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February 2, 2014 / 7:45 a.m. CT (1345 GMT) Godspeed the John Glenn: Sailing on one of its first trial runs, the Navy's second MLP (Mobile Landing Platform) picked up a trio of seals. "Not Navy SEALS," said John Glenn, the ship's namesake as of its christening on Saturday (Feb. 1), but "three actually, sea-going seals that were on the deck and they didn't want to get off!" The ship, which leverages 'float-on/float-off' technology, can partially submerge to facilitate the movement of cargo and craft for combat and humanitarian missions. (The marine mammals ultimately had to be prodded to leave the deck of the ship.)
February 4, 2014 / 7:45 p.m. CT (0145 GMT Feb 5) Texas-size tribute to Apollo: They say that in Texas everything is bigger – and that may soon apply to its astronauts, too. The Apollo Center planned for Webster, Texas includes an 80-foot-tall astronaut statue located down the road from NASA's Johnson Space Center. The Apollo Center would serve as a tribute to the program that landed men on the moon and an exhibit and meeting space for the discussion of the future of human space exploration.
February 7, 2014 / 12:45 p.m. CT (1845 GMT) Astronaut Hall of Fame: Shuttle astronauts Shannon Lucid, the only U.S. woman to live onboard the Russian space station Mir, and Jerry Ross, the first person to launch seven times from Earth into space, will be inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, officials announced Friday (Feb. 7). Lucid and Ross will be formally enshrined during a public induction ceremony on May 3 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Florida. The 2014 class are the 13th group of shuttle astronauts to be inducted; Lucid's and Ross's addition will raise the total members to 87.
Space to Sochi: The opening ceremony for the XXII Winter Olympic Games featured on Friday (Feb. 7) spacesuited dancers, a large Vostok rocket, real cosmonauts carrying the Russian and Olympic flags, and, to light the Olympic Cauldron, a torch flown on board and outside the International Space Station. The torch, which launched to space and back last November, was the third of its kind to reach orbit and the first-ever to be carried on a spacewalk.
February 10, 2014 / 2:15 p.m. CT (2015 GMT) Coca-Cola recycles space can: In a newly-aired TV commercial timed (and themed) for the Olympics, Coca-Cola has returned to its design for its 1985 space Coke can. The ad, which features an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station watching their nations go head-to-head in a hockey match, is not too far from reality. The real space station crew may not have soda drinks, but are watching the Winter Games.
February 11, 2014 / 3:10 p.m. CT (2110 GMT) European space euros: Monnaie de Paris, France's national mint, has issued a limited set of gold and silver coins to commemorate Europe's exploits in space. The "50 Years of European Space Cooperation" coins feature the Ariane 5 rocket as the European Space Agency's "best known and most popular symbol" of European cooperation in space. The coins come in four euro denominations, with three (200, 50, 5) minted in gold and 10 euro silver proof.
February 12, 2014 / 1:10 p.m. CT (1910 GMT) Olympic meteorite medals: One year after falling to Earth over Russia, small pieces of the Chelyabinsk meteorite are landing at the center of special medallions to be bestowed to the Sochi Olympic athletes who earn gold on Saturday (Feb. 15). The meteorite-adorned medals will be awarded as a bonus to the official Olympic gold medals at a presentation separate from the podium ceremony.
Shuttle exhibit gains wings: Visitors to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force will be cleared for liftoff when the museum's new Space Shuttle Exhibit opens to the public on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The display, featuring NASA's first Crew Compartment Trainer, allows guests to experience the size and shape of a full-scale space shuttle orbiter by entering the payload bay to view inside the flight deck and mid-deck once used to train NASA astronauts.
February 18, 2014 / 3:05 p.m. CT (2105 GMT) Must-see space TV: Coming to a television network near you: astronauts! From a return appearance by Mike Massimino on "The Big Bang Theory" to an unprecedented two-hour live special from the real International Space Station, astronauts are set to become TV stars. All four of the major U.S. networks have space-themed programming ready to go or in development, including "Astronaut Wives Club" (ABC), "Extant" (CBS), "Mission Control" (NBC), and "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" (FOX/NatGeo Channel).
February 19, 2014 / 8:00 p.m. CT (0200 GMT Feb 20) Valery Kubasov, 1935-2014: One of the two Soviet cosmonauts aboard the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP), the first US and Russian space mission, Valery Nikolayevich Kubasov died Wednesday (Feb. 19). He was 79. A veteran of three flights, Kubasov also served as the pilot of the 1969 Soyuz 6 mission and commanded Soyuz 36 in 1980. He was first selected as a cosmonaut in 1966.
February 21, 2014 / 4:30 a.m. CT (1030 GMT) Dale Gardner, 1948-2014: A two-time space shuttle astronaut who was the last to fly the manned maneuvering unit (MMU) jetpack as he helped to perform the first space salvage of faulty satellites in orbit, Dale Gardner died Wednesday (Feb. 19). He was 65. Gardner flew on orbiters Challenger and Discovery as a part of the STS-8 and STS-51A crews in 1983 and 1984, respectively. A naval officer, Gardner joined the astronaut corps in 1978 with the "Thirty-Five New Guys," NASA's first recruits for the shuttle.
February 24, 2014 / 1:35 p.m. CT (1935 GMT) Solar System stamps: The "Solar System" is among a list of approved subjects that the U.S. Postal Service is planning, but has not yet announced, for issue in 2014, according to a list leaked to the Washington Post. Now in design development, the solar system stamps would be the first space or astronomy-related stamps the USPS has released since the 2011 "Mercury Project" (Alan Shepard) and "MESSENGER Mission" pair. The upcoming planetary postage is targeted for October, per another leaked list.
February 25, 2014 / 7:35 p.m. CT (0135 GMT Feb 26) 'Gravity' drops: On Sunday (Feb. 23), Rick Mastracchio watched "Gravity." That, alone, wouldn't be so newsworthy if it wasn't for his being aboard the International Space Station at the time. "Let's call it training," he posted to Twitter. Now everyone can do the same (watch 'Gravity,' not screen it on the space station). Tuesday, Warner Bros. released "Gravity" on Blu-ray and DVD for the Earth-bound masses, including hours of extras that explore the making of the movie and the real science behind space debris.
People's map of Mars: If NASA's Curiosity Mars rover someday reaches the summit of Mount Sharp at the center of Gale Crater, it may be able to see a 1-mile wide depression now forever to be known — at least on one map — as collectSPACE crater. "Named in celebration of the thousands of space history enthusiasts who comprise the collectSPACE community," the crater was recorded on Uwingu's new website, which seeks to name all of the Red Planet's 500,000 unlabeled craters, while raising funds for grants in space exploration, research and education.
February 28, 2014 / 5:05 p.m. CT (2305 GMT) @NASAArmstrong: The process to rename Dryden Flight Research Center for Apollo 11 moonwalker Neil Armstrong began on Friday (Feb. 28), as NASA updated its website and social media addresses. Over the course of the next several months, work will commence to make the physical changes at the California center, where its nearby test range will carry forth the Dryden name. A formal public ceremony marking the "Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center" and "Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range" as the facilities' new names is planned for later this spring.