NASA's Mission Control makeover: It has been two years since the White FCR (Flight Control Room) inside NASA's Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. Mission Control Center in Houston was shut down after the final space shuttle mission landed. Now, the room is being readied for its next role: supporting future Orion flights. Redesigned as part of the agency's MCC-21 upgrades, the White FCR has traded its iconic blue consoles for widescreen workstations.
September 5, 2013 / 10:50 a.m. CT (1550 GMT) Spaceship G. David Low: Orbital Sciences Corporation held a Flight Readiness Review on Wednesday (Sept. 4) and gave a "go" to proceed toward the launch of the company's first flight to the International Space Station. The demonstration mission, targeted for a Sept. 17 lift off, will test Orbital's first Cygnus cargo spacecraft, which has been christened after the late astronaut G. David Low.
September 5, 2013 / 4:35 p.m. CT (2135 GMT) Astronaut's lucky charm: NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is set to return to Earth Sept. 10, after 166 days on board the International Space Station. In preparation for his coming home, Cassidy was going through the items he brought with him to space and found his "lucky charm," a 3-inch-tall toy astronaut figurine he has had since before he was chosen as an astronaut. "I thought I would share a personal side of spaceflight," Cassidy remarked in a video showing the small plastic astronaut floating beside him.
September 6, 2013 / 12:45 a.m. CT (0545 GMT) Cosmonaut resigns despite mission: Yuri Lonchakov unexpectedly resigned Thursday (Sept. 5), leaving the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, despite being assigned to command the International Space Station in 2015. Saying he had found a "better job," Lonchakov left behind his seat on Soyuz TMA-16M and his assignment to lead the orbiting complex's Expedition 44 crew. Lonchakov flew three times to space, logging 200 days off the Earth.
September 6, 2013 / 10:40 p.m. CT (0340 GMT Sept 7) To the moon – via Virginia: NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifted off for the moon Friday (Sept. 6), launching on Orbital Sciences' inaugural Minotaur V booster from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Islands in Virginia. LADEE will study the moon's very thin, dusty exosphere.
September 10, 2013 / 4:00 p.m. CT (2100 GMT) Space shuttle time capsule: A teddy bear, a heat shield tile and a tech's coveralls are among the artifacts and memorabilia sealed inside a time capsule "created by the space shuttle team honoring the 30-year program." Installed within the "Space Shuttle Atlantis" exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the capsule is not be opened until 2061, "to honor the 50th anniversary of the space shuttle program's final mission."
September 10, 2013 / 10:35 p.m. CT (1535 GMT Sept. 11) Soyuz TMA-08M lands: Pavel Vinogradov, Alexander Misurkin and Christopher Cassidy landed in Kazakhstan Tuesday night (Sept. 10), hours after undocking their Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft from the International Space Station, ending 166 days on orbit. The three crewmembers' departure from the orbiting outpost marked the completion of Expedition 36 and the beginning of Expedition 37.
September 12, 2013 / 11:30 p.m. CT (0430 GMT Sept. 13) Interstellar Voyager: NASA's Voyager 1 is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space, according to a new data analysis published in the journal Science on Thursday (Sept. 12). The probe, launched in 1977 to tour the solar system's outer planets, is now about 12 billion miles from the sun. "We believe this is mankind's historic leap into interstellar space," said Voyager's project scientist Ed Stone. "We can now answer the question we have all been asking — 'Are we there yet?' Yes, we are."
Sandra Bullock's astronaut advisor: In the new movie "Gravity" opening Oct. 4, Sandra Bullock plays a first-time astronaut. Like her character, Bullock didn't know what living in space was like, so she asked someone who did. NASA astronaut Cady Coleman was aboard the space station when Bullock and she connected. Coleman shared with collectSPACE what it was like advising the actress.
September 16, 2013 / 9:00 a.m. CT (1400 GMT) Lord British's rare rocket: Richard Garriott, aka "Lord British" from the pioneering Ultima games he created, is auctioning pieces from his eclectic collection, including a few items that hint to his familial and personal interest in space exploration. Highlighted by a rare model of a 1903 rocket ship designed by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Garriott's space and astronomy-related auction lots were inspired by his astronaut-father and by his own 2008 self-funded trip to the International Space Station. Austin Auction Gallery will host Garriott's memorabilia sale on Saturday (Sept. 21).
