: Last year (okay, it was yesterday), Geraths Design released their collectible sculpture One Giant Leap, a life size lunar footprint (Geraths' earlier edition One Small Step featured a 1:25 boot-print). The larger Leap plaque includes the mission insignia and first words on the Moon by the Apollo commander of your choice (or if you prefer, a quote from President Kennedy).
: Noted space artist and science fiction illustrator Frank Kelly Freas passed away early Sunday morning at age 82. In 1973, Freas designed the Skylab 1 (SL-2) crew patch, an experience he wrote in Analog Magazine was one that an artist "would pay for the chance to do." He was later commissioned to design a set of posters for NASA promoting the space program, which are now hanging in the Smithsonian in Washington.
: Newly released papers have revealed that the widow of Irish President Erskine Childers requested permission to take a moon rock from Aras an Uachtarain as she left the presidential residence three decades ago, reports The Times of London. The acylic- encased and plaque-mounted lunar pebble was a part of the Goodwill Moon Rock gifted by the U.S. to Ireland and 134 other nations. Rita Childers' inquiry was rejected by the Office of Public Works, which ruled the rock as state property, rather than a personal gift to the president. Rita and the rock parted ways, the latter is now in a museum.
: On January 3, 2004, cheers erupted from mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) when their first robotic rover successfully landed on Mars. Three weeks later, the second rover successfully landed on the opposite side of the planet. One year later, rovers Spirit and Opportunity have exceeded all expectations and continue to make discoveries. A two-hour live event to commemorate the mission, "One Year on Mars," will be presented at JPL (and broadcast on NASA TV) today starting at 1pm CT.
: Mark Estabrook, a self- described documentary film director and author of a petition calling for Congress to investigate the 1967 Apollo 1 accident for "possible acts of sabotage, homicide and collusion to suppress evidence" issued a release today "seeking people who knew astronaut Gus Grissom and participated in America's race to the moon in the 1960s" to be interviewed for a film entitled "Gus," that will be co- produced by the late astronaut's son, Scott. Estabrook's statement neglects to mention any of his own biases as they relate to the AS-204 fire, though Grissom is quoted hoping "that former NASA and North American Aviation employees working on Pad 34 on January 27, 1967, will contact [the director]," (though stories about Gus in the Mercury and Gemini programs are also welcome). Mark Estabrook will be in Florida during January and February to meet and film retired NASA and contractor personnel.
: NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia has scheduled a public meeting on January 19, to discuss the proposed demolition of five wind tunnels and an Apollo Program, 250- foot gantry. The latter A-frame structure, formerly known as the Lunar Landing Research Facility (LLRF) was used by astronauts to train for flying in the lunar environment. Built in 1965, the LLRF prepared astronauts for problems encountered in the last 150 feet of descent to the moon's surface, as well as allowed practice moon-walking using slings and cables. Though the LLRF, the Eight-Foot High Speed and Full-Scale wind tunnels were named National Historic Landmarks in 1985, the aging facilities are facing environmental assessments (of which the 7 pm meeting at Poquoson Public Library is a part). Legal notice of the demolition plans was made in August for public comment.
: When the STS-114 crew returns the Space Shuttle Discovery to flight this spring, they will carry personal mementos from the STS-107 fallen crew of Columbia, told mission specialist Stephen Robinson to reporters gathered Friday at Kennedy Space Center. "They were all dear friends of ours; they weren't just colleagues," Robinson said. "It's their legacy we are continuing." NASA permits crew members to carry small items in their personal preference kits (PPKs) or with the mission's official flight kit (OFK). STS-114 is tentatively targeted to launch at 4:11 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 14, although that could slip due to work remaining to prepare Discovery for flight. The crew's insignia, based on art by Robinson, includes a representation of the STS-107 logo.
: Guy Gugliotta with The Washington Post details the condition and status of the three remaining Saturn V boosters in "Retro Rocket" on page C01 in today's newspaper. Using Kennedy Space Center's museum-encased Saturn as the example of the desired outcome, Gugliotta compares the fundraising and future plans for the 'dueling displays' at NASA's Marshall and Johnson space centers. Efforts are underway in both Huntsville and Houston to protect their decaying boosters from further weathering by housing them under temporary shelters (JSC's metal hangar is almost complete) to later be replaced by their own tourist-supported museums. But that is in the future; what is needed now are the funds (at least $1.25 million in Houston) to restore the two Saturns.
: The all- active astronaut band Max Q has lost its percussionist; James Wetherbee (Capt., USN, Ret.) has retired from NASA, the space agency announced today. The only astronaut to command five shuttle missions, Wetherbee flew six times during his 20-year career, which included flying the first approach for the first shuttle rendezvous with the Russian Mir Space Station, a docking mission to Mir and two flights to the International Space Station. He most recently served as the Space Shuttle Lead in the Independent Technical Authority at JSC in Houston, TX.
