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February 1, 2010

/ 6:56 a.m. CT (1256 GMT)

Picking the patch for shuttle's end

: After almost three weeks polling its employees, NASA has identified the "People's Choice" for their insignia commemorating the end of the space shuttle program, targeted for later this year. The favorite patch received nearly 30 percent of the workers' votes, but ultimately differed from the choice ranked highest by fans voting in collectSPACE's unofficial public poll conducted over the same period. Space shuttle program managers will consider the People's Choice when they choose the winning design to fly onboard Atlantis.

February 1, 2010

/ 6:02 p.m. CT (0002 GMT Feb 2)

Constellation canceled for new plan

: The White House on Monday released its fiscal year 2011 budget proposal for NASA calling for the Moon-focused Constellation program to be canceled. In its place, the President's plan commits to operating the International Space Station through 2020 and investing in commercial crew and cargo spacecraft and "game-changing" technologies intended to put the nation on a sustainable forward path into space.

February 3, 2010

/ 7:05 a.m. CT (1305 GMT)

Houston, we have a Blu-ray disc

: To mark the 40th anniversary of the mission and 15 years since of the debut of the film, "Apollo 13" will be released by Universal Studios for the first time on 'Blu-ray Hi-Def' on April 13. The "15th Anniversary Edition" includes the previous DVD bonus features -- including audio commentary by the real Jim Lovell and his wife Marilyn -- as well Universal's new U-Control options that offer Apollo-era history and science and technology explanations while the movie is playing.

February 4, 2010

/ 6:05 a.m. CT (1205 GMT)

Canceled, but still space-bound

: NASA's Constellation program to land astronauts on the Moon may be scrubbed, but it -- or more accurately, its logo -- hasn't been grounded. Space shuttle Endeavour, set to launch the STS-130 mission next week, is poised to loft 25 lapel pins bearing the red, white and blue program emblem. The pins are stowed in the Official Flight Kit (OFK) alongside many other mementos flying to the International Space Station.

February 8, 2010

/ 8:29 a.m. CT (1205 GMT)

Night flights' last blast

: For what was very likely the last time, shuttle Endeavour lifted off into the darkness of the pre-dawn sky on Monday at 3:14 a.m. CST, leaving just four daytime launches remaining for the 29-year space shuttle program to fly in 2010 before retiring. The STS-130 mission off to a brilliant start, the flight delivers the Tranquility module and its adjoining observation portal, called the Cupola, to the International Space Station (ISS) and includes three extravehicular activities to install them.

February 10, 2010

/ 6:48 p.m. CT (0048 GMT Feb 11)


: Once orbiting at about 22,300 miles above Earth, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will point its instruments and begin continuously taking images of the sun, giving researchers the data needed to eventually predict solar storms and other activity affecting spacecraft, astronauts on the International Space Station, and electronic systems on the ground. The high-resolution probe's launch, reset for Thursday morning after a weather delay Wednesday, is being commemorated in a decidedly lower-resolution, but no less awesome way: in LEGO! The limited edition model kit, which was created using LEGO's Digital Designer software by space advocate John Knight, was adopted by the SDO team for their outreach activities and is now available for order through LEGO's website.

February 12, 2010

/ 5:07 a.m. CT (1108 GMT)

Spinning shuttle

: Three years after issuing its first "orbital coin," Australia's Perth Mint has announced its fifth and final installment in its "Orbit and Beyond" series. Celebrating the STS-1 mission in 1981, the First Space Shuttle Orbital Coin -- like the four previous coins honoring Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin, the first spacewalk, and first moon landing -- has the unique feature of a rotating outer ring, in this case depicting the different flight configurations of the shuttle, from launch through orbit to landing. At its center, as with the prior coins, is an image of the Earth, such that the space shuttle (and earlier designs) "orbit" the planet.

February 12, 2010

/ 5:35 p.m. CT (2335 GMT)

Astronauts at the Olympics

: Julie Payette was among the torchbearers on Wednesday carrying the Olympic flame on its final leg in Vancouver leading to the opening ceremony Friday evening. Payette, who flew on space shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station last July, was among (at least) three Canadian Space Agency astronauts who ran with the torch, including Canada's first female in space and her alternate. Other space explorers, including two Apollo moonwalkers, will be in Vancouver at the Winter Olympic Games, taking part as spectators and, in one case, as the honorary captain of a U.S. team.

