June 2, 2006 / 1:44 p.m. CT (1844 GMT) Space Walk walking: The Space Walk of Fame Museum is closing later this month, but will reopen in August at a new location closer to the monuments its Foundation is responsible for creating and preserving. As earlier reported, rising rent costs at the Searstown Mall in Titusville, Florida, where the museum was housed since 2003, had forced the Walk of Fame to find a new location for its space worker-donated artifacts. The new museum will be at 4 Main Street in Titusville, which is near Space View Park and the Space Walk of Fame's monuments to Mercury and Gemini. As the Main Street space has less display room, some of the museum's larger space models are to be put on exhibit at the Brevard County Courthouse.
June 2, 2006 / 4:57 p.m. CT (2157 GMT) Korolev on film: Two upcoming media (TV and film) projects use actors to restage the life of Soviet chief designer Sergei Korolev. The first, airing on the National Geographic Channel this Sunday (and previously, BBC) chronicle the "untold story" of S. P. Korolev and Wernher von Braun as they led the USSR and U.S. into the Space Race. The two episode series concludes on Monday. The second project, filming now, is the Russian feature movie S.P.Korolev: The Chief Designer. Set for a January debut and filmed on-site at RSC Energia's oldest machine shop, the film is timed to mark Korolev's 100th birthday. As part of its support for the movie, RSC Energia built a full-scale mockup of GIRD-09, the first Russian liquid-fuelled rocket.
June 5, 2006 / 1:13 a.m. CT (0613 GMT) Go/No Go: Rick Houston's review column returns with Spacecraft Films' founder Mark Gray's most ambitious DVD set to date. In Project Mercury, Gray brought together the complete collection of video and audio as it pertained to the United States first crewed spacecraft. On six discs Gray not only reunites NASA and Air Force film, but restores the archival footage such that it is "sparkling in comparison to the original," says Houston in his review.
June 5, 2006 / 2:32 p.m. CT (1932 GMT) with reporting by David Hitt Former future CEV drops into museum: The U.S. Space & Rocket Center accepted today the donation of a full scale boilerplate crew exploration vehicle built by Lockheed Martin for water landing tests in 2005. The future CEV was made in support of NASA's former Orbital Space Plane Program at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Adjacent to the museum's Saturn V, the CEV's exhibit "serves as a reminder to those who see it that soon we will return to the moon and travel beyond," said USSRC's Chief Executive Officer Larry Capps at this morning's ribbon cutting ceremony. The capsule, primarily made of hand laid-up fiberglass with a Nomex honeycomb core, was debuted only hours before NASA Headquarters announced MSFC's role in the modern CEV/CLV program.
June 6, 2006 / 10:32 p.m. CT (0332 GMT Jun 7) Lights off on Saturn: Every night since its construction in 1999, the vertical Saturn V rocket replica at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center has been bathed in light (sometimes pink) for all in Huntsville, Alabama to see. Every night that is, until tonight when the illumination was suspended. The lights that shone on the 36-story replica are being temporarily removed to make way, literally, for the real thing. The Center is poised to begin construction of a new 43,500 sq. ft. building to house its real Saturn V rocket vehicle, one of only 3 in existence. The spotlights were in the way. The replica will remain in the dark, save for its FAA-required clearance lights for about 16 months, the time needed to erect the building's 3 walls and a roof (the fourth wall will rise after the real Saturn V is rolled in).
June 13, 2006 / 5:27 p.m. CT (2227 GMT) Superheroic shuttle: The STS-121 crew arrived at Kennedy Space Center Tuesday after a delayed departure from Houston due to tropical storm Alberto over Florida. For the next few days the Discovery astronauts will be participating in a dress rehearsal for their planned July 1 launch. The seven-person crew arrived on NASA's Gulfstream aircraft but were they superheroes they might have given new meaning to the term cape crusader. Matt Mellis, who last year designed the STS-114 movie poster, chose a comic book cover motif for the STS-121 version. The new poster will make its debut Saturday at the Glenn Research Center second annual space memorabilia show.
June 14, 2006 / 11:49 p.m. CT (0449 GMT Jun 15) Infamous flown flag: Perhaps it was as a result of today being Flag Day, or perhaps because of the pending Senate vote to ban burning the flag, but the tale of a flag flown (or perhaps not) to the space station landed today on the front page of the internet's third most popular website (per Alexa), MSN. At issue is a confederate flag that appeared for sale in a now-closed eBay ad posted by USSR-AirSpace.com. The auction raised the ire of Keith Cowing of NASAWatch.com, who in turn posted concerns as to why the space agency would allow the rebel flag to fly aboard the ISS, it being "a symbol many people find to be offensive." Reporter Jim Oberg advanced the story on MSNBC with commentary by the astronaut with whom the flag flew and the seller, who now calls his own flag a fake.
