March 2, 2010 / 11:01 a.m. CT (1701 GMT) Walked on the Moon, now "Dancing with the Stars": Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin will trade his moon boots for dancing shoes March 22 as the tenth season of the reality show "Dancing with the Stars" premieres on ABC. The series, which pairs celebrities with professional dancers for a ballroom dance competition, will also feature model Pamela Anderson, actress Shannon Doherty, figure skating champion Evan Lysacek, and seven others.
March 2, 2010 / 9:14 p.m. CT (0314 GMT Mar 3) Bill Taub, 1923-2010: "I had the privilege to be there to record it. I made sure I recorded it to the best of my ability because I have a sense of history," said Bill Taub, who from 1958 through 1975 served as NASA's first senior photographer. Taub, 86, died on Feb. 20. During his career with the agency, Taub covered every major event from the first flight of Mercury through the end of Apollo.
March 3, 2010 / 12:23 a.m. CT (0623 GMT) Space Station wins Collier's Trophy: The National Aeronautics Association (NAA) on Wednesday named the International Space Station (ISS) as the winner of the Robert J. Collier Trophy for 2009. Presented "for the design, development, and assembly of the world's largest spacecraft," the NAA chose the orbiting laboratory for the promise it holds for "new discoveries for mankind," and for setting "new standards for international cooperation." The Collier Trophy, which is considered to be the top award for aviation, will be formally bestowed at NAA's annual Collier dinner to be held on May 13, 2010, in Arlington, Virginia.
March 5, 2010 / 11:30 a.m. CT (1730 GMT) "Elvis" has entered the building: A space shuttle-flown Spacelab pallet that deployed the Tethered Satellite System (TSS) on two missions in 1992 and 1996 was delivered to the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne Friday, courtesy of the European Space Agency (ESA). A component of the joint ESA/NASA Spacelab program, the F0003 pallet, nicknamed "Elvis," flew aboard Atlantis' and Columbia's STS-46 and STS-75 flights, respectively, after first launching on Challenger's 1985 STS-51F Spacelab 2 mission. More than 10 Spacelab pallets were built with the last flown in 2008 for the space station's Dextre robot.
March 10, 2010 / 4:35 a.m. CT (1035 GMT) Star-studded premiere: Warner Bros. and IMAX Tuesday night traded Hollywood stars for the celestial variety as they premiered "Hubble 3D" at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Walking down the red carpet were astronauts from the final space shuttle Hubble servicing mission, who in the process of upgrading the space telescope in May 2009 also filmed their work in IMAX 3D. The movie, which looks at Hubble's legacy and how it's changed our view of the universe, opens a week from Friday in IMAX and IMAX 3D theaters worldwide.
March 12, 2010 / 10:43 a.m. CT (1643 GMT) Naval astronaut Neil Armstrong: The first man to walk on the Moon was presented by the U.S. Navy on Wednesday with a pair of honorary Naval astronaut wings recognizing his "service to the Navy and in the field of space exploration." Neil Armstrong was awarded with the wings while he was aboard the USS Dwight D Eisenhower with the "Legends of Aerospace" military appreciation tour along with fellow Apollo astronauts Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell. Armstrong served as a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952; the astronaut wings were not authorized until 1961.
March 15, 2010 / 4:48 p.m. CT (2148 GMT) Returning Enterprise to flight: It has been a quarter of a century since NASA's space shuttle prototype Enterprise last flew atop a modified Boeing 747 jetliner to be delivered to a museum. Now technicians from NASA and the United Space Alliance, working together with the Smithsonian, are getting Enterprise ready for its return to flight, inspecting and repairing OV-101 so that it can again journey to a new museum, making room for Discovery to take its place at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center.
March 16, 2010 / 5:31 p.m. CT (2231 GMT) Verne, Kepler, and Amaldi: The European Space Agency (ESA) revealed Tuesday the name to be assigned to its third Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which will fly to the International Space Station late next year or early 2012. Edoardo Amaldi, a physicist described as the "father of Italian space research," will receive the honor in part for his role in founding the European Space Research Organization (ESRO), and later ESA. ATV-1, named after author Jules Verne, launched in March 2008. The second, the "Johannes Kepler," is targeted to fly later this year.
March 17, 2010 / 10:26 a.m. CT (1526 GMT) Army Strong on the ISS: Command of the International Space Station was transferred Wednesday from NASA astronaut Col. Jeff Williams to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov as Williams prepares to leave the station on Thursday and return to Earth with ISS Expedition 22 flight engineer Maxim Suraev. For almost three of William's six months aboard the orbiting laboratory, he's been joined by T.J. Creamer, a fellow NASA astronaut and colonel in the U.S. Army. To show support for the service, Williams and Creamer recruited Expedition 22 patch artist Tim Gagnon to design for them a special emblem displaying the motto "ISS is Army Strong." The camouflage insignia remained mostly hidden from the public until last week, when it was captured in the background of a photo taken of Williams.
