April 2, 2008 / 3:35 p.m. CT (2035 GMT) Movie Man: Universal Studios has bought the film rights to historian James Hansen's authorized biography of the first astronaut to place foot on the Moon, "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong". Nicole Perlman, whose earlier work includes an original screenplay about the Challenger accident investigation, will write the script based on Hansen's tome. Temple Hill Entertainment will produce the film. Universal is the second studio attached to the project. In 2003, Clint Eastwood optioned rights to "First Man" for Warner Bros, but let them expire last year.
April 3, 2008 / 8:12 a.m. CT (1312 GMT) Falling stars: The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Trophy recipients for 2008, announced in Washington, DC on Thursday, both made history for their falls from space. The team behind the Stardust 1999-2006 comet sample return mission was honored for Current Achievement while Project Man High parachutist, Col. Joseph W. Kittinger Jr. was awarded for his Lifetime Achievement. Both have provided artifacts for display by the National Air and Space Museum, including an aerogel sample used to catch cometary dust and the hunting cap worn by Kittinger on each of his high-altitude balloon trips.
April 3, 2008 / 2:22 p.m. CT (1922 GMT) "Docking for Dummies": The Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle, the European Space Agency's first resupply and re-boost spacecraft, was docked to the International Space Station's Zvezda Service Module at 9:45 a.m. CDT on Thursday. Self-guided by its video and laser on-board systems, the ATV was the first completely new spacecraft to visit the ISS in nine years and only the second to do so autonomously. As it was new, ESA flight controllers prepared for the station's crew a user's manual for the Jules Verne, on the chance they'd need to assume control. The guide, "ATV RVD [Rendezvous and Docking] for Dummies," designed to parody the popular series, was in high demand at ESA's new ATV-only mission control in Toulouse, France, as a souvenir from the historic docking.
April 6, 2008 / 5:17 p.m. CT (2217 GMT) Seiko Spacwalk: In support of his October self-funded flight to the International Space Station, Seiko has designed a spring-driven watch for use by Richard Garriott during his expected spacewalk. The aptly-titled Seiko Spring Drive Spacewalk was custom built with an air-tight high-intensity titanium case; a new, brighter dial layout for time and elapsed time display; and over-size buttons that are compatible with bulky spacesuit gloved-fingers. Seiko intends to limit production of the Spacewalk to 100 pieces from which Garriott will fly three to space and the balance Seiko will start marketing to the public following his return.
April 8, 2008 / 6:59 a.m. CT (1159 GMT) First, second, 17th and 50th: Lifting off on Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:16 a.m. CDT, the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft carried the International Space Station's next residents to orbit. On- board, Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, flight engineer, rode together with spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi, the first South Korean citizen and the 50th female in history to launch toward space. Volkov also made history, entering space as the first second-gen cosmonaut, his father Alexander, a veteran of 3 missions.
April 8, 2008 / 8:33 p.m. CT (0133 GMT Apr 9) Space shuttle retired: The United Space Alliance (USA) announced Tuesday that it was retiring the space shuttle... in its logo. NASA's prime contractor for space shuttle operations, USA removed the outline of an orbiter from the 'A' in its logo, replacing it with a crescent and a star. The change was made now, two years before NASA plans to retire the actual shuttle fleet, to represent USA's transformation from a single contract company to one competing for government and commercial contracts, including those under NASA's new Constellation program.
April 9, 2008 / 12:36 p.m. CT (1736 GMT) Aerospace archives available: Separately announced earlier this week, NASA and the San Diego Air and Space Museum debuted online portals to their respective space and aviation history archives. AeroCat, the San Diego museum's new online catalog, offers the public the opportunity to search third largest aerospace library in the nation. The NASA HQ Historical Reference Collection has scanned press kits and releases, mission transcripts and texts of NASA administrators' speeches, which can either be browsed or searched. Both of the sites are free for use.
April 9, 2008 / 11:09 p.m. CT (0409 GMT Apr 10) Robbins registry: Howard Weinberger, the author of "The Robbins Medallions" and its sequel "Collecting the Robbins Medallions", the definitive guides to the commemorative medals minted for and flown by astronauts, has prompted the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (NGC), the leading coin grading service, to register the mission patch adorned medals. NGC started encapsulating the Robbins, called such after the Massachusetts company that mints them, two years ago. Now, reports Weinberger, the silver and gold rarities have been added to NGC's Coin Registry giving collectors the chance to catalog their own Robbins.
