: Swann Galleries held their fifth space memorabilia auction in New York on Saturday, where a top bid of $26,000 was recorded for a checklist used on the lunar surface by the Apollo 11 crew. Another page from Dr. Buzz Aldrin's flown documentation sold for $12,000 while a U.S. flag from his collection sold for $15,000. The first and last in a series of 24 lunar orbit charts complete with moondust-stained tape and letter of provenance by Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke went to the bidder offering $16,000. Totaling the results as posted by Swann, 380 lots netted $348,730 (w/o buyer premium).
A new book by the space history division of the Smithsonian National Air and Museum illustrates fifty years of space exploration through the artifacts that were created in the process. After Sputnik has more than 225 new photos of 140 objects selected from the museum's collection. The artifacts cover a wide array of subjects, intertwining politics, business, foreign affairs, popular culture, science and technology. Included are examples of one-of-a-kind space equipment that only the Smithsonian could exhibit juxtaposed by memorabilia of the type you might find listed on eBay. The result is a delightful book for space enthusiasts and collectors alike.
: In January, an eBay listing offered a Presidential Medal of Freedom that was intended to be awarded to Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell but due to a blemish was replaced before the April 18, 1970 ceremony. The description was legit; the auction was not. Once he was aware of the sale, Lovell contacted the FBI, which announced Tuesday that it recovered the medal, the nation's highest civilian award, late last month.
: NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio has partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to issue several ink cancellations honoring anniversaries and events this year. These include the 45th anniversary of John Glenn's Mercury 6 flight issued on February 20; the 30th anniversary of the launch of Voyager I to be offered in August; the 50 year anniversary of the space age in October; and a postmark marking the 3rd annual NASA Glenn/collectSPACE.com Space Memorabilia Show, scheduled for September 15. The latter cancellation is believed to be the first time the USPS will commemorate NASA's new Orion spacecraft.
: As any collector can attest, Neil Armstrong autograph forgeries are a dime a dozen. This however, is not your run of the mill fake. The signature is authentic; it's just on the wrong piece. The forger presumeably applied image manipulation software, an ink jet printer and scanner to move the real autograph from the philatelic cover Armstrong did sign to a block of stamps he did not. It might have gone undetected too, if not for the eagle eyes of R&R Auctions' space specialist Scott Cornish. His report dissects the autograph for the forgery it really is so that collectors know what to expect.
Two cosmonauts and an American space tourist launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today onboard Soyuz TMA-10. Oleg Kotov and Fyodor Yurchikhin, joined by Charles Simonyi will dock with the International Space Station on Monday, where Yurchikhin will take over command from U.S. astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria. Kotov will replace cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin as flight engineer while serving alongside Sunita Williams to comprise the Expedition 15 crew. Simonyi, a former Microsoft executive, will stay on the ISS for 10 days before returning to Earth with Tyurin and Lopez-Alegria aboard Soyuz TMA-9, landing April 20.
: When Charles Simonyi arrives at the International Space Station in about 11 hours, he'll be the first space memorabilia collector-turned-space tourist to stay aboard the orbiting outpost. Speaking with collectSPACE prior to his launch, Simonyi shared that he owned early Russian cosmonaut clothing but that his true passion was for checklists and manuals. Soon his own mission's documentation may be added to his library of Gemini and Apollo examples, alongside the other souvenirs and personal items he's taken to the ISS.
: Expedition 15 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineer Oleg Kotov came aboard the International Space Station today, along with fifth space tourist Charles Simonyi. Soyuz TMA-10 docked at the ISS at 2:10 p.m. CT with Kotov, the 100th Russian to fly in space, at the spacecraft's controls. Yurchikhin and Kotov will now remain on the ISS, replacing Expedition 14 crew members Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin, who will go home with Simonyi aboard TMA-9 on April 20.
: Johnny Hart, who in 1958 launched the comic strip B.C. and who later co-created The Wizard of Id, died on Saturday at age 76. Like his inspiration Charles Schulz, Hart loaned his characters for NASA to use on internal posters and decals promoting flight safety. His B.C. characters also appeared in Apollo 12's flight plan as a little joke by the support crew. NASA recognized Hart's contributions with a 1972 service award.
: This weekend, Antiquorum will host Omegamania, an auction of 300 Omega brand watches, including many of the commemorative editions issued by the company to celebrate historic spaceflights. The Omega Speedmaster Professional was selected by NASA for its Apollo astronauts to wear on the Moon and since then, astronauts and cosmonauts have had Omega watches on-board space shuttles and stations. The sale, scheduled for April 14 to 15 in Geneva, includes the "Mir Watch," one of seven 18k gold Speedmasters that spent 365 days on the Russian outpost to test its performance. The auction also includes one of the 28 watches created for presentation to each of the active astronauts in 1969, this one for Thomas Mattingly, who for reasons unknown did not receive it and is in the sale via Omega's museum.
: Europe's most popular private photo gallery, Proud Galleries has announced Images of Apollo, an exhibition of NASA large-format photographs, many inscribed and signed by astronauts, based on the collection of Leslie Cantwell. Opening June 21 at Proud Camden in London, Images of Apollo includes the collection of Hasselblad prints first presented to Apollo 7 astronaut Walter Cunningham, who endorsed their exhibit.
Today is Cosmonautics Day; tonight is Yuri's Night, celebrating the first human to go into space. This year, 120 parties are planned in 32 countries, on six continents and two worlds. On-board the International Space Station, astronauts and cosmonauts will rejoice by sharing a special meal chosen by Martha Stewart and prepared by French chef Alain Ducasse. If you cannot find a party near you, you can join the virtual Yuri's Night revelers in Second Life at the NASA CoLab.
: In conjunction with their gala celebrating the 2007 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame inductees, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is raffling two Omega watches. When purchasing tickets for $25 each ($50 for three, $100 for eight or $200 for 20), you can select to win either an Apollo 15 Limited Edition or diamond Ladies Speedmaster Professional (valued at $4,200 and $7,500). The drawing for the two winners will occur during the gala.
: Beginning at noon (CDT) today and continuing on Sunday, more than 1,750 space and aviation history artifacts will be offered by Aurora Auctions. Bidders can take part live at Aurora's Bell Canyon office or online via eBay Live Auctions. The sale includes items consigned by astronauts Michael Collins, Richard Gordon and David Scott, cosmonaut Valery Kubasov and the families of Alan Bean and Robert Overmeyer. The US Space Walk of Fame Museum also has items up for bids.
: Two hundred ten (210) miles above Earth, ISS Expedition 15 crew member Sunita Williams will attempt to do what no other astronaut has ever done: run the Boston Marathon while in orbit. Set to begin with the ground-based marathon at 10:00 a.m. EDT, Williams' 26.2 mile race will be run on a special treadmill. Bungee cords will keep her from floating away after each step. Fellow NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and Williams' sister Dina Pandya will race among the 24,000 runners in Boston. Bib number 14000 was electronically sent to the International Space Station for Williams to print and wear.
: NASA today revised its schedule for the next six shuttle launches, following the delay to STS-117, which was caused by hail damage to its fuel tank. To lessen the impact to the manifest, three of the missions changed orbiters: STS-120 will fly Discovery rather than Atlantis; STS-122 will launch onboard Atlantis instead of Discovery; and STS-124 will use Discovery as opposed to Atlantis, as originally planned. Under the new schedule, STS-117 is targeted for no earlier than June 8, STS-118 on or after August 9, STS-120 NET October 20, and STS-122 no sooner than December 6. And in 2008, a Valentine's Day or later launch is scheduled for STS-123, while STS-124 will liftoff no earlier than April 24. All six of the flights are destined for the International Space Station.
: A small piece off Mount Everest, collected in 1999 from the summit, the highest location on Earth, and that flew on space shuttle Atlantis in 2006, was returned today to the climber who first retrieved it, by the astronaut who accompanied it to orbit. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Steve MacLean, who took the rock to the International Space Station within the STS-115 Official Flight Kit aboard Atlantis, presented the stone to Bernard Voyer, the first North American to climb the seven continents' highest peaks and reach the world's two poles. Voyer, who kept the rock as a memento of his May 5, 1999 Everest achievement, loaned the pebble for the spaceflight. The two explorers met this morning at the CSA offices in Quebec where Voyer spoke to employees.
: A new website offers a guide to the Apollo and space shuttle-era patches manufactured by Lion Brothers beginning in the late 1960s and continuing until the mid- 1980s. Developed by Chris Spain, who also created guides to astronaut autopens, portraits and a Hall of Shame for poor forgeries of astronauts' autographs, the Lion Brothers Space Patches website shows side-by-side comparisons of the different emblems created, as well as details about their characteristics, production history, and the venues through which Lion originally offered their sale.
: Boggs SpaceBooks has announced the availability of the sixth in their series of reprints of NASA manned spaceflight documents: the Gemini Titan II Launch Vehicle Press Handbook. Originally published in 1965 prior to the Gemini 6/7 rendezvous, the reprint includes the black and white photos and diagrams prepared for the media of the GT-II launch vehicle as well descriptions of the rocket's systems, the Gemini capsule, and Launch Complex 19. Bound in a three ring binder like the archival document, the 235 page book sells at $24.95.