Cygnus takes flight: Orbital Sciences' first Cygnus cargo spacecraft, also known as the "Spaceship G. David Low," is now bound for the International Space Station, having lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA's Wallops Flight Center in Virginia at 9:58 a.m. CDT on Wednesday (Sept. 18). The unmanned craft's Orb-D1 demonstration mission is to show that the Cygnus can be used to safely deliver supplies to the station.
September 20, 2013 / 3:25 p.m. CT (2025 GMT) Houston's space shuttle to be named: On Saturday, Oct. 5, Space Center Houston will hold a public ceremony to reveal the winning name in its "Name the Shuttle" contest. At the christening, the winner will help to unveil the freshly-painted moniker on the full-scale space shuttle replica that will eventually sit atop the historic 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft as part of a $12 million, six-story attraction currently under development. The first 1,500 attendees will receive a commemorative souvenir celebrating the event.
September 20, 2013 / 11:20 a.m. CT (1620 GMT) Deep Impact declared dead: After almost 9 years in space, including an unprecedented impact and subsequent flyby of a comet, an additional flyby of a comet, and the return of 500,000 images of celestial objects, NASA's Deep Impact mission has ended. The probe's long mission (it set a record as history's most traveled comet research mission at about 4.7 billion miles) was reluctantly declared over after communication with the spacecraft was lost.
September 23, 2013 / 2:40 p.m. CT (1940 GMT) 'Moon Mail' and space stamps: Visitors to the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. can now see the first mail postmarked on the moon's surface and other space stamps in the new 12,000 square foot "William H. Gross Stamp Gallery." Opened to the public on Sunday (Sept. 22), the new exhibit space hosts the world's largest stamp display, with over 20,000 philatelic items on view. In addition to the Apollo 15 "Moon Mail," the gallery's new window display includes two historic space stamps.
September 25, 2013 / 4:10 p.m. CT (2110 GMT) Soyuz TMA-10M lifts off: Soyuz TMA-10M commander Oleg Kotov and flight engineers Sergey Ryazanskiy and Mike Hopkins lifted off for a same-day arrival at the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday (Sept. 25). The three launched atop a Soyuz FG rocket from Russia's Baikonur Cosomdrome. During their five and a half months as Expedition 37/38 crewmembers, they will conduct more than 200 science experiments, perform three spacewalks (including an historic first with the Olympic torch), and see the arrival of as many as five cargo resupply spacecraft.
Defining 'Gravity': For a movie that follows astronauts floating in space, why title it after the force that would otherwise ground them? Sandra Bullock and Alfonso Cuarón explain the meaning behind "Gravity" in the first part of collectSPACE's interview with the film star and director. "Gravity is a major, major character in the film," described Cuarón. "An adversary," Bullock told collectSPACE.
September 27, 2013 / 12:15 p.m. CT (1715 GMT) Dinosaur on a space station: What do you get when you cross some spent space food containers, an old shirt, and an astronaut on the International Space Station who loves to sew? A dinosaur, of course! The toy, which Expedition 37 flight engineer Karen Nyberg crafted for her son, may be the first stuffed animal to be made in space.
September 29, 2013 / 6:15 a.m. CT (1115 GMT) Cygnus perches at ISS: Eleven days after launching from the Virginia seaboard, Orbital Sciences' first Cygnus spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station (ISS), where the Expedition 37 crew captured it using the outpost's robotic arm. The cargo ship's autonomous arrival came after a series of maneuvers to demonstrate that the Cygnus was safe to rendezvous with the station. The crew will spend the next month unpacking the Cygnus' supplies and then reloading it with refuse before it is released to be destroyed during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
September 29, 2013 / 11:50 a.m. CT (1615 GMT) SpaceX sets Falcon firsts: Five years (and one day) after its history-making first launch to orbit, Space Exploration Technologies set another series of firsts on Sunday (Sept. 29) with its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket. Lifting off from SpaceX's new pad, Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., the Falcon 9 1.1 flew atop improved Merlin engines and was outfitted with a new 17-foot fairing shielding its primary payload, Canada's CASSIOPE space weather satellite. SpaceX also made a first attempt at recovering the rocket's first stage using its engines to slow its fall to a "soft" ocean splashdown.
September 30, 2013 / 6:15 p.m. CT (2315 GMT) 'Gravity' mission patches: Space missions have historically used patches to symbolize the goals of the flight or desires of the crew. In "Gravity," the movie's fictional astronauts wear emblems inspired by real patches from past flights. More than mimicry, the movie's patches also represent the detail that the filmmakers pursued in creating the look of real-life space shuttle and station missions.