: LIFE Magazine has released the limited book, Man in Space: An Illustrated History from Sputnik to Columbia (at newsstands for $11). Featuring 128 pages of photos from their archives, some rarely, if ever seen before, the book opens with an introduction by veteran photographer Richard Stolley comparing the early years of human space exploration dominated by a series of exploding rockets, to the more recent losses of Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia.
: Made by Japan's Medicom Toy, Kubricks are a cross between LEGO and Playmobil but modeled to represent celebrities and other pop-culture favorites. New to their line for this May are Cosmonauts including mini versions of Yuri Gagarin, first dog Laika, and a surprisingly detailed Vostok spacecraft. Imported from Japan, the box set should retail for about $50 (US).
: When expedition leader Curt Newport lifted Liberty Bell 7 from 16,000 feet below the ocean, it was the culmination of 14 years of planning. While the recovery made headlines, the journey leading up to that point was not well known — until now. As our reviewer, Larry McGlynn discovered, Newport's tale as shared in Lost Spacecraft: The Search for Liberty Bell 7 is one that every collector should read, understand and experience.
: The federal court case of four students accused of stealing moon rocks and martian meteorites from the Johnson Space Center was set to begin yesterday. That was until Gordon McWhorter, the only defendant to plead not guilty, was a no-show. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest, after which the federal trial can reconvene as soon as the next month.
: David Senechal, posting to our message boards on Monday, alerted to Apollo 13, a new model by the Danbury Mint. The first model in their Milestones in Space Exploration series, Danbury's 1/48 replica depicts the Apollo CSM and LM docked, prior to the explosion that made its namesake famous. Future releases include Friendship 7, STS-1's shuttle Columbia and Apollo 11's Saturn V rocket. We had planned to run an illustrated article about Danbury's Apollo 13 but our review model had 'a problem' enroute. Our replacement -- and our review will arrive next week.
: collectSPACE will provide coverage from New York tomorrow of Swann Galleries' first space exploration auction. In addition to analysis of the highlights, the prices realized will be posted just as soon as the last hammer falls on the last of the 408 lots.
: As if stealing a 600 pound safe full of moon rocks wasn't bad enough, two of the alleged thieves are once again in trouble with the law. As was noted earlier this week, Gordon McWhorter, the only defendant not to plead guilty, failed to show in federal court Monday. He was arrested Tuesday and is now awaiting his second identity hearing. Meanwhile, Thad Roberts was charged Wednesday with stealing dinosaur artifacts from a site in Utah. His new case will be folded into the moon rock trial awaiting both McWhorter and him next month in Florida.
: The on-going war, the slumping economy, the tragic loss of Columbia, the low attendance, the lack of online live bidding, this as their first sale; the contributing factors to Swann's results this past Saturday are as numerous as they are varied. Why does an Apollo 11 crew signed portrait sell for $34,000 while a lunar surface-worn overglove stained heavily with moon dust fail to reach its (undisclosed) reserve? Read our review of the sale, and then share your own opinions.
: In the market for a 'pied-a-terre', Dr. Charles and Sheila Haas found a one bedroom co-op off Madison Avenue, describes Blair Golson writing for the New York Observer. Unaware of who was the owner, Dr. Haas noticed photos over the mantle of Scott Carpenter. Realizing the connection, the Haas couple agreed to buy the apartment from the Mercury 7 astronaut. Sealing the deal for Dr. Haas was the chance to discuss the space program with his boyhood hero and a signed photograph for his office wall.
: Michael Leinbach, chairman of the Columbia reconstruction team suggested today that the orbiter debris may be made available to researchers after the investigation into the accident has been closed. The process might be similar to how Apollo moon rocks are loaned. The board was also not opposed to museum displays. "We're going to learn from this tragedy instead of just putting it in a silo," Lienbach said, referencing the fate of the space shuttle Challenger's remains.
: Following the success of their Apollo 11 acrylic introduced in January, UK-based Historic Space has debuted "One Giant Leap", a limited edition acrylic embedded with small fragments from the Wright Flyer and the Apollo 11's Columbia. The 9.5 by 3 by 1.5-inch presentation regularly sells for $975.
: Confirming many of our readers' hopes, Simon & Schuster announced yesterday that Neil Armstrong will make "selected appearances" with the 2005 release of his biography, First Man. There is no word yet if he will participate in any book signings.
: As a Senior Special Agent for NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), Joseph Gutheinz went undercover to seize the infamous moon rock smuggled into the U.S. from Honduras. Today, as a consultant for law offices and businesses, he has agreed to contribute articles about the law, NASA and memorabilia. Read his first installment in this new series: The Moon Rock Con.
