March 1, 2012 / 6:37 p.m. CT (0037 GMT March 2) Next stop, NYC: Four days after Discovery trades places with it at the Smithsonian, the space shuttle Enterprise will begin a journey to its new display in New York City. On April 23, Enterprise will make its final flight — its first in 27 years — atop NASA's Boeing 747 carrier aircraft to JFK International Airport in Manhattan. Then in June, it'll be loaded onto a barge and will sail to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum to be exhibited on the converted aircraft carrier's flight deck, museum officials said on Thursday.
March 2, 2012 / 11:00 a.m. CT (1700 GMT) LEGO launches fan-made asteroid probe: The world's first sample return mission to an asteroid is now a LEGO toy set thanks a fan made model and its 1000 supporters. LEGO began sales in Japan Friday of the 369 brick Hayabusa spacecraft building set, which recreates JAXA's 2003-2010 robotic mission that successfully collected soil particles from asteroid Itokawa. The model, which is based on a build by Daisuke Okubo, is only the second fan-made set to be selected for production from LEGO CUUSOO.
March 6, 2012 / 8:14 a.m. CT (1414 GMT) Recovery test capsule's recovery: In 1964 NASA set about to test the parachutes that were needed to return moon voyagers safely back to Earth. Rather than put astronauts in harm's way, a boilerplate mock capsule was repeatedly dropped (without a crew) from a plane. BP-19A, which was later retrofitted to also test recovery antennas, helped prove the successful recovery of Apollo command modules. More than 40 years later, it was the boilerplate's turn to be recovered. Recently restored, it will be exhibited at a learning center located where BP-19A was first built.
March 8, 2012 / 1:30 p.m. CT (1930 GMT) Astronaut launches Angry Bird: Don Pettit demonstrated Thursday what happens when you use a bungee as a slingshot to launch a small red bird at an egg-stealing green pig – in space. Currently onboard the International Space Station, Pettit downlinked his demo to teach about trajectories and help introduce Rovio Mobile's Angry Birds Space, making it the first game to be announced in space. Rovio will release Angry Birds Space on Mac and PC, iOS and Android, and books and merchandise on March 22.
March 9, 2012 / 11:07 a.m. CT (1707 GMT) First Omega in space: More than two years before it was approved by NASA to be flight qualified for all manned space missions, the Omega Speedmaster wristwatch first flew to space as the personal property of astronaut Wally Schirra. To mark 50 years since that first mission on Mercury-Atlas 8, Omega has introduced the Speedmaster "First Omega in Space" numbered edition, a near replica of the chronograph Schirra wore into orbit on Oct. 3, 1962.
March 9, 2012 / 5:05 p.m. CT (2305 GMT) To confirm full ownership rights... A new bill introduced by the chairman and ranking member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee seeks to confirm full ownership rights to the space-flown artifacts saved, donated, or sold by astronauts who were part of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The bill, H.R. 4158, addresses the disputes raised by NASA last year over the title to expendable equipment that the astronauts were told they could keep but for which the rules were never written.
March 12, 2012 / 12:37 p.m. CT (1737 GMT) Departure: Michael Lopez-Alegria, NASA's most experienced spacewalker and the U.S. astronaut who holds the record for the single longest mission, has retired from the space agency. Lopez-Alegria flew on four missions and performed 10 spacewalks during his career. He logged more than 257 days in space, including 215 commanding the Expedition 14 crew on the International Space Station, the single longest duration flight by an American astronaut. Lopez-Alegria also logged more than 67 hours conducting 10 spacewalks, more than any other NASA astronaut, and second only to Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Solovyev.
March 13, 2012 / 8:18 a.m. CT (1318 GMT) Exhibit Endeavour: By the end of the year, NASA's retired space shuttles will be in their new homes. Space shuttle Discovery will be at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center just outside Washington, DC, taking the place of Enterprise, which will be at the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum in New York City. Atlantis will be at the Kennedy Space Center, awaiting an early 2013 rollover to the visitor complex there. And Endeavour, now being prepared for its display, will be exhibited by the California Science Center.
