September 5-11, 2016 / Vol 35, No 36 / Hawai`i Island, USA

OSIRIS-REx to Launch for Asteroid Bennu Rendezvous and Sample Return

calendar feature - OSIRIS-REx

First NASA Asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx is set to launch on United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in the extraordinary asymmetrical 411 configuration with a single strap on booster. Lift off is scheduled for September 8 between 19:05 and 21:05 (EDT) from Cape Canaveral AFS in Florida. The Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) should achieve solar orbit with a hyperbolic escape velocity of 5.4 km/s. The 7-year journey includes: Earth flyby gravity-assist on Sep 23, 2017; approach and arrival starting August 17, 2018; touch-and-go surface sampling maneuver July 4, 2020; return cruise main engine burn March 3, 2021; sample return capsule landing Sep 24, 2023. Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta of University of Arizona hopes to advance understanding of how planets form and how life began, in addition to learning more about asteroids that could impact Earth. Bennu is a rare B-type asteroid that is classified as primitive and carbon-rich with orbital period of 1.2 years, rotation period of 4.3 hours and average speed of over 101,000 km/h. It is about 500 meters in diameter and is expected to have organic compounds and water-bearing minerals like clays. Japan Hayabusa 2 en route to C-type asteroid 162173 Ryugu for July 2018 arrival, sample return by December 2020. (Image Credit: NASA, ULA)


Sep 5 — ISS, LEO: Astronaut Jeff Williams to hand over ISS command to Anatoli Ivanishin, 3 members to return to Earth on Tuesday marking start of Expedition 49, will remain 3-member crew until Sep 23; in near future Russia considering sending 1 less Cosmonaut to ISS for each Expedition to reduce cargo / food / cost; in mid-2020s NASA hopes to pass ISS to commercial entity to continue research in LEO.

Sep 5 — Chandra X-ray Observatory, HEO: Operating in High Earth Orbit for more than 17 years, detecting X-ray sources 100 times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope, data shows most distant galaxy cluster (11.1B LY away) dubbed CL J1001+022 containing 11 massive galaxies with 9 exhibiting stars forming at a rate equivalent to ~3,000 suns per year.

Sep 5 — Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan), Mars Orbit: India MOM demonstrator mission to develop technologies for designing, planning, managing interplanetary mission has 5 instruments exploring Mars atmosphere, surface features, morphology, mineralogy; 2nd Mars mission may be launched March 2018.

Sep 5 — Voyager 1, Interstellar Space: NASA spacecraft enters 40th year in space today, launched Sep 5, 1977; farthest spacecraft from Earth, first to reach interstellar space.

Sep 5 — GLXP Team Synergy Moon, Mojave CA / Multiple Locations: International team with groups in more than 15 countries receives official GLXP launch contract verification via Interorbital Systems to fly lander, Tesla Prospector Rover & Tesla Surveyor Rover to surface of Moon on Neptune 8 rocket in second half 2017; team leader Nebojša Stanojević.

Sep 5 — Virgin Galactic, Las Cruces NM: Performing ground tests of SpaceShipTwo (Unity); reaching full flight tests of Unity and WhiteKnightTwo will require much work, time; plan to carry experiment payloads on-board during tests; continues selling human spaceflight tickets at US$250,000.

Sep 5 — Orbital Outfitters, Washington DC, Midland TX, Hollywood CA: Manufacturing & testing space and pressure suits, expects first commercial customer this month for new ~2.5 x 5.2 meter Midland Altitude Chamber Complex which can accommodate 2 people; CEO Jeff Feige.

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: Mercury (WSW), Venus (W), Mars (SW), Jupiter (W), Saturn (SW); Morning Planets: Uranus (SE), Neptune (S).

Astronomy Benefits Hawaii Poll: Lunar Advocate ILOA Collects 573 Local Opinions


The International Lunar Observatory Association, and its affiliated Space Age Publishing Company, of Kamuela, Hawai`i Island is pioneering Astronomy from the Moon, and spreading 21st Century science across the Islands of Aloha and throughout the World with its Galaxy Forum program. By sponsoring ‘Astronomy Benefits Hawaii’ poll in local newspapers and an email campaign from August 21-27, ILOA seeks to understand how Hawaii island residents identify with Astronomy, 21st Century science and education. Of the 574 opinions given, 506 people agree that Astronomy Benefits Hawaii (88%), 57 disagreed and 11 were undecided. The theme of ‘Astronomy Benefits Hawaii’ will be explored at the November 9 Galaxy Forum in Kamuela. ILOA believes the future of local Astronomy should rest in the hands of Hawaii Island people as humankind expands towards the Moon, Mars, Solar System and Stars. Hawaii could remain a strategic center for international 21st Century Galaxy science. ILOA is collaborating with China on Chang’e-3 lander Galaxy imaging and received its first image of spiral galaxy M101 from the surface of the Moon. The ILO-X precursor telescope is awaiting launch aboard the MX-1 Moon Express lander (NET 2017). ILO-1 Moon South Pole observatory is in R&D phase with Canadensys Aerospace Corporation. International launch providers and Lunar visionaries are collaborating efforts with ILOA for Moon South Pole exploration, as well as future Human Service Missions. With these missions, ILOA hopes to bring Aloha to the Moon and the Stars beyond. (Image Credit: NASA, ILOA, SPC, CNSA, CAS, NAOC)

Sep 5-8 — United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Secure World Foundation, Vienna, Austria: 10th United Nations Workshop on Space Law: Contribution of Space Law and Policy to Space Governance and Space Security in the 21st Century.

