February 1, 2011 / 10:08 a.m. CT (1608 GMT) Exhibit space: Friendship 7, space shuttle Columbia, and the space history milestones that bridged the 40 years between them are the themes for two space exhibitions and a museum opened in recent days. On Friday, Sweden's National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm debuted "NASA - A Human Adventure," a new traveling exhibition of 400 space artifacts, many displayed for the first time. The same day across the Atlantic on the island of Grand Turk, a 3,500 square foot attraction was opened commemorating the "Grand Turk Splashdown" by Mercury astronaut John Glenn. On Tuesday, on the eighth anniversary of the loss of Columbia, the Patricia Huffman Smith "Remembering Columbia" Museum opened, sharing the orbiter's flight history and the local efforts by Hemphill, Texas citizens during the 2003 recovery of its debris.
February 4, 2011 / 11:04 a.m. CT (1704 GMT) Kelly to resume training: Astronaut Mark Kelly will resume his training on Monday to command shuttle Endeavour's final mission STS-134, NASA confirmed on Friday. Kelly has been on personal leave since Jan. 8 to care for his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in the Tucson, Arizona shooting by alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner. In mid-January, with Kelly's approval, NASA assigned astronaut Rick Sturckow to train as a backup commander during Kelly's absence.
February 7, 2011 / 11:17 a.m. CT (1717 GMT) Launching LEGO Space: Last November, NASA announced that LEGO would release four sets inspired by the space agency as a part of a new partnership that would see the building bricks fly to the International Space Station. Those four sets, which are now for sale in the UK and will be released in the US in March, include a Moon Buggy, a Satellite Launch Platform, Space Shuttle, and a Rocket Station. Each product contains NASA educational materials, including a bonus poster with the largest of the sets, the Rocket Station. The first three sets are slated to launch in April with shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission.
February 8, 2011 / 1:39 p.m. CT (1939 GMT) Space-tipped pens: Germany-based space memorabilia dealer Spaceflori, known for its space artifact fragment displays, introduced Tuesday the latest in space artifact-adorned products: space-tipped pens. Featured atop each pair of pens are encapsulated pieces of space flown hardware, including Apollo 11 heatshield and lunar surface film fragments, Apollo 13 cable snippets, and swatches of the main recovery parachute from Alan Shepard's Mercury capsule. Limited in number depending on the artifact (from just 44 for Freedom 7 through 444 for Columbia), the pens are each engraved with the mission on their barrel. Prices range from $125 to $395, which include one ballpoint and one fineliner pen, numbered certificate of authenticity, gift box and a complementary Spaceflori hardbound notebook.
February 8, 2011 / 5:08 p.m. CT (2308 GMT) Shuttle modeler's Martin guitar: In March 1994, a CF Martin guitar became the first of the plucked string instruments be played in space flew onboard space shuttle Columbia with the STS-62 crew. Almost two decades later, that flight -- coupled with the approaching end of the shuttle program -- inspired two works of art. Scott Phillips, who by day works for Lockheed Martin as a space shuttle external tank logistics manager, approached CF Martin in 2008 about crafting one of his rare wood shuttle models to enhance their exhibit of the space flown guitar. CF Martin accepted, even providing wood samples from a guitar they built for David Crosby. When last month Phillips delivered the finished model, the Pennsylvania-based company had something special waiting for him: a custom guitar with a pickguard inlay depicting the first space shuttle launch.
February 9, 2011 / 3:06 p.m. CT (2106 GMT) High-flying flutes: ISS Expedition 26 flight engineer Catherine "Cady" Coleman shared her passion for playing the flute Wednesday during an interview from onboard the space station. In addition to showing her own flute during a brief performance, Coleman also spoke about the other flutes she has with her. "I have a penny whistle from Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains and also a very old Irish flute from Matt Molloy of The Chieftains," she told NPR's "All Things Considered," adding she also had one from Ian Anderson with the band Jethro Tull. "A pretty well-rounded spectrum. I am having a great time up here with them."
February 11, 2011 / 12:46 p.m. CT (1846 GMT) Station family photo proposed: When the shuttle Discovery docks to the International Space Station later this month, it will mark the last time all current visiting vehicles will be together at the station before the shuttle program ends later this year. In addition to Discovery, two Russian Soyuz and one Progress, ESA's ATV "Johannes Kepler," and JAXA's HTV "Kounotori-2" will all be berthed with the nearly-complete orbiting outpost. Recognizing the opportunity for a "space station family photo," NASA has proposed using one of Russia's Soyuz to back away from the ISS to capture what might be considered the ultimate photo op. The idea, which carries with it some risk, needs Russia's approval and cooperation before it can proceed.
