September 19-25, 2016 / Vol 35, No 38 / Hawai`i Island, USA

ISS Close to 50th Expedition, China Tiangong-2 in Initial Operations


International Space Station Expedition 49 is underway at LEO with three crew members Commander Anatoly Ivanishin, Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi expecting the launch of Soyuz MS-02 carrying Robert Kimbrough, Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on September 23. The 50th ISS Expedition will begin October 30 marking 5,842 days of continuous human occupation and 6,555 days since the first module, Zarya, was launched. The newest space station for China, Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2) space lab is now orbiting at 393-km altitude carrying 14 payloads including a cold atomic fountain clock, quantum key distribution and laser communications experiment. The 10.4-m long, 4-m diameter, 8,600 kg lab will house 3 people for 20 days. The first crewed mission Shenzhou 11 is planned for October with 2 Astronauts on a 30-day residence, followed by cargo resupply Tianzhou 1 April 2017. Prototype Tiangong-1 is deorbiting and disintegrating in Earth atmosphere. Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace continues making strides toward commercial LEO, Moon, Mars and Deep Space habitats while BEAM is being tested on ISS, and Genesis 1 and 2 are operating in LEO. Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin is planning heavy-lift rockets to carry humans back to the Moon, and Elon Musk of SpaceX is focusing on Mars settlement. (Image Credit: NASA, CNSA, CCTV, Bigelow Aerospace)


Sep 19 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 49 collecting information on how crew activities affect station structure, working with DNA sequencing experiment, maintaining ventilation fans, measuring air flow, preparing for arrival of new crew members, will help with orientation, review emergency procedures; NanoRacks CubeSat & Kaber Microsat deployments planned for Fall.

Sep 19 — Gaia, Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange Point: First data with 1.15 Billion stars mapped and distance & velocity of 2 Million brightest stars in the sky relative to Sun being released for researchers to compile valuable statistics.

Sep 19 — Rosetta, Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko Orbit: Slowly losing solar power and orbiting closer to comet, end of mission planned for Sep 30, ESA craft will crash land into Ma’at region containing active pits on the smaller of 67P’s 2 lobes, potentially collecting high resolution images of surface cracks and dust.

Sep 19 — Juno, Jupiter Orbit: In highly elliptical 54-day orbit around gas giant, NASA craft expected to perform 22-minute engine burn Oct 19 to shift to 14-day science orbit phase; continuing to gather data and collect images of surroundings, Jupiter gravity field and auroras.

Sep 19 — Blue Origin, Kent WA: NewSpace company announces heavy-lift New Glenn reusable rocket which will use 7 BE-4 engines providing 17.1M newton (3.85M lbf) thrust to fly ‘before end of decade’ from Cape Canaveral FL; New Shepard to carry humans for suborbital tourism, planned New Armstrong rocket will aim for Moon missions.

Sep 19 — SpaceX, Hawthorne CA: COO Gwynne Shotwell states launches are expected to resume in November from an alternate pad (39A) at Cape Canaveral after Falcon 9 explosion Sep 1; recycled Falcon 9 launch and Falcon Heavy demo launch (originally set for Oct-Nov) to be delayed.

Sep 19 — Clyde Space Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland: Manufacturer of Scotland’s 1st CubeSat (UKube-1) appoints former Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn as non-executive chairman, expanding presence in USA, producing 6 CubeSats a month, working on Picasso CubeSat for ESA & a platform for National University of Singapore; Founder Craig Clark.

SEP - NOV 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 (WSW), Mars (SW), Saturn (SW); Morning Planets: Uranus (ESE), Neptune (S).

2nd International Conference on Space in Islamabad, Pakistan

calendar-feature-isc-pakistanNational space agency Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is collaborating with the Institute of Space Technology (IST) and cosponsor Inter-Islamic Network on Space Science and Technology (ISNET) to host the 2nd International Conference on Space (ICS-2016) at COMSTECH September 20-22 in Islamabad. The city of about 2 million located in the northeast of the country on the Pothohar Plateau is the capital of Pakistan, the world’s 6th most populous country home to over 191 million people. The biennial event focuses on all aspects of space and is designed to facilitate a highly interactive and cross-disciplinary environment for the exchange of ideas on the latest developments in space technology and applications, as well as discussion on how to use these to address major issues of international concern. COMSTECH is the Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation), which is chaired by President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain. Keynote Speakers included Sheikh Muszaphar the 1st Malaysian Astronaut, Abel Ramoelo of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Christa Baumstark-Khan of Institute of Aerospace Medicine – DLR, Tian Yulong of CNSA, Li Xinjun of Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organization and others. There are four ‘Panel of Experts’ sessions that address themes such as Investing in Human Space Exploration Programs and The Next Frontier for Ambitious Entrepreneurs: Space. (Image Credit: SUPARCO, COMSTECH, IST)

Sep 19 — University of Arizona Department of Astronomy, Steward Observatory, Tucson AZ: Lecture: Taking Pictures of Extrasolar Planets; Katie Morzinski of Steward Observatory.

Sep 19-20 — Keck Institute for Space Studies, Pasadena CA: Workshop: Addressing the Mars ISRU Challenge – Production of Oxygen and Fuel from CO2 using Sunlight – Part 2.

Sep 19-20 — ASCE Partners, Mountain View CA: Space Mission Engineering; 5-day short course by Jim Wertz, President of Microcosm and adjunct professor at USC, guiding participants through process of preliminary mission design.

Sep 19-21 — UNOOSA, Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing, China: United Nations International Conference on Space-based Technologies for Disaster Risk Reduction: Understanding Disaster Risk (UN-SPIDER).