June 17, 2006 / 11:56 p.m. CT (0456 GMT Jun 18) T-13 days, 15 hours: NASA today cleared space shuttle Discovery for a July 1 launch to the International Space Station on flight STS-121. The date was announced after a Flight Readiness Review, during which the continuing concern of foam loss from the ice frost ramps installed on the orange external tank was discussed and debated. NASA decided that the current design does not pose sufficient risk to delay the upcoming mission while design improvements for later flights are under way. Led by Commander Steven Lindsey, Discovery's seven crew mates are scheduled to liftoff at 2:48 p.m. CT on NASA's second return to flight mission after the loss of Columbia.
June 19, 2006 / 1:58 p.m. CT (1858 GMT) New crew: Today NASA announced it has assigned its second female commander in the agency's history to lead a space shuttle mission. Pamela Melroy will head STS-120 on a mission to launch an Italian-built U.S. module for the International Space Station. Melroy will fly with pilot George Zamka and mission specialists Michael Foreman, Scott Parazynski and Douglas Wheelock. Also onboard will be a European Space Agency astronaut from Italy, Paolo Nespoli. STS-120 is targeted for August 2007.
June 19, 2006 / 3:20 p.m. CT (2020 GMT) Charting history: Amateur space historian Lawrence McGlynn has been using his blog to share with others the artifacts and art he collects. Combining advanced studies he is pursuing at M.I.T. and information obtained interviewing Apollo astronauts, McGlynn's recent two-part entry tracks the use of The Star Charts of Apollo, how 24 astronauts navigated their way to and from the Moon. The essays illustrate the different types of astronomical tools employed by the crews using images of training-used and flown example star charts from McGlynn's own collection.
June 20, 2006 / 5:35 p.m. CT (2235 GMT) Bondar's bottom: The Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative Foundation of Canada held a "Bottoms Up" party June 8 to raise funds and awareness about the prevalence and preventability of colon cancer. During the evening, a "Silent But Deadly" auction offered bidding on several "decorator bottoms" designed and signed by artists, celebrities, and well-known figures. Among them was Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar, whose Mooning creation gave new meaning to the term "full moon". Bids for the butts ranged from $50 to $1,500; Bondar's bottom sold for $550 to an unidentified bidder, reports the CCSIF.
June 20, 2006 / 6:25 p.m. CT (2325 GMT) Topless Titan: In an attempt to avoid the troubles they experienced during the 2004 hurricane season, NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has begun taking down its Gemini-Titan rocket to assess its stages for structural concerns and then to be preserved, repaired or replaced, reports Jim Gerard of A Field Guide To American Spacecraft. Yesterday, work began with the removal of the Gemini mockup from the top of the stack, leaving the Titan topless. As it stands now (literally), the missile is built from two first stage sections. In addition to possibly creating a more accurate Titan II, the work may replace the booster's body with a free standing pylon (i.e. no wires) that can withstand the weather. A return date is unknown as Guard-Lee, Inc. is gauging the work required.
June 21, 2006 / 9:37 p.m. CT (0237 GMT) Advancing Atlantis: Ca. Assemblywoman Sharon Runner advanced her bill Tuesday asking the President and Congress to retire space shuttle Atlantis to Palmdale with the unanimous vote of the Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media Committee, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The bill now heads to a vote of the full Assembly, which will likely be held next week. Runner's bill advocates that when NASA decides to stop flying Atlantis that it be sent for permanent public display to Air Force Plant 42 where Atlantis had been assembled.
June 22, 2006 / 12:27 p.m. CT (1727 GMT) Gemini twin: To celebrate the approaching 40 year anniversary of Gemini XI (Sept. 12, 1966), AB Emblem has produced a replica insignia that is closer in appearance to the emblem worn by the crew than the souvenir patch that they usually offer. The commemorative edition was created with the direct input of Capt. Richard Gordon, Gemini XI's pilot. The new replica spans 3 x 4.875 inches.
June 26, 2006 / 11:27 a.m. CT (1627 GMT) Four out of 5 astronauts agree: When the space shuttle launches next month, Trident sugarless gum will be on-board, announced today confectionery Cadbury Adams. Once in orbit, the STS-121 crew will find the gum stocked in their pantry in three flavors: original, cinnamon and spearmint. Trident first flew in space with the Gemini astronauts and has since been on other shuttle missions. "Trident was always there," astronaut Thomas Jones said about the gum, "floating right inside my 'velcroed' pocket."