February 17, 2010

/ 12:04 p.m. CT (1804 GMT)

Patch chosen for shuttle's end

: NASA on Monday announced Blake Dumesnil as the winner of its space shuttle commemorative patch contest, which challenged the space agency's past and current workers to design an insignia that marked the approaching retirement of the winged spacecraft. Dumesnil's winning artwork, which will be digitally uplinked to the International Space Station and then flown back to Earth with Endeavour's STS-130 crew, depicted the space transportation system flanked by the American flag and stars representing both NASA's orbiter fleet and the astronaut crews whose lives were lost flying aboard them. NASA also named Jennifer Franzo and Tim Gagnon as second and third place winners, respectively.

February 19, 2010

/ 2:30 a.m. CT (0830 GMT)

Lacy Veach's 'windows on the world'

: An astronaut who led the early development of the International Space Station's Cupola but who didn't live to see out its seven windows himself was remembered Thursday evening with the installation of his flight suit's name tag inside the observation module. The tribute to Charles "Lacy" Veach, who flew two shuttle missions and was lead astronaut for station robotics before dying of cancer in 1995, took place during a ribbon cutting for the Tranquility node and Cupola conducted by Expedition 22 commander Jeff Williams and STS-130 commander George Zamka. Veach's name tag, which will be displayed alongside rocks collected from the moon and Mount Everest, was shown with his photo to be added to a memorial display on the station's airlock hatch.

February 20, 2010

/ 10:03 p.m. CT (0403 GMT Feb 21)

Space underpants sell, won't smell

: After being tested in flight by Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata while he resided onboard the International Space Station last year, sales began in Japan Saturday of a new high-tech set of underwear developed to withstand the challenges of long-duration (read: two months) spaceflight. The "J-Ware" boxers were devised by textile experts at Japan Women's University in Tokyo to forego having to be washed (there's no laundromat in space) and still remain odor-free (for the sake of the crew) given their ability to kill bacteria, absorb water, insulate the body and dry quickly. The retail offer is limited for now to just 100 pairs each of sizes medium and large with a price tag per pair of 10,500 yen or about $115.

February 26, 2010

/ 12:20 a.m. CT (0620 GMT)

One last blast

: The solid rocket motor fired Thursday in Promontory, Utah capped three decades of static tests for NASA's outgoing space shuttle program. The 52nd and final horizontal 'launch' for the four-segment solid rocket was aimed at generating data in support of NASA's four remaining shuttle missions. The first test, which was mounted on the same stand as the last, was in July 1977.

February 27, 2010

/ 1:29 a.m. CT (0729 GMT)

Aaron Cohen, 1931-2010

: A NASA pioneer whose leadership was critical to the Apollo flights' and lunar landings' success as well as the design, development, production and early test flights of the space shuttle, Aaron Cohen, 79, died Feb. 25 after a lengthy illness. As director of the Johnson Space Center, Cohen was a steady hand as NASA recovered from the 1986 Challenger tragedy and returned the space shuttle to flight in 1988. After a 33-year career with NASA, including nine months as acting deputy administrator, Cohen left the agency in 1993 to accept an appointment as a professor at Texas A&M University.

February 27, 2010

/ 8:29 a.m. CT (1429 GMT)

Patch preview | STS-134

: The penultimate space shuttle mission and the final flight of orbiter Endeavour will be represented by an insignia that creatively depicts the STS-134 mission's payload. Targeted for a July 2010 launch, STS-134 will fly to the International Space Station carrying the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to search for antimatter and dark matter. The atom-shaped patch, which identifies Endeavour's last crew as led by commander Mark Kelly, pilot Greg H. "Box" Johnson and mission specialists Mike Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Drew Feustel and ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori, shows the orbiter as it returns from space.

February 28, 2010

/ 4:44 a.m. CT (1044 GMT)

Robert T. McCall, 1919-2010

: Hailed as the world's premiere space artist, Robert McCall died of a heart attack Friday. He was 90. A prolific artist who left behind a legacy of 400 original paintings -- half of them donated to University of Arizona's Museum of Art -- some of his most famous works were his largest and smallest, including the Smithsonian's six-story tall "Cosmic View" space mural at the National Air and Space Museum and 21 U.S. postage stamps honoring the Apollo moon landings and unmanned probes sent to Mars and Jupiter. McCall was also known for designing the poster art for "2001: A Space Odyssey."

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