With the arrival of 2023, comes a new year's worth of space collectibles celebrating the past, present and future of exploration. On this trip around the Sun, NASA will begin distributing its first new flown-to-the-moon memorabilia in more than 50 years. The bigger news though, may be the release of the first SpaceX toys made as part of a multi-year agreement with Mattel. A new chance at space stamps and coins, along with a slate of mission patches round out what the new year may bring.
The United States' second civilian astronaut to fly into space and a member of the first crew to test the Apollo command module in orbit, Walt Cunningham died on Tuesday (Jan. 3) at the age of 90. Together with Apollo 7 crewmates Wally Schirra and Donn Eisele, Cunningham proved that the redesigned Apollo capsule was ready to fly astronauts to the moon. He then helped lead the plans for the Skylab orbital workshop.
Hong Kong-based watch brand UNDONE has introduced a new set of timepieces celebrating the 1975 visit by the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project crew to the Magic Kingdom. Limited to just 100 units, the $1500 Disney Space Legend box set includes two watches ("Apollo" and "Soyuz") and a desktop "mission timer." The kit also includes collectible decals featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other characters sporting spacesuit gear.
The color orange and a depiction of the marbled blue Earth each symbolize aspects that are personal to the two NASA astronauts who are set to launch on Boeing's Starliner spacecraft for the first time. Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams both added design elements to Boeing's Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission patch representing their roles on the spacecraft. The final art for the CFT patch was revealed by Boeing Thursday (Jan. 5).
The Astronauts Memorial Foundation, working with Elite Coinage and Rex3 Printing, has revealed a new collectible in celebration of NASA's return to the moon. The AMF Artemis I note is similar in size and style to a banknote, but is a limited edition collectible rather than legal tender. Planned as the first in a series, the notes are individually serialized and security features to protect against alteration or duplication. Each note comes either in a high-quality acrylic holder or is graded and encapsulated.
The People's Bank of China has issued new gold and silver coins in commemoration of the completion of the Chinese space station. The coins depict the Tiangong ("Heavenly Palace") complex, as well the steps it took China's Manned Spaceflight Project to reach its completion. The new commemoratives follow the China Post releasing a set of four postage stamps to mark the same event with similar spacewalk and station images.
More than a month after he returned from the moon, Snoopy is back at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The plush version of Charles Schulz' comic strip beagle was retrieved from the Orion capsule that flew it to the moon and back. New NASA photos show Snoopy dressed in his custom spacesuit while still sporting a smile being moved to his carry case. Snoopy flew as the Artemis I "zero-g indicator," floating about Orion on a leash.
Fifty-eight (58) years after it lifted off on NASA's Gemini 5 mission, the first recovered U.S. rocket stage is now back at its launch site. The Titan II segment was delivered to the Cape Canaveral Space Force Museum in Florida on Thursday (Jan. 19) after being held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama for the past several decades. The stage had not been designed to be recovered, but was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
Often overlooked, Lyndon B. Johnson may have done more to shape the United States' space exploration efforts than any politician in the country's history. Mark Updegrove, president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation, spoke with collectSPACE about how the public views Johnson's legacy now 50 years after the president's death and why his association as "Mr. Space" is forgotten.
For the millions of drivers who took I-65 from Tennessee into Alabama, it served as a towering welcome sign. One of only two remaining such rockets, the Saturn IB display at the Ardmore rest stop stood for 44 years. NASA and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center have now decided it is too degraded to keep safely standing and should be replaced. A mix of real and mockup components, the Saturn IB may not survive the work needed to lower it.
Apollo 7 pilot Walt Cunningham was memorialized on Tuesday (Jan. 24), at a funeral service held in Houston. A panel of fellow astronauts who knew Cunningham shared their memories from working with him at NASA or getting to know him after leaving the program. Though their experiences differed, all agreed Cunningham had been a good friend and mentor.
NASA observed its annual Day of Remembrance of Thursday (Jan. 26), pausing to honor those who gave their lives in the pursuit of space exploration. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the space shuttle Columbia tragedy, which claimed the crew of STS-107 just minutes before they were scheduled to land. NASA remembered the astronauts at events across the nation, including a ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial.
It seems that regardless of where you travel today, you can see people wearing t-shirts, ball caps and other apparel emblazoned with the NASA logo. Now, ESA (European Space Agency) wants a piece of that action. The intergovernmental organization has made its merchandising process easier in an effort to increase its general visibility in Europe. The ESA Brand Center has all that is needed to add ESA's logo and patches to products.
For the first time in 17 years, two NASA astronauts have been awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who in 2020 became the first U.S. crew to launch on a commercial spacecraft, were bestowed with the medal at a White House ceremony on Tuesday (Jan. 31). The two SpaceX Dragon DM-2 crewmates bring the total number of medal recipients to 30 since it was first awarded in 1978.