June 26, 2006 / 3:44 p.m. CT (2044 GMT) Camarda fired: Less than a year after his first spaceflight and just one week shy of his helping to lead another from the ground, Charles Camarda has been fired from his position as Director, Engineering at NASA Johnson Space Center. In an "parting words" e-mail sent by Camarda, the STS-114 astronaut praised his team's preparation for STS-121 and professed regret that he will "not be there" with them when Discovery launches July 1. He did not fully explain what led to his asking to be let go but did cite personnel concerns. He refused to "abandon" his position on the STS-121 Mission Management Team, asking that if he was not allowed to work the mission that "I would have to be fired from my position and I was." Per his letter, Camarda had been offered another position and subsequent to his message, a personnel announcement reported his re-assignment to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, an independent organization based out of Langley Reseach Center in Virginia that was chartered in the wake of the Columbia accident. Steve Altemus, who was deputy director under Camarda, was named Director.
June 27, 2006 / 12:58 a.m. CT (0558 GMT) Tiziou's '21: As he has done for missions dating back to the Apollo Program, French journalist Jacques Tiziou has designed an alternate insignia for the crew of STS-121. Like his most famous patch, the Skylab 2 'wives' emblem, Tiziou used the basic elements of 121's official mission insignia as a foundation. The "Birthplace Emblem" replaces the crew's names with the locations of their first "launch," the cities of their birth. Tiziou's design also incorporates a larger Discovery with additional detail including aelirons and landing gear doors. The insignia is inverted "with less black even if [it] is the color of space." Tiziou created the emblem with the help of Catherine Lari.
June 27, 2006 / 4:16 p.m. CT (2116 GMT) Excited and ready: Five T-38 jets arrived at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility this morning with the seven person crew of STS-121 (and three other astronaut "chauffeurs") on-board. Scheduled to lift-off to the space station on Saturday, the crew, led by Steven Lindsey, was happy to be in Florida. "We're really excited to be here and ready to go," said the mission commander.
June 27, 2006 / 11:57 p.m. CT (0457 GMT Jun 28) Success at 'Slick-6': Boeing successfully conducted its first West Coast launch of a Delta 4 rocket tonight, using the same pad where NASA had once prepared to launch space shuttles. Space Launch Complex 6 (SLC-6, pronounced "Slick-6") located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was originally intended to be part of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program when it was built in 1966. Positioned atop an indian burial ground, the pad was said to be cursed in light of its relation to failed launches and canceled programs. Tonight's Delta 4 liftoff of a classified national security spy satellite was just the third rocket to successfully reach orbit out of five SLC-6 launched and of those, one spacecraft failed shortly after.
June 28, 2006 / 12:30 a.m. CT (0530 GMT) Soviet covers-up: Forty (40) examples of Soviet space-topical postage stamps and covers are now the focus of a new exhibit hosted by the Kansas Cosmosphere. The summer-long display, Colorful Propaganda: The Art of Soviet Space Age Philately features cover art enlarged to poster-size exhibited with the smaller stamps.
June 28, 2006 / 11:40 p.m. CT (0440 GMT Jun 29) The clock is ticking: The countdown for STS-121 officially began at 4:00 p.m. CDT today at the T-43 hour mark, although the lift-off of shuttle Discovery was still over 71 hours away. To explain, included within the count are nearly 28 hours of hold time prior to a targeted 2:48:37 p.m. launch on Saturday. The countdown is being conducted from the newly renovated Firing Room 4 inside Kennedy Space Center's Launch Control Center. This is the first countdown to be run from FR-4; subsequently, it will be used for all remaining shuttle flights through 2010.
June 29, 2006 / 5:18 p.m. CT (2218 GMT) Something old, something new: The two solid rocket boosters that will provide 80% of the thrust needed to launch Discovery to space were assembled from segments that have made the two minute trip to 30 miles on 54 previous missions. According to statistics provided by NASA's contractor ATK, the boosters' 22 components each are rated to fly 20 missions. Unless damaged during splashdown the segments are refurbished and reused. As a result, every launch not only makes history, it carries it as well. Flying on STS-121, SRB segments represent the first operational shuttle mission, STS-5; the first flights of Challenger and Endeavour, STS-6 and 49; and the Hubble Space Telescope deploy mission, STS-31. The legacy of the hardware extends back 25 years to the very first flight of the shuttle as the uppermost cylinder on STS-121's left SRB also helped launch Columbia on STS-1 (as had also been the case on STS-114 in 2005, although that cylinder is not the same as the one prepared to launch). Of the 22 components only the right booster's lower stiffener is new.
June 30, 2006 / 2:21 p.m. CT (1921 GMT) Project Ares: NASA announced today the names of the launch vehicles that will take crews to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The crew launch vehicle is to be called Ares I, and the cargo launch vehicle will be known as Ares V. The name "Ares" is borrowed from the Roman title for the Red Planet; The "I and V" designations are a homage to the Apollo Saturn I and Saturn V rockets. The formal name for the crew exploration vehicle, the capsule in which astronauts will ride atop Ares, will be announced "soon," though crews will be welcome to personalize their specific vehicles with other titles (e.g. Apollo 11's Eagle). collectSPACE first reported the choice of Ares in January.