: EverQuest Design has taken their concept for messenger bags made in part from flown Soyuz parachutes and has shrunken them to fit smaller devices. Their new holsters and cases feature front flaps made from the chute that lowered U.S. astronaut Michael Foale and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri to a safe landing from the International Space Station. Intended for cell phones, PDAs, cameras or iPods, the TMA totes are made of Cordura nylon, velcro close and retail for $25.00.
: By yesterday afternoon, more than 1450 Alabama drivers had applied for Saturn V license plates, surpassing, by at least 450, the number needed for the state to begin production, reports The Huntsville Times. For each $50 tag sold, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will receive $41.25 for their Save the Saturn effort to repair and restore one of the three remaining boosters. With the goal exceeded, no more advanced reservations will be accepted. Those still wanting the custom plate for their car must wait for their sale at county license offices.
: In honor of the 34th anniversary of the Apollo 14 mission, three audio CDs authored and narrated by Edgar Mitchell, the sixth astronaut to walk on the Moon, are being re-released by SMPI. To The Moon and Back I: An Extraordinary Journey, To The Moon and Back II: Return To Home Planet and The View From Space: A Message of Peace were produced by the LMP's former spouse and CEO of SMPI Sheilah Mitchell.
If you are one of those that doesn't like their Super Bowl ad outcomes spoiled before they air, read no further... For those who follow such things, the rumor mill has been churning as to who donned a spacesuit for Volvo's Super Bowl commercial, debuting this Sunday. When the 30-second spot unfolds, Rebel Billionaire Richard Branson will be the man behind the visor - there to kick-off Volvo's Boldlygo.com contest to select the first passenger aboard Virgin Galactic's sub- orbital spaceflights launching in 2007, reports Brandweek.
: The last Atlas to lift-off from Complex 36 departed Cape Canaveral, FL at 1:41 a.m. CT on a mission to deploy an NRO classified payload. The flight marked the 145th from the pads built in the 1960s and the final Atlas able to trace its structural roots to the same era's ICBM program. Previous Atlases to use Pads 36A and B sent Surveyors to the Moon, Mariners to Mars and Pioneer 11 to Jupiter, Saturn and beyond. The lights illuminating Complex 36 were ceremoniously darkened at the close of today's launch, ending four decades of Atlas service. Future Atlas 5 launches will fly from Complex 41.
: Much has been written in the West on the history of the Soviet space program but few Westerners have read direct first-hand accounts of the men and women who were behind many of the Russian accomplishments in space. The memoir of Academician Boris Chertok, translated from the original Russian by Soviet space expert Asif Siddiqi, seeks to fill that gap. Chertok's sixty-year-long career, including his role as deputy to "Chief Designer" Sergey Korolev, and the successes and failures of the Soviet space program constitute the core of his memoirs, Rockets and People. Available through NASA's History Division, Gen. Thomas Stafford contributed a foreword touching on his work with the Russians on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP).
: Though it has yet to be posted to NASA's website, the Expedition 11 insignia was spotted by Polish collector Maciej Stolowski during today's briefings with the next International Space Station crew. The emblem depicts the ISS over the Earth among a field of 15 stars, with crew members John Phillips' and Sergei Krikalev's names bordering the top and right sides of the patch. The number '11' is shown launching with its two trails colored to represent U.S. and Russian banners.
: Once again, Johnson Space Center has updated their website to reflect the work restoring, repairing and preserving the Saturn V that lies outside its entrance. The 363-foot stack, one of three that exist, has had a temporary home built around it to protect from weathering and damage. Work on the humidity-controlled structure is expected to be completed by February's end.
: Novaspace Galleries has invited members of its e-mail list to begin submitting items for James Lovell to sign during a private autograph session set for mid-March. The Gemini / Apollo astronaut stopped responding to through-the-mail requests several years ago and Novaspace says this will be Lovell's only exception this year. Signatures will cost collectors $150.
: Before the ISS, before Mir, there was Salyut 7; the Soviet Union's last second-generation space station. The seventh Salyut hosted five short-term and four long-duration crews and survived both a fuel spill and a loss of communications with the ground before reentering the atmosphere, raining debris over the city of Capitan Bermudez, Argentina 14 years ago today. Though Salyut 7 is no more, three time resident Vladimir Dzhanibekov has seen his station experiences reach the high frontier again as his space art is displayed on-board the International Space Station. Prints of eight pieces of Dzhanibekov's artwork depicting his work in- and outside Salyut 7, including his difficult work with Viktor Savinykh repairing the outpost after it was without energy and crew for eight months, were hung in the ISS by Soyuz TMA-5 visitor Yuri Shargin. The prints came from 500 sets made by USSR-AirSpace.com, where they are offered for sale.
: Reserve April 23, for NASA Johnson Space Center's (JSC) first Open House in nearly four years. Guests will be able to shake hands with astronauts, tour Mission Control and handle pieces of real hardware. Full-size models of spacecraft, hardware and other exhibits will also be featured throughout the center. Tours will be offered of the Sonny Carter Training Facility where astronauts train to spacewalk in one of the largest indoor pools in the world, as well as NASA facilities at Ellington Field, where astronauts' training jets are based.