February 15, 2011 / 8:45 a.m. CT (1445 GMT) Stardust flies by comet: NASA's Stardust spacecraft flew by comet Tempel 1 Monday night, completing its repurposed mission to revisit the icy body encountered by NASA's Deep Impact probe in 2005. Stardust, which seven years ago collected material from comet Wild 2 and returned its payload to Earth, came within 113 miles of its second target Tempel 1, capturing 72 images of the earlier impacted comet. Stardust's New Exploration of Tempel 1, or NExT, mission was devised as a way to reuse the craft after its Wild 2 flyby to study how Tempel 1 had changed since its visit by Deep Impact and a trip around the sun.
February 16, 2011 / 4:30 p.m. CT (2230 GMT) Kepler set into motion: The second of the European Space Agency's unmanned cargo craft for the International Space Station, the automated transfer vehicle Johannes Kepler was launched Wednesday from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. Lofted to orbit on top an Ariane 5, Arianespace's 200th Ariane-family rocket, the over 44,000-pound ATV-2 is the heaviest payload ever launched by Europe. Packed aboard the vehicle are 3,527 pounds of equipment and supplies for the ISS crew, 1,873 pounds of propellant to fuel the station's thrusters and 220 pounds of breathing oxygen. Set to arrive at the station on Feb. 24, the ATV-2 was named after the famous German astronomer and mathematician whose three laws describe the motion of the planets as they orbit around the Sun.
February 18, 2011 / 12:24 p.m. CT (1824 GMT) Arrested for stealing and selling tiles: An ex-space shuttle tile tech, David Abbey was arrested on Feb. 10 for allegedly stealing 11 space shuttle heat shield tiles from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and selling them on eBay for over $12,000. Admitting to investigators that he took the tiles home and that he knew it was wrong but he didn't think it was a "big deal" because "everybody wants some souvenirs," Abbey was charged with grand theft and and dealing in stolen property. NASA learned of the sales after one of the buyers filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn more about the tile's space flight history.
February 18, 2011 / 6:32 p.m. CT (0032 GMT Feb 19) Assignments: NASA and its partners in the International Space Station (ISS) named on Friday crew members for expeditions on the orbiting complex that will begin in 2013. The assignments, which span the station's 35th through 39th missions, include four NASA astronauts, one Russian cosmonaut, and one crew member each from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Of particular note is that last one: Koichi Wakata will be the first Japanese astronaut to command the ISS in March 2014. The appointments also include the first two flights for astronauts chosen in 2009: ESA's Luca Parmitano and NASA's Michael Hopkins.
February 21, 2011 / 8:35 p.m. CT (0235 GMT Feb 22) Sponsoring space: Two companies' recent donations will help to expand two museums' space history exhibits. Boeing announced it will gift the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, OH with $5 million to help construct a 200,000-square-foot building to house artifacts covering the history of the U.S. space program including a retired space shuttle, if granted one by NASA. Separately, IBM will sponsor "The Mind of Saturn," a new interactive exhibit at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, which will focus on the Saturn V's instrument unit.
February 22, 2011 / 4:14 p.m. CT (2214 GMT) UK-Russia Year in Space: A monument to Yuri Gagarin, presented by Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, will be raised in central London on July 14, fifty years to the day after the first human in space arrived in the United Kingdom following his historic flight. The statue was announced Tuesday by the Acting Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency David Williams, after he signed an agreement with Roscosmos on holding the Russian-British (UK-Russia) Year of Space in 2011. The sculpture, which will be sited in the shadow of Admiralty Arch, opposite the statue of British explorer Capt. James Cook, is just one of the many activities planned, including exhibitions, lectures and conferences, as well as an educational experiment on board the International Space Station (ISS) and "Rockets for Yuri," a mass launching of model rockets on April 12.
February 24, 2011 / 8:08 p.m. CT (0209 GMT Feb 25) Last liftoff: NASA's oldest-flying orbiter and the world's most flown spacecraft launched for its final time on Thursday. Space shuttle Discovery lifted off at 3:53 p.m. CST for the International Space Station, making its 39th and last space flight more than a quarter century after its maiden mission, STS-41D in 1984. Discovery's final flight, STS-133, will deliver and add to the station the Permanent Multipurpose Module and EXPRESS Logistics Carrier-4, as well as the first humanoid robot in space, Robonaut 2.
February 27, 2011 / 2:47 p.m. CT (2047 GMT) Probation for pilfering Armstrong's form: Two men who last year tried to auction Neil Armstrong's customs declaration form were sentenced last week to two years probation each. According to the Boston Herald, U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns felt that Thomas Chapman and Paul Brickman had suffered enough already and that he was "sorry it came to this." Chapman lost his job of 20 years as a Customs and Border Protection agent after it was made public he had kept the autographed form that he officially collected from the astronaut at Boston's Logan International Airport. The U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case said Armstrong acknowledged "the gravity of the situation" but was in "allegiance" with the recommendation not to pursue prison time as his identity wasn't stolen.