March 18, 2010 / 10:59 a.m. CT (1559 GMT) Soyuz TMA-16 lands: NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Roscomos cosmonaut Maxim Suraev returned to Earth Thursday onboard Soyuz TMA-16, landing at 6:24 a.m. CDT in the four feet of snow blanketing the steppes of Kazakhstan. The craft's touchdown capped 169 days in space for its crew and marked the conclusion of the 22nd expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). During his time on the orbiting laboratory, Williams broke his own photography record set while on ISS Expedition 13, taking more than 83,856 images, in part by visually documenting the completion of the U.S. segment of the space station.
March 18, 2010 / 12:34 a.m. CT (1734 GMT) Robert White, 1924-2010: The first U.S. Air Force pilot to qualify for astronaut wings by flying the X-15 rocketplane above 50 miles, MGEN Robert Michael "Bob" White died on Wednesday. He was 85. In addition to being the first "Winged Astronaut," White also set records in the X-15 as the first human to fly faster than Mach 4, Mach 5 and Mach 6. A decorated WWII, Korean and Vietnam war veteran, White was inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor in 1992 and National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006.
March 18, 2010 / 3:09 p.m. CT (2009 GMT) Truck'n and trick'n out a Titan I: An aging intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that was used in the early 1970s for a variety of NASA studies related to the development of the space shuttle, was trucked on Thursday the short distance from where it had sat outside since the early 1980s at NASA Ames Research Center to outside a repurposed McDonald's restaurant where for the past two years the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has been underway. There, the Titan I will be restored and upgraded for service as an educational tool and a smallsat payload integration testbed by a team representing the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, SkyCorp, Inc., and SpaceRef Interactive, Inc. Although the two-stage Titan I was never used to loft payloads into space, it was briefly considered for the Air Force's Dyna-Soar program and was the predecessor to the Titan II that launched Gemini.
March 19, 2010 / 7:19 a.m. CT (1219 GMT) Speedmaster from space: Since flying into space with Mercury-Atlas 8's Wally Schirra and later famously becoming the first watch landed on the Moon, Omega's Speedmaster Professional has enjoyed a long association as the chronograph worn into space. Now, as debuted this week at the BaselWorld Watch and Jewelry trade show in Switzerland, Omega plans to release its first Speedmaster "from" space. The Apollo-Soyuz "35th Anniversary" watch features a dial created from a meteorite recovered after its entry through the atmosphere and impact with the ground. Limited to 1,975 pieces (the year that the joint U.S.-Soviet Apollo-Soyuz Test Project launched), this Speedmaster is also engraved with the mission's insignia on its caseback.
March 20, 2010 / 10:28 p.m. CT (0328 GMT Mar 21) Lunokhod lost, sold, and found: Russia's second of two robotic lunar rovers launched during the 1970s, Lunokhod 2 set the record for the longest trek on a celestial body at 23 miles. Rolling to a halt on June 4, 1973, the static rover continued to be used to find the distance from the Earth to the Moon by bouncing a laser off its reflector array. Still stuck on the surface, Russia sold Lunokhod 2 through Sotheby's in 1993, where computer game pioneer and later Soyuz TMA-13 private astronaut Richard Garriott paid just under $70,000 for it. This past week, Garriott, the son of Skylab and shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott, got his first look at his "private flag sitting on the moon" thanks to data released by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
March 20, 2010 / 4:38 p.m. CT (2138 GMT) First flight for Enterprise: Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise (not to be confused with the space shuttle Enterprise, also being readied for flight) made its first flight Monday, while remaining attached to its mothership, VMS Eve. The "captive carry" test flight, which departed from the Mojave Air and Spaceport, California at 9:05 a.m. CDT and returned two hours and 54 minutes later, reached an altitude of 45,000 feet. The flight marked the beginning of Virgin Galactic's and Scaled Composites' VSS Enterprise test program, which will will continue though this year and next, progressing from captive carry to independent glide and then powered flight, prior to commercial operations.
March 22, 2010 / 6:12 p.m. CT (2312 GMT) Swaying under the moonlight: As the TV commercials for Monday evening's two-hour premiere of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" focus on "original moonwalker" Buzz Aldrin among the show's 11 celebrity contestants, the song playing in the background -- David Bowie's "Let's Dance" -- reaches the part in the lyrics when Bowie sings "Let's sway, under the moonlight, this serious moonlight." A nice touch for sure, but were its Aldrin choice, he might have modified it to "serious Mars-light." Aldrin is hoping to use his time on the dance floor shining the limelight on his vision for the future of NASA: sending crews to Mars.
March 23, 2010 / 9:08 a.m. CT (1408 GMT) UK Space Agency launched: A new space agency for the United Kingdom, named the UK Space Agency (UKSA), was announced Tuesday to bring together all UK civil space activities under a single organization. Going into effect on April 1, the UKSA will work to strengthen the UK's relationship with the European Space Agency (ESA) while also seeking to maximize Britain's own space and satellite industry. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and Science Minister Lord Drayson used the UKSA launch to also announce the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) to be located near a new ESA facility in Harwell.
