foundation.

Jan 14-15 — ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES) 1 Final Presentation Days; at European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC).


Jan 15 — New Horizons, Pluto Trajectory: Will begin distant-encounter operations today.

Jan 15 — Silicon Valley Space Center, AIAA San Francisco Section, Mountain View CA: TechTalks: San Jose University: Project Spartan Spear; 18:30 – 20:30 PST.

Jan 15 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston TX: NASA press briefings on Expedition 43 year-long ISS mission; featuring NASA astronaut Scott Kelly & RSA cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko set to launch March 27, 2015 and return Mar 2016; live coverage available, starts 11:00 CST.

Jan 15, 16 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech/NASA, Pasadena CA: von Karman Lecture Series: Low Density Supersonic Decelerator; presented by LDSD Project Manager Mr. Mark Adler & Principal Investigator Dr. Ian Clark.

Jan 15 — Asteroid 2007 EC: Near-Earth flyby (0.027 AU).

Jan 15 — Asteroid 2014 YR15: Near-Earth flyby (0.056 AU).


Jan 16 — The Space Foundation, Astronauts Memorial Foundation, NASA, Colorado Springs CO: Applications Due: 2015 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award.

Jan 16 — Moon: 1.8° N of Saturn, 02:00; 8.8° N of Antares, 15:00.

Jan 16 — Asteroid 2014 YD: Near-Earth flyby (0.044 AU).


Jan 17-22 — Aspen Center for Physics, Northwestern University, Aspen CO: 2015 Aspen Winter Conference: Black Holes in Dense Star Clusters.


Jan 18 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Dr. David Livingston presents New Years Resolution Show.

Jan 18-21 — Pacific Telecommunications Council, Honolulu HI: 37th Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC 2015); at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

Jan 18-27 — Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics, Korea Institute for Advanced Studies, Busan, South Korea: 9th Asian Winter School on Strings, Particles and Cosmology.