: Although there were no space-flown flowers like last year, the 2010 Tournament of Roses Parade held Friday in California still included a nod to NASA. The Ronald McDonald House Charities' float not only integrated a rice and seaweed space shuttle but also two real astronauts, recent STS-129 mission specialists Leland Melvin and Robert Satcher, riding along. The float, appropriately titled "Space Odyssey," featured an orange and yellow strawflower galactic space station 'powered' by eucalyptus leaf solar panels and chrysanthemum antenna.
: NASA's self-titled "Chief Hubble Hugger" who flew three times to service and upgrade the space telescope is leaving the agency to help lead the science operations for the orbiting observatory. John Grunsfeld, who last May logged his fifth space flight onboard the final shuttle mission to visit Hubble, has become the deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) where he will employ his "expertise in the areas of space exploration concepts and technologies" toward the future use of the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes.
: NASA on Monday revealed the 15 finalists in its space shuttle commemorative patch contest, picking from the 85 designs entered by past and present space shuttle workers. The 'Top 15' will now vie to be the winner of two votes: a 'People's Choice' poll among the agency's employees and a panel of five shuttle program managers serving as judges. The latter will select the winning design, which will be flown on STS-132, based partially on the patch chosen as the employees' favorite.
: Four chips off the Moon that were brought to Earth in 1969 and taken to the top of the world in 2009 are set to return to space next month together with a piece of the peak they visited. Scott Parazynski, the first astronaut to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, presented to NASA Wednesday a stone from the mountain's top along with the acrylic-encased moon rocks he had borrowed for the trip. Accepting them for the space agency was George Zamka, who as STS-130 commander will bring the well-traveled rocks to the International Space Station to symbolize NASA's commitment to exploration.
: NASA on Monday began its employee-only "People's Choice" poll as part of its contest to design and choose a patch to represent the end of the space shuttle program. The vote, which the contest's judges will take into account before selecting the winner, runs until Jan. 29. collectSPACE also began a poll Monday, albiet an unofficial one to identify the public's pick. Will the fans' choice match the space workers' fave?
: Nike has expanded its 6.0 line of sportswear inspired by the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landings, following the earlier introduction of the Mavrk Mid 2 Rocket Hero sneakers that they designed in collaboration with astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The Nike 6.0 Explorer Pack includes shirts, hats, hoodies and jackets that borrow elements from NASA spacesuits, such as the use of red and blue Velcro fasteners, as well as galaxy print, space chimp and mission patch motifs.
: On Monday, the trailer for Warner Bros Pictures' and IMAX's "Hubble 3D" debuted online after appearing for a few weeks in select IMAX 3D theaters attached to James Cameron's "Avatar." The two minute and 20 second preview provides a first look at the ground and on-orbit footage shot last May during the STS-125 mission to service the space telescope. "Hubble 3D" is scheduled to open in theaters worldwide March 19.
: NASA has slashed its price to museums to acquire and display the three space shuttle orbiters after they're retired later this year. Announced Friday as part of a revised request for information, the new cost deducts an earlier requirement for institutions to pay for the spacecraft to be "safed," lowering the bill from an estimated $42 million in Dec. 2008 to just $28.8 million covering the orbiter's transportation from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to a U.S. airport. The agency also moved up its schedule to deliver the shuttles to their final homes to July 2011, six months earlier than anticipated.
: The Outpost Tavern, the relocated pilot barracks-turned- astronaut hangout located near the Johnson Space Center, closed Thursday, earlier than had been expected. Midway into a schedule of farewell parties and having removed much of the space memorabilia that famously lined the bar walls, the tavern's proprietors found themselves suddenly locked out by the owner of the land on which the Outpost sits. The Houston Chronicle's Beer, TX blog reported Friday that the property owner plans to move the building, give it a family-friendly upgrade, and then reopen "to preserve the Outpost... from an historical perspective," but that is at odds with Stefanie Foster, the current license owner. "If he thinks he is going to use the Outpost Tavern name... this is going to court."
Buzz Lightyear, Disney's animated space ranger who, in the form a 12-inch action figure, took a real trip to the International Space Station in 2008, now has his own mission patch courtesy of an 11-year old boy. The Walt Disney Company announced Tuesday the winning design in its "Mission Patch Design Challenge" held in cooperation with NASA. The patch will fly onboard one of the final shuttle missions to the station before being awarded to its artist by NASA and Disney.
: With its online catalog restocked with 2,500 or so potential artifacts, NASA began on Tuesday the second round of its web-based program for museums and educational institutions to request spacecraft parts and accessories for display. The first round, which was conducted last fall, allocated all 913 space shuttle artifacts it listed, including full scale orbiter mock-ups used for training. For its next set of equipment, which museums have through April to browse, NASA dug even deeper into its 50+ year history to offer artifacts from its 1960s Gemini and Apollo programs, in addition to more modern space shuttle and Hubble telescope components.
: "I see Earth. It's so beautiful!" were the first words spoken by Yuri Gagarin after entering orbit in 1961. "From the lovely Apollo room, high atop everything," printed on a cue card, were the first words seen on live television transmitted from space by Apollo 7 in 1967. "Hello, Earth! Greetings from the STS-43 Crew! This is the first Applelink from space," began the first e-mail, sent via a Macintosh Portable onboard space shuttle Atlantis in 1991. And on Friday came the first 140 character tweet to be posted directly to Twitter from onboard the International Space Station: "Hello Twitterverse! We [are] now LIVE..."
After six years roving the Red Planet and ten months stuck in soft sands, Mars Exploration Rover Spirit will start its new mission, serving as a stationary science platform, if it can survive the coming Martian winter. Mired beside the western edge of a low plateau, Spirit's final resting place, dubbed "Home Plate," will become NASA's newest station for studies into the nature of the Mars' core and the composition of nearby soil. First though, rover drivers will try to position Spirit so that they can maximize its solar panels' sunlight exposure for the Martian winter, which lasts from May to November.
: NASA on Wednesday set Feb. 7, Super Bowl Sunday for the launch of shuttle Endeavour and the STS-130 mission as the crewmembers from November's STS-129 mission presented the NFL with the space-flown flip coin to be used at the game. The gold and silver coin, which was struck last August by The Highland Mint, was revealed by the astronauts at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Before heading to the Sun Life Stadium in Miami, the coin will be returned to the mint where logos for the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints will be added to the gold-plated helmets.
: NASA's Glenn Research Center will move its on-site visitor center to the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland in an effort to continue exhibiting its past and present work, lacking the funds to maintain its own public facility. Announced on Thursday, the Great Lakes Science Center plans to adapt the Glenn Center's current exhibits, including the Skylab 3 command module on loan from the Smithsonian, to build an updated, interactive $3 million visitor center for Glenn, expected to open in 2011. Students will have free access to the exhibits on Tuesdays, if accompanied by an adult.
: The more than 106 items left behind at Tranquility Base by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were granted on Friday California Historical Resource status by the state's office of historic preservation. The opening move of a multi-state effort to establish the first off-planet National Historic Landmark -- and ultimately United Nations World Heritage Site -- the nomination lists such items as the science experiment packages that the astronauts deployed, but also their camera and spacesuit parts that were ejected before leaving the moon. Even the footprints they created during the Apollo 11 mission are protected, though not the land itself, as the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibits nations from sovereignty claims.
: The last mission patch for space shuttle Atlantis, which was first spotted on an ornament last December, features the orbiter flying off into the sunset symbolizing the shuttle program nearing its end. The sun however, also heralds the promise of a new day as it rises for the first time on MRM-1, STS-132's new module for the International Space Station, a Russian-built docking cargo port also called Рассвет ("Dawn"). Atlantis is scheduled to launch the STS-132 crew in May 2010.