July 1, 2009 / 11:42 p.m. CT (0442 GMT Jul 2) - UPDATED Rim shot: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, rounding the Moon in what is referred to as its commissioning orbit, is now undergoing checkouts of its sharp-shooting instruments as they are powered on. Though the highest resolution imaging won't start until LRO drops into a lower orbit, the science team behind the LRO Camera (LROC) plans to begin obtaining photos as early as this weekend [UPDATE: LROC has returned its first images] and among their targets may be one or more of the Apollo manned landing sites. LROC's observations may even help answer a "moonwalking mystery" relating to Cone Crater and how close Apollo 14's astronauts came to peering over its rim.
July 4, 2009 / 11:48 p.m. CT (0448 GMT Jul 5) Motorola's moon landing mobile: As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spoke 40 years ago this month, their words, the first to be heard from the surface of the Moon, were relayed through a radio transponder built by Motorola. To commemorate Apollo 11 and their role in the mission's success, the telecommunications company has revealed a limited "Celestial Edition" of Aura, their luxury mobile device and phone. Pre-loaded with multimedia from the moon landing and etched as honoring the Apollo 11 mission, the Motorola Aura Celestial Edition comes with nine specially commissioned postcards and a display box.
July 5, 2009 / 1:40 a.m. CT (0640 GMT) British badge: Helen Sharman and Richard Garriott were awarded July 3 with the British Interplanetary Society's silver astronaut pin. The rocket-shaped badge, emblazoned with the Union Jack, was designed to recognize British astronauts' achievements while furthering the BIS' support for expanded human spaceflight. Sharman, who in 1991 became the first Briton to fly, and Garriott, the most recent, were the only two to date to wear the British flag in space. Michael Foale, Nicholas Patrick and Piers Sellers, who flew as U.S. astronauts while maintaining their dual citizenship, will be presented with the same pin at a later date. The BIS had a total of ten pins made; presumeably the sixth will be awarded to Timothy Peake, who in May was named as the first Brit to join ESA's astronaut corps.
July 6, 2009 / 11:49 p.m. CT (0449 GMT Jul 7) Moon-flown metal medal: When Apollo 11 returned from the Moon in July 1969, NASA commemorated the occassion by collecting small pieces of the spacecraft to use in the creation of medallions for presentation to its space program workers and diginitaries. Forty years later, the agency has again gathered metal from a flown to the Moon spacecraft and had medallions minted to "Celebrate Apollo". These new commemoratives, produced by Winco Intl., are part of a series of Apollo 40th anniversary items including boxed pin and framed sets developed for NASA.
July 8, 2009 / 12:34 a.m. CT (0534 GMT) Space Camp Hall of Fame: collectSPACE editor and founder Robert Pearlman will be inducted into the Space Camp Hall of Fame during a ceremony to be held on Saturday, July 11 in Huntsville, Alabama. Selected in part to recognize his work developing collectSPACE into the online publication and community website it is today, Pearlman will enter the Hall alongside two others as the 2009 class of inductees. Prior enshrinees have included rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, Space Camp founder Ed Buckbee and Space Camper-turned-astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. The ceremony led by former shuttle commander Hoot Gibson will be held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center's Davidson Center for Space Exploration.
July 9, 2009 / 9:14 p.m. CT (0214 GMT Jul 10) Lunar photography lessons: Hasselblad, the Swedish manufacturer whose cameras were used by the Apollo astronauts on the lunar surface, is celebrating 40 years since the first men -- and Hasselblad -- landed on the Moon by inviting photographers to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a weekend of seminars, professional training and photography. To qualify for the all-expenses paid trip, which will feature a "special lunar photography presentation" by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one only needs to purchase an H3Dll-50 or H3Dll-60 camera before August 21. The September 26 to 26 trip will also include a behind-the-scenes guided photo tour of the space center.
July 14, 2009 / 9:44 p.m. CT (0244 GMT Jul 15) The clock is ticking, again: Forty years to the day after the liftoff of Apollo 11, NASA, the Smithsonian, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library are each launching real time (plus 40 years) coverage of the first manned lunar landing mission. Beginning two hours before Neil Armstrong's, Buzz Aldrin's and Mike Collins' Saturn V rocketed to life, NASA will start streaming a "unique audio 'time capsule'" -- the communications between the crew and ground teams, and commentary from Mission Control. Concurrently on Thursday, the JFK Presidential Library, in partnership with AOL and The Martin Agency, will bring to life WeChooseTheMoon.org, an interactive website that lets visitors experience the mission as it happened, using archival audio, video, photos and 'real time' transmissions. The latter is also among the online resources offered by the National Air and Space Museum. Followers of "Relive Apollo 11" on Twitter will receive from the Smithsonian staff updates highlighting the mission's many milestones.
July 17, 2009 / 9:34 a.m. CT (1434 GMT) Lost tapes lost, moonwalk makeover: On Thursday, NASA previewed newly restored video from the July 20, 1969, live broadcast of the first moonwalk. Released to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, the video restoration came as a result of an unsuccessful search for the original "slow-scan" recordings, which were of higher resolution. As a soon-to-be-forthcoming report will detail, NASA believes that the 45 Apollo 11 telemetry tapes were erased and reused along with hundreds of thousands from the Apollo program. The restored footage is the work of Lowry Digital, whose founder invented the noise reduction technology that was first used during the Apollo 16 and 17 TV broadcasts. Without the slow-scan tapes, NASA and Lowry digitized broadcast-quality recordings retrieved from Australia, Houston, and CBS' archives for the restoration.
July 17, 2009 / 1:38 p.m. CT (1838 GMT) Apollo from above: Just a few days shy of 40 years since the first humans landed on the Moon, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) returned its first images of the hardware left at Tranquility Base and four other Apollo landing areas. The photos, which capture the sites where Apollo 11, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 touched down, each show the descent stage of the lunar module that brought astronauts to the surface. In the image of Fra Mauro, where Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell explored, the lighting conditions allowed for more detail to be seen including the path they travelled between Antares and their experiments package.
July 17, 2009 / 9:18 p.m. CT (0218 GMT Jul 18) Walter Cronkite (1916-2009): Veteran CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, who covered the space program from its early beginnings through the moon landings to the early-era of the space shuttle, died Friday following a long illness. He was 92. Especially enthusiastic about the Apollo program, Cronkite stayed on the air for 27 of the 30 hours following the first moon landing. In 2006, NASA paid tribute to Cronkite and his coverage of the space program by presenting him a moon rock-embedded Ambassador of Exploration Award, which he said was "beyond anything I could have ever believed." Cronkite's passing came three days before the 40th anniversary of "Man on the Moon".
July 20, 2009 / 3:54 a.m. CT (0854 GMT) Moon rock on a (secret) mission: On the 40th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing and the 10th anniversary of this site coming online, collectSPACE.com is proud to present the exclusive story of how NASA secretly launched a moon rock to the International Space Station in March 2009 to be revealed Monday evening as part the agency's gala celebration of the Apollo program.
July 23, 2009 / 4:09 p.m. CT (2109 GMT) Back to the Moon: Plans are now in place for a moon rock and 11 Apollo astronauts to return to the Moon. The Apollo 11-returned lunar rock, which was secretly launched to the International Space Station in March, is now slated to be aboard the first U.S. manned mission to bring astronauts back to the Moon. Separately, 11 Apollo astronauts have lent their names to a plaque that will be attached to the privately-built unmanned rovers competing for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, such that their message of congratulations will reach for the Moon as they once did.
July 27, 2009 / 12:38 a.m. CT (0538 GMT) Departures: Two veteran female astronauts left NASA in July: Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Pam Melroy. Piper, who reported to the Johnson Space Center in 1996 and flew two space shuttle flights as a mission specialist supporting International Space Station assembly, returned to the U.S. Navy at the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington D.C. Melroy was named an astronaut in 1994 and piloted the shuttle twice on flights to the ISS. In 2007, she led her third station-bound mission as NASA's second female commander. Melroy left NASA to accept a position with Lockheed Martin to work on the Orion crew vehicle.
July 27, 2009 / 11:09 a.m. CT (1609 GMT) Kennedy chooses Rice for the Moon: The moon rock awarded posthumously to former U.S. President John F. Kennedy will go on display where, in 1962, he declared that "we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Presented by NASA on the 40th anniversary of his goal being met and in the presence of the three astronauts who achieved that first lunar landing, the President's niece, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend chose Rice University in Houston, Texas, to serve as the future home for her uncle's Ambassador of Exploration Award.
July 29, 2009 / 5:02 p.m. CT (2202 GMT) Patch preview | Expedition 23: The fourth six-person crew to work on the International Space Station, Expedition 23, is scheduled to begin service in March 2010. Their crew insignia, which is simple in design, uses the roman numerals for their expedition's designation ("XXIII") as a means of featuring the multi-national make-up of the mission's members by substituting the trio of latter letters with their flags: Russia (Oleg Kotov, Alexsandr Skvortsov and Mikhail Korniyenko), Japan (Soichi Noguchi), and the United States (Timothy Creamer and Tracy Caldwell).
July 30, 2009 / 2:02 p.m. CT (1902 GMT) Julie in the sky with a diamond: A rough yellow diamond engraved with "STS-127" and the mine's name where it was found is among the ten items that Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette had stowed inside space shuttle Endeavour's Official Flight Kit for her and her six crewmates 16-day mission to the International Space Station. The diamond, which was packed alongside other commemorative items including water samples from the five Great Lakes and three oceans bordering Canada, was flown as a symbol of the Legendary Sky Project, a multi-year education and outreach initiative dedicated to the collection and preservation of northern sky knowledge.
July 31, 2009 / 3:12 p.m. CT (2012 GMT) Col. Worden's moon rock: 38 years to the day after finding himself alone while orbiting the Moon (his Apollo 15 crewmates having landed on the lunar surface) Al Worden was presented by NASA with an Ambassador of Exploration Award. Flanked by Kennedy Space Center's director Bob Cabana and new NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, both former astronauts themselves, Worden gave the moon rock-embedded award to the Apollo-Saturn V Center, part of Kennedy's Visitor Complex, where it will be publicly displayed. Though he never stepped on the Moon, Worden set a record for the farthest from earth spacewalk.