: Ever the renaissance man, six-time shuttle astronaut Story Musgrave has collaborated with notable space music composers Harry Roberts, Brian Eno, John Serrie and Kevin Braheny to put his unique spaceflight inspired poetry to music. Executive produced by his son Todd, Story's Cosmic Fireflies CD includes 13 tracks and runs an hour. Order for $14.95 via buySPACE.
: Bidders convened April 2, to compete for 423 space history artifacts offered by Swann Galleries as part of their third space exploration auction in as many years. Collectors present at the New York galleries, as well as on the phone and eBay Live, raised $496,793 with the highest bid of $32,200 recorded for an Apollo 11 navigational chart with lunar dust sourced from Buzz Aldrin's collection, per Swann's preliminary results.
: Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins, or more aptly, his Apollo 11 spacesuit, recently left the Command Module Columbia, departing its long-time location in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum for the restoration lab at the Paul E. Garber Facility. Following Collins' suit for the outing from Washington, D.C. to Suitland, Maryland, was crew mate Buzz Aldrin's spacesuit, removed from the Apollo to the Moon exhibit at the museum. The latter, along with Neil Armstrong's and Eugene Cernan's nearby exhibited suits, will undergo several weeks of restoration work and then will be returned for display (with their helmet and gloves, once attached, now on an adjacent pedestal). There are no plans for Collins' suit to be put back into Columbia or elsewhere in the museum. Eventually, other astronauts' spacesuits in the collection will receive the needed care.
: On Monday morning, Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Complex began sales of launch viewing tickets for Space Shuttle Discovery's return to flight mission, STS-114. The $50 passes offer the only access (via buses) to the NASA Causeway, the closest the general public can watch the Space Shuttle liftoff to orbit. Less than 24 hours later, all 5,000 tickets have been sold, leaving the Visitor Complex as the next closest from where the planned May launch can be seen.
: Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian of Congress is to select recordings that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" of 10 years of age or older, to assure the long-term preservation of their legacy for future generations. Librarian James Billington announced his annual selection of 50 sounds for addition to the National Recording Registry yesterday, based on the nominations received from the public during 2004 and from the National Recording Preservation Board, which comprises leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation. The new additions honor a wide variety of spoken and musical recordings, including Giant Steps by John Coltrane, the 1977 soundtrack to Star Wars, and Neil Armstrong's broadcast while on the moon: Houston. Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed... That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
: Connecticut schoolgirl Amanda Meyer, 15, under the influence of astronaut Gus Grissom's son, has begun a petition to "save the suit" Grissom donned for his Mercury 4/Liberty Bell 7 spaceflight. The silver suit, contests Meyer, should be returned to the Grissom family, rather than remain with the Smithsonian, which has title to the artifact. Meyer, who hopes to be an astronaut herself someday, has based her petition on the contact she has had with Scott Grissom. He claims that his father brought the suit home in 1965 to prevent NASA from destroying it, despite a handwritten loan agreement that shows the elder Grissom intended to display the suit to his sons' classmates for show-and-tell. The Grissoms retained the suit after the 1967 Apollo 1 fire took Gus' life until 1990, when they loaned it to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. In late 2002, the Grissoms attempted to assert the garment was their property after the Hall became part of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The claim was rejected by NASA and suit remains on display in the Hall. Meyer says that the Grissoms want the suit moved to an Indiana museum in the astronaut's hometown, but it is unclear why then they would need to possess the suit.
: It has been more than two years since a Space Shuttle has been rolled out to its launch pad, and while the event has been watched many times over, there was a special quality to the 4.2 miles Discovery traveled to reach Pad 39B. The low rumble of the crawler transporter brought NASA employees and the media to the river rock crawler-way's edge for almost the entire length of the journey. Despite delays at the starting and final legs of the trip, Discovery and its stack arrived safely at the pad just past midnight after 10 hours rolling.
: Apollo 16 Lunar Module Pilot Charlie Duke has begun a website to share his and his wife Dotty's experiences. With just final touches remaining to finish, Duke presents visitors to CharlieDuke.net with a video interview, profile pages, a multimedia gallery and a storefront for his autographed photos and artifacts.
: The Justice Department has announced that Max Ary, prior director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, has been indicted after he allegedly stole and sold artifacts from the museum's collection without authorization and for his personal gain. Ary consigned items to Superior Galleries in 1999 and 2000, including flown pieces from the Apollo 12 and Apollo 13 missions. In addition, Ary is alleged to have loaned and traded pieces that were NASA property.