: NASA's Deep Impact two- part spacecraft began its 268 million mile journey to Comet Tempel 1 at 1:47 pm ET today on a crash course aimed at creating a crater up to a football field in size and 14 stories deep. Deep Impact's flyby half as well as Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra telescopes will be focused July 4th on the 23,000 mph (relative) collision, while the resulting flash may be bright enough for ground-based, naked-eye, observations for an Independence Day fireworks display.
: A NASA procurement notice released by Johnson Space Center on Tuesday describes their need for 350 three-dimensional, five-inch, pewter Snoopy figurines with engraveable bases for use as Return to Flight awards. The document goes on to state that NASA plans to acquire the statues from the Robbins Co. of Attleboro, Mass., based on their history minting the NASA Snoopy with the permission of Charles Schulz's estate and United Media. Robbins has produced the medallions flown by astronauts since 1968, which space collectors refer to today as Robbins medals.
: Seven years after leaving Earth on-board NASA's Cassini orbiter, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Huygens probe has landed on Saturn's largest moon Titan. Huygens began transmitting minutes into its descent and continued to send data for two hours after touching down. The first scientific data streamed in to the European Space Operations Center in Germany at approximately 1620 GMT (10:20 a.m. CST). Huygens is the first human-made object to explore on-site the unique environment of Titan, which chemistry was thought to be similar to that of early Earth. The data Huygens sends to scientists will tell whether that assumption was accurate.
: More than 25 astronauts will gather this April to induct three Space Shuttle veterans into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida. Joseph Allen, the first to capture a satellite for repair; Gordon Fullerton, one of the shuttle's first test pilots; and Bruce McCandless, the first to spacewalk without a tether, will be honored at an April 29th gala dinner by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) and at a ceremony to be held the following day by NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. collectSPACE Editor Robert Pearlman is a member of the committee that chose the inductees.
: Ronnie Blair, writing for The Tampa Tribune, profiles Florida-area space memorabilia collectors Curtis Roos and Chuck Kiesewetter in today's Pasco County edition. "Space Collectibles Blast Off" describes Roos' home as a space art museum, with Alan Bean artwork and other original pieces on display. Kiesewetter chose his lot for its launch-viewing potential with Kennedy Space Center "149 miles of unobstructed sky away." He has boxes of memorabilia amassed from 1967 to the present. collectSPACE's Robert Pearlman is also interviewed about this website and why we collect.
: The IGNITE Foundation, working with the Starlight Starbright Foundation of New England, is auctioning a Kennedy Space Center tour package to fund bringing an astronaut to a Boston-area children's ward as part of SLSB's Hospital Happenings program. Bidding on the trip-for-two opened Saturday for 10 days, and includes airfare, hotel, KSC Visitor Complex tickets and a private astronaut-led tour.
: Aurora Galleries is again launching its 'road show' in search of consignments for their bi-annual auctions, as well as providing free appraisals along the way. Tomorrow and on Friday, Aurora's Victoria Campbell will be at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, and on the following Monday and Tuesday at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville, FL. The latter event also serves as a fundraiser for the Walk, which has seen the rent on their mall-based location rise. Items consigned to Aurora during the event (if ultimately sold) will result in a commission being paid to the SWOF.
: Apollo astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Eugene Cernan, Richard Gordon, Al Worden and Harrison Schmitt took part in the Celebration of Freedom concert held in Washington, DC earlier this evening as the events planned for President Bush's inauguration started. Led by Apollo 13 actor Gary Sinese, the moon voyagers were brought onto a stage in front of the White House as a video was shown of their accomplishments. Elsewhere nearby, a NASA exhibit was scheduled to be staffed by seven active astronauts including Scott Altman, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Roger Crouch, Anna Fisher, Michael Foale, Paul Richards and Carl Walz, according to a note posted by Adminstrator Sean O'Keefe to NASA's website. Aldrin will also host Thursday's Presidential eNaugurl.com Ball.
: The Czech Post today will release a commemorative stamp and souvenir sheet depicting a drawing by Petr Ginz, a 14 year-old Auschwitz victim, that he drew of a moonscape while imprisoned. Two years ago, Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon brought the original pencil illustration with him onboard Space Shuttle Columbia. The drawing survived the crematoriums of the Holocaust but could not escape being destroyed Feb. 1, 2003, when the orbiter broke apart during reentry. Ginz's artwork is reproduced on the postage stamp, as well his portrait. The surrounding sheet depicts Columbia in orbit.
: New Ware has announced a Soyuz landing model as the latest in their space kit series. Soyuz Dust Down ships for $40 with 21 resin and 38 photo-etched parts as well the decals for four missions' capsules: Soyuz 19 (Apollo-Soyuz Test Project), Soyuz 28 (first Intercosmos flight), Soyuz 30 (the first Pole) and Soyuz 31 (the first German). Those missions' markings feature replicas of the crews' signatures, with one of two included cosmonauts kneeling to sign the spacecraft. A standing crewmate is offered for modeling other landings.
