A Chapter of the National Space Society

Oklahoma Space Alliance Home 

OUTREACH July 2007

Who We Are

          Oklahoma Space Alliance is the central Oklahoma chapter of the National Space Society, one of the largest space advocacy groups in the country, and has existed for more than 20 years. Our own group is small, and we are interested in increasing our membership. Our purposes include promoting the exploration and development of space, educating the public to current events in space and the usefulness of an active space program, all with the intent of promoting a space-faring civilization.
          Oklahoma Space Alliance hosted the 23rd Annual International Space Development Conference on May 27-31, 2004. We previously hosted three Regional Space Development Conferences, assisted with earlier ISDCs, put displays in malls, hosted lectures, sponsored television interviews, hosted viewing nights, worked with other space-oriented groups and maintained local contact with the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority.
          Oklahoma Space Alliance recently helped out with the 2007 International Space Development Conference which was hosted by the National Space Society of North Texas in Dallas Texas from May 24 – 28, 2007.
          We do bimonthly newsletters called Outreach and Update to keep our members informed of current developments in space and upcoming events they might be interested in. Editor of Outreach is Syd Henderson and editor of Update is Claire McMurray.

2008 Space Settlement Calendars now for sale

          The National Space Society’s 2008 Space Settlement Calendar is for sale at the NSS website, space.nss.org for $14.95. (There is also a link through the Oklahoma Space Alliance website, http://osa.nss.org/index.html). It’s worth checking out.

July Meeting

          Oklahoma Space Alliance will be throwing a Space Day party the evening of July 20 at the Conestoga Science Fiction Convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We will also have a meeting if enough officers attend. The party will commemorate the Moon landing in on July 20, 1969 and the landing of Viking 1 on Mars on July 20, 1976. This will replace our regular meeting for July. The time the party starts will depend on the convention schedule.

Here's the schedule for Friday evening at Conestoga:
5:30 - 6:00 open
6:00 - 7:00 Opening Ceremonies Featuring Toastmistress Elizabeth Moon
7:00 - 8:30 Gala Dinner with Laurell K. Hamilton
Lolita Tea Party (Con Suite)
 8:00 - 8:30 Ravenar Performs
 8:30 - 11:00 Friday Night Concert featuring The Royal Gambit, Cedric of The Bedlam Bards, Eric Coleman and The Great Lukeski
9:00 – midnight:  Yard Dog Party (Con Suite)
11:00 - 12:30 Harry Potter Party

I don't think it would be a good idea to have either before 5:30 p.m. since some people may come in after they get off work. We should probably wait until after Opening Ceremonies. Any suggestions? I'm not planning to go to any of the events after Opening Ceremonies, so I'm flexible. Suggested times are 8:00 -10:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. – midnight.

          The convention website is http://www.sftulsa.org/conestoga/. You don't have to join the convention to attend the OSA party, but you do need to if you want to attend convention events. You can get Mapquest directions to the hotel by going to the convention site and clicking on "hotel."
Here are directions starting from Norman from Mapquest:
1) Merge onto I-35 N toward OKLA CITY. 28.1 miles
2) Merge onto I-44 E via EXIT 138A toward TULSA (Portions toll). 95.8 miles.
3) Merge onto OK-51 E via EXIT 231 toward BROKEN ARROW / MUSKOGEE. 2.8 miles
4) Merge onto US-169 N toward OWASSO. 0.6 miles
5) Take the 41ST ST exit. 0.1 miles
6) 11: Turn LEFT onto E 41ST ST S. 0.1 miles
7) End at 10918 E 41st St. Tulsa, OK 74146 (the hotel address).
The hotel is the Radisson Tulsa. This is the same hotel that the convention has been held at for many years, but it changed ownership a year or two ago.
          Our next regular meeting will be August 18 at 3:00 p.m., location to be determined.