March 19, 2012 / 8:07 a.m. CT (1307 GMT) To the museum and beyond! The National Air and Space Museum is inviting the public to come March 29 to witness the arrival of a famous space ranger: Buzz Lightyear! John Lasseter of Disney-Pixar, along with NASA and Smithsonian officials, will take part in donating the 12 inch Lightyear figure, which launched on shuttle Discovery and spent over a year on the International Space Station.
March 22, 2012 / 1:58 p.m. CT (1858 GMT) Angry Birds Space launches: The popular pastime of flinging furious flocks to destroy egg-stealing swines was launched Thursday into the final frontier. Angry Birds Space, the latest spinoff of Rovio Entertainment's video game series, was released for iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and PC. Included in the game is a prominent link to NASA's website — found in the form of an animated International Space Station — to learn more about space.
March 23, 2012 / 11:43 a.m. CT (1643 GMT) Dispatches to space: The European Space Agency (ESA) launched its third Automated Transfer Vehicle to the International Space Station, lofting more supplies and equipment than any other unmanned supply spacecraft in history. Among the food, clothing, crew care packages, and science experiments were also two dispatches written by early space visionaries. Physicist Edoardo Amaldi, who was also honored as the ATV's namesake, is represented on board by a letter he wrote in 1958. And German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who was born 100 years ago to the day, is remembered by the launch of pages from his boyhood notebook detailing his vision for spaceflight.
March 27, 2012 / 10:15 a.m. CT (1515 GMT) AstroNotes: ASE, the Association of Space Explorers, introduced a new custom greeting card service on Tuesday. AstroNotes sends birthday, graduation or other occasion cards with a space exploration theme personalized by an astronaut's or cosmonaut's inscription and signature. The card doubles as a collectible, as each space explorer will only sign a limited number. Among the space travelers helping to launch AstroNotes are Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, Skylab scientist Owen Garriott, and Karol "Bo" Bobko, who commanded shuttle Atlantis' maiden flight.
March 28, 2012 / 5:01 p.m. CT (2201 GMT) Apollo 11 F-1s found: On July 16, 1969, as a German ship crossed the Atlantic Ocean, an almost foot-long piece of debris fell onto its deck. The fragment came from the first stage of the Saturn V booster that launched the Apollo 11 mission and was the only piece of that moon rocket recovered. That is, until now. The billionaire founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos, has announced he staged a successful private expedition to locate the five first-stage F-1 engines that launched the first manned moon landing. And what's more, his plan is to raise one or more from the depths of the ocean floor so they can be displayed.
March 29, 2012 / 7:37 a.m. CT (1237 GMT) More on the moon engines: NASA learned of Apollo 11's Saturn V engines being found on the ocean floor the same way and at the same time as everyone else: by reading the website of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. "We read Mr. Bezos's blog post with the same excitement as I am sure others have," Bob Jacobs, NASA's deputy assoc. administrator for communications, said Wednesday. "We look forward to hearing more from his team." Curt Newport, who led the 1999 expedition to raise Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 Mercury spacecraft, also responded to the project's plan to raise one or more of the engines. "If they're intact, they're like nine tons each," he told MSNBC.com. "That is not going to be easy to bring to the surface."
March 29, 2012 / 4:02 p.m. CT (2102 GMT) Buzz Lightyear and the blue gloves: "I am wearing blue gloves," John Lasseter said on Thursday. The animator who created Buzz Lightyear and who is now the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios held up his colored covered hands. "I don't have a problem, it is just that Buzz Lightyear is normally used to small sticky hands in life, but now that he's been in orbit and he's now a part of the Smithsonian, they have us wear gloves to play with him."
March 30, 2012 / 7:39 p.m. CT (0039 GMT March 31) Engine endorsement: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden issued a statement Friday in support of the Saturn V F-1 engine recovery effort proposed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earlier this week. "I salute him and his entire team on this bold venture and wish them all the luck in the world." Reaffirming NASA's ownership of any artifacts that may be recovered, Bolden said he has directed his staff to begin work to expedite the transfer of any F-1 engines that may be raised off the seafloor to the Smithsonian and the Museum of Flight in Seattle, as requested by Bezos.