: NASA has marked a major step in assembling the Space Shuttle for its Return to Flight with the mating Monday of its redesigned External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters. The External Tank was lifted by a giant crane and joined to the already stacked boosters in the 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building. The orbiter Discovery will join its propulsion components after checkout of the assembly is complete. Prior to that, final closeouts on the External Tank will include installing an aerodynamic fairing and the bi-pod struts, which are the attach points for the orbiter's nose to the 154-foot tall ET.
a new Pokemon has landed and it has the backing of the nation's space program. Deoxys, a laser- mutated alien whose name is derived from deoxyribonucleic acid (better known as DNA), is the title character from the Pokeman Trading Card Game 'EX Deoxys'. NASA has collaborated with Pokemon USA, Inc. to develop an in-school educational program that ties the card game and Deoxys to science, technology, engineering and mathematics themes and related learning activites for K-6 students. As part of the program, Nintendo of America has produced bracelets and postcards for educators to offer as an incentive to students to engage in science lessons found on Langley Research Center's Kids Science News Network website.
: Piloting a vehicle designed by the same team behind SpaceShipOne, and with NASA equipment on-board, Steve Fossett in Virgin Atlantic's GlobalFlyer has become the first person to fly solo, non-stop around the world. He touched down this afternoon in Salina, Kansas, 66 hours after beginning the low earth orbit from the same airport. Kevin Carrico, filing from Salina, has updates from throughout Fossett's flight.
: From March 1915, until its incorporation into NASA in October 1958, NACA or the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, provided technical advice to the United States' aviation industry and conducted cutting-edge research in aeronautics. NASA marked today the 90 year anniversary of its predecessor.
: Just in time for Monday's 45 year anniversary of the first cosmonaut group reporting for training, World Manned Cosmonautics, a compedium detailing the international manned space programs, has been released by Russia. The 5,000-copy limited edition, $95 (2,600 ruble) hardcover was consulted by cosmonaut Yuri Baturin, who told the Russian News and Information Agency Ria Novosti, "there is no such book elsewhere in the world and will hardly be in 20 years to come." World Manned Cosmonautics is reported to describe all crewed missions between 1961 and 2004, as well the spacecraft.
: Rocket Boosters, the exclusive retailer for officially licensed SpaceShipOne products and apparel, has announced they are closing their business on March 15. For the next week, they will be selling off their remaining inventory, including t-shirts, patches, pins and launch-canceled postcards. The group, which has raised $144,000 for Mojave, CA-area charities, also plans to auction on eBay two Star Wars large plush action figures that were flown on-board SS1 last October. Taking Rocket Boosters' place, though not affiliated with them, will be the new Mojave Air and Space Collectibles.
: Chosen by Werhner von Braun in 1970, as the first director of the Alabama Space Science Center (later named the U.S. Space and Rocket Center) Edward Buckbee met and worked with all the astronauts who flew the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. Tuesday night, Buckbee, who is author of the upcoming book, The Real Space Cowboys, will join host Dr. David Livingston on The Space Show radio broadcast to discuss his four decade NASA career, founding Space Camp and writing Cowboys. Listeners to Seattle's KKNW and on Live365.com can call, e-mail, or instant message questions for Buckbee beginning on the air at 9:00pm CT.
: To be built by Orange County Choppers and funded by donations from NASA workers and space program supporters, the Space Shuttle Tribute Bike was conceived to recognize the STS-107 crew but morphed to pay tribute to all those who work for the shuttle program. Plans call for the motorcycle to be finished by the end of April, in time for a Return to Flight appearance at Kennedy Space Center in May. Discovery Channel plans to air two episodes of American Chopper showing OCC assembling the Space Shuttle Tribute Bike.
: With April's auction season almost upon us (three space sales by three auction houses over four weeks), collectors are now awaiting their bi-annual catalog drop. First to the mailbox (although second to sell by calendar date) is Regency-Superior of Beverly Hills, which offers 375+ lots in the Space section of their April 9th public auction. If your copy has not yet arrived, you can browse all the lots on Superior's website or sample their highlights in our illustrated top 12 preview.
: Facing budget constraints as a result of NASA's exploration priorities, the space agency's division for Earth-Sun System studies has warned scientists that several missions past their lifespans may need to cease operations, Nature Magazine reports. The probes now at risk include Ulysses, Polar, Wind, Geotail, FAST, TRACE and the dual Voyagers. Though NASA is saying that no decision has been made, their suggestion of a shutdown has angered scientists, who argue that the spacecraft - especially Voyager 1 and 2, now at the edge of the solar system - are irreplaceable and beaming back important scientific data. The Voyagers cost $4.2 million per year for operations and data analysis, Nature reports.
