December 1, 2007 / 11:16 a.m. CT (1716 GMT) Lots in space: Aurora Auctions is offering for bid this weekend more than 1100 lots of space memorabilia and aviation collectibles beginning at 12 p.m. CST on Saturday and continuing through Sunday. Highlighted by Aurora, two lots offer two spacesuits from two exploration programs: lot 207, the interior assembly of an Apollo A7L lunar spacesuit; and lot 837, the Russian Sokol spacesuit worn by U.S. astronaut Ed Lu for his 2003 mission to the International Space Station. Interested collectors can bid live at Aurora's Bell Canyon, California offices or on eBay.
December 2, 2007 / 8:04 p.m. CT (0204 GMT Dec 3) When they grew up: Entering its fifth year delivering monthly astronauts' signatures to its members, the Astronaut Autograph Club for 2008 will answer for 12 space explorers why they chose to become astronauts. The special edition American Heroes' Inspiration theme will be represented in the personalized letters that mail with each signed photograph. Participating astronauts are to include Scott Carpenter, Charlie Duke, Fred Haise and Al Worden.
December 5, 2007 / 2:56 p.m. CT (2056 GMT) Patch preview | STS-125: Just as Atlantis is poised to launch on its penultimate flight, the crew for its potentially final mission are busy preparing for their liftoff next summer to service the Hubble Space Telescope. An insignia for the STS-125 mission, the fifth and final to the orbiting observatory, designed by the crew depicts Hubble and the shuttle, in addition to the scope's celestial targets.
December 7, 2007 / 2:32 p.m. CT (2032 GMT) Departure: Astronaut Robert Curbeam, Jr., has left NASA to take a job in the private sector, the space agency stated on Friday. The first to conduct four spacewalks in a single mission, Curbeam flew as a mission specialist aboard STS-85 in 1997, STS-98 in 2001, and STS-116 in 2006, logging more than 900 hours in space. Selected by NASA in 1994, "Beamer" most recently was deputy director of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate.
December 9, 2007 / 8:30 a.m. CT (1430 GMT) ECO echoes: Two attempts to launch the STS-122 mission were scrubbed over the past three days due to intermittent failures by four low level fuel engine cut-off (ECO) sensors installed in space shuttle Atlantis' liquid hydrogen tank. NASA mission managers have said that the problem can be traced to a still unidentified root cause that triggered similar scrubs during three previous missions: STS-114 in 2005 and STS-121 and STS-115 in 2006. As a result, STS-122's launch of ESA's Columbus science lab has been postponed until after the New Year.
December 10, 2007 / 2:07 p.m. CT (2007 GMT) Silver solar system: Billed as "the only NASA approved Hubble coin collection in U.S. History" (translation: NASA allowed use of its name and emblem), Discovery Collectibles' "Hubble Discovery Coin Set" includes one medal for each planet* in our solar system and a coin for the Sun. The "limited edition" coins, only 1,000 sets were minted, are available for $80 and come with a display case. The inspiration for the set was the NASA and JPL 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act, which the House of Representatives approved last August. (*Pluto's inclusion predated its reclassification.)
December 12, 2007 / 2:56 p.m. CT (2056 GMT) Shuttles for the Senate seat: In 1998, Jay Buckey was chosen for a seat onboard the space shuttle flying as a payload specialist for the STS-90 Neurolab flight. Today, he is seeking election for a different type of seat: as a Democratic candidate in New Hampshire for the U.S. Senate. To thank supporters who give a donation of $5 or more to his campaign during December, each will receive a space shuttle stress ball imprinted with "Jay Buckey for US Senate, *Vote September 9, 2008*" (US citizens only).
December 13, 2007 / 2:01 p.m. CT (2001 GMT) Altair has landed: NASA has chosen the name "Altair" for its next generation lunar module, previously referred to as the lunar surface access module (LSAM). The new moniker was inspired by the 12th brightest star in the sky, Altair in the constellation Aquila. "In Latin, 'Aquila' means Eagle, tying our new lander to the historic Apollo 11 Eagle," explained Altair manager Lauri Hansen.
December 17, 2007 / 12:01 a.m. CT (0601 GMT) Today In Space History: If you enjoy cS's daily Today in Space History entry located above this text, then you owe it to yourself to check out publisher Kraig McNutt's blog, Today In Space History. The site expands upon the idea of an anniversary-driven calendar by using interviews, photos, video and audio to further explore the space history milestones that occurred on any given day, while also featuring present and future exploration efforts.