April 11, 2008 / 1:06 a.m. CT (0606 GMT) Goldberg's space sale: Beginning at noon CDT on Friday, over 700 lots of space and aviation-related memorabilia will be opened for bid by Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers. The one-day sale, to be held at the Beverly Hills auction house and online via eBay, features artifacts from the estate of Mercury 'original' Deke Slayton and the collection of moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, as well as a former manager of NASA's Lunar Receiving Lab, Peter Armitage.
April 12, 2008 / 7:50 a.m. CT (1250 GMT) "Poyekhali!" (Let's Go!): Celebrate Yuri's Night, the annual worldwide party marking the anniversary of the first manned space flight. This year, 190 parties are being held in 50 countries on seven continents and in orbit on the International Space Station. collectSPACE is proud to sponsor Yuri's Night and the Houston, TX party!
April 14, 2008 / 1:26 p.m. CT (1826 GMT) Historic spaces: The first 'earthling' in orbit and the first test facility used for the rocket engines that launched humans to the Moon garnered historic markers late last week for their contributions to space exploration. On Thursday, NASA's Stennis Space Center was recognized in Mississippi as a Historic Site by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. On Friday, a monument to Laika, the first dog in space, was unveiled in northwest Moscow near the institute where she was trained for flight.
April 16, 2008 / 12:01 a.m. CT (0501 GMT) Earth Portraits: For 47 years, cosmonauts and astronauts have been training cameras toward Earth, taking hundreds of thousands of photographs of our home planet. For the first time ever, it's your turn. collectSPACE exclusively presents, the Association of Space Explorers' Earth Portraits. In collaboration with Richard Garriott, who will launch to the International Space Station this Fall, the ASE offers you the opportunity to pick your favorite place for your photo from space. Claim your coordinates: ASE's Earth Portraits is limited to the first 200 targets to register.
April 16, 2008 / 8:17 p.m. CT (0118 GMT Apr 17) Space station stats: Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record Wednesday for cumulative time in space by a U.S. astronaut, passing Mike Foale's 374 days. When she lands on Saturday, she'll have logged 377 days, 192 as the ISS's first female commander, ranking 20th on the list of all space explorers. Whitson's American successor on the station, Garrett Reisman also set a statistic, albeit in a different arena stadium, throwing the first first pitch in Yankee Stadium history to originate from orbit. The really, really fast fastball wasn't the first ceremonial pitch thrown from space; that was done by commander Ken Bowersox on-board STS-73 during Game 5 of the 1995 World Series.
April 17, 2008 / 12:01 a.m. CT (0501 GMT) Swann's space sale: Swann Galleries of New York hosts their sixth annual "Space Exploration" auction Thursday, starting at 12:30 p.m. CDT, at their East 25th Street gallery and online via eBay Live Auctions. The sale, which includes more than 400 lots, features an array of artifacts from Apollo astronauts Fred Haise and Paul Weitz, as well as the estate of 8th moonwalker Jim Irwin. Also listed are items from the collection of Anatole Forostenko, the Apollo-Soyuz Russian language teacher, and Wernher von Braun team member, Hans Hosenthien.
April 18, 2008 / 4:39 p.m. CT (2139 GMT) Astronauts' auction: To support students pursuing science and engineering degrees, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has organized semi-annual silent auctions held online and at the Autographica autographs show in England. The current auction, which will close at 4:00 p.m. CDT (2100 GMT) Saturday, includes astronaut donated artifacts and adventures, including a lunar-flown patch from the 'last man' on the Moon, Gene Cernan, the chance to skydive with shuttle veteran Hoot Gibson, and the pink polo shirt worn during training by the first female U.S. astronaut to command a space flight, Eileen Collins.
April 18, 2008 / 7:05 p.m. CT (0005 GMT Apr 19) Animals in space typeface: Graphic artist Stephen Banham, inspired by the history of the creature astronauts described by Colin Burgess and Chris Dubbs in their 2007 title, "Animals in Space" (Praxis), has designed backlit typographic billboards as a tribute to the dogs and monkeys lost in the quest for exploration. "Orbit Oblique," the exhibition and limited edition sampler of Banham's art, debuted on Thursday in Australia. The signs, reports The Age, use a variety of fonts in the form of lost dog notices.