Minutes of June Meeting

          Oklahoma Space Alliance met on June 16 at the Koszorus’ house. Attending were Tom Koszoru, Syd Henderson and Claire and Clifford McMurray.
          These corrections were read into the minutes of the May meeting: The invitation to attend the Space Venture Symposium was a general invitation for people attending the ISDC, not just for Oklahoma Space Alliance. It was Claire McMurray, not Clifford, talked to Bill Khourie about the ISDC. This has been corrected in the minutes and also in the web edition of the June Update.
          Tom had been having trouble getting onto SecondLife. [This has now been corrected and he has become an evangelist on the subject. Now it's me having trouble getting onto SecondLife... The program kicks me off after 20 - 30 seconds. Any advice is appreciated.--Syd] NSS now has an island on SecondLife, which is a 3-D virtual world where people can have meetings, exchange ideas and have fun.
          Magi Whitaker is postponing her fundraiser for the Challenger Center. We will suggest that Magi's group might want to do a fundraiser together with us. Magi would have to find a place.
          Tom reported his experiences at the ISDC. He attended the panel on the chapter track about Yuri's Night.
          Claire reported on a medical panel. Every woman who has been to space has fainted within a couple of days of returning. The same thing happens to about 20% of men. There is a 50% failure rate for people training for commercial flight. At Disney World there have been two deaths on flight simulators.
          Tom reports that Mark Hopkins wants NSS Student Chapters. We need to talk to David Miller at Oklahoma University about reviving the SEDS chapter or NSS Student Chapter there. We would give members a NSS membership for one year. This would cost $20.00 per new person, or $18.00 for students. We would need to remember to use the chapter code which is on the web site and on the NSS brochures.
          Is there something that we could do with David Miller and/or Cathryne Stein to have the national botball tournament at an ISDC?
          This led to a discussion on what sort of national student competitions there with a final tournament? For example, there are botball, spelling, dancing, mathematics, athletics, debating, music, writing and science. Should we do a drama competition for high school and college students where they could stage a 15-20 minute play that would solve a problem or present a situation? We would need a web site and send out notices for teachers. Perhaps the NASA Space Grant Consortium could happen there.
          Another possibility would be a business plan which involves people in space and marketing. For example develop an ad that promoted space. Winner would get on the air, or at movie theatres. Would an aerospace or computer company do the contest?
          We talked about promoting space by giving away Mars Bars and Milky Ways, perhaps on July 4. Claire will talk to the Norman Convention Center.
          Syd is to find out what space events happened on July 4. [Answer: the landing of Mars Pathfinder in 1997 and the Deep Impact launching its probe into Comet Tempel 1. We thought that Viking 1 also landed on July 4, 1976 for the Bicentennial, which was indeed the original plan but rough terrain at the landing site forced postponement to July 20, the 7th anniversary of the Moon landing.]
          There is a proposal to have July 20 be a non-paid federal holiday called Space Exploration Day.

--Minutes submitted by OSA Secretary Syd Henderson

Report on 2007 International Space Development Conference

          The International Space Development Conference was held May 25 – 28 at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Dallas Texas. It was preceded on May 24 by the Space Venture Finance Symposium, which early ISDC registrants were invited to attend at no charge. (I don’t know what the situation was for late registrants.) I don’t have word on the attendance at ISDC, but they were able to run eleven tracks of programming simultaneously in the afternoon with the rooms being mostly full, it was obviously one of the best-attended ISDCs I’ve been to.
          The conference coincided with a bout of severe weather that affected Oklahoma and Texas during May and June, which affected plane flights into the conference, including a group of kids who were supposed to come in from California to help with gofering but had their flight postponed. Since it was Memorial Day Weekend, those who had their flights cancelled found it difficult to get a later booking, and we had a considerable number of badges left over in addition to the people who actually attended.
          Oklahoma Space Alliance had volunteered to help with the conference, particularly with registration. Syd Henderson, Claire McMurray and Tom Koszoru helped out with registration and Tim Scott mostly did hallway guarding. Clifford McMurray was actually running one of the tracks of the conference. Most of the attendees arrived on Wednesday, Thursday or on Friday morning, which was before my stints at the registration table for the pre-registered, which were pretty quiet.
          Tom and I started down about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, and since the Space Venture Finance Symposium began at 8:00 a.m., I got pretty much no sleep in advance. This is a symposium for people interested in investing in space and an opportunity for them to meet with people in the commercial space industry. Topics included such things as “Private Equity and Investment Banking in Early- and Mid-Stage Financing of Commercial Space Firms” and “Corporate Investment and Financing of Early- & Mid-Stage Commercial Space Ventures.” This is an area of the space industry that I’m not really conversant in (my immediate question is “what on Earth IS equity?”) but I rather enjoyed it anyway despite (or maybe because of) my lack of sleep.
          There was considerable discussion of the Angel Capital Association. An “angel investor” is a wealthy individual who provides capital for a business start-up. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) The Angel Capital Association is an alliance of 265 angel investor groups in North America and thus gives investors a chance to pool and diversify their investments. The ACA itself is not a direct investor but the angel groups within it are. The ACA alliance has 234,000 investors investing some $25.6 billion. This is for all ventures, including non-space. Thus we are talking about venture capitalism.
          One of the more notable guests at the “Corporate Investment” panel was Bill Gail, Director, Strategic Development, Microsoft Virtual Earth. Virtual Earth is the Microsoft challenge to Google Maps and Google Earth, which I am a lot more familiar with and find endlessly fascinating. Virtual Earth seems to have superior 3-D imagery, although I don’t know how much of the world it covers. Both services are improving so rapidly it’s hard to keep up with them. Gail said that in the future you’ll be walking in downtown London and be able to see the individual stores, do virtual shopping, see what the traffic is like, etc. Eventually this will approach an immersive 3-D world. (For a primitive idea of what this may be like, try the Street View feature of Google Maps, which allows you to take a street-level tour of several cities in the US.)
          “State and Private Equity Financing of Space Enterprises and Spaceports” featured representatives from spaceports in New Mexico, Florida and Singapore. This last will service the Space Adventures Explorer suborbital Rocketplane and be located near Singapore Changi Airport. Among the facilities will be centrifuge training, zero gravity flights (both suborbital flight and parabolic flights à la the Vomit Comet) and a neutral buoyancy tank. The estimated completion date of this spaceport is 2009. Space Adventures will also have a facility in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
          There was no representative from the Oklahoma Spaceport Authority, although Pat Bahn of TGV Rockets and George French of Rocketplane, Ltd.
          With eleven tracks of programming sometimes going simultaneously and working registration for eleven hours of the conference, I saw only a small fraction of the programming available at the conference. I did not attend any of the lunches or dinners due to limited finances. Here are a few highlights from the programs I did attend:

