LEGO launches Mars Curiosity kit: LEGO on Wednesday (Jan. 1) launched its fifth fan designed brick set, the NASA Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover. The six-wheeled model came to be through LEGO CUUSOO, the Danish toy company's social creation platform. As the 295-piece Curiosity lifts off, proposed models of the Apollo moon landing, Hubble Space Telescope and New Horizons Pluto-bound probe are rising in the LEGO CUUSOO ranks.
January 3, 2014 / 9:45 a.m. CT (1545 GMT) Chinese moon rover stamps, medals: The China Post and ICBC (China's largest bank) have partnered with China's National Space Administration to issue postage stamps and medallions commemorating the nation's first moon landing. The collectibles, which depict the Chang'e-3 mission's lander and Yutu rover, also include a gold statue of the Chinese moon goddess Chang'e crafted in part from Long March 3B rocket debris recovered after the launch.
January 4, 2014 / 10:20 a.m. CT (1620 GMT) Trading shuttles for space planes: Boeing will convert the former space shuttle hangar Orbiter Processing Facility-1 at the Kennedy Space Center to "enable the U.S. Air Force to efficiently land, recover, refurbish, and re-launch the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle," the company said on Friday (Jan. 3). The secretive military space plane has been launched on three classified missions (the third flight is still in Earth orbit). OPF-1 is the second shuttle hangar to be commercially leased; Boeing took over use of OPF-3 in 2011 to support its CST-100 crewed spacecraft.
January 7, 2014 / 7:30 a.m. CT (1330 GMT) Story Time From Space: Among the space station supplies and experiments packed on Orbital Sciences' Cygnus freighter set to lift off for the orbiting outpost are five children's books. Author Jeffrey Bennett's science-rich stories about a dog named Max exploring the moon, Mars and Jupiter comprise a new educational outreach program called "Story Time From Space." The space station's crew members will record themselves reading the books and the resulting videos will be shared with kids around the world.
January 8, 2014 / 11:30 a.m. CT (1730 GMT) - UPDATED Space weather scrub: Wednesday (Jan. 8), Orbital Sciences postponed the launch of its space station cargo craft due to a massive solar flare emanating from one of the largest sunspot groups seen in a decade. The high level of space radiation posed a potential risk to the safe flight of Orbital's Antares rocket. Now targeted for launch on Thursday, the Cygnus will lift off on the first of Orbital's eight contracted cargo deliveries to the space station.
Cygnus soars for station: Orbital Sciences launched a cargo spacecraft Thursday (Jan. 9) on its first NASA-contracted supply flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The Orb-1 mission's Cygnus freighter, named the Spaceship C. Gordon Fullerton after the late astronaut and research pilot, lifted off atop an Orbital Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Set to arrive at the station on Sunday, the Cygnus is packed with science experiments and crew supplies, including a space ant farm and storybooks for the astronauts to read to children.
January 9, 2014 / 7:25 p.m. CT (0125 GMT Jan 10) Neil A Armstrong Flight Research Center: The Senate on Wednesday (Jan. 8) voted to redesignate NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California the "NASA Neil A. Armstrong Research Center" to honor the late astronaut. The bill, earlier approved by the House, was presented to the President Thursday to be signed into law. The legislation also relabels the center's surrounding range to continue honoring aeronautics pioneer Hugh Dryden.
January 15, 2014 / 6:50 p.m. CT (0050 GMT Jan 16) Messages to Bennu! NASA on Wednesday (Jan. 15) invited people around the world to submit their names to be etched onto a chip aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016. The "Messages to Bennu!" microchip will travel with the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission. The public outreach campaign is the latest "send your name to space"-type project, which dates back more than 15 years involving a dozen planetary probes.
January 19, 2014 / 2:05 p.m. CT (2005 GMT) Reflections of Apollo: Leslie Cantwell first began collecting signed and inscribed Apollo photos in 1981 with an autographed print by astronaut Jim Irwin, the eighth man to walk on the moon. In the three decades since, he has sought to pair large format photos with the astronauts' handwritten notes, culling inspiration from classic works of literature and the lunar voyagers own words. The result, an exhibition called "Reflections: Images of Apollo" is now on display at the Governor's Gallery in the New Mexico State Capitol, via the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
January 21, 2014 / 5:15 p.m. CT (2315 GMT) - UPDATED VAB closing to public (again): Since 2011 and the retirement of the space shuttle, the public has had the chance to tour inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center — a rare opportunity that was off-limits for 30 years. Now as the VAB is readied for its next vehicles, including NASA's advanced heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), tours inside the voluminous building are again ending. NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has announced guests have until Feb. 11 23 for the Vehicle Assembly Building "Up Close" tour.
January 24, 2014 / 12:00 a.m. CT (0600 GMT) Date for Dream Chaser: Sierra Nevada will launch its commercial Dream Chaser space plane on its first orbital mission on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the company announced on Thursday (Jan. 23). The mini-shuttle, which is among the private spacecraft NASA may contract to fly crews to and from the space station, will be serviced between missions in the Kennedy Space Center's Operations and Checkout (O&C) building, and will use the center's Shuttle Landing Facility to return from space.
January 24, 2014 / 1:20 p.m. CT (1920 GMT) Ten years on Mars: On this, the day of its 10th anniversary on the Red Planet, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover (MER) "Opportunity" is exploring the rim of the Endeavour Crater. The robot has driven a record 24 miles (38.7 km) from where it landed on Jan. 24, 2004. New findings from rock samples collected and examined by Opportunity have confirmed an ancient wet environment on Mars that was milder and older than the acidic, oxidizing conditions revealed by rocks the rover encountered previously.
January 27, 2014 / 2:35 p.m. CT (2035 GMT) - UPDATED 'Take two' for Earth-viewing cameras: For the second time in a month, Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy installed a pair of Earth-viewing cameras outside of the International Space Station on Monday (Jan. 27). Despite Russian flight controller reports to the contrary, UrtheCast Corporation officials said that both of the company's Earth imaging cameras were returning telemetry and would soon begin routine commissioning for commercial service.
January 31, 2014 / 10:20 a.m. CT (1620 GMT) Apollo Hasselblad auction: The WestLicht Gallery in Vienna, Austria has announced its March 22 auction will include a 70-millimeter Hasselblad Electric Data Camera (EDC) that was used on the surface of the moon during the 1971 Apollo 15 mission. The camera, according to the gallery, can be identified as the same used by moonwalker Jim Irwin by the registration number on its Reseau plate, a small glass pane that was used to superimpose crosshairs on the 299 photos taken by the camera. WestLicht is also claiming the Hasselblad camera is the only one returned to Earth, though the mission transcripts suggest that at least one, if not two others, were brought back from the moon.