Sep 19-23 — UNOOSA, Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Vienna, Austria: Intersessional Meeting of the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities.

Continued from…

Sep 15-28 — Mars City Foundation, Mars City Design LLC, University of Southern California, Los Angeles CA: Mars City PowerLab Workshop 2016; two-week Science Retreat for participants to begin tangibly building technology and tools for living on Mars; with Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin, James Erickson, Madhu Thangavelu, more.

Sep 18-23 — National Science Foundation, NASA Astrobiology Program, Cambridge MA: Joint NASA-NSF Ideas Lab on the Origins of Life.

Sep 18-24 — Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), Padova University, Mesoamerican Centre for Theoretical Physics (MCTP) at University of Chiapas, San Vito di Cadore, Italy: Conference: Cosmic Ray Origin – Beyond the Standard Models; at Conference center of San Vito di Cadore.


Sep 20 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: Pluto’s interacting surface and atmosphere; Leslie Young from SwRI, 12:00.

Sep 20-22 — ESA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands: Industry Space Days 2016.

Sep 20-22 — Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), Islamabad Institute of Space Technology (IST), Islamabad, Pakistan: 2nd International Conference on Space 2016.

Sep 20-23 — National Radio Astronomy Observatory, National Astronomical Observatory, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, European Southern Observatory, Indian Wells CA: Half a Decade of ALMA: Cosmic Dawns Transformed.

Sep 20-23 — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Secure World Foundation, Harris Corp., et al, Wailea HI: Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference.

Sep 20 — Moon: 9.2° S of Pleiades, 20:00.

Sep 20 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 RM20: Near-Earth flyby (0.016 AU).


Sep 21 — MAVEN, Mars Orbit: Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft enters 3rd year of operations in Mars orbit; continuing to study upper atmosphere; launched Nov 18, 2013.

Sep 21-22 — Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy, Europlanet, University of Luxembourg, ESA, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg: Asteroid Science Intersections with In-Space Mine Engineering (ASIME) 2016; at Luxembourg Abbaye Neumunster.

Sep 21-23 — New Horizons Science Team, TBA CA: New Horizons Science Team Meeting and Extended Mission Science Planning Opportunity; extended mission to flyby 20-40 km wide KBO 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019 and opportunity to observe ~20 other KBOs.

Sep 21 — Moon: 0.22° NNE of Aldebaran, 13:00.

Sep 21 — Mercury: 14.8° ESE of Regulus, 22:00.


Sep 22, 23 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech/NASA, Pasadena CA: von Kármán Lecture Series 2016: Revealing Saturn: Cassini Science Highlights and the Grand Finale; Earl Maize and Linda Spilker, Cassini team members from JPL.

Sep 22-24 — Space Generation Advisory Council, Guadalajara, Mexico: 2016 Space Generation Congress.

Sep 22-24 — The Korean Astronomical Society, Seoul, South Korea: East-Asia AGN Workshop 2016.

Sep 22-25 — Mars Society, Washington DC: 19th Annual International Mars Society Convention; at Catholic University of America.

Sep 22 — Fall / Autumn Equinox: The Sun rises exactly in east traveling through sky for 12 hours, sets exactly in west; day and night are approximately equal duration every place on Earth, 04:21.

Sep 22 — Moon: At last quarter, 23:56.

Sep 22 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 DS53: Near-Earth flyby (0.050 AU).


Sep 23 — Cassini OTM-460, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #460 today.

Sep 23 — Roscosmos State Corporation, Launch Soyuz MS-02 / ISS 48S, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Expedition 49/50 members Robert Kimbrough of NASA, Andrei Borisenko of RSA, Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos to launch to ISS.

Sep 23 — International Lunar Observatory Association, Space Age Publishing Co., Scarsdale NY: Galaxy Forum New York – Scarsdale: Galaxy Education, Exploration and Enterprise in the 21st Century; at Scarsdale High School, Little Theater.

Sep 23-25 — UNOOSA, Guadalajara, Mexico: United Nations/International Astronautical Federation Workshop on Space Technology for Socioeconomic Benefits.

Sep 23 — Moon: 5.9° S of M35, 03:00.


Sep 24 — Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan), Mars Orbit: India ISRO orbiter enters 3rd year of operations in Mars orbit; launched Nov 5, 2013.

Sep 24 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Caltech, Pasadena CA: Educator Workshop: Comets Close Up; 08:30-15:00.

Sep 24 — Moon: 14.2° S of Castor, 12:00; 10.7° S of Pollux, 17:00.

Sep 24 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 RL20: Near-Earth flyby (0.047 AU).

Sep 24 — Apollo Asteroid 363831 (2005 PY16): Near-Earth flyby (0.075 AU).


Sep 25 — International Astronautical Federation, Guadalajara, Mexico: 4th IAC Hosts Summit; bringing together past, current and future IAC host organizations, 09:00-13:00.

Sep 25 — International Academy of Astronautics, Guadalajara, Mexico: International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) Academy Day.

Sep 25 — World Science Festival, Consolidated Edison Inc., Queens NY: City of Science; 10:00-16:00.

Sep 25-28 — Geological Society of America, Denver CO: Geological Society of America (GSA) Meeting.

Sep 25 — Moon: 4.3° S of Beehive Cluster, 18:00.

Sep 25 — Jupiter: At conjunction with Sun, 21:00.

Sep 25 — Asteroid 18 Melpomene: At perihelion (0.8804 AU from Sun), 04:00.