          I attended two sessions with Laurie Leshin, the first a two-part presentation with Paul Spudis entitled “What We Will Do and Learn on the Moon.” Spudis and Leshin are both planetary geologists and Leshin is Director of Sciences and Exploration at Goddard Space Flight Center. She spoke about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which will be launched on October 28, 2008. This will look for hydrogen and water at the poles, search for lunar resources, analyze the radiation environment of the Moon, and look for safe landing sites, places that have continuous solar power. (This is possible at both the North and South Lunar poles since the Moon’s axis is not tipped much with respect to the Sun.) The LRO will be the first mission in the “Vision for Space Exploration.”  The mission should last until February 2010, but could easily last into 2015.
          Leshin’s solo lecture was on “NASA’S Lunar Exploration Architecture Planning” on the more general future of lunar missions.
          Leshin is notable for having an asteroid named after her (4922 Leshin), from when she was an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

          I followed these panels up with one on the “Present State of MgB2 Superconducting Wires and Devices” by Giovanni Grasso. These are not high temperature superconductors (transition temperature 39° K), and are chiefly notable for being able to carry substantial amounts of current and for being unusually light, magnesium and boron being two of the lighter solid elements.

          One interesting point that was brought up on the space elevator lecture by Jerome Pearson is that the connection with the surface does not have to be at the equator. The limiting latitudes are 45° North and South on the Earth, and 55° on the Moon. As far as finding materials to build it out of, Pearson pointed out that we already have the materials to do it at the Moon. His proposal is that we should build such an elevator through the L-1 or L-2 Earth-Moon libration points, since an object placed at those points can remain in position with respect to the Earth and Moon. (Since the Moon’s rotational period is the same as its orbital period, L-1 and L-2 are always approximately above the same points on the lunar surface.) A space elevator placed through L-1 would have to be more than 36,000 miles long, and, since the L-1 libration point is unstable, there would have to be some way to keep it from crashing. [If you’ve read Red Mars, you know that crashing space elevators are very bad news.] However, since the Moon’s gravitational pull is less, such an elevator would be lighter than one from the surface of the earth to geosynchronous orbit.
          [Although Pearson didn’t mention it, it’s also theoretically possible to build a lunar elevator though L-4 or L-5, and such an elevator would be stable. It would also have to be at least 239,000 miles long, which is probably why he didn’t mention it. L-3 is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Moon, so you can’t build an elevator to it. A space elevator to the surface of the Earth has to be more than 22,000 miles long to reach geosynchronous orbit.]

          On Sunday, Peter Smith presented a talk on Phoenix mission to Mars. This will be launched in August, with the earliest possible launch date being August 3. It will land in May 2008, operate for 90 sols. The cost of the mission is $415 million. Phoenix will, if successful, be the first mission to “touch” and analyze water on Mars.
          Phoenix will land using rockets. Hydrazine will contaminate the soil where it lands, which will complicate any search for life. Hydrazine is not organic but it is very reactive.
          Phoenix has a robot arm which extends more than seven feet from its base and can dig a trench up to 20 inches deep. The hope is that there will be some water within this depth. Since Phoenix will land near the North Polar Region, there is a good chance this will happen.
          Phoenix does not contain a rover. The next rover to land on Mars will be the Mars Science Laboratory, which will land in October 2010.
          Everything that has been put into orbit around Mars is still there. Caves have been found on Mars!

          One of the major speakers on Sunday was Dr. Alain Bensoussan, former Chairman of the European Space Agency. He spoke on how major policy decisions are made in the space field. Major decisions in the past originated from strong political decisions at the Presidential level: the Apollo Mission, the Freedom Platform, and the International Space Station. However, there is a bad follow-on, such as stopping Apollo, and finding a new goal for the ISS.
          The ISS has suffered from bad financial and schedule planning. [This is a major problem with a huge program that has been developed through two decades, four presidents and several changes of control of Congress.] International partners are worried by the decision to terminate the shuttle. Scientific use and applications are limited and public interest is low.
          His recommendations:

          He suggested a possible model for international consensus might be the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