: STS-122 is the last of four shuttle missions planned for 2007 and until recently was the last not to have a mission patch. Courtesy a reader, we now see that Atlantis' crew will wear a star shaped patch with eight sides that pays tribute to the namesake of their primary payload. The flight will carry the European Space Agency's Columbus lab to the International Space Station and the STS-122 emblem includes a stylized sailing ship and an orbiter connected by a trail that traces the journey from Europe to the U.S. and up into space. The names of the seven STS-122 crew members appear within a border.
: Two days of bidding on over 1,100 space memorabilia lots begins Thursday at 11:00 a.m. PDT at Regency-Superior's Beverly Hills location. Those not in California, can watch or take part online via eBay Live Auctions. The catalog includes lots consigned by Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins; ESA astronaut Jean-Loup Chretien; and the estates of Gordon Cooper, Deke Slayton and Ed White II.
: The 14th expedition crew to the International Space Station and a spaceflight participant came home to Earth this morning, landing Soyuz TMA-9 in the steppes of Kazakhstan. ISS 14 crew mates Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin were in space for more than 215 days, setting a new U.S. record for a single spaceflight's duration. During the flight, Lopez-Alegria also established U.S. records for the most spacewalks by an American astronaut and the most time spacewalking (57 hours, 40 minutes over 10 spacewalks). Former Microsoft executive-turned-space tourist Simonyi also set a new record for the longest duration space flight by a privately-funded explorer, staying two weeks in orbit.
: Boris N. Yeltsin, the first president of the post-Soviet Union Russian Federation, died today at age 76. During his administration, Yeltsin began a new era of Russo-American cooperation in space that led to cosmonauts flying on the space shuttle, astronauts living on the Mir space station and ultimately, both working together on the International Space Station. He also founded Russia's equivalent to NASA, RKA, the Russian Space Agency, and renamed the city of Leninsk in Kazakhstan as Baikonur, Russia's crewed launch site.
: The Russian Post issued three stamps on April 12, commemorating Cosmonautics Day and the anniversary of the Space Age. The trio of stamps include depictions of: Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the father of cosmonautics; Chief Designer Sergey Korolyov; and Sputnik, the world's first man-made satellite. All three are contained on a multicolor stamp block with a selvage image that includes the Mir station. A special first day of issue ink cancellation also marks 50 years since Sputnik.
: Chris Jones' book about the International Space Station Expedition Six crew, Too Far From Home: A Story of Life and Death in Space, has been optioned by Universal Pictures. Variety reports that Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title will produce with Brownstone Productions' husband-wife tandem Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman. Jones' Home, released last month by Doubleday expands on an award-winning article he wrote for Esquire about the three men living in orbit in early 2003, when Columbia's loss halted shuttle launches.
: Today, NASA approved an early crew rotation aboard the International Space Station. Sunita Williams, whose ride home was scheduled aboard STS-118, will return one mission sooner on STS-117, set for launch on June 8. Her replacement Clay Anderson will also move to 117, filling the seventh seat on Atlantis (his return seat on STS-120 remains as planned). The change of missions may result in a change to two crew insignias: Anderson will need to be removed from STS-118's design and added to STS-117's. One way the latter may be done that would also follow prior traditions would be to stich his name on a tab that would then be attached to the emblem.
: The last of the original astronauts to fly America's first spacecraft flew for a final time Saturday as a capsule filled with his remains was sent spaceward aboard a suborbital rocket. Gordon Cooper was among the people memorialized on Space Services' Legacy Flight launched by UP Aerospace's SpaceLoft XL from New Mexico's Spaceport America in Las Cruces. In addition to experiments, the SL-2 mission lofted Cooper's ashes and those of more than 200 other people including Star Trek's "Scotty", actor James Doohan. They lifted off at 9:56 a.m. CDT, and returned to Earth shortly thereafter.
: The name of the first man to walk on the Moon may soon be shared by the NASA station where he served as a research pilot. NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California may be renamed for Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, should legislation now being drafted by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) receive approval. According to the LA Daily News, Calvert's proposal would continue to honor NACA director Hugh Dryden by renaming the Western Aeronautical Test Range for him. In addition to recognizing Armstrong, who said he would not take a position on the matter, the name change is also proposed to inspire the next generation of space explorers and to reflect the center's participation in space exploration. If confirmed, Dryden would be NASA's second facility renamed for an astronaut. In 1999, Lewis Research Center in Cleveland was retitled for John Glenn.
As commander of Apollo 9, James McDivitt led the first flight of the lunar module in orbit. His crew's and his test of Spider brought the U.S. closer to landing on the Moon only four months later. As a mission memento, Spider's manufacturer, Grumman gave McDivitt a scale model of the lunar module (LM). In the years since, the miniature module sustained damage. Enter Andy Lagomarsino, a retired musician-turned-model repairman, whose passion is for the Grumman replica. In the first entry of his restoration diary, Lagomarsino shares the status of McDivitt's other Spider and the work he'll do.