June 2, 2011 / 2:28 p.m. CT (1928 GMT) Ships that pass in the night: The last and next to last of NASA's space shuttles to fly, Atlantis and Endeavour, passed each other early Wednesday morning as one headed to the launch pad and the other to the landing strip. Space shuttle Endeavour made its final return to the Kennedy Space Center, touching down after more than 15 days in space at 1:34 a.m. CDT. Before it landed, it glided above Atlantis, which was nearly six hours into its journey to Pad 39A (it was secured in place at 2:29 a.m.). Atlantis will now be readied for STS-135, targeted to liftoff on July 8. Endeavour, having completed STS-134, will be serviced for public display at the California Science Center in LA.
June 6, 2011 / 4:26 p.m. CT (2126 GMT) Final shuttle's nose art: When Atlantis lifts off in July on the final mission for the space shuttle program, it will do so decorated with 'nose art.' More specifically, its external fuel tank, ET-138, will be outfitted with a painted intertank access door displaying the commemorative logo for NASA's 30-year space shuttle program. The decorated door marks just the second time that the shuttle has flown with markings other than the U.S. flag and NASA insignia.
June 7, 2011 / 3:06 p.m. CT (2006 GMT) Station, shuttle pictured together: NASA released Tuesday the long-awaited, historic photos showing space shuttle Endeavour at the International Space Station. Taken two weeks ago by the Earth-bound crew aboard Soyuz TMA-20, the pictures capture more than one million pounds in orbit, including the shuttle, the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle "Johannes Kepler," Russian Progress and Soyuz spacecraft and the station's modules, truss, and solar arrays. The photographs are the first to show the shuttle docked with the complete station.
June 7, 2011 / 4:11 p.m. CT (2111 GMT) Soyuz TMA-02M launches: Set to arrive at the International Space Station on Thursday Soyuz TMA-02M lifted off at 3:12 p.m. CDT Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On board, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, and JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa will join the ISS Expedition 28 crew until September, when they will lead Expedition 29.
June 9, 2011 / 8:40 p.m. CT (0140 GMT June 10) iPhones flying to ISS: If you don't have an iPhone, you don't have SpaceLab for iOS, a new app released on Thursday by Odyssey Space Research. So you don't have the app that will be flown to the International Space Station (ISS) on two iPhone 4's packed aboard Atlantis on the final space shuttle mission. And you can't conduct the same experiments the astronauts will in orbit (with certain features simulated to account for the pull of gravity). Yep, if you don't have an iPhone, you don't have an iPhone.
June 10, 2011 / 10:48 a.m. CT (1548 GMT) You don't know (about) Jack: So ask him! Skylab 2 pilot and STS-3 commander Jack Lousma is accepting questions as the June featured guest in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's Astro Chat series. Submit your question(s) on collectSPACE's forums before 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) on Tuesday (June 14); Lousma will record his replies to many of the questions during a video interview.
June 14, 2011 / 6:33 p.m. CT (2333 GMT) Flag Day: Tuesday marked the annual U.S. observation of the adoption of the American flag, or Flag Day. The red, white and blue of Old Glory has been carried into space for 50 years, beginning with the first U.S. manned spaceflight on May 5, 1961. U.S. flags have been flown to the moon and to all the planets in the solar system (and a flag is currently on its way to Pluto on New Horizons). The latest U.S. flag to be prepared for launch, the U.S. Honor Flag honoring all fallen police officers, firefighters, military personnel, and now astronauts, was handed over to NASA last month to be carried on the final space shuttle flight.
June 17, 2011 / 6:15 p.m. CT (2315 GMT) Space shuttle surplus: Since 2009, NASA has partnered with the US General Services Administration (GSA) to offer museums and educational institutions the ability to request space shuttle and other program artifacts no longer needed by the space agency. The seventh round of artifact screening began Wednesday. According to NASA, about 28,500 items of historical space significance have been offered to date, mainly from the space shuttle, with contributions from the Hubble Telescope, Apollo, Mercury, Gemini and space station programs. Approximately 3,000 artifacts have been requested by eligible organizations.
June 20, 2011 / 8:58 a.m. CT (1358 GMT) Mission Complete medallions: NASA has commissioned two commemorative medals, each minted using metal flown in space, to recognize the completion of its 135-mission, 30-year space shuttle program. The "NASA Award" and "Mission Complete" limited edition medallions will be produced by Winco International to be distributed to NASA and its contractors employees. Both medals depict NASA's Space Shuttle Program Commemorative Emblem on their front but otherwise differ in design and inscription.
June 20, 2011 / 9:00 a.m. CT (1400 GMT) On the pad with NASA's last shuttle: One month from today (June 20), should NASA's schedule hold, space shuttle Atlantis will be returning from space, marking the end of its 33rd flight and the last-ever mission for the United States' 30-year shuttle program. In light of the final launch, collectSPACE, together with other members of the media, had the chance to tour Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Friday while the pad's service structure was retracted to accept delivery of the STS-135 mission payload. The resulting photo gallery offers a final up-close look at a space shuttle standing poised to fly.
June 20, 2011 / 8:24 p.m. CT (0124 GMT June 21) Canadarm2 currency: The Bank of Canada on Monday announced a new polymer bank note series that expand the frontiers of bank note security and in the case of the $5 note, shows the final frontier. When issued by the end of 2013, the $5 note will feature a design showcasing the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm and the Dextre multi-armed robot, symbolizing "Canada's continuing contribution to the international space program through robotics innovation." The $5 bill will also depict Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the seventh Prime Minister of Canada.
June 21, 2011 / 12:20 p.m. CT (1700 GMT) Departure: Astronaut Mark E. Kelly, who on June 1 flew the space shuttle Endeavour to its final landing, announced Tuesday that he will retire from NASA and the Navy effective Oct. 1. A veteran of four flights to the space station, including NASA's second 'return to flight' following the loss of shuttle Columbia, Kelly became an astronaut in 1996 together with his twin brother Scott (who continues to serve in the astronaut corps). Kelly said he does not know what he'll do next, but has plans to write a memoir with his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az) about their lives together before and after she was shot in January.
June 26, 2011 / 8:38 a.m. CT (1338 GMT) Touring Discovery: This past week, as the final space shuttle crew took part in a dress rehearsal for their launch day, NASA invited the media (including collectSPACE) into the Kennedy Space Center's Orbiter Processing Facility-2 where shuttle Discovery is being prepared for its public display at the Smithsonian. The tour provided a rare look inside and around the vehicle, including access to the crew compartment's mid- and flight-decks. Discovery is to be powered down for a final time this October, ahead of its delivery to the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center, currently targeted for April 12, 2012.
June 30, 2011 / 12:03 p.m. CT (1703 GMT) Baked Alaska moon rock: Four tiny pieces of the Moon gifted to the State of Alaska by President Richard M. Nixon and thought to have been lost in a 1973 fire have turned up in the possession of a man who found them three decades ago — and now he wants a court to declare them as his. Arthur C. Anderson, who as a teenager found Alaska's Apollo 11 acrylic-embedded lunar sample among the burnt debris of Anchorage's Transportation Museum, is claiming the "neat souvenir" as his or asking that the state compensate him for the moon rocks' care. Alaska's other goodwill rock, a slice of a sample retrieved by Apollo 17 in 1972, is displayed by the State Museum in Juneau.