: Rick Houston reviews Apollo 10: The Dress Rehearsal, the two-disc set released by Spacecraft Films in late 2004. Apollo 10, the mission, is often overlooked given its place in history between the first lunar orbit and the first landing on the surface. Apollo 10, the DVD, shouldn't be similarly treated, advises Houston.
: Boggs SpaceBooks has announced the second volume in their series of high quality reprints of vintage NASA Project Apollo working documents, the Saturn V News Reference. Published by the prime contractors for the Saturn V just prior to the Apollo 8 mission in December 1968, the Reference was intended to provide members of the media details about the launch vehicle that would take 24 men to the Moon. Boggs is selling its three ring bound, 133 page reprint for $29.95. Copies will begin shipping Tuesday, February 1.
: NASA will honor the crews of Apollo 1, STS-51L/Challenger and STS-107/Columbia, among those who lost their lives while furthering exploration and discovery, on a Day of Remembrance scheduled for Thursday. At 1:00 p.m. CT, NASA TV will air a special program from the agency's Washington, DC Headquarters led by Administrator Sean O'Keefe, Deputy Administrator Frederick Gregory and Apollo 16 astronaut T.K. Mattingly, with remarks from the ISS Expedition 10 crew. Separately, NASA facilities around the country will memorialize the fallen, with activities through February 1.
: The Space Show with host David Livingson will interview tonight Joe Lennox. In his memoirs Vision for Space, Lennox shares his passion for collecting space history-related newspaper clippings. Starting at 9:00 p.m. CT, The Space Show can be heard on KKNW (AM 1150) in Seattle or through Live365.com.
: Apollo 7 gave the Command / Service Module (CSM) a workout in Earth orbit as the first steps in the verification of the lunar hardware. Over 11 days the crew fought colds while they put the Apollo spacecraft through a workout, establishing confidence in the machine what would lead directly to the decision to send the Apollo 8 crew to the Moon just two months later. Spacecraft Films' two-disc DVD set Apollo 7: Shakedown Cruise,released today, features complete TV transmissions and onboard film, as well as Schirra's, Cunningham's and Eisele's training, launch and recovery.
: Dragon Models' next Space Shuttle 1:400 scale model will be of Challenger, in a diorama setting designed to resemble how the orbiter appeared from the Space Pallet Satellite (SPAS) on flight STS-7. The replica, which will be available in March, will feature a detailed paint scheme and the ability to display the payload bay either open or closed. A round base will provide an Earth background for Challenger to 'fly' above.
: NASA observed a moment of silence at its centers across the country and in orbit aboard the International Space Station today, in memory of the astronauts killed in the United States' three spacecraft tragedies. NASA's "three darkest hours" as Administrator Sean O'Keefe described it, took place around this time of year: the Apollo 1 fire during a test at the pad on January 27, 1967; the Challenger launch accident on January 28, 1986; and the loss of Columbia amid reentry on February 1, 2003. "We tripped in Apollo. We've tripped since then," Apollo and shuttle astronaut T.K. Mattingly said during a ceremony held today at the space agency's headquarters.
: Since 1978, every class of NASA astronauts has designed a patch to identify its members. The 14 candidates named in May 2004, as the agency's 19th group of space explorers, are now without exception. Their insignia features a stylized astronaut pin wrapping around the patch from Cape Canaveral on Earth to beyond the Moon and Mars. Fourteen stars appear for the fourteen in the class, nicknamed the Peacocks; U.S. and Japanese flags represent the 11 NASA and 3 JAXA ascans that comprise the group. Along the bottom of the patch are the latin words "Explorandi Concitandi Docendi Gratia" and a book displays the roman numerals XIX (19).
: A small attic fire broke out Friday morning at the Outpost Tavern in Houston, a popular bar and grill frequented by NASA astronauts and employees. The blaze, which was thought to have started because of a faulty neon sign, caused $15,000 worth of smoke damage. The bar's vast collection of memorabilia from the space program went mostly unscathed, though some pieces suffered minor harm. Stan Aden, who owns the Outpost, hopes to have the tavern open for the Super Bowl, and is seeking donations to help make it happen.
: The only astronaut to ride Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules to orbit has now launched into cyberspace. Wally Schirra's website chronicles his life's adventures through text, photographs and videos, from his days as a Naval aviator to joining NASA as one of the 'Original 7', to the first manned rendezvous and the first flight of Apollo. The site, built by cS member Tracy Kornfeld, also explains the history behind Schirra's storied "Gotcha's!" and describes some recent examples.
: Apollo 9 Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart will be featured on Tuesday's The Space Show, airing at 9:00 p.m CT on Seattle's KKNW (1150 AM) and online at Live365.com. Schweickart serves as Chairman of the B612 Foundation, a group involved in and concerned about the current lack of action to protect our home against the impact of near Earth asteroids. The B612 Project aims to significantly alter an asteroid's orbit in a controlled manner by 2015. During the live broadcast Schweickart will reply to questions called, mailed or IM'd.