December 17, 2007 / 8:20 p.m. CT (0220 GMT Dec 18) Apollo J-2 powerpack to be re-powered: NASA is set to test core components of a rocket engine from the Apollo era to further develop the Ares launch vehicles to return astronauts to the moon. The powerpack, a gas generator and turbopumps from a vintage J-2 engine will be used to simulate and monitor the conditions under which fuel flowed in the Saturn V booster's second stage.
December 18, 2007 / 11:12 a.m. CT (1712 GMT) Reaching the summit: Tuesday morning's spacewalk by Peggy Whitson and Dan Tani marked the 100th EVA dedicated to station assembly. Learning of the milestone during last week's space-to-ground media briefing, Tani recounted to collectSPACE that he recalled thinking before the start of the ISS program that such a number of EVAs "was a huge mountain to climb." Nine years (to the month) later, Tani with Whitson, who today set the female record for the most time spacewalking, used their 7 hours outside the outpost to inspect two faulty solar array joints.
December 19, 2007 / 11:39 a.m. CT (1739 GMT) Space junkyard: In the same spirit as this week's news that NASA will test an Apollo era engine to develop its next moon rocket, PBS's Wired Science will debut an episode on Wednesday evening devoted to the use of discarded space history artifacts to build new vehicles, including by NASA engineers. The show features Norton Sales, a North Hollywood, California spare parts shop that specializes in selling spent rocket components. Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin is shown touring Norton's. (After its broadcast, the episode will be available to view on cS.)
December 20, 2007 / 12:05 a.m. CT (0605 GMT) Explorer poster: As he did for the 50 year anniversary of Sputnik's start of the space age, German artist Detlev van Ravenswaay has designed a commemorative poster for the half-century since the U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer. In addition to the anniversary, the poster also promotes the February 1-2, 2008 "America In Space" Technical Symposium to be held at the Davidson Space Exploration Center in Alabama. The AIAA and the National Space Club are offering the posters for $20 each.
December 20, 2007 / 3:16 p.m. CT (2116 GMT) Virtual Apollo: Imaginova has announced the release of Starry Night Apollo software, giving enthusiasts the chance to ride along with the Apollo crews from the Earth to the Moon. The Windows Vista and Mac OS X program features 3D models of Apollo craft, including the Saturn V and Command, Service and Lunar Modules, "in" which users can fly the inbound and outbound trajectories and the lunar descent/ascent for Apollo 11 through 17 as well as the orbital missions of Apollo 8, 10 and 13. Starry Night Apollo can also show the engine burns that shaped each journey, the star sightings used to align the vehicles and the photos, audio commentary, and tv transmissions recorded by the crews. SNA sells for $29.99, downloaded.
December 22, 2007 / 6:51 p.m. CT (0051 GMT Dec 22) Departure: C. Gordon Fullerton, one of the first astronauts to land the space shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base, touched down on the California dried lake bed for a final time as a NASA test pilot on Friday. His farewell flight in F/A-18 came less than a week before his planned retirement from NASA on Dec. 31. Named an astronaut in 1969, Fullerton was one of four pilots to fly approach and landing tests in the Enterprise orbiter at Edwards. He later was pilot of the third shuttle mission and commanded the second flight for Spacelab, STS-51F. Fullerton returned to Edwards in 1986 to fly at the NASA Dryden Research Ctr.
December 26, 2007 / 10:45 p.m. CT (0445 GMT Dec 27) Annual Astronautics: As they did in 2006, the American Astronautical Society History Committee has compiled a list of the titles published during 2007 that were devoted to space exploration history. Among the more than 70 books released this past year were (at least) four authored by contributors to collectSPACE, including Colin Burgess, Chris Dubbs, Francis French and Tahir Rahman.
December 28, 2007 / 3:01 p.m. CT (2101 GMT) Fifty years in flowers: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's float for the 2008 Rose Parade on Tuesday, January 1, salutes "50 Years of Space Exploration" and in particular, the half-century since the launch of Explorer 1, the United States' first satellite to reach orbit, which was built at JPL. On the 25-foot-tall float, Explorer fires off the launch pad at its center and in the wake arises other JPL robotic explorers, including Voyager 1 and the 2010 Mars Science Laboratory rover. As with all Rose Parade floats, the spacecraft and planets on JPL's entry are jacketed by flowers and other natural materials, such as walnut shells.