: The current issue of COINage magazine (May 2003, at newsstands now) includes a six page feature article by Jon Blackwell about collecting space-related coins and memorabilia in general. Out of This World: Space Medals and Coins Draw High Interest covers Robbins and Manned Flight Awareness medals, space-theme state quarters and Liberty Bell 7 dimes. As part of his research, Blackwell interviewed collectSPACE members Leon Ford, Richard Jurek, Howard Weinberger and Ken Havekotte as well as editor Robert Z. Pearlman.
As was noted last week, The Danbury Mint has begun shipping Apollo 13, the first model in their series, Milestones of Space Exploration.David Senechal reviews the replica for collectSPACE, in which he says he considers it to be an exceptional deal.
: Cosmoworld.ru is reporting that Mars Fatkullin, one of the first research scientists chosen from the USSR Academy of Sciences for cosmonaut training, died April 16 at age 63. He never made a space flight, instead exiting the program in 1970 as he felt his chances of ever flying were slim. He was proven right: his class was disbanded five years hence.
: Though we seek to provide all that a collector could desire, sometimes that can mean directing you to other websites. With that mind, we have expanded our related references directory to encompass two new categories: collecting guides and space history.
: Comedian Bill Dana a.k.a. reluctant astronaut "Jose Jimenez" will attend the UACC Convention and Autograph Show on May 24 to 25 in Washington, DC. Dana's addition, arranged by Sims & Hankow Entertainment, increases the guest count to 15. Others expected to attend include former flight controller Sy Liebergot and Apollo 10 commander Thomas Stafford.
: We were planning to debut the catalog today, however consignments for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's Silent Auction are still being received. To accomodate them, we have postponed the release to coincide with Space Day. Until then, we have added two new previews of experiences with astronauts.
: You might think that working at the Kennedy Space Center would impart an appreciation for the importance of Columbia debris to the still on-going investigation. Apparently, that's not the case for Michael Pankiewicz, the fifth individual and first space program employee to be charged with the theft of government property. Florida and Texas courts will begin the debris looters' federal trials next month.
(about two million of them): The Russian Communications Ministry, in partnership with Rosaviakosmos, has opened the first official post office on-board the International Space Station. For $20,000, you can have your personal letter launched, canceled in space, and returned to Earth. The service starts tonight with 50 postcards accompanying the Expedition 7 crew.
Novaspace Galleries has announced that astronaut-turned-artist Alan Bean's first new print in two years will soon be released. Hello Universe will be signed by Eugene Cernan, Edgar Mitchell, and Bean at the Naval Aviation Museum on May 7. Limited to 550 pieces, the print will sell for $345. In 2002, Bean shared with collectSPACE his progress paintingHello Universe.
: From the moment Columbia debris was located in populated areas, we have posted NASA's warnings about not taking pieces as souvenirs. As the recovery efforts come to a close however, it may be that those now coming upon debris will question the harm of failing to report it. Joseph Gutheinz, former NASA OIG Senior Special Agent, reminds us that the theft of debris from Shuttle Columbia still carries serious consequences.
: It has become common practice for astronauts and cosmonauts to wear personal insignias in addition to the mission patches they don as a crew. ISS Expedition 7 Russian commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA science officer Ed Lu had their patches designed by friends. Malenchenko's emblem, designed by Russian space artifact dealer Alex Panchenko, depicts a MiG-23 and Soyuz spacecraft rising from Earth. Adopting a more lighthearted approach, friends of Lu created a patch that shows the astronaut striking a Dr. Evil ("Austin Powers") like pose with the tag line, "Dr. E Lu's Platform of Total World Domination". Lu's patch can be purchased through The Space Store, while Malenchenko's will be offered on USSR-AirSpace.com.
: As they are postmarked for the specific date and location, philatelic covers are often the closest collectors can come to owning a remnant of the event they commemorate. This is particulary true for space missions that result in tragedy, when artifacts are strictly hands-off. Ray E. Cartier, president of the Space Unit of the American Topical Association, has written an introduction to memorial space covers: AS-1 to STS-107.
: Thirty-nine countries are on alert tonight as a NASA-launched, Italian astronomy satellite falls back to Earth. Though the remnants of BeppoSAX are more likely to hit water than land, fragments could rain on South America, Africa, and the East Indies. The Italian Space Agency predicts approximately 42 chunks with a total mass of 220 pounds might survive reentry, which could begin as early as two hours from now or as late as 1:17 a.m. ET Wednesday.
: BeppoSAX reentered the atmosphere at 5:57 p.m. ET Tuesday over the Pacific Ocean, says the Associated Press, quoting mission member Giovanni Mussoni. Any fragments of the 3,086-pound astronomy satellite that survived are thought to have impacted 186 miles off the northwest coast of the Galapagos Islands.