'Turtles' on a post
: NASA's new astronauts are "The Turtles." The new nickname, which describes the 12 members of the 22nd U.S. astronaut class, as well as the two Canadian candidates training with them, was revealed by the director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. A possible nod to a Mercury-era practical joke, the nickname plays off Hurricane Harvey and a joke about "post-turtles."
: Telescopes on Earth will be pointed at Saturn on Friday (Sep. 15) on the chance they can capture the last moments of NASA's Cassini spacecraft as it plunges into the ringed planet and is destroyed. After two decades in space and 13 years circling Saturn, Cassini has reached its end. The mission leaves behind a rich scientific legacy, but looking back its 20-year history, Cassini's mark on pop culture may be as faint as its impact with Saturn.
Soyuz MS-06 launches
: Launching from the same pad where the Space Age saw its start 60 years ago, a Russian cosmonaut and two U.S. astronauts lifted off for the International Space Station on Tuesday (Sept. 12) aboard Russia's Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft. Alexander Misurkin, Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei will serve on the Expedition 53 and 54 crews during their five months in space together.
Sputnik on Soyuz
: Soyuz MS-06 will lift off on Tuesday (Sept. 12) from the same launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome where the world's first satellite departed Earth 60 years ago (less 22 days). To mark the anniversary, the Soyuz FG rocket that will loft the space station-bound spacecraft is adorned with a "First In Space" logo, while the crew, Alexander Misurkin, Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, will use a mini model of Sputnik as their zero-g indicator.
LEGO (space) review
: For the first time, two fan-created spaceflight-themed models have qualified for the same LEGO Ideas review. A companion launch tower for LEGO's recently released Apollo Saturn V rocket and a space shuttle in scale with the moon rocket each gathered 10,000 supporters on the Ideas website. The review could result in one or both, or neither, being produced by LEGO for sale.
Sputnik on Pluto
: Sputnik and Voyager are among the first official names for features on the surface of the dwarf planet Pluto. As first imaged by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in 2015, plains, mountains, depressions, and craters now bear approved names honoring spacecraft and explorers, scientists and underworld mythological entities.
Force-ful mission patch
: BB-8, K-2SO and Chopper, three popular droids from the "Star Wars" universe, gaze out at the International Space Station on a new space mission patch representing the science on the ISS National Laboratory. A collaboration between CASIS (the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space) and Lucasfilm, the Millennium Falcon-shaped patch is aimed at drawing more attention to the scientific research being done in orbit.
Golden Record revivals
: NASA on Tuesday (Sept. 5) marked the 40th anniversary of the Voyager 1 launch by transmitting a message to the distant probe – with the help of William Shatner. "Are the hailing frequencies open?" asked Shatner before giving the go to beam the signal. The interstellar "tweet" was among several projects inspired by the Voyager probes' Golden Record, four decades later.
Saturn V weathers the storm
: A week after Hurricane Harvey impacted Houston, visitors were again welcomed to tour NASA Johnson Space Center and its rocket park. The storm, which flooded significant parts of the city, left several NASA buildings damaged, but spared the Saturn V on display at the center's entrance. Space Center Houston, JSC's visitor center, reopened to the public Saturday (Sept. 2), as NASA prepared to resume work on Tuesday.
: Two NASA astronauts and a Roscosmos cosmonaut returned to Earth on Russia's Soyuz MS-04 from the International Space Station on Saturday (Sept. 2). Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer tallied 136 days off the planet, while their crewmate, Peggy Whitson, logged 288 days, bringing her career total to 665 days – more than any other American astronaut. The trio's departure from the space station marked the official end of Expedition 52.
: Sierra Nevada Corp's Dream Chaser engineering test article flew a captive carry flight test at Armstrong Flight Research Center in southern California on Wednesday (Aug. 30), advancing the development of the space plane. A Chinook helicopter lifted the Dream Chaser for the almost two hour test to collect data for a free flight to occur later this year. The lifting body is one of three private vehicles contracted by NASA to resupply the space station.
'Unity' on orbit
: A NASA astronaut on board the space station donned a special spacesuit on Wednesday (Aug. 23) to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Calling it an honor, Jack Fischer wore "Unity," a replica spacesuit that was painted by childhood cancer patients from around the world. Unity is the third garment produced by the Spacesuit Art Project and the second to be worn on the space station.
: Forty years after they began their journey to reveal the outer solar system and then sail onwards into interstellar space, NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft are brought near in "The Farthest," a new feature-length documentary airing Wednesday (Aug. 23) on PBS. Looking back at the two probes' past four decades, the film focuses on the people who made the historic mission possible.
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