: The "Stamps Take Flight" exhibit, now open until March 2006 at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum in Washington, DC, tells the story of American air-and-space mail transport through the presentation of rare and priceless envelopes and stamps. Among the more notable displays from the Postmaster General's Collection is the pouch, inkpad and cover that was used to open the first "post office" on the Moon during the Apollo 15 mission. "Flight" also features the "Top Secret Stamp," known today to be the Project Mercury stamp, which celebrated John Glenn's 1962 orbit of the Earth. Issued to coincide with his landing, it was designed and printed in secret in case the mission failed.
: Soon after the news broke yesterday of the case against Max Ary, responses from both the affected parties and collectors began streaming in. Lee Thompson, one of Ary's attorneys said in a statement released on Thursday, "It is important to remember that Max Ary is presumed to be innocent, and any charges are merely accusations." Ary's successor at the Kansas Cosmosphere Jeff Ollenburger said on behalf of the museum that they were "saddened by the charges filed against Max Ary" and that they have taken "steps to insure to the best of [their] abilities that such a theft does not occur again." Ary's current employer, the Omniplex in Oklahoma City, offered their support and "look forward to a speedy resolution to the situation." Collectors split over their feelings about Ary as they tried to balance his years of artifact protection against the charges of alleged thefts.
: Gemini and Apollo astronaut Thomas P. Stafford is quoted in The Oklahoman today as not believing the charges brought against Max Ary, saying it was a "travesty" that Ary was accused of stealing and selling museum space artifacts for personal gain. Said Stafford, "Max is one of the foremost curators [of space artifacts] in the United States. He showed the Smithsonian how to preserve spacesuits." The astronaut also questioned the values of some of the missing items, including a mock Omega watch listed at $25,000. "That's junk," discounts Stafford. "I'm on their board of directors."
: To encourage kids to read this summer, the Canadian Space Agency together with the National Library and Archives will distribute trading cards with pictures of the country's astronauts. The front of the six cards will display an "action" photo, portrait and the stamped signature of the current corps members. The cards' reverse will share the astronauts' most memorable books from their childhood, as well as quote them about reading. Sets will be given to children between ages 6 and 12 who enroll in a library program.
: With 59 parties in 21 countries on 6 continents on 1 planet, if a Yuri's Night celebration is not nearby, you might want to consider moving (or at least starting your own in 2006). Bringing space enthusiasts together the world over are the anniversaries of the debut space flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the maiden launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia twenty years later. If you really can't make it to a party, bring the events to you through a webcast and XM radio highlights.
: An envelope carried to the surface of Moon received the top bid of $8,000 at Regency-Superior's recent space memorabilia auction held April 9 in Beverly Hills, California. Second highest at $5,000, was an Apollo 12 patch and flag that flew to the Ocean of Storms. Highlighted before the sale, Jim Irwin's PPK bag did not sell. The hammer total was $82,716 from 239 lots.
: Alex Panchenko shares on his website (USSR-Airspace) images of Sergei Krikalev's personal patch for Soyuz TMA-6. The emblem has a diamond shape to appear similar to the graduation badges from Russian Academies. The insignia is complimentary to the crew's TMA-6 patch, which was previously seen in their official portrait. Launching on April 15 (7:45 p.m. CT on April 14), ISS Expedition 11 crew mates John Phillips and Krikalev are joined for a short stay by Roberto Vittori.
: Thirty five years after Buzz Aldrin took a walk on the Moon, he has strolled onto Sesame Street to help mark the children's show 35th anniversary. In an episode debuting on public television today, Cookie Monster questions if the moon is a cookie. Sesame Street's Gordon brings Aldrin to Cookie Monster to explain that while the Moon is made of rock, its still an exciting, beautiful place we can look up at from the Earth.
: The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, California, in partnership with C.G. Publishing's Apogee Books and Farthest Reaches, announced they will be hosting Ed Buckbee and Wally Schirra for their first signing of The Real Space Cowboys on May 7 from 1:00 to 3:00pm PDT. For those not on the West Coast, the Fleet will be taking advanced orders for signed copies within a week. A $10 fee will be charged in addition to the $29.95 for the book for Schirra's signature.
: When a problem rose on Apollo 13 35 years ago today, mission commander James Lovell reached for his contigency checklist. To ignite inspiration and kick-off the Adler Planetarium's 75th anniversary, Lovell took hold of that malfunction manual again, only this time it was as part of a donation he was making of several artifacts to the Astronomy Museum in Chicago, IL, reports NBC 5. The planetarium will erect a statue of the Gemini and Apollo astronaut later this year.
: Jim Lovell's recent artifact donation to the Adler Planetarium will soon be joined on display by the last Gemini capsule the astronaut and NASA flew. On exhibit for years at the Goddard Space Flight Center's Visitor Center, the Gemini XII (12) spacecraft will be loaned by the National Air and Space Museum to the astronomy museum in Chicago, IL. The vehicle, currently stored in Maryland, will be refurbished before departing for the midwest as early as September.
: When Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips of the ISS Expedition 11 crew launched with ESA's Roberto Vittori this evening at 7:46 p.m. CT, the patches on their Sokol spacesuits may have had some collectors wondering about missing emblems. As previously noted, the Soyuz TMA-6 three man crew had been photographed wearing a mission patch that was to symbolize their ride to orbit together. Tonight, that badge was absent from the crew's adornments, though a patch designed by Krikalev was seen on their right shoulders. Meanwhile, the two Expedition members wore a mission insignia representing their long duration flight, but it was missing from the market. Whereas usually before a flight, NASA's official patch company AB Emblem makes the souvenir versions available, a delay in the artwork being finalized has led to production delays, says the company.
: NASA has named nine flight directors today who will join the group of individuals that lead human space flights from Mission Control, Houston. It is the second largest class selected and brings the number of active Space Shuttle and Space Station directors to 30. Only 28 more people, now retired, have had the privilege to guide U.S. manned missions since Chris Kraft became the first flight director more than 40 years ago. All of the nine new directors have previously served as flight controllers, for NASA or its contractors.
: At the same time Michael "Joseph Cartwright" Landon was defending a ranch on television, NASA was starting its own manned space flight bonanza. The DVD Little Joe: Mercury's First Steps tells of America's first crewed spacecraft test program with an extra audio track specifically for hobbyists modeling the mini-booster. Don't know your Little Joes from Little Joe Cartwright? Then this disc is a go, reviews Rick Houston.
: Buzz Aldrin's next book is also his first for children. In late May, Harper Collins will publish the moonwalker's Reaching for the Moon, a picture book documenting that the journey Aldrin made from childhood eventually led him to achieve his dream and walk on the moon. Reaching is illustrated by Wendell Minor, one of six American artists selected to cover the return to flight of Discovery in 1988. Pre-orders have begun through buySPACE for Aldrin signed copies.
: During a breakfast at Space Center Houston today, NASA's 1970 Crew Systems Division will be honored with the first GlobalSpec Great Moments in Engineering award. Thirty-five years ago, the division's members showed ingenuity and quick-thinking when they conceived and implemented an in-flight modification to use the Command Module carbon dioxide absorbers in the Lunar Module. The division was instrumental in leading the Apollo 13 astronauts to a safe return to Earth. Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise and prime Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly will be attending to thank the division, led by retired chief R. E. "Ed" Smylie.
: Novosti Kosmonavtiki reports that cosmonaut Yuri Anatoliyevich Ponomaryov, 73, died on April 16 and was buried today near Star City. Selected to be a cosmonaut in March 1972, Ponomaryov never flew in space; he served as a backup for Soyuz 13 and 18 before his third and final mission assignment was canceled. He left the program due to medical concerns in April 1983. Ponomaryov is survived by his wife and three children, including his two sons from a prior marriage with another cosmonaut, Valentina Leonidovna Ponomaryova.
: NASA managers adjusted the window for the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight from May 15 to opening May 22 through June 3. The change was made to allow for more time for analysis before the Discovery and STS-114 crew launch. Also rescheduled were dates for the mission's dress rehearsal (TCDT) and flight readiness review, now re-set for May 3-4 and May 10-11 respectively. If a launch were to occur on May 22, liftoff would be targeted for 1:03 p.m. EDT from Pad 39B.
: Sunday will mark 15 years since the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) launched into Earth orbit. Across Europe, the European Space Agency (ESA) plans to celebrate with Hubble Days held at over 30 planetariums where two anniversary HST images will make their debut. The events will also serve to distribute DVDs of the new ESA documentary Hubble: 15 Years of Discovery as well as its accompanying anniversary book and soundtrack. If you can't make it to an event, 40,000 (of 500,000) discs will be available through New Scientist magazine, as well as from stores in Europe and the U.S. Planetarium events will also be hosted at 100 sites in the U.S., where two mural-size HST images will be unveiled.
: The crew of NASA's second return to flight mission, STS-121, visited Kennedy Space Center Friday to take part in the Crew Equipment Interface Test (CEIT), getting a hands-on look at Space Shuttle Atlantis. When they launch, seven crew members are planned to be aboard the orbiter, but their final seat has yet to be officially filled. The missing mate has been suspected by collectors as the reason a patch had not been seen. That is, until cS staff photographer Ben Cooper noticed the emblem in a single NASA photo from today's CEIT. Alas, the insignia does not give any clue to the identity of seventh; only six names are sewn.
: Federal investigators have located more than half, 14 of the 26 items that were on loan from NASA to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center later to be listed as missing during an audit last spring, reports The Hutchinson News. The now-known whereabouts of the artifacts include the Omniplex Science Museum in Oklahoma City, the same museum where Max Ary was hired as president after he left the Cosmosphere. Two weeks ago, Ary was indicted on charges of stealing those same artifacts. The items remain on display at the Omniplex, which spokesperson says has recent loan agreements with the Cosmosphere. Other pieces have been tracked to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Long Island, NY, and having been loaned to the creators of the movie Apollo 13. The artifacts turned film props were never returned and finding them now may prove difficult, says a studio rep. The Cosmosphere has yet to have any items returned, though believes they will.
: This weekend in Bell Canyon, CA, Aurora International Galleries will host its seventh biannual space and aviation memorabilia auction, offering over 1,300 lots for collectors to place their bids. If not there in person, those interested and registered in advance can participate via phone or through eBay Live Auctions (the website also offers a chance to watch the action without raising a virtual paddle). Among the items of note are control handles taken from Apollo 11 and 15 spacecraft and the tools used to open the Apollo 1 hatch.
: When the tenth crew of the International Space Station touched down in Kazakhstan last night, their Soyuz may have made quite the splash. The area was saturated from recent rains and winter snow; so much so that the first members of the recovery team to reach the spacecraft decided to fly the crew to a nearby town where the ground was drier. Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov returned to earth after nearly 193 days in space. ESA visiting crewman Roberto Vittori joined the Expedition 10 duo for their ride home after being on-board the ISS for eight days. The trio is now at Star City; Chiao and Sharipov will remain there for a few weeks for exams and debriefings before leaving for Houston, Texas in May.
: For 15 years the Hubble Space Telescope has orbited the Earth, taking more than 700,000 photos of the cosmos; images that have astounded, awed and even confounded astronomers and the public. For its anniversary, NASA released new views of the two most well-known objects the Hubble has observed: the Eagle Nebula and Whirlpool Galaxy. These images are among the largest and sharpest Hubble has ever taken; so incredibly sharp, they could be enlarged to billboard size and still retain stunning details. The mural- sized celestial views were unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum today and at more than 100 planetariums and science centers across the nation.
: Since we began taking orders for our original Return To Flight wristbands, other organizations have been quick to follow. NASA Johnson Space Center's employee exchange store was selling blue bands debossed with Smarter, Stronger, Safer at this past weekend's Open House. NASA is also reportedly planning to distribute a "green-for-go" bracelet through its Space Flight Awareness Program. And today, national homebuilder KB Homes announced it would give visitors to any of its 483 communities a glow-in-the-dark band as part of its larger space-themed prizes promotion.
: It is with sadness that we note the passing of veteran space reporter Howard Benedict. For 31 years, he was the senior aerospace writer for the Associated Press, covering more than 2,000 missile and rocket launches, including the first 65 U.S. manned space flights. In 1992, Howard took the helm of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, providing educational opportunities for college students pursuing engineering and science degrees. He retired in 2004, but continued to serve on their Board of Directors.
: Nancy Conrad, widow of the third moonwalker and coauthor of his bio, Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond, has developed a way to make Pete part of her upcoming book signings. A special embossing stamp that features Pete's self-portrait and his signature will be applied by Nancy during her in-person book appearances.
Ex-Kansas Cosmosphere President and CEO Max Ary, facing an 11- count indictment for the alleged fraud, theft and transportation of stolen space artifacts from the museum, entered a not guilty plea before a federal court this morning. A $10,000 unsecured bond was set, and a judge was reassigned for Ary's case.
: The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center will open its new Mollett Early Spaceflight Gallery to the public on June 18, with a celebration planned for its donors and "premium-level" members the day before. Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter will be at the June 17 event to officially open the gallery, and then will stay to sign copies of his biography for the public on the 18th. The Mollett Gallery will display the Gemini 10 spacecraft, a flown Soviet Vostok, a full-scale model of the Voskhod, as well as spacesuits used in the Mercury, Gemini, Vostok and Voskhod programs. Gus Grissom's Liberty Bell 7 will join the gallery's exhibits in early 2006.
: As expected, NASA today announced a delay from May 22 to no earlier than July 13, 2005 for the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. The Return to Flight STS-114 mission is slipping to allow more time for debris analysis from the formation of ice on the External Tank, as well as to fix problems discovered during launch preparations. Discovery, sitting at Pad 39B since it rolled out earlier this month, will eventually return to the Vehicle Assembly Building to ease the repairs and inspections. The July launch window extends through the 31st; after that, the next opportunity begins September 9.
: The U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin wrote the final chapter in a five-decade history at Cape Canaveral tonight with the final launch of a Titan IVB heavy-lift rocket carrying a critical national security payload for the National Reconnaissance Office. The liftoff was the second-to-last launch for the Titan IV. The final vehicle will fly from Vandenberg Air Force Base this summer. In all, 27 Titan IVs have launched from the Cape and 11 from Vandenberg. Titan IV is the apogee of evolution from the Titan I intercontinental ballistic missile.