July 1, 2010 / 12:20 p.m. CT (1720 GMT) Shuttle schedule slips into 2011: Citing a need for more time to prepare the missions' payloads and adjusting for other scheduled launches to the International Space Station, NASA announced on Thursday that its final two space shuttle flights had slipped, with the last of the liftoffs moving into next year. STS-133, which was earlier targeted to loft a permanent logistics module to the station on Sept. 16, will now fly no earlier than Nov. 1, 2010. That delay in turn pushed STS-134 and its delivery of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to Feb. 26, 2011. Both new dates are afternoon launches: 3:33 and 3:19 CST respectively.
July 2, 2010 / 2:37 p.m. CT (1937 GMT) Docking diverted: An uncrewed cargo craft failed to dock on Friday at the International Space Station after it lost telemetry from its automated guidance system. The Progress M-06M spacecraft flew safely past the ISS rather than berthing on the aft port of the station's service module as had been planned. The docking aborted, NASA and Roscosmos flight controllers were working to discern what caused the failure while the crew onboard the station resumed their normal activities. The Progress, which lifted off on Wednesday, is packed with thousands of pounds of propellant, oxygen, water and supplies for the station.
Update (July 4): Progress M-06M made a safe automated docking at the ISS on Sunday, July 4, at 11:17 a.m. CDT.
July 4, 2010 / 2:05 p.m. CT (1905 GMT) Stars, stripes & space: "Whereas, on July 4, 1960, the 50-star flag became the official flag of the United States; and, Whereas, on July 24, 1969, the 50-star flag was planted on the moon..." Or so reads in part H. Res. 1459 introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in June by Congressman Charles Djou, representing Hawaii, for which the 50th star was added on Independence Day 1960, 50 years ago Sunday. The resolution honoring the 50-star flag has to date gone no further than being referred to committee (perhaps because someone realized that the flag was actually planted on the Moon on July 20, not the 24th when the Apollo 11 crew returned to earth). And while the six lunar flags may indeed be the most famous of the 50-star spangled banners, they were not the first to enter space: that flag accompanied another U.S. space first.
July 5, 2010 / 10:48 a.m. CT (1548 GMT) "Super-alloy" space shuttle: Japanese toy company Bandai announced on Monday the second model in their "Otona no Chogokin" (adult 'super alloy') line that began in March with their Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket. Set for release in December, Bandai's 1/144 scale space shuttle Endeavour recreates the U.S. winged orbiter that launched the first Japanese career astronaut, Dr. Mamoru Mohri, in 1992 and that is currently scheduled to fly the final space shuttle mission in 2011. The 47,250 yen ($540 US) model includes removable panels exposing the crew cabin flight- and mid-decks, as well as the orbital maneuvering system tanks. Endeavour can separate from the twin solid rocket boosters and external tank, open its payload bay (included are a Spacelab pallet and Multi-Purpose Logistics Module) and deploy its landing gear and tail-mounted speed brake.
July 9, 2010 / 8:54 a.m. CT (1354 GMT) NASA hiring historian: NASA is accepting resumes now through Tuesday, July 13 for the position of Chief Historian. Last held by Steven J. Dick from 2003 to 2009, the Chief Historian serves as the principal advisor to NASA on all matters involving historical issues and is the history program director in the public outreach division of the office of communications. Candidates must possess a degree in history or related field that includes at least 18 semester hours in history, or a combination of experience and education, including experience conducting historical research, developing studies and written materials.
July 9, 2010 / 9:58 a.m. CT (1458 GMT) Staffing the station: Four new International Space Station (ISS) crews were announced Thursday who will fly to the orbiting outpost between April and November 2012. NASA's Joe Acaba together with Gennady Padalka and Konstantin Valkov from Russia's Roscosmos federal space agency will launch on Soyuz TMA-04M to join the Expedition 31 crew in April 2012 before becoming the ISS Expedition 32 crew in May. They will be joined in June by the Soyuz TMA-05M crew -- NASA's Sunita Williams, Yuri Malenchenko from Roscosmos and Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) -- until September, when Acaba, Padalka and Valkov will depart and Expedition 33 will begin. Soyuz TMA-07M is set to lift off in October 2012 with NASA's Kevin Ford together with Roscosmos' Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin, who'll in turn take command as Expedition 34 in November 2012.
July 9, 2010 / 10:28 a.m. CT (1528 GMT) Strong finish: The last external tank set to fly a space shuttle mission, ET-138, left the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans by wheeled transporter and barge Thursday, beginning a six-day, 900-mile journey to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 154-foot long tank, which is currently slated to fly with Endeavour's STS-134 mission in February 2011, received a brass band send-off traditional for New Orleans, as hundreds of handkerchief waving employees wearing "Finish Strong" t-shirts trailed the tank as it rolled out its first mile to the barge dock.
July 12, 2010 / 9:04 a.m. CT (1404 GMT) Rosetta rendezvouses with a rock: ESA's comet-bound spacecraft Rosetta flew by its second asteroid Saturday, returning the first close-up images of the largest minor planet visited by a probe to date. Rosetta's photos revealed asteroid Lutetia to be heavy cratered with a giant bowl-shaped depression stretching across much of its 80 mile elongated body. The images and other data collected will help resolve if Lutetia is a C-type primitive asteroid left over from the solar system's formation or an M-type body thought to be core fragments of much larger objects. With Lutetia behind it, Rosetta is continuing toward its primary rendezvous with comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.
July 13, 2010 / 11:55 p.m. CT (0455 GMT July 14) Haggling over the moon: On Monday, The History Channel reality series "Pawn Stars" featured a four-by-six-inch U.S. flag flown to the moon with Apollo 16. "Everything NASA is collectible. But when we are talking about something that's been on the moon? The value goes way up," states Las Vegas pawn shop boss Rick Harrison on the show. After having a museum curator and a forensic examiner verify the flag was flown, a price was agreed on for its sale. collectSPACE readers have been discussing the results as well as the history of the flag presentations.
July 16, 2010 / 2:42 p.m. CT (1942 GMT) Marking the time since Apollo-Soyuz: On Thursday, the surviving four astronauts and cosmonauts who flew the first international space mission, the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, reunited at the Omega Boutique in New York to mark their flight's 35th anniversary. The crew members, including U.S. astronauts Thomas Stafford and Vance Brand and Soviet cosmonaut Valery Kubasov took part in a panel discussion and helped introduce an Omega watch commemorating the mission. Earlier in the day they were joined by Alexei Leonov and together as a crew they spoke with collectSPACE about their joint flight's legacy.
July 20, 2010 / 9:32 a.m. CT (1433 GMT) Suited for Dressed from space: Meet "Dot Starlight," a 13-inch rag doll born -- or rather "sewn on" -- July 20, the anniversary of the first moon landing. She is "made from a real astronaut's space suit," and is described as loving science with her head always in the clouds. "Dot" is one of eight "Bitty Buttons" dolls launched on Monday by toymaker MGA Entertainment (of Bratz fame). According to the company, the rag dolls are designed to encourage a child's imagination and creativity, while promoting the idea that "old things can become new again, everything can be repurposed and nothing should ever go to waste."
July 21, 2010 / 2:00 a.m. CT (0700 GMT) - UPDATED That's one small swipe for two men, one giant leap of the law... A U.S. Customs and Border Protection worker, who in March met and helped first moonwalker Neil Armstrong reenter the country through Logan Airport in Boston, stole the Apollo 11 astronaut's signed declaration form and then, working with a friend, tried to sell it through an auction house, according to a complaint filed by federal prosecutors on Tuesday, the 41st anniversary of the first moon landing. Thomas Chapman, 50, and Paul Brickman, 50, each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for stealing an official government record if found guilty.
July 23, 2010 / 12:33 p.m. CT (1733 GMT) The bump that gave birth to the Cape: A ceremony was held on Friday morning at an abandoned Cape Canaveral launch pad that today is little more than a slab of concrete. The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing invited area personnel to mark the 60th anniversary of what took place -- or rather what took off -- from that spot on Pad 3 on July 24, 1950 at 9:28 a.m. EDT. The celebration wasn't so much over what the Bumper 8 rocket achieved in flight as it was the site it gave birth to in the wake of its launch.
July 25, 2010 / 10:01 p.m. CT (0301 GMT July 26) Signing from space: Last week, astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson became the first crew member to use American Sign Language to communicate from onboard the International Space Station (ISS). The first in a series of planned downlinks aimed at the "deaf community and the multitudes of students who will benefit from seeing their language spoken in space," Dyson's broadcast evoked an earlier example of ASL being used in space. STS-42 pilot Bill Readdy, inspired by his and his crew's studies into the effects of gravity on the human vestibular system, learned sign language to record a message during the 1992 space shuttle Discovery flight. Separated by nearly two decades, both astronauts' videos sought to inspire deaf students to join the next generation of scientists and explorers.
July 27, 2010 / 12:10 p.m. CT (1710 GMT) EVA emblem: Two cosmonauts completed the first extravehicular activity (EVA) during the International Space Station's Expedition 24 increment on Tuesday morning, working six hours and 42 minutes to replace a video camera and run cables for an automated docking system. To mark their spacewalk, which was the 25th Russian and 147th overall supporting ISS assembly and maintenance, spacewalker and space patch collector Fyodor Yurchikhin requested a special edition of their Expedition emblem be sewn on his and Mikhail Kornienko's spacesuits. The red- and blue-bordered EVA/ВКД-25 patches used the art from the crew insignia but only listed the spacewalkers' names.
July 31, 2010 / 6:37 p.m. CT (2337 GMT) Debris display: Found last May after being washed up onto Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and initially misidentified as part of an Ariane V rocket, the 14- by 25-foot metal piece of debris now exhibited at the Coastal Discovery Museum has been verified as part of the fairing from the Atlas V that lifted off with the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in April. The unusual example of recovered-jetsam was used to aerodynamically assist the mini-spaceplane's ascent. Normally expected to sink to the ocean floor's, the fairing fragment must have caught a current and traveled the 550 to 575 miles in the month between its flight and discovery ashore, according to United Launch Alliance, its owner, which donated the debris to the Coastal museum.