          One of the displays at the ISDC was the Polywell fusion generator designed by Robert Bussard, who is famous for the concept of the Bussard ramjet. This is quite a different idea which uses a diamagnetic “wiffleball” to enclose plasma. The current design is a truncated cube—more accurately a “cuboctahedron”. It looks like a cube where the six sides have been replaced by metal doughnuts. However, the cuboctahedron shape is not essential: what is needed is a polyhedron with an even number of faces meeting at each vertex. [In the cuboctahedron, each vertex is shaved off to form an equilateral triangle so that the triangles meet halfway up the edges of the original cube. What you have then are six square faces and eight triangular faces. Two squares and two triangles meet at each vertex of the truncated cube. However, in the Polywell, the edges of the faces are curved.] A future design will use a “truncated dodecahedron” (what a mathematician would call an icosidodecahedron). The claim is that since the ions within the device are monoenergetic (rather than having a thermal distribution), which makes fusion of individual pairs of ions more likely.
          Anyway, the most interesting claim about this is that this could make a fusion reaction possible between hydrogen and boron nuclei, using the reaction:
Proton + Boron-11 àCarbon 12*àHelium-4+Beryllium-8à3 Helium-4, plus energy at all stages. The carbon-12 here is an excited state, not the usual carbon nucleus, and beryllium-8 is one of the most unstable nuclei known, decaying in less than a millionth of a billionth of a second. Most significant is that this reaction produces no neutrons, which means it will not make the apparatus radioactive, a problem with the other likely fusion reactions.
          If this all works, it would be truly revolutionary, but Bussard has run out of funding and says he needs $100 million to build a full-scale reactor.

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (July 20 – August 18)

          NASA has dropped the International Space Station from the list of satellites covered by J-Pass, although they are still covered on the Orbital Tracking page via spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/. This only seems to give you data for a couple of weeks. J-Pass still covers unmanned satellites at science.nasa.gov/Realtime/JPass/.
          You can get sighting information at http://www.heavens-above.com/. Heavens Above allows you to get Station data for 10 day periods, and gives you a constellation map showing the trajectory of the satellite. If you go to the bottom of the map page, it will give you a really detailed map with the location at 10 or 15-second intervals, depending on detail. In fact, the detailed charts will even show you the tracks against maps of the constellations, which should help you if you are familiar with the night sky.
          Sky Online (the Sky & Telescope web site) carries station observation times for the next few nights at skyandtelescope.com/observing/almanac. Note that with the addition of the solar panels, the magnitude of the Space Station is now -1.0, making it brighter than all the stars other than the Sun and Sirius, and the planet Saturn as well. The Hubble Space Telescope is roughly magnitude 1.5, which is brighter than the stars in the Big Dipper, although, since it is lower in the sky, it is a bit more difficult to see. 
          Missions to the Space Station or Hubble Space Telescope may change its orbit. At this writing, the target date for the Endeavour  launch to the Space Station is August 7. The next repair mission to the Space Telescope is planned for September 11, 2008.

HST July 30, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
6:12 a.m.           231°                   18°
6:13                   214                    23
6:14                     58                    79
6:15                   124                    34
6:16                   128                    16

Station August 1, 2007 (morning)
Time              Position             Elevation
5:48 a.m.            316°                   17°
5:49                    320                    36
5:50                      58                    79
5:51                    124                    34
5:52                    128                    16

Station August 1, 2007 (evening)
Time              Position             Elevation
10:09 p.m.          228°                   18°
10:10                  229                    39
10:11                  235                    84
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow

Station, August 3, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
9:12 p.m.            219°                  17°
9:13                    212                    34
9:14                    136                    70
9:15                      62                    34
9:16                      54                    17

HST August 10, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
9:27 p.m.            208°                   18°
9:28                    191                    23
9:29                    168                    25
9:30                    146                    23
9:31                    134                    19
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow

HST August 11, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
9:25 p.m.            215°                   19°
9:26                    194                    26*
9:27                    172                    28
9:28                    147                    26
9:29                    130                    20
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow
* Passes 5° below Jupiter and just below Antares.

HST August 12, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
9:24 p.m.            221°                   20°
9:25                    202                    27*
9:26                    176                    31
9:27                    149                    27
9:28                    130                    21
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow
*Passes midway between Jupiter and Antares

HST August 13, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
9:22 p.m.            225°                  21°
9:23                    207                    28*
9:24                    180                    32
9:25                    152                    28
9:26                    133                    21
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow
*Passes 1° below Jupiter

HST August 14, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
9:21 p.m.            228°                   21°
9:22                    210                    28*
9:23                    182                    32
9:24                    155                    28
9:25                    136                    21
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow
*Passes 1° below Jupiter

HST August 15, 2007
Time              Position             Elevation
9:19 p.m.            228°                  21°
9:20                    213                    26*
9:21                    187                    30
9:22                    161                    27
9:23                    142                    20
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow
*Passes 2° below Jupiter

          Pass times are from Heavens Above.
          The four viewing opportunities for the Hubble Space Telescope are part of a series from June 6 through 15, all in the same part of the sky and taking place about 90 seconds earlier each day. I’ve only included the ones that get 30° or more above the horizon, but the rest all get above 20°.
          Key: Position is measured in degrees clockwise from north. That is, 0° is due north, 90° is due east, 180° is due south, and 270° is due west.  Your fist held at arm's length is about ten degrees wide. "Elevation" is elevation above the horizon in degrees. Thus to find Hubble Space Telescope at 9:23 p.m. on August 15, look a little less that four fist-widths east of due south, and two fist-widths above the horizon.
          In addition to the J-Pass program which I use to provide this satellite viewing data, J-Pass provides a service called J-Pass Generator, which will e‑mail you sighting information for the next three days for up to ten satellites. For more information, go to science.nasa.gov/Realtime/JPass/PassGenerator/.

Calendar of Events

          July 20: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 20° west of the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
          July 20: 38th anniversary of first moonwalk.
          July 20: 31st Anniversary of Viking 1 landing on Mars.
          July 20 – 22 Conestoga science fiction convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Web site is http://www.sftulsa.org/conestoga.
          July  20: Oklahoma Space Alliance party and meeting at Conestoga. See “July Meeting” for details.
          August 3: The Phoenix Mars Mission is targeted to launch at 4:35 CDT. For details, see http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/. [There was a presentation on this mission at the ISDC. See page 6 for my notes on that.]
          August 7: Endeavour is targeted to launch to the Space Station around 6:00 p.m. CDT. This mission is expected to last 14 days.
          August 13: Neptune is at opposition at magnitude 7.8.
          August 13: Perseid meteor shower peaks. This is expected to be the best meteor shower of the year, and it takes place during the New Moon. See “More Sky Viewing” for details.
          August 18: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
          August 28: Total lunar eclipse, Totality begins at 4:52 a.m. and ends at 6:23 a.m. In Oklahoma, we will see the entire total phase, although the end of the partial phase will be below the horizon and after dawn. See article below for more details.
          September: India will launch its lunar probe Chandrayaan 1. This craft will orbit the moon at an altitude of 60 miles for two years.
          September: Launch of the Dawn probe to the asteroid Vesta and the minor planet Ceres. [Postponed from July.] See http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Mission for details.
          September 2: Asteroid Pallas is at opposition at magnitude 8.8.
          September 9: Uranus is at opposition. It will be magnitude 5.7, which is barely visible to sharp eyes in a dark sky.
          September 15: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
          September 23: Autumnal equinox is at 4:51 p.m. CDT.
          September 29: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 26° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
          October 20: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
          October 28: Venus is at maximum western elongation, 46.5° west of the Sun.
          November 2: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 19° west of the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
          November 9: the dwarf planet Ceres is at opposition at magnitude 7.2.
          November 17: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. Location to be announced.
          November 17: Peak of Leonid meteor shower.
          December 2007-January 2008: Naked-eye Comet 8P/Tuttle peaks, probably at around 4th magnitude.
          December 14: Peak of Geminid meteor shower.
          December 16: [tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance Christmas Party, time and location to be announced.
          December 22: Winter solstice is 12:08 p.m.
          December 24: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.6.
          January 15, 2008: Messenger's first flyby of Mercury.
          January 20, 2008: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 19° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
          February 20, 2008: Total lunar eclipse visible from North America.
          February 24, 2008: Saturn is at opposition.
          May 18, 2008: The Phoenix Mars Mission arrives at Mars. For details, see http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/.
          May 23 – 26, 2008: 27th International Space Development Conference in Washington, DC.
          July 9, 2008: Jupiter is at opposition.
          July 31, 2008: [Very tentative] Launch of the Planck Surveyor and Herschel Space Observatory from Kourou, French Guiana. [See below in “Space News.”
          September 5, 2008 The ESA's Rosetta asteroid & comet probe passes by asteroid 2867 Steins.
          September 11, 2008: [tentative] Repair mission to Hubble Space Telescope.
          October 6, 2008: Messenger's second flyby of Mercury.
          October 28, 2008: The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is launched.
          Sometime in 2009: Russia sends sample return flight to Phobos.
          January 14, 2009: Venus is at maximum eastern elongation, 47.1° east of the Sun.
          March 2009: Dawn asteroid probe flies by Mars.
          March 8, 2009: Saturn is at opposition.
          August 14, 2009: Jupiter is at opposition.
          September 30, 2009: Messenger's third flyby of Mercury.
          December 2009: The Mars Science Laboratory is launched. See http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
          January 29, 2010: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.3.
          June 2010: Hayabusa returns to Earth with a sample of asteroid Itokawa.  This will be the first asteroid sample returned to Earth.
          June 2010: Japan launches the Venus Climate Orbiter to Venus.
          July 10, 2010: The Rosetta comet probe passes asteroid 21 Lutetia.
          September 21, 2010: Jupiter is at opposition. This is the closest Jupiter will come to Earth in the next 20 years, about 370 million miles.
          October 2010: The Mars Science Laboratory rover lands on Mars. See http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
          December 2010: Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter arrives at Venus.
          Sometime in 2011: ESA launches the ExoMars Mars Rover.
          October 2011: Dawn probe orbits Vesta.
          March 18, 2011: Messenger goes into orbit around Mercury.
          October 2011 – April 2012: Dawn probe orbits Vesta.
          Sometime in 2012: Launch of the Space Interferometry Mission.
          Sometime in 2012: Russia launches the “Luna-Glob” mission which will deploy 13 mini-probes upon the lunar surface.
          March 3, 2012: Mars is at opposition at magnitude -1.2. This is the worst opposition for the next twenty years.
          April 2012: Dawn probe leaves orbit around Vesta for Ceres.
          June 6, 2012: Venus transits the Sun's disk.  The early part of this will be visible from the United States, but the full transit will only be visible from the western Pacific Ocean, eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and eastern Indonesia including New Guinea.
          June 2013: Earliest date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
          August 2013 (approximate): The European Space Agency/JAXA BepiColombo Mercury Orbiter is launched.
          August 2014 - December 2015: The Rosetta space probe orbits comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Early in this mission, it will release the Philae lander. The Rosetta probe web site is The Rosetta probe web site is www.esa.int/export/SPECIALS/Rosetta
          February 2015: Dawn space probe arrives at Ceres. Operations are scheduled to continue through July.
          July 14. 2015: The New Horizons probe passes through the Pluto-Charon system. The New Horizons web site is http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/.
          July 2016-2020:  The New Horizons probe visits the Kuiper Belt.
          August 21, 2017: The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States, on a pretty straight path from Portland, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.  St. Louis is the biggest city in-between.
          August 2019 (approximate) BepiColombo arrives at Mercury orbit.
          April 8, 2024: A total solar eclipse crosses the US from the middle of the Mexico-Texas border, crosses Arkansas, southern Missouri, Louisville, Cleveland, Buffalo and northern New England.
          August 12, 2045: The next total solar eclipse visible in Oklahoma.  This one is also visible in Salt Lake City, Denver, Little Rock (again), Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

Total Eclipse of the Moon

          The Moon will be totally eclipsed on the morning of August 28. Unlike the eclipse in March, Oklahoma will see the eclipse from the beginning but miss the very end. The partial eclipse will begin at 3:20 a.m., with totality lasting from 4:52 until 6:23 a.m. The moon will set before the second partial face in. Our correspondent in Wyoming should get to see the entire eclipse.
          The next total lunar eclipse will be on February 21, 2008, and that one will be visible in its entirety throughout the Americas. The next on after that is December 20 – 21, 2010. This is unusual since generally there are a couple per year but there are three partial lunar eclipses and three penumbral lunar eclipses in the interval. Four of these faux eclipses are in 2009.

          The next solar eclipse is a partial one visible to in Antarctica and parts of South America on September 11. The penguins get an annular eclipse on February 7, 2008, as do Australia and New Zealand. The next total eclipse of the sun is that of August 1, 2008. The path of totality begin in Nunavat in northern Canada where some Inuit and polar bears will get to see it, pass through the Canadian Arctic islands, north of Baffin Island and Greenland, western Siberia, Mongolia and western and southern China. This path goes within seven degrees of the North Pole. (Yes, it is possible to have a total solar eclipse at the North Pole. The next one is March 20, 2015.) The total solar eclipse on July 22, 2009 passes through northern India, southern China and the western Pacific, passing near such huge cities as Delhi, Calcutta, Chongqing, Shanghai and Wuhan. That path must contain about the most people ever to have a chance to see a solar eclipse.
          The next total eclipse visible from the continental United States will be August 21, 2017, and the path of totality will pass from Oregon to South Carolina. This eclipse will be partial throughout North America.