April 19, 2008 / 9:47 a.m. CT (1447 GMT) Expedition 16 ends: Soyuz TMA-11 with International Space Station Expedition 16 crew mates Yuri Malenchenko and Peggy Whitson, as well as spaceflight participant Soyeon Yi onboard, landed in Kazakhstan safely but nearly 300 miles off-course Saturday morning. The steeper (and higher G) descent was the third time a returning ISS crew made a ballistic reentry though it was still unknown what caused today's landing to fall short of the expected target. Whitson's and Malenchenko's return brought an end to the 192-day Expedition 16; Yi's landing concluded the first 11-days in space by a Korean citizen.
April 22, 2008 / 4:37 p.m. CT (2137 GMT) Shadows of Soyuz 5: Soyuz TMA-11's off course landing may have been the result of more than just a ballistic mode reentry. The crew reported a jostling after the command was executed for the craft's service module to separate from the descent module, in which they were seated. The motion, which they deemed off-nominal, may have indicated a detachment failure, which may have put the spacecraft in a nose- or hatch-down orientation, rather than the normal heatshield-facing direction. Sources cited by Russian reports suggested that the greater heating led to damage to the capsule, including a communication cut- off linking the cosmonauts with the ground. NASA said on Tuesday that it was too early to speculate, but confirmed that Soyuz TMA-10, the previous Soyuz to land, was met with a separation issue. If indeed the two modules did not separate until aerodynamic stresses broke them free, the scenario would be an echo of the 1969 reentry of Soyuz 5 and its sole crew member Boris Volynov, who nearly died.
April 23, 2008 / 1:05 p.m. CT (1805 GMT) Space station sakura: On Tuesday, JAXA approved a project to launch seeds from 10 cherry trees, including three designated as national treasures, to their laboratory on the International Space Station. Flying with lily and violet seeds, the 'sakura' (cherry tree) pips are slated for liftoff with the STS-126 mission onboard space shuttle Endeavour this October. Children will collect fallen seeds this summer for the trip. After the flight, the seeds will be shared with scientists to study the effects of microgravity.
April 25, 2008 / 7:53 p.m. CT (0053 GMT Apr 26) Space Shuttle wing: Since 2001, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame has been honoring the men and women who have flown on the space shuttle, adding them to the ranks of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo veterans. The Hall, which is located in Florida near the Kennedy Space Center, bills itself as having "the world's largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia," but until now, mostly featured artifacts from the pre-shuttle programs. With the next four astronauts scheduled to be enshrined on May 3, their mementos will join those from the 22 previous fliers within the Hall's new orbiter-themed wing. "Space Shuttle: The Astronaut Experiences" opening May 2, promises to celebrate the "talents, courage and accomplishments" of the Hall of Famers from the soon to be ending shuttle-era.
April 27, 2008 / 12:14 p.m. CT (1714 GMT) Launch tower toppled: Six seconds and over 200 pounds of explosives were all that were needed on Sunday to topple what was at one time the largest moving structure in the world. Erected in 1992 to support Titan IV launches, the mobile service tower at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Complex 40 may be best known for its role at the start of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn in 1997. In total, the tower prepared 17 Titan IVs and one Titan III (its first launch, lofting the Mars Observer probe), continuing the work of the tower it replaced, which was in service since 1965. As the Titan IV retired from service in 2005, the tower was no longer needed and was toppled to clear way for SpaceX to use the complex for its Falcon 9.
April 29, 2008 / 1:58 p.m. CT (1858 GMT) Dangerous space docs: Dangerous Films, the London, UK-based production company behind the Discovery Channel's NASA 50th anniversary HD mini-series "When We Left Earth" (airing in June), has announced their involvement in two more space history projects. Together with The History Channel, Dangerous is producing "Moon Shot", a docudrama in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 2009. Dangerous is also filming "Hubble On High", following the STS-125 crew and the final Hubble servicing flight for the Discovery Channel.
April 30, 2008 / 1:12 a.m. CT (0612 GMT) When 'The World Is Not Enough': Many astronauts relate that of all the things they get to do in space, the one they relish the most is looking back at Earth. The space station's portals are the ultimate in picture windows. But when the world is not enough, they have a library of books, movies, tv shows and music to enjoy in their free time. The catