: French designer Louis Vuitton's new ad campaign, as revealed on Monday, celebrates the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing by featuring Sally Ride, Buzz Aldrin and James Lovell in photographs taken by Annie Leibovitz. The astronauts' ad depicts the first American woman in space with the Apollo 11 moonwalker and the commander of Apollo 13 gazing at the Moon from atop an old truck. Part of the brand's larger "Core Values" campaign, the ads will appear in magazines this July stating "some journeys change mankind forever."
An artwork exhibit currently at Manatee Community College in Florida celebrates the "Black Flag on the Moon", as in Dolores Black, rather than the color of the cloth. A former flag seamstress Black recounts that she was the one who sewed the U.S. flag deployed by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the first lunar landing. She claims she could prove it too, as she secretly signed her name on the flag. Her claim however, is at odds with NASA's history of how the flown flag was obtained. Though the manufacturer was never disclosed, reports from the time document that the flag was purchased off-the-shelf, one being as specific as to name the store as Sears. So, the question remains: "Who made Apollo 11's flag?". The world may never know.
: According to NASA's current plans, the next time any part of the Hubble Space Telescope returns to Earth, it will be after a fiery reentry. As a result, the instruments that returned with space shuttle Atlantis last month are now the last intact artifacts of the famous orbiting observatory. Those devices, including the longest serving camera and Hubble's original 'eyeglasses' (as well as some of the crew's mementos), are destined to be museum displays after NASA workers unpack Atlantis.
: As confirmed during a press conference on Thursday, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté, will become the seventh self funded spaceflight participant when he flies to the International Space Station with the Soyuz TMA-16 crew this September. Canada's first "space tourist", he is dedicating his mission to raising humanity's awareness of water-related issues, a cause furthered by his ONE DROP Foundation. Laliberté's patch for his poetic social mission includes the station, Earth and his Foundation's drop logo.
: Now back from the last of the Hubble Telescope servicing missions, space shuttle Atlantis has only one flight remaining before it departs on its own last mission to space. It's penultimate flight, STS-129, is targeted to launch to the International Space Station in November to install two external carriers with spare equipment and parts. Atlantis will launch with six crew members and return with a seventh, Nicole Stott coming home from the station. The STS-129 crew patch, seen here for the first time online, depicts the orbiter and outpost above the Earth, set within the outline of the two diamond-shape ExPRESS Logistics Carriers they'll carry.
: Having been handed over from the Space Shuttle Program to the Constellation Program on May 31, Pad 39B continues to be dismantled at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Its lightning tower removed in March, Pad 39B's gaseous oxygen vent hood (the "beanie cap") and arm was detached and lowered the 227 feet to the ground on June 3. The 13-foot wide hood (and 80 foot arm) was used to prevent ice from forming at the top of the shuttle's external fuel tank before launch. It was removed for the Ares I-X launch, targeted for August.
: In Andrew Chaikin's new book "Voices from the Moon" the best of the Apollo photography is paired with the testimony of the astronauts as was told to Chaikin while researching "A Man on the Moon". When it came to photos of the first man on the Moon however, NASA's Hasselblad stills would simply not do. Instead, he turned to another source, one he first took notice of some two decades earlier. The result, as Chaikin describes in his interview with collectSPACE, is the "best view we have of Armstrong on the Moon." Indeed, the new image brings us 'face-to-face' with the Apollo 11 astronaut.
: Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and U.S. astronaut Mike Barratt tied a 44 year old record on June 10 for the shortest spacewalk in history though they never stepped outside their spacecraft. Wearing Orlan spacesuits, Padalka and Barratt worked for twelve minutes to replace a hatch with a docking cone on the International Space Station's Zvezda module readying for the addition of a new Russian mini-research module in November. The dozen minute intra-vehicular activity (IVA) was the shortest of the station's 125 spacewalks and took the same amount of time as the first and quickest walk in history as conducted by Alexei Leonov aboard Voskhod 2.
NASA's first mission to return the Moon in more than a decade, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) launched on an Atlas V rocket at 4:32 p.m. CDT Thursday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. LRO will take four days on its trip to the Moon before spending at least a year mapping the surface from a low polar orbit, identifying landing sites and resources to support humans returning to the Moon. LCROSS, attached to the Atlas' Centaur upper stage, will flyby the Moon and enter an elongated Earth orbit setting its trajectory for an October 9, 2009 impact with the lunar south pole. LCROSS will study the plume expelled by the Centaur for water ice before it also collides with the Moon.
: The bridge over which 53 astronaut crews crossed from Pad 39B's gantry into the space shuttle came down on Saturday to make way for the lift-off of Ares I-X, the first test of NASA's next generation launch vehicle. The 65 foot long orbiter access arm, which supported the environmental chamber or 'white room' that led to the shuttle's crew cabin hatch, was located 147 feet above the surface. Like the pad's 'beanie cap', which was removed earlier this month, the access arm will eventually join the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex's exhibits.
: "All you need is the rocket experience..." Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 moonwalker, "relates" in his first rap, recorded for the site Funny or Die as an mp3 now for sale on iTunes and behind-the-scenes in a video with Snoop Dogg and Talib Kweli. "I've been there, now I say it's your turn." Timed to coincide with the release of his new memoir "Magnificent Desolation", "Rocket Experience" abbreviates Aldrin's 40 year old adventure. "It took four days riding on a rocket to set foot for the very first time... I'm going to tell you about the meaning of it all... We came in peace for all mankind."
: When the Soyuz TMA-16 crew -- including Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Canadian spaceflight participant Guy Laliberte -- launches to the International Space Station this September, their pressure suits will be decorated with a colorful mission patch based upon a contest entry by a 14-year old Russian girl. Nastya Mestyashova's winning logo design includes a cosmonaut holding three large stars, one for each crewmember. In the final version of the emblem, the stem from a growing plant (symbolizing Earth) merges into a ISS-bound rocket's trail, forming the mission's numerical designation ("16"). As the winner, Mestyashova has been invited to be at the launch.
: Visitors to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum this week caught view of a rare sight: an Apollo lunar module undergoing a facelift. Lunar Module-2 (LM-2), which never flew but was one of the original dozen spacecraft built for the lunar landing program, has been on display as part of the national collection since 1970. In preparation for next month's 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, curators consulted with LM restoration expert Paul Fjeld to remove LM-2's aging outer layer of kapton foil and replace it such that the module would better match the appearance of "Eagle," the spacecraft that brought Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the first Moon landing. In the process of removing the old covering, curators discovered a communications antenna for lunar surface-use that they were unaware was aboard.
: Every week that rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun led the Marshall Space Flight Center as its first director, his 35 division and project leaders would prepare for him a one-page summary report of their work. These 35 pages would arrive on von Braun's desk each Friday and usually would be returned with his comments by Tuesday morning. These "Monday notes" documented everything from the details behind the development of the Saturn V rocket to the management of the space center within the larger context of NASA and the nation. Forty years later, many historians consider the notes as a rich source of data, so NASA is soliciting for suggestions from the public, academia, and industry as to how to electronically present the papers to ease research.
: Italian pen maker Omas is commemorating Apollo 11's 40th anniversary with "One Small Step", a white gold-crafted writing instrument limited to 7 roller balls and 21 fountain pens, evoking the date of the first lunar landing (July 21 by GMT). Each hand-sculpted pen features bootprints embossed along its body with a clip that forms a miniature model of the flight's trajectory, from the topaz and diamond-encrusted Earth to the Moon. "One Small Step" retails for $49,000 (35,000€).
: The Walt Disney Company had planned to mark the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 with the release of five limited edition pins under their "Disney Pin Trading" program, but the series was canceled for a "variety of reasons" according to the company's website. The pins, which would have been limited to 2,000 pieces each had they been released, would have featured Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Stitch, in scenes from the first manned lunar landing. The canceled set was revealed in connection with an auction of pre-production pins held on Saturday during a trading event at Disney World in Florida.
: NASA announced the members of its 20th class of astronaut candidates on Monday, following the review of more than 3,500 applications. The nine-member 2009 class will begin their training in August at the Johnson Space Center. Ranging from 30 to 43 years of age, the new ascans are: Serena Aunon, Jeanette Epps, Jack Fischer, Michael Hopkins, Kjell Lindgren, Kathleen Rubins, Scott Tingle, Mark Vande Hei and Gregory Wiseman. They'll train for International Space Station expeditions and new exploration missions.
: Moonwalker Charlie Duke, commenting on the lunar dust-rich atmosphere inside Apollo 16's lunar module, radioed "It has that taste -- to me, [of] gunpowder -- and the smell of gunpowder, too." Choclatique, a California-based artisanal confection company, imagined tastier -- and more colorful -- moon rocks for their Apollo 11 40th anniversary tribute. Their Moon Rocks Collection includes 15 hand decorated and hand filled chocolates with flavors including Lift Off Lime, Mission Control Fig, NASA Nuts and Tangy Orange.
: Taschen, the German publisher responsible for the second most expensive book in history (the $12,500, 75 pound, 700 page tribute to Muhammad Ali, "Greatest Of All Time") has announced the details behind its Apollo 40th anniversary tome, "Moonfire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11". Limited to 1,969 copies, the oversized (12.8 by 15.7 in.) 350-page book combines the text from author Norman Mailer's 1971 "Of a Fire on the Moon" with the archival photographs from NASA's and LIFE magazine's collection. Each copy retails for $1,000, which includes a framed and numbered print autographed by Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. Twelve copies (#s 1958 to 1969) also come with a real piece of the Moon -- a lunar meteorite -- encapsulated by designer Marc Newson.