Sep 5-9 — University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland: 6th International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration.

Sep 5-9 — Torino University Department of Physics, National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), Torino, Italy: 25th European Cosmic Ray Symposium (ERCS) 2016.

Sep 5 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 PD2: Near-Earth flyby (0.047 AU).

Sep 5 — Apollo Asteroid 2009 ES: Near-Earth flyby (0.048 AU).

Continued from…

Aug 7 – Sep 30 — Airbus, Perlan Project, Teachers in Space, El Calafate, Argentina: Teachers in Space Ground Crew Education Program; team members will fly experiments at 27,500-meter altitudes in air as thin as Mars atmosphere, verify operations and retrieve data for posting to internet.

Aug 28 – Sep 18 — Aspen Center for Physics, Aspen CO: Workshop: Approaching the Stellar Astrophysical Limits of Exoplanet Detection – Getting to 10 cm/s.

Sep 1-12 — Rencontres du Vietnam, Quy Nhon University, French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Quy Nhon, Vietnam: 22nd Vietnam School of Physics (VSOP-22).

Sep 3-11 — Center for Lunar Science and Exploration of LPI, NASA SSERVI, Johnson Space Center, Barringer Crater Company, Meteor Crater Enterprises, Barringer Meteor Crater AZ: Field Training and Research Program at Barringer Meteor Crater.

Sep 4-5 — G20 Summit, Hangzhou, China: G20 Summit for heads of state or heads of government to discuss international economic cooperation; International Lunar Decade Working Group urges Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel to include space development at G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany July 2017 as innovative, global strategy for building sustainable, long-term future for humanity.


Sep 6 — ISS, Soyuz TMA-20M Undocking, LEO: Expedition 48/49 members Alexey Ovchinin, Oleg Skripochka, Jeff Williams to return to Earth after 3.5-hour journey from ISS; Williams will break NASA record for cumulative time in Space at 534 days.

Sep 6 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: Dr. Louise Prockter to become Director of LPI effective today; will be first woman to serve as LPI Director.

Sep 6 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Lecture: Triggering Big Bursts of Star Formation in Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies; Trisha Ashley from Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, 12:00.

Sep 6 — Moon: At apogee (distance 404,622 km), 09:00.

Sep 6 — Apollo Asteroid 2016 PR29: Near-Earth flyby (0.047 AU).


Sep 7 — Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA, Greenbelt MD: Colloquium: Star Trek and NASA – 50 Years of Inventing the Future Together; Rick Sternbach of International Association of Astronomical Artists / Art Director for Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

Sep 7-9 — Imperial College London, von Kármán Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Knowledge Transfer Network, London, United Kingdom: 8th European CubeSat Symposium.

Sep 7-9 — Italian Geological Society, Naples, Italy: 88th Congress of the Italian Geological Society.

Sep 7-9 — University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany: Workshop: Heating and Cooling Processes in the Interstellar Medium.

Sep 7 — Amor Asteroid 2016 PD1: Near-Earth flyby (0.059 AU).

Sep 7 — Apollo Asteroid 250458 (2004 BO41): Near-Earth flyby (0.100 AU).


Sep 8 — ISRO, Launch GSLV Mk. 2 / Insat 3DR, Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India: Potential date for Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), flying on GSLV-F05 mission in Mk.2 configuration with indigenously-built cryogenic 3rd stage, to launch Insat 3DR geostationary weather satellite.

Sep 8 — United Launch Alliance, Launch Atlas 5 / OSIRIS-REx, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission for asteroid sample return expected to launch to asteroid 101955 Bennu (1999 RQ36), launch window 19:05-21:05.

Sep 8 — Moon: 9.9° N of Antares, 11:00; 3.8° N of Saturn, 12:00.

Sep 8 — 1 Ceres: 0.64° SSW of 18 Melpomene, 14:00.


Sep 9 — Caltech, Pasadena CA: Caltech Astronomy Public Lectures: The Invisible Universe Revealed – From Glowing Dust to Spinning Stellar Corpses; Anna Ho, 20:00.

Sep 9 — Moon: At first quarter, 01:49; 7.9° N of Mars, 05:00.


Sep 10 — ESA, Various Locations within 22 ESA Member States: Citizens’ Debate on Space for Europe; 2,200 citizens from 22 European countries to participate in consultation on European space program priorities.

Sep 10 — Team Indus, Online / Bengaluru, India: Registration Due for Lab2Moon experiment allowing young adults to compete for project to fly on GLXP Team Indus craft to Moon surface 2017; project should fit inside 330-ml can, weigh less than 250 grams & ‘catalyze the evolution of Humankind as a sustainable Multi-Planetary Species.’

Sep 10-13 — European Space Foundation, Planet PR Agency, Jasionka, Poland: European Rover Challenge.

Sep 10 — Saturn: 6.1° NNE of Antares, 19:00.

Sep 10 — Aten Asteroid 2015 KE: Near-Earth flyby (0.038 AU).


Sep 11-16 — Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Science Foundation, NASA, Sofia University, Bt Development Services – Bulgaria, Golden Sands, Bulgaria: International Symposium on Recent Observations and Simulations of the Sun-Earth System III.

Sep 11 — Moon: 3.2° N of Pluto, 08:00.

Sep 11 — Apollo Asteroid 2009 BK2: Near-Earth flyby (0.076 AU).

Sep 11 — Amor Asteroid 2016 PR26: Near-Earth flyby (0.084 AU).