: SpaceShipOne, the first privately-funded manned spacecraft, has won the Robert J. Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association. It is the second time designer Burt Rutan has been a part of a Collier-winning team (he was honored in 1986 for the Voyager aircraft). This year's citation specifically mentions Rutan, Paul Allen, pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie, and Mission Control Director Doug Shane. Past winners of the prestigious trophy include Orville Wright and the crew of Apollo 11. The formal presentation will be held on April 19, at the National Air and Space Museum.
: Nancy Conrad will plug her late husband's biography, Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond, with a book signing at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center on May 22, 2005. The San Diego, California, center will also accept orders for autographed copies for those unable to attend. Francis French, Education Programs Coordinator for the RHFSC, forwarded details for the event as well as a first-look at the Rocketman cover and its flap's wording.
: When the next Progress leaves for the International Space Station on Feb. 28, it will launch with a crew of 50... snails. The slugs on the half shell are the focus of an experiment observing the effects zero-g has on the human balance system. The snails, as make- shift pets, could prove an uplift to Salizhan Sharipov and Leroy Chiao, a Roscosmos release predicts. No word yet though, what role the snails would serve (or be served) if another food shortage were to occur on-board the station.
: Similar in format to the Antiques Roadshow, C20 Roadshow is a new series on BBC One that focuses on 20th century items. The show's producers are seeking UK-based collectors with "big collection[s] of space ethemera or memorabilia" to profile on a future episode. C20 is scheduled to debut this April.
: ESA and European Commission officials opened the Earth and Space Expo today in Brussels, Begium. At the ceremony, Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen presented a copy of the new European Constitution that he said would "travel into space with [the] next European astronaut." That would be Soyuz TMA-6 crew member Roberto Vittori, who will take the gold-bound book to the International Space Station in April '05. "This will make it one of the world's most tested constitutions, not just politically but physically," quipped commission spokeperson Gregor Kreuzheuber. (via AFP)
: Former NASA co-op and convicted moon rock thief Thad Roberts apologized before a U.S. District Court on Friday during a hearing that ruled his eight year sentencing in 2003 was ten months too long. Roberts, who began an astronomy club at the Colorado prison where he was held, addressed his apology to NASA scientist Everett K. Gibson, whose lab he stole a moon rock filled-safe from, and in the process destroyed 30 years of research records. Gibson listened to but did not acknowledge Roberts, instead testifying to the distrust Roberts' crime fostered towards JSC interns.
: Ed Hengeveld's space art reimagines familiar images from NASA's history by altering the perspective of the viewer. Capturing impossible scenes in stunning detail, his paintings now reside in astronauts' personal collections and have been seen in various magazines published throughout the world. Prints of Hengeveld's art and original pieces are available online through ApolloMissionPhotos.com's gallery of his artwork.
: Boggs SpaceBooks and buySPACE are now accepting orders for Winston Scott's Reflections from Earth Orbit signed by the author. Reflections will be released by Apogee Books in June. As a two time Space Shuttle mission specialist, Scott uses his memoirs to share experiences that drove him to over- come his life's obstacles and become one of a select few who escaped beyond the bonds of earth into outer space.
: On the road to the Moon, the mission of Apollo 9 stands as a gateway in experience and procedures -- leading directly to the confidence gained to place men on the Moon less than a half a year later. Spacecraft Films' Spider Takes Flight two-disc DVD set, released today, presents the TV transmissions and on-board film from the Apollo 9 mission, along with unique material from training, launch, recovery and more.
: When Apollo 14 launched January 31, 1971, Col. Stuart A. Roosa carried with him hundreds of loblolly pine, sycamore, sweetgum, redwood and Douglas-fir tree seeds. The forest of seeds was intended to honor the U.S. Forest Service, for which Roosa worked summers as a smokejumper earlier in his career. Roosa passed away in December 1994; he hoped that the "Moon Trees" could encourage the U.S. public to dream as big as the Moon while planting trees to improve the quality of life on Earth. Hundreds of Moon Trees were planted around the country - many as part of the nation's bicentennial, including at the White House, state capitols and at NASA facilities. Moon trees were planted in Brazil and Switzerland and another was given to the Emperor of Japan. Last Wednesday, the most recent Moon Tree was planted at Arlington National Cemetery - to honor Roosa. With representatives of NASA and the Forest Service in attendance and hosted by members of his family, Roosa along with other astronauts were remembered February 9 by the dedication of a 6-foot descendant Moon Tree. "By planting this tree, we want to honor how he and the other astronauts enriched our lives," said his son, Chris Roosa.
: Each year NASA generates millions of dollars worth of surplus property that it no longer needs. This surplus, often in the form of scrap metal or equipment, is sold competitively to the public. On March 15, Kennedy Space Center plans to divest itself of some of its property: 63 flown Space Shuttle main landing gear tires (and one unflown spare). Though similar in size to a truck tire, the Michelin Air brand shuttle version can carry three times the load of a 747 tire or the starting line-up of a NASCAR race - 40 cars - all hitting the pavement at up to 250 miles per hour. KSC's auction includes lots of two to four tires that flew on various missions aboard orbiters Columbia, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. According to the auction website, NASA acquired each tire for $231.
