February 1, 2009 / 11:55 p.m. CT (0555 GMT Feb 2) High-flying fan: The Steelers' Super Bowl win on Sunday evening was celebrated by fans around the world, and by at least one fan who was cheering as he flew around it. Pittsburgh-born astronaut Mike Fincke, who since October has been serving as commander on-board the International Space Station, made it clear in pre-game interviews that the outpost and its residents were part of "Steelers' Country." Having packed a Steelers' cap and a "Terrible Towel", the latter a popular Steelers' fan symbol, for his time in orbit, Fincke and his ISS crewmates Sandy Magnus and Yuri Lonchakov tuned in to watch the Super Bowl via a live uplink courtesy of NASA's Mission Control.
February 3, 2009 / 10:22 a.m. CT (1622 GMT) Ninth nation into space: Iran late Monday launched its first domestically-built satellite atop a Safir 2 long-range missile, making it the ninth spacefaring nation. The Omid (or Hope in Farsi) satellite carries experimental control systems, communications equipment and a small remote-sensing payload. Iran's first space launch followed the former Soviet Union, U.S., France, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, India, and Israel as countries capable of building and launching their own satellites and spacecraft.
February 4, 2009 / 5:11 p.m. CT (2311 GMT) Saving the space shuttle: Late last year, NASA formally began the public process of deciding what should become of its space shuttles after they stop flying. For NASA's infrastructure manager Rich Wickman and artifacts lead Lindy Fortenberry that meant more than just the fate of three orbiters, but also the disposition of more than 1.2 million line items -- flown and unflown parts that will be left over. NASA's Rendezvous employee magazine interviewed Wickman and Fortenberry, as well as Valerie Neal, space shuttle curator for the National Air and Space Museum, about their steps forward to saving the shuttles.
February 5, 2009 / 3:03 p.m. CT (2103 GMT) Patch preview | TMA-14 || C. Simonyi: In March, former Microsoft software developer Charles Simonyi is scheduled to launch on Soyuz TMA-14, making him the first space flight participant to self-fund a second flight to the International Space Station. Like his first mission in 2007, Simonyi has chosen a motto and insignia design to symbolize his flight. Similar in appearance to the patch he wore on TMA-10, Simonyi's new emblem borrows a quote from a book that he flew and left on the station: Goethe's "Faust". Both the slogan and artwork invokes the "Eternal Feminine" as the abstract notion that "Draws Us Upward."
February 12, 2009 / 4:50 a.m. CT (1050 GMT) Satellite strikes satellite: For the first time, two Earth satellites have collided with each other. On Tuesday morning while flying 490 miles above Siberia, Russia's Cosmos 2251 satellite, in orbit since 1993, struck the U.S. commercial Iridium 33, which was launched in 1997. Their collision resulted in more than 500 pieces of debris, which now pose a threat to other spacecraft. The unprecedented impact was described by Iridium as a "very low probability event", which was supported by NASA, citing its record of only three previous instances of large objects being struck while in orbit, and those collisions were with small objects.
February 16, 2009 / 12:52 p.m. CT (1852 GMT) Konrad Dannenberg (1912-2009): German rocket pioneer Konrad Dannenberg passed away on Monday at age 96. One of the last surviving members of Wernher von Braun's team brought to the U.S. after World War II, Dannenberg helped design the country's first large ballistic missile, the Redstone, which ultimately launched the first Americans into space. As NASA's deputy manager for the Saturn program, Dannenberg oversaw development of the largest launch vehicle ever built, the Saturn V, which took the first astronauts to the Moon. He retired in 1973 as the deputy director of the then-fledging space station program.
February 16, 2009 / 10:04 p.m. CT (0404 GMT Feb 17) Astronaut goes for a sea-walk: Astronaut James Reilly was found by local fisherman floating 300 meters off the coast of Turkey. The sea-walking statue of the former NASA spacewalker went missing on Sunday from Marmaris Marina, where "he" stood since June 6, 1997 in appreciation of the real Reilly carrying in space the flag of Turkey and a Marmaris pennant. Though it's unknown why the statue was sunk, critics had said it looked more like a diver than the three-time shuttle astronaut it was honoring.
February 18, 2009 / 11:29 p.m. CT (0529 GMT Feb 19) Spaceflori spin-off: Germany-based online space memorabilia dealer Spaceflori, which for 11 years has offered space artifacts and limited edition displays, recently launched a spin-off website to showcase more unusual examples of historic space relics. The SFlo-Collection has both a catalog of items for sale and a showroom to feature memorabilia from their archives and items previously sold.
February 19, 2009 / 10:57 a.m. CT (1657 GMT) T-38 story in Story's photos: Though they are best known for flying in space shuttles, NASA's astronauts spend more time in the cockpits of Northrop T-38 Talons than they do in the orbiters. Forty-two years after his first flight in the supersonic trainer, six-time space shuttle astronaut Story Musgrave has written and illustrated "The NASA Northrop T-38: Photographic Art from an Astronaut Pilot" to be published in March. Filling 266 pages with his personal photos of the jet, taken on the ground and in the sky, Musgrave celebrates the T-38's 50 year flight history.
February 20, 2009 / 9:45 a.m. CT (1545 GMT) Naming station spacecraft: The European Space Agency announced Thursday that its second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for the International Space Station will carry the name of German astronomer Johannes Kepler, whose three laws described the motion of planets. Separately, NASA on Thursday invited the public to name the Node 3 connecting module and its observation cupola, which like the ATV is scheduled to launch in 2010. NASA has suggested four names: Earthrise, Legacy, Serenity or Venture -- or the public can enter their own until March 20.
February 23, 2009 / 3:39 p.m. CT (2139 GMT) Robert Wood (1957-2009): NASA's second selected industry payload specialist, Robert Wood was tragically killed Thursday when a drunk driver struck his car. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, Wood, 51, was instantly killed upon impact. In 1985, Wood trained to be backup for Charles Walker, a fellow McDonnell Douglas engineer who was flying a third time with the company's electrophoresis system on STS-61B. Wood's STS-61M flight was planned for July 1986, but was cancelled after Challenger was lost.
February 26, 2009 / 12:31 a.m. CT (0631 GMT) Rocket rookie card: The idea of crossing baseball cards with space subjects is not new, but while previous sets have featured space scenes and astronauts, this may be the first time that a rocket has had its own "rookie" card. Released earlier in February, Upper Deck's Series One baseball cards include a set of nine "Historic Firsts" cards randomly inserted at a rate of one for every six packs. Among those, collectors will find a card for the "First Privately Developed Space Launch" honoring Elon Musk's SpaceX and their fourth (and first fully successful) flight of the Falcon 1 liquid fuel rocket in September 2008.
February 26, 2009 / 3:32 p.m. CT (2132 GMT) Replica recovery: Re-staging a scene from its history, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum hoisted a replica of Gemini 3 to its deck on Thursday, a month shy of the 44th anniversary of the aircraft carrier's recovery operations for NASA's first two-manned mission. The full scale model was lifted by crane from New York City's Pier 86 where the museum is moored, instead of the ocean as with the original. The replica will join other space displays aboard Intrepid, including a model of the Aurora 7 Mercury capsule (pilot Scott Carpenter was airlifted to the Intrepid after his 1962 flight). The real Gemini 3 is exhibited at the Virgil "Gus" Grissom Memorial Museum, Mitchell, Indiana.
February 27, 2009 / 7:55 a.m. CT (1355 GMT) Flown-metal medal for 50 years: Although NASA's 50th anniversary was last year, the agency recently ordered a commemorative medal from Winco Intl. to be created in part from metal that was flown on-board a space shuttle mission. The 50th anniversary medallion continues NASA's long history of issuing such flown-metal medals in celebration of milestone achievements, dating as far back as 40 years and the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon. For the first time though the agency has allowed a narrow window during which Winco can offer the coin to the public, before the one-time minting begins to meet a release in late April.