: Last night during a private awards dinner, the Smithsonian Institution presented the team behind SpaceShipOne, including investor Paul Allen and designer Burt Rutan with the National Air and Space Museum Trophy, the museum's highest honor for Current Achievement. At the event, Allen formally announced his plans to donate the private spacecraft to the museum for display in the Milestones of Flight gallery, near the Spirit of St. Louis and the Bell X-1. SS1 will be the fifth vehicle designed by Rutan in the museum's collection. The plans are for the spaceship to arrive at the NASM late summer.
: New this year to the Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Gala, to be held April 29 at Kennedy Space Center, will be a raffle drawing to raise money for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The prize, donated by Omega, will be a limited edition "From the Moon to Mars" Speedmaster Professional watch with the inscription 'Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction' and the date of the ceremony on its back cover. Raffle tickets go on sale today from the ASF at $25 each, three for $50 or eight for $100. You do not need to attend the gala to win.
: Mike Fincke will reprise his role as flight engineer, last seen during ISS Expedition 9, when he comes onboard the NX-01 for the series finale of Star Trek Enterprise. The cameo appearance comes after actor Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathan Archer) paid a visit to Fincke on the International Space Station through a long distance phone call. Fincke and Gennady Padalka were presented with a replica of the 22nd-century version Starfleet Command emblem after returning to Earth. The "These Are the Voyages..." episode with NX-01 Engineer Fincke is scheduled to air May 13, reports StarTrek.com.
: U.S. President George Bush announced today he intends to nominate Michael D. Griffin to serve as the next Administrator of NASA. Currently, Dr. Griffin heads the Space Department at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Earlier, Griffin served as chief engineer and associate administrator for exploration at NASA, and also was deputy for technology for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. If confirmed, Dr. Griffin will be the 11th person appointed to run NASA in its 46 year history.
: Tim Gagnon, designer of the ISS Expedition 11 crew insignia, forwards the art for the mission's other patch, that representing Soyuz TMA-6. The six-sided emblem, first spotted by Maciej Stolowski in the three-person official crew portrait, wraps the Earth, space station and Soyuz with the national flags of Italy, Russia and the United States. Scheduled for an April 15 launch, Expedition 11's Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips are to be joined for a short stay by ESA's Roberto Vittori.
: When Wally Schirra last flew in space, NASA was returning from a spaceflight tragedy and planning a voyage to the Moon. Faced with a similar situation today, the Apollo 7 commander's story has lessons for the future. Schirra spoke with collectSPACE about sharing his life's experiences online, his new book, a vision for exploration, and advice for the STS-114 crew.
: Swann Galleries has announced their third annual space auction and are mailing catalogs to bidders. Set to begin April 2 at 2:00 p.m. in New York, the sale includes equipment, emblems, books, flags, medallions, charts and maps, covers, photos, and many flown items from the collections or estates of Buzz Aldrin, David Brown, Mike Collins, Gordon Cooper, Walt Cunningham, Charles Duke, Fred Haise, Karl Henize, Ed Mitchell, Tom Stafford, Paul Weitz, and Al Worden. The sale's catalog will be on Swann's website on Wednesday.
: Though it was not called for as part of the original restoration plans, Service Module 115 attached to the Saturn V at Johnson Space Center's main entrance was exhibiting signs of structural damage. To get a proper look inside, the module needed to be removed. JSC has documented the crane-assisted deconstruction with a new photo archive on their website.
: Dragon Models' second version of their 1:400 Saturn V replica will stand 10.5 inches tall, feature stages that separate and detailed engines. The original edition of Dragon's Saturn, which could not be displayed as individual stages, recently sold out. The new multi-stage diecast rocket is set for an April release.
: Countdown Creations and collectSPACE are proud to once again be sponsoring Buzz Aldrin's appearance at the annual UACC Convention & Autograph Show, August 13-14 in New Jersey. Aldrin joins 16 astronauts and cosmonauts confirmed attending including two Mercury originals, three other moonwalkers, the first man to spacewalk and two SpaceShipOne pilots.
: Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham recently visited NASA's Johnson Space Center, where he viewed some of the past and current training and operational facilities. With his permission, collectSPACE presents a few photographs from his tour.