More Sky Viewing

          The Perseid meteor shower peaks about 1:00 a.m. on the morning of August 13, and meteors should be visible for several days around the peak. This year’s should be pretty good with up to 90 meteors per hour, and, as a bonus, it occurs during the New Moon. The meteors seem to issue from a point in Perseus below the conspicuous constellation Cassiopeia (the W-shaped constellation on the other side of the North Star from the Big Dipper), but they can appear anywhere in the sky.
          Mercury reaches greatest western elongation on July 20, at which point it will be 20° above the horizon at sunrise, at about magnitude 0.. It should be in the east-northeast at sunrise, well below the bright star Capella. Mercury will brighten to magnitude -1.1 on August first, after which it will disappear into the dawn as it approaches superior conjunction on August 15.
          Venus is still magnitude -4.7 and low in the western sky at sunset. It will still be visible just after sunset in early August, but will be lost in the sun’s glare as it approaches superior conjunction on August 18. It should be visible in the east just before sunrise at the end of August.
          Mars is currently rising at about 1:00 a.m. and is well up in the eastern sky at dawn, in the constellation Aries. Mars is to the upper right of the Pleiades and will pass 5° to their lower right on August 7. It is magnitude 0.6, which makes it the brightest object in its part of the sky. On August 22 if will pass 4.5° north of Aldebaran, and Mars will be half a magnitude brighter.
          Jupiter was at opposition on June 5, and is magnitude -2.5, making it the brightest planet for most of the night. It is in the constellation Ophiuchus about 5° north of the bright red star Antares in Scorpius. Jupiter will be in this position through early August and easily visible in the evening sky through the month.
          Saturn is still magnitude 0.6 but is also fairly low in the west at sunset, It’s to the right of Venus but probably hard to stop. Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun on August 21 and will not be visible during the entire month.
          Uranus is still in Aquarius (it averages seven years per zodiacal constellation). It is magnitude 5.8 and brightens only to magnitude 5.7 during August, which means that it is just barely visible to the naked eye in very dark skies. It is about 5° north of Phi Aquarii, which is itself only magnitude 4.2. Uranus is high in the southeast at midnight and in the southern skies in early morning hours. Uranus will be above the horizon all night in late August as it approaches opposition on September 9.
          Neptune, on the other hand, averages about fourteen years per zodiacal constellation, so it’s still in Capricornus. It is magnitude 7.8 and that’s as good as it gets because it is at opposition on August 13. Look about three degrees to the northeast of Iota Capricorni, which is none too bright itself.

Space News

          The Dawn space probe to Ceres and Vesta was scheduled to be launched on June 20, but a broken crane delayed launch until July 7, then bad weather and range tracking problems delayed launch past July 15. This put it in conflict with the launch date for the Phoenix Mars mission, so the launch of Dawn has been rescheduled for September. Rendezvous dates with Vesta and Ceres are not affected.
          Dawn is trailblazing in several ways. It will become the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies. Vesta is the brightest of the asteroids. In late May and early June, when it was in opposition, it was visible to the naked eye and over a magnitude brighter than any other asteroid or Ceres ever gets, excluding asteroids on a near collision course with Earth. Unlike Ceres, Vesta is not round. In fact, it has a crater 280 miles across, which is 80% of the diameter of the asteroid itself, and the asteroid is somewhat elongated, which is why it was not reclassified as a dwarf planet along with Ceres. If Ceres is no longer counted as an asteroid, Vesta becomes the most massive asteroid. (Kuiper Belt Objects are not counted as asteroids.) Despite its size and brightness, Vesta was only the fourth member of the asteroid belt to be discovered, after Ceres, Pallas and Juno. Dawn arrives at Vesta in October 2001 and orbits it until April 2012. If it turns out that Vesta is mostly rounded despite the gigantic crater, it may be reclassified as a dwarf planet.
          Dawn will arrive at Ceres in February 2015 and send data through at least July, and possibly much longer. Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta were originally classified as planets, bit they were reclassified as asteroids when Astraea and Hebe were discovered in the 1840s. Neptune was discovered about the same time, and it was felt necessary to distinguish the eight planets from the smaller bodies. However, after the discovery of Xena (now renamed Eris), which is larger than Pluto, new definitions of “planet” were flying around, and Ceres briefly regained its status as a planet before Pluto, Eris and Ceres were reclassified as dwarf planets. To be a dwarf planet, an object must be rounded by gravity, not be a moon, and not have cleared its neighborhood. Since Ceres is in the middle of the asteroid belt, it became a minor planet. Ceres can reach magnitude 6.9, which means it is visible in a coal-black sky to those with exceptional eyesight, but for most of us it is never visible to the naked eye. (Pallas and Iris are also rarely visible to the naked eye under the same circumstances.)
          Dawn is also notable because it has far more propulsion capability than any previous spacecraft. It carries 935 lb of xenon, which it ionizes and uses as a propellant. This compares with 600 lb for more conventional spacecraft. The slower but more persistent acceleration produced by an ion drive enables Dawn to increase its velocity by over seven miles per second, compared with 3300 ft/sec for conventional drives. (Greater accelerations such as those used by New Horizons are produced by gravity assists.) Dawn thus has the greater operational flexibility needed to soar around the asteroid belt.
          [Some information on this article comes “Blue Light Special,” by Craig Covault, Aviation Week & Space Technology, July 2, 2007, pp 56 – 59. Other information was lifted from articles on Ceres, Vesta and Dawn on Wikipedia.]

          Information on the Phoenix mission to Mars, which was responsible for Dawn’s launch being postponed until September, is contained in my notes on the International Space Development Conference.