: As was expected, three- time Space Shuttle astronaut Frederick D. Gregory, NASA Deputy Administrator, will be named the space agency's acting chief, the first African-American to head the U.S. space agency, CNN quoted a congressional spokesman as saying Thursday. Gregory, who flew on STS-51B, 33, and 44, will succeed NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, whose last day will be Friday. It is not yet clear how long Gregory will hold the job or who it will go to permanently.
: "Shovelware" was coined not long after the advent of CD-ROMs to label titles that primarily, if not completely, were comprised of pre-existing material, usually taken from other media, that was shoveled by its developers to fill the 600 megabytes of disk space. The same term applies today to DVDs that recycle VHS recordings without any effort to compensate for the DVD format's higher resolution or other features. Rick Houston shovels through NASA 25 Years: Triumph and Tragedies.
: The 102nd annual American International Toy Fair concludes today in New York, where over 1400 manufacturers gathered to show off their 2005 toy lines. Dispersed amongst them, was a handful of companies offering real (as opposed to sci-fi) spaceflight and exploration-inspired products, though their selections were more limited than past fairs. Distributors are hopeful a successful return to flight this spring will signal a return by the toy industry to the space toys and models market.
: The vertical Saturn V replica at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama will be awash in pink this week as the Center prepares to host the pink ribbon launch for Huntsville- based Just for Women magazine, a special fund-raising event for breast cancer research. The 36-story Saturn V was first lit in pink yesterday and will be bathed again in the distinctive shade tonight and Thursday. The purpose of the lighting according to a USSRC press release, is to promote tomorrow's ribbon launch and to call attention to women's health and the effort to eradicate breast cancer.
: With only a single exception, every NASA spacecraft bound for the outer planets has been launched using a Centaur. Now, forty-two years after its first use, the Centaur stage booster will be celebrated at a ceremony and reunion on Friday at the Lockheed Martin Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. More than 150 who worked on the Centaur over a span of more than 40 years will be on hand to reminisce about their roles in the program's 128 NASA missions, as well as its use during commercial and U.S. Air Force Atlas and Titan launches.
: NASA Kennedy Space Center's plans to auction 63 tires flown on the Space Shuttle were canceled today by the agency's headquarters for use in future exhibits. The decision came after news of the surplus sale appeared on NASAWatch.com, a gossip site that has been critical of collectors and wrote against NASA's sale of the tires. According to a note posted this evening, NASA intends to use all 60, 200 pound tires for non-specific agency "outreach and educational activities."
: STS-114 spacewalkers took to the water today, in full view of the media. Mission specialists Soichi Noguchi and Stephen Robinson donned spacesuits and were lowered into the Johnson Space Center's Neutral Buoyancy Facility to practice performing the second of three EVAs planned for their mission. The six-hour session also served as training for the press to learn about the enhancements making the return to flight.
: Simon & Schuster will release historian James Hansen's First Man, The Life of Neil A. Armstrong for sale on October 5, to be promoted that week by several rare media interviews with the 'first man' himself. The hardcover biography, which adapts an image of Armstrong inside the Gemini 8 spacecraft for its cover, will devote its 650 pages to tracing the first Apollo moonwalker from his family's background to his boyhood and studies at Purdue University; his Navy and test pilot experience; pre-Apollo and Apollo training; Apollo 11 and his post-moonwalk life. First Man will end with extensive source notes and bibliography. Planning for the book tour with Hansen has just begun; Armstrong won't be signing.
: While the full mission insignia for STS-121 has yet to be released, the second crew to test return to flight safety enhancements has finalized a simplified version that will be embroidered on their apparel. Currently targeted for a July launch, 121 will deliver supplies to the International Space Station as well as continue the testing of new hardware designed to make shuttle missions safer begun by the STS-114 crew.
: Final preparations by millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett are underway for a launch Monday from Salina Municipal Airport in Kansas, beginning his attempt to become the first pilot to fly solo around the world without refueling. Fossett, once seated inside the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer will climb to 45,000 feet for a 70 hour orbit about the globe. Spectators by the thousands are expected to witness Fossett depart, which is likely to occur between 2:00 and 6:00pm CST, reports the project's website. Correspondent Kevin Carrico will be filing updates following the record-setting flight's progress.
UPDATE for 7:04 p.m. CT:
Fossett, piloting the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer, lifted off at 6:47 p.m. CT, delayed by winds.
: The NASA Glenn Research Center, joined by collectSPACE, will host a space artifacts show on July 23, at their Cleveland, Ohio Visitor Center. Space collectors are invited to display, and as desired, sell their artifacts, autographs and memorabilia on tables (provided at no fee) inside the VC's auditorium and exhibits area. Details, such as how to apply for a table and the day's agenda will be released soon. In the meantime, get your space collections ready!