: Moonpans.com has announced that for the first time, they have made a complete set of Apollo lunar surface panoramas available as signed by the photographers who took the wide-view images while exploring the Moon. The high quality prints, which are from each of the landing sites, are signed by a moonwalker from each of the six crews. Apollo 12's Alan Bean was the most recent to sign the panoramas, joining Buzz Aldrin, Ed Mitchell, David Scott, Charlie Duke, and Apollo 17's walkers Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.
: In February, Rebecca Whyte, assistant producer with the BBC1 show C20 Roadshow, appealed for space collectors in the UK to volunteer to display their artifacts on the 20th century-focused new series. Several collectSPACE members responded and Matt Thomas was chosen. On Friday, he brought his Alan Shepard gloves, space food samples and other rare items to the BBC's studio to be filmed. Thomas shares a sneak preview of the C20 Roadshow before it airs on TV.
: Chicago and New York had cows, horses in Lexington, pigs in Seattle and Washington, D.C. paraded pandas; so when it came time to select a public art project for Huntsville, Alabama, the choice was obvious: rockets. To be specific, 100, 6' Saturn V replicas are being sold for $1800 each to local businesses and organizations to decorate and then place on display to celebrate the city's 200 years. Huntsville's Bicentennial Blastoff will culminate on Unity Day set for August 6, after which some of the painted rockets will be auctioned to benefit the U.S. Space and Rocket Center's campaign to save and restore the city's original Saturn V.
: At the conclusion of the final Apollo mission, Flight Director Gene Kranz asked artist Robert McCall to create an emblem commemorating the spirit that defined Mission Control. On March 15, the Mission Operations Directorate (MOD) revised the design to include the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars, as well as the symbols for the Skylab and Apollo- Soyuz flights. As a living memorial to the seventeen who have given their lives to the pursuit of frontier, seventeen stars now grace the background of space on the emblem.
: The three words to the left may be enough to start collectors jumping like an astronaut on the Moon. An announcement from Novaspace Galleries confirms that the six-time, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle astronaut will sign autographs mailed to their Tucson, Arizona store by the deadline of April 30. The appropriate fee (starting at $495), an invitation from Novaspace, and an order form are required to participate.
: Rick Houston is familiar with Apollo 13 as much as the next space buff. With the last name of Houston, he would almost have to be (otherwise, there might be a problem). So what could another DVD about the flight, Apollo 13: To the Edge and Back, hope to offer Houston? Read his Go/No Go column to find out.
: Neal Thompson's biography of the late, first U.S. astronaut, Light This Candle: The Life & Times of Alan Shepard (Three Rivers Press) releases in softcover today with new information and corrections from the March 2004original. The paperback includes a new foreword by Flight Director Chris Kraft as well as an endorsement from former President George H. W. Bush, who had been a neighbor to the astronaut. "Alan Shepard captured the imagination of America perhaps more than any other astronaut. He was a good man," praises Bush.
: Former flight controller Sy Liebergot, whosememoirsApollo EECOM: Journey of a Lifetime provides an insider's view of Mission Control, will be interviewed tonight on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston. Presently, an ISS Flight Operations Engineer for Boeing, Liebergot will answer listeners' calls, e-mails and instant messages live when the simultaneous radio- and web-broadcast begins at 9:00 p.m. CST on Seattle's KKNW 1150 AM and Live365.com. Liebergot can also be contacted through his posts to collectSPACE Messages.
: In celebration of the 35th anniversary of the mission, the 10th anniversary of the film and the March 29 release of the Apollo 13 Anniversary Edition DVD, simultaneous IMAX screenings of the digitally re-mastered film will be hosted by Universal Studios tonight at the Los Angeles California Science Center and Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Joining the bi-coastal private events will be Tom Hanks, the real Capt. Jim Lovell, producer Brian Grazer and director Ron Howard for a theater-to-theater satellite Q&A session following the movie. To share in the event, Universal Studios has provided collectSPACE five DVD sets of the new Apollo 13 to give to our readers! We will randomly choose recipients from our e-newsletter list on March 29. Not a member? Not a problem. Subscribe now.
: The director who made Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name in the 1977 movie Pumping Iron is making an IMAX documentary about NASA's dual rover mission to Mars, reports Space.com. George Butler previewed his project today at a combined meeting of top space industry officials and entrepreneurs as well as leaders in the tech industry. Mars won't wallow in the complex science and discoveries of the rovers, so much as it will glorify the journey of getting them to Mars.
: Space Shuttle Commander Rick Searfoss sent an e-mail to check out The Apprentice Thursday on NBC (8:30 p.m. EST / 7:30 p.m. CST). He advises, "They'll have an 'out-of-this-world' reward for the winning team. Can't give more details right now," writes the astronaut, "just make sure not to miss it whether you're a space buff or not!", Searfoss concludes.
: Based on the serial number of a Montblanc fountain pen, 149 celebrities from the political, business, cultural and sports worlds were asked for a statement to help update public awareness about the importance of the written word. Now Montblanc is auctioning the notes with the Meisterstück pen used to write them, to benefit the United Nations Children Fund's Initiative Against Illiteracy. Among the 149 who wrote are Richard Branson, Mikhail Gorbachev, and ESA astronaut Pedro Duque. Spain's space explorer used his Montblanc to express "I like to write" in four different languages. His auction lot, with glass frame and portrait, ends on April 2.
sometimes comes down with a boom. Spacecraft Films' latest two- DVD release, Liftoff! Success and Failure on the Launch Pad illustrates that concept with both familiar and rare archival footage of spectacular starts and dismal destruction. Included is the most disastrous pad explosion at the Cape, the 1965 loss of an Atlas-Centaur, as well as the achievements of Robert Goddard and Explorer 1. Commentary narrated by former Space Shuttle Main Engine/ Rocketdyne engineer David Mohr is just one of the unique extras on the DVDs.
: Chris Stewart shares his experiences buying space memorabilia off the Russian black market in April's Wired Magazine, now online and on newsstands. In his article, Psst - Wanna Buy a Slightly Used Soviet Space Suit? Stewart describes his meeting with a mysterious Russian dealer at the back of an alley, where everything from a cosmonaut's 'flown' spacesuit to a Russian space shuttle could be his for a price. Stewart settled on a glove, but later found the offer was truly too good to be true. He's far from alone, though; interviewing 'RS' - one of the most prolific Russian space salesmen - Stewart exposes a supply chain of payoff-driven "legally stolen" artifacts targeted at the Western collector market.
: Shuttle Discovery made a short roll this morning, advancing its long journey to returning to flight. After nearly a day-long delay needed to properly align its 76-wheel transporter vehicle, the shuttle was backed slowly out of the Orbiter Processing Facility at 1:28 a.m. EST for the quarter mile 'rollover' to the 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building. Inside, a lifting sling was attached to the orbiter in preparation for a 300- ton crane to hoist up and attach Discovery to its ET and twin SRBs. The next step toward the STS-114 launch is for the shuttle to rollout to the pad, sometime next week.
: Universal Studios today released the 2-Disc Anniversary Edition of Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks as astronaut James Lovell. Congratulations to our five newsletter subscribers whose names were chosen at random to receive a free copy! If you aren't on the winners list but are still interested in owning the DVD, be sure to check our Go/No Go column by Rick Houston.
: A joystick handle used aboard Apollo 11's Columbia to rotate the command module along any of the three axes is the featured lot in an April 23 - 24 auction, per Aurora Galleries International in a press statement today. The handle is among 1,300 space and aviation lots to be offered by Aurora, including astronaut autographs, technical manuals, equipment and hardware used during flight. The Bell Canyon, CA, gallery notes that the auction will be profiled on Auction HD TV.
: We have the perfect way for space supporters to 'show they are go' for Discovery's May mission: Return To Flight Wristbands! These silver-colored, silicone bands have a debossed message with an orbiter-shaped icon based on the outline of the Columbia STS-107 patch; paying tribute to the fallen crew while at the same time, celebrating their legacy as it flies strong.
: X PRIZE executive and Hollywood movie producer Bob Weiss will join Aliens of the Deep science celebrities Dijanna Figueroa and Dr. Pamela Conrad for the annual Los Angeles flagship gala in celebration of Yuri's Night and 45 years of human space exploration. The April 12, VIP reception and dance party, to be held at GMT Studios Stage 6, will be further joined by simultaneous galas and gatherings in 45 cities across the globe. XM Radio will broadcast party highlights and a planned webcast will stream scenes from Yuri's Night LA.
: As was anticipated, the European Space Agency (ESA) said today that its astronaut from Germany, Thomas Reiter will be the first European to live and work on the International Space Station on a long-duration mission. Reiter will launch on STS-121 in July and return to Earth on Space Shuttle mission 116 in February 2006. This will be Reiter's second long-duration mission on-board a space station, following his six-month stay on the Russian Mir during the Euromir 1995 mission.