Caltech, JPL, Northrop Grumman to Celebrate 50 Years of Space Exploration [Edited press release]

PASADENA, Calif. -- Before October 1957, space flight was a thing of fantasy. Today we are experienced space explorers with unlimited voyages to undertake. Where is space flight's next horizon? What constitutes sensible space investment? How did the space pioneers accomplish their goals? These topics will be addressed at “50 Years in Space: An International Aerospace Conference Celebrating 50 Years of Space Technology,” September 19 to 21 at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
          The conference is hosted by Caltech, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Redondo Beach, Calif., and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
          NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, JPL Director Charles Elachi, astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, space industry pioneers and experts, and foreign space program representatives will speak on the history of space exploration, sensible space investment, and the future of space exploration from the perspectives of the aerospace industry, academia, government and science. Keynote speaker is Northrop Grumman Chairman Ronald Sugar. . .
          Participating representatives of the top-tier space programs around the globe include NASA's Griffin; European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain; President of Centre National d’Études Spatiales Yannick d'Escatha; and Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science Executive Director Hajime Inoue, all of whom will discuss the future of space exploration.  Miles O’Brien, CNN chief technology and environment correspondent, will moderate a panel discussion titled “Space and the Environment: Sensible Space Investment.”
          Other distinguished guests include keynote speaker John C. Mather, James Webb Space Telescope senior project scientist; Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO; and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson. Mather was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in the areas of black body form, cosmic microwave background radiation, and Big-Bang theory. PayPal creator Musk, whose space-transportation company, SpaceX, has opened up a whole new segment of the aerospace industry, will be speaking on a panel discussing the future of space exploration from an industry perspective…
          Full registration is $550, first-come, first-served, with limited seating.
          Register at http://www.galcit.caltech.edu/space50. Caltech,JPL, Northrop Grumman, California Space Authority employees, Southern California high-school and college students and teachers with ID may attend the talks free, but must register via the website.  Information on the conference hosts is at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov , http://pr.caltech.edu/media, and http://www.ngc.com.

Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2007 (Area Code 405)

Tom Koszoru, President                                         366-1797 (H)
John Northcutt, Vice-President                               390-3476 (H)
Syd Henderson, Secretary & Outreach Editor        321-4027 (H)
Tim Scott, Treasurer                                               740-7549 (H)
Claire McMurray, Update Editor                     329-4326 (H)  863-6173 (C)

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site:

[email protected] (Claire McMurray, new address)
[email protected] (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
[email protected] (Syd Henderson)
[email protected] (Tim Scott)
[email protected] (John Northcutt)
[email protected]  (Steve Galpin)
[email protected] (Nancy and David Craig).
          E-mail for OSA should be sent to [email protected].  Members who wish  their e-mail addresses printed in Outreach, and people wishing space-related materials e-mailed to them should contact Syd.  Oklahoma Space Alliance website is osa.nss.org/index.html. Webmaster is Syd Henderson.

Other Information

          Air and Space Museum: Omniplex, Oklahoma City, 602‑6664 or 1-800-532-7652.
          Oklahoma Space Industrial Development Authority (OSIDA), 401 Sooner Drive/PO Box 689, Burns Flat, OK 73624, 580-562-3500.  Web site www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport.
          Tulsa Air and Space Museum, 7130 E. Apache, Tulsa, OK  74115.
Web Site is www.tulsaairandspacemuseum.com.  Phone (918)834-9900.
          The Mars Society address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454. Their web address is www.marsociety.org.
          The National Space Society's Headquarters phone is 202-429-1600.  The Chapters Coordinator is Bennett Rutledge 720-529-8024.  The address is:  National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW Ste. 615, Washington, DC 20006.    Web page is space.nss.org.  
          NASA Spacelink BBS  205-895-0028.  Or try www.nasa.gov.  .
          Congressional Switchboard 202/224-3121.
           Write to any U. S. Senator or Representative at [name]/ Washington DC, 20510 (Senate) or 20515 [House].

 A Chapter of the National Space Society

Please enroll me as a member of Oklahoma Space Alliance.  Enclosed is:
___________________$10.00 for Membership.  (This allows full voting privileges, but covers only your own newsletter expense.)
___________________ $15.00 for family membership

                              ____   TOTAL  amount enclosed

          National Space Society has a special $20 introductory rate for new members ($35 for new international members).  Regular membership rates are $45, international $60.  Student memberships are $20.  Part of the cost is for the magazine, Ad Astra.  Mail to: National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW, Washington DC 20006, or join at space.nss.org/membership. (Brochures are at the bottom with the special rate.) Be sure to ask them to credit your membership to Oklahoma Space Alliance.
          To join the Mars Society, visit www.marssociety.org.  One-year memberships are $50.00; student and senior memberships are $25, and Family memberships are $100.00.    Their address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454.

Do you want to be on the Political Action Network?
    ___        Yes                  No.  [See brochure for information.]

Name                                                   ________ 

Address                                                ___       _                      

City                              State        ZIP                   
Phone (optional or if on phone tree)   __                 

E-mail address (optional)                            _____  

OSA Memberships are for 1 year, and include a subscription to our monthly newsletters, Outreach and Update.  Send check & form to Oklahoma Space Alliance, 102 W. Linn, #1, Norman, OK 73071.

To contact Oklahoma Space Alliance, e-mail Syd Henderson.
102 W. Linn St. #1
Norman OK 73069
Copyright ©2007 Oklahoma Space Alliance.