March 24, 2010 / 6:33 p.m. CT (2333 GMT) Patch preview | Expedition 25: Scheduled to start in Sept. 2010, the 25th expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) will be the last to be visited by a space shuttle, as currently planned. The Expedition 25 crew's insignia, seen here for the first time online, pays tribute to this by incorporating the shape of the shuttle program logo and depicts the orbiter approaching Earth to land. Beyond the Earth, the sun dawns on a new era of research aboard the International Space Station, its assembly completed.
March 25, 2010 / 12:55 p.m. CT (1755 GMT) Apollo 13 collisions on the Moon, Earth: Nearly 40 years after the Apollo 13 mission, new data is providing a first glance at where the unsuccessful lunar landing left its mark on the Moon and when it would have ended back on Earth had the rescue plan failed. ¶ NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured the impact site of Apollo 13's Saturn V third stage, the mission's only part to reach the Moon's surface as originally planned. The S-IVB spent booster was put on a collision course with the Moon so its crash could be used to calibrate a seismometer deployed during the prior Apollo mission. ¶ Of course, had Apollo 13 not had "a problem," Jim Lovell and Fred Haise would've also deployed a similar instrument but that was not to be. They, together with Jack Swigert, converted the Aquarius lunar module into a lifeboat and navigated the narrow path back to Earth. Had they been just the slightest off-course, they would have bounced off the atmosphere, doomed to never return, or so was thought. Analytical Graphics, Inc., working with historian Andrew Chaikin, modeled the flight's path and discovered something new: thanks to the Moon, the spacecraft would have been on a collision course with Earth five weeks after what in reality was Apollo 13's safe splashdown in the mid-Pacific Ocean on April 17, 1970.
March 27, 2010 / 4:52 p.m. CT (2152 GMT) Magnificent application: The "Buzz Aldrin Portal to Science & Space Exploration" app offers Apple iPhone users the opportunity to connect with the Apollo astronaut as well as his space luminary friends. Featuring a live NASA television stream and the latest space news from a collection of sources (including collectSPACE), the mobile software shares Aldrin's "unique take on all topics through video interviews, articles and journals" as well as insights from scientists, astronauts and space enthusiasts through the "Roundtable" option. The app also provides access to multimedia profiles of Aldrin's space missions, a calendar showing where he is appearing next, his Twitter feed, and even updates as he performs on "Dancing with the Stars."
March 28, 2010 / 12:40 p.m. CT (1740 GMT) "Super-alloy" Saturn V: Toy-maker Bandai released in Japan Saturday their first Otona no Chogokin (adult super alloy aka die-cast) model: a highly-detailed, 1:144 scale Apollo Saturn V rocket complete with dioramas for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Fully-assembled, the model stands 2.5 feet tall, but what sets it apart is not its large size but its fine attributes revealed by separating the rocket into its three stages. Detailed engine and fuel tank assemblies as well command, service and lunar modules have had enthusiasts talking about the model since it was announced last October. Currently only available in Japan, the Apollo 11 Saturn V is priced at 52,290 yen (~$565).
March 29, 2010 / 2:05 p.m. CT (1905 GMT) 50 years since Saturn's first light: Sunday was a half-century since the first test fire of the first Apollo Saturn I booster stage. What ultimately evolved into the rocket stage that launched the first Apollo astronaut crew into space began as the Saturn test booster (SA-T), which on March 28, 1960 was used to test two H-1 engines (eight such engines would be used to launch the Saturn I and IB rockets). The 7.83-second firing took place in Alabama on the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's (later NASA Marshall Space Flight Center) test stand. Today, 50 years later, the SA-T test booster is displayed at the test stand's base.
March 31, 2010 / 1:10 a.m. CT (0610 GMT) Buzz Aldrin's space shirt collection: With the revelation within the first few minutes of Tuesday evening's "Dancing with the Stars" that Buzz Aldrin was "safe to dance again," there was time to focus on other aspects of the astronaut's performance, such as his chosen apparel. As part of a segment titled "Behind the Mirrorballs," host Adam Carolla joked about the half-dozen space shirts that the TV cameras caught Aldrin wearing as he practiced his dance steps. "Buzz, we get it, you've been to the moon!" exclaimed Carolla, showing a screen full of t-shirts, many displaying Aldrin's likeness. "I've been to Dollywood, you don't see me wearing that t-shirt around," Carolla teased.
March 31, 2010 / 11:23 a.m. CT (1623 GMT) Space fan's Phanatic: Visitors to the Free Library of Philadelphia starting Wednesday will be greeted by a six-foot tall, 100 pound spacesuited statue of the Phillies' Phanatic mascot thanks to the artistic efforts of Cliff Lentz, a self-described "huge space fan" (and member of collectSPACE for the past eight years). Lentz's design for the baseball team's mascot was one of 20 unveiled earlier this week as part of the Phillies' "Phanatic Around Town" public arts program. The statues, including Lentz's NASA- inspired Phanatic, will be displayed across the city for the 2010 baseball season before being auctioned for charity.