March 4, 2008 / 2:46 a.m. CT (0846 GMT) USNS Wally Schirra: The Secretary of the U.S. Navy announced on Monday that the eighth Military Sealift Command ship of the Lewis and Clark-class Auxiliary Dry Cargo ships (T-AKE) will be named in the honor of late Navy test pilot and astronaut, Walter "Wally" Schirra. The only person to fly Mercury, Gemini and Apollo flights, Schirra passed away in 2007. The USNS Wally Schirra is the second T-AKE ship named after a Mercury astronaut; T-AKE 3 was christened the USNS Alan Shepard in 2006.
March 5, 2008 / 12:32 a.m. CT (0632 GMT) Cosmosphere co-founder loses appeal: The co-founder and former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Max Ary, has lost his appeal on his 2005 conviction for stealing space artifacts from the museum and NASA. The Associated Press reports that in a ruling issued Tuesday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver affirmed Ary's three-year prison term and the $132,000 he was subsequently sentenced to pay in restitution. Ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals within 30 days (he was free on bond pending the appeal), Ary's next step could include seeking a rehearing by an appellate court panel, a hearing before the full court or an appeal to the Supreme Court. In his appeal, Ary argued that his trial included hearsay evidence, files violating his attorney-client privilege, and disputed artifact ownership.
March 5, 2008 / 1:56 a.m. CT (0756 GMT) Donald Lopez, 1923-2008: Donald Lopez, the deputy director of the National Air and Space Museum, died of a heart attack on Monday, March 3. A member of Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins' team responsible for planning the creation and July 1, 1976 opening of the museum, Lopez first served as the assistant director for aeronautics, designing exhibits that helped in making the Air and Space the most visited museum in the world. An American "Ace" fighter pilot, author, and educator, Lopez also worked as a Saturn V and Skylab systems engineer.
March 6, 2008 / 12:50 a.m. CT (0650 GMT) Space art @ Arizona: Famed space artist Robert T. McCall, whose well-known works include murals at NASA facilities, Disney's Epcot, and Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum; the insignias for Apollo 17 and for STS-1, among other missions; and the US Postal Service's 1981 'Space Achievement' series of stamps, is the focus of a new exhibition at the University of Arizona Museum of Art opening on Wednesday. The display culls from over 200 original pieces that McCall donated in 2007 establishing the Archive of Visual Arts at the UAMA. The exhibit, "Robert McCall: Imagination Unbound," continues through Aug. 10, so as to coincide with the UA-led NASA Phoenix Mars mission's May 25 landing on the red planet.
March 7, 2008 / 12:43 a.m. CT (0643 GMT) From the Earth to the station: When the European Space Agency launches its first Automated Transfer Vehicle on Saturday, on-board will be 10 tons of supplies for the International Space Station and hardware supporting the cargo. The ATV will also carry a few items honoring its namesake, French author and science fiction pioneer Jules Verne, including his 120-year old notes on the distance and time needed to travel from the Earth to the Moon. Though they aren't lunar-bound, the two original manuscripts will log the equivalent flight on their first day.
March 7, 2008 / 7:19 p.m. CT (0119 GMT Mar 8) Astronauts and the astronomer: The U.S. Postal Service issued on Thursday a set of four stamps continuing its series honoring American scientists. Among the individuals selected for this year's stamps was Edwin Hubble, marking the second time the USPS has released stamps celebrating the astronomer's legacy. The first set, issued eight years ago, used images taken by the space telescope that bears Hubble's name. The stamp released this week depicts the man himself and the ground-based observatory where he did most of his work. The unveiling though, was not without its nod to Hubble's most famous namesake, as the astronauts who will service the Hubble Space Telescope a last time officially unveiled its design.
March 7, 2008 / 11:30 p.m. CT (0530 GMT Mar 8) Rescuing space hardware: Two museum artifacts that share a common heritage as analog training facilities for space-destined vehicles are now following divergent paths towards being saved for future generations. The outlook for a full scale mock-up of the United States' first space station, Skylab took a turn for the worse after its protective cover became partially displaced, exposing the recently restored structure to the weather. Volunteers are now trying to convince the governor to get involved in saving Skylab. Meanwhile, halfway across the planet, an approach and landing trainer for the Soviet's first and only space shuttle, Buran, has been stranded since 2004 at a port in Bahrain, awaiting the outcome of a dispute over its ownership. On Tuesday, the orbiter was sent sailing to its new home at the Sinsheim Auto and Technik in Germany.
March 8, 2008 / 10:18 p.m. CT (0418 GMT Mar 9) Le voyage a la station: "Jules Verne", the European Space Agency's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), lifted off aboard an Ariane 5 from French Guiana at 10:03 p.m. CST (0403 GMT) Saturday. The unmanned spacecraft, Europe's first developed to dock at the space station, was packed with 8 tons of cargo for the ISS crew including food, fuel, air, Russian water, and a selection of pieces celebrating the inaugural launch and its namesake.
March 10, 2008 / 11:11 a.m. CT (1611 GMT) Korean crew change: The former back-up for South Korea's first astronaut will replace him onboard Soyuz TMA-12 when the flight launches in April. Yi So-yeon was assigned to the crew after Russian officials accused South Korea's first choice, Ko San, of "repeated breaches of training protocol," including taking and reading manuals without permission. When she flies, Dr. Yi will be only the second Asian female to reach space, after Japan's Chiaki Mukai, and the 50th woman worldwide to launch to space.
March 11, 2008 / 2:20 a.m. CT (0820 GMT) Hope and hands head to station: Space shuttle Endeavour lifted off with the crew of STS-123 at 1:28 a.m. CDT Tuesday, on a mission to deliver the first of Japan's three Kibo ("Hope") laboratory elements and the third and final piece of the Canadian mobile base system, the two-armed Dextre robot. The launch gave start to the 122nd mission in space shuttle history, the 21st flight for Endeavour, and the 25th time an orbiter has serviced the ISS. STS-123 is the United States' 150th mission in orbit.
March 12, 2008 / 3:13 p.m. CT (2013 GMT) Sea, space and air: The Buran 002 orbiter was built in 1976 to prove the ability of the Russian space shuttle to fly through the air and land safely on Earth. Soaring 25 times, always within the atmosphere. it never saw space however, it did traverse another medium again this week: sea travel by ocean freighter, on its way to its new owner, the Technik Museum in Speyer, Germany. Its trip marks the third time the shuttle has taken to the water in almost a decade, sailing from Russia, Australia, and now Bahrain. The partially disassembled Buran is expected to make landfall in Rotterdam, Netherlands, later this month.
March 17, 2008 / 12:17 a.m. CT (0517 GMT) G. David Low (1956-2008): Former NASA astronaut David Low, 52, passed away on Saturday, the result of a chronic illness. A veteran of three shuttle missions and over 700 hours in space, including a spacewalk, Low's father was George M. Low, the Apollo-era manager and NASA deputy administrator. Low was selected as an astronaut in 1984 and remained with NASA for nearly 12 years before joining the Orbital Sciences Corp., where he most recently was Sr. Vice President and the manager of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Program.
March 18, 2008 / 11:50 a.m. CT (1650 GMT) Pallets & palates: Now more than halfway through their record-setting 16-day station mission, the STS-123 crew has completed attaching their two primary payloads to the ISS: Japan's Kibo logistics module and the Canadian two-armed Dextre robot. The latter was cradled for its launch and on-site outfitting by a 28-year old pallet, which previously flew to space three more times. Its use now over, it will be placed back in Endeavour's cargo bay for its fourth and final return to Earth. The astronauts had their own, much smaller pallet of mementos to bring back as well as items for their enjoyment in space, including a menu of Japanese noodles and rice to delight their palate.
March 21, 2008 / 8:37 p.m. CT (0137 GMT Mar 22) Gatorade to Tang: 'Fore!' To launch their co-branded sports drink, Gatorade Tiger®, PepsiCo and Tiger Woods are taking their game to the Moon. In a series of TV, print and online advertisements, a spacesuited Woods is depicted following in the footsteps of past real lunar and space duffers. Taking a cue from the campaign, Gatorade Tiger will offer consumers an opportunity to try playing virtual golf on the Moon and win 'out of this world' prizes in a gatorade.com sweepstakes beginning in April.
March 23, 2008 / 8:07 p.m. CT (0107 GMT Mar 24) Astronaut launches Everest climb: Last November, as part of a successful effort to repair a damaged solar array on the space station, astronaut Scott Parazynski rode a 50-foot orbiter inspection boom grasped by the outpost's own 57 foot long robotic arm to reach about as far as an any astronaut outside the station has or can. "The summit of Everest will have a hard time competing with the view from the boom," wrote flight controllers in a congratulatory note to Parazynski. If all goes as planned, the spacewalker and mountaineer will be able to compare the views for himself this May as he attempts to summit Mt. Everest. Though he is not the first astronaut to try for the top of Earth's highest mountain, Parazynski could be the first to reach its peak having first flown over it in orbit.
March 24, 2008 / 3:29 a.m. CT (0829 GMT) A station odyssey: When the crews flying aboard the space shuttle Endeavor and the International Space Station part ways later on Monday evening, they'll do so under the belief that the work they accomplished has shared similarities with the visionary works by sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke, who died last week. They will also leave knowing that the mark they leave behind is continuing an odyssey that began with the 150 who arrived before them. The crews spoke of Clarke's influence and the legacy left by prior visitors with collectSPACE.com from the outpost.
March 25, 2008 / 12:01 a.m. CT (0501 GMT) Scooping up space history: Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries is hosting a sale Tuesday of almost 400 lots featuring space history artifacts and collectibles. More than 100 of the items were consigned directly by astronauts, including the scoop that Alan Shepard and Ed Mitchell used to collect moon rocks (its extension handle, not included, was famously adapted by Shepard to form a lunar golf club). Other highlights include the patches worn by Buzz Aldrin during the last Gemini mission and a hand controller that was removed from the Apollo 10 Command Module that orbited the Moon. Live bidding begins at noon CDT on March 25 and can be viewed online on eBay.com.
March 26, 2008 / 8:09 p.m. CT (0109 GMT Mar 27) Wheels stop: Having attached a Japanese module and a Canadian two-armed robot to the International Space Station, the crew of STS-123 onboard space shuttle Endeavour landed at 7:39 p.m. CDT on Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Setting a record for the longest shuttle mission to visit the station to date, the STS-123 crew members spent 15 days, 18 hours, and 11 minutes in space while orbiting Earth 250 times. Also with them for the ride home was European Space Agency ISS flight engineer Leopold Eyharts, who personally logged 48 days in space, most of it living on the space station. With 'wheels stop' at about one hour after sunset, Endeavour's touchdown marked the 16th night landing at KSC's facility.
March 28, 2008 / 3:12 p.m. CT (2013 GMT) "Good work" done: STS-123 commander Dom Gorie and his crewmates came home to Houston Thursday after a record-setting space shuttle mission to the space station. "Wow! What a flight!" exclaimed Gorie to a crowd of hundreds that included family members, friends, and the astronauts' training teams. Inspired by a verse in the bible, Gorie shared that their work in space was good.
March 31, 2008 / 12:59 p.m. CT (1759 GMT) Vernedevous: The Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle successfully executed on Monday the second of two "demo days" for its scheduled docking with the International Space Station on Thursday morning. At its closest approach, the European unmanned cargo freighter moved to within 36 feet of its berthing port on the Russian Zvezda Service Module before being commanded to back away and "retreat" from the station. The rehearsals tested the ATV's systems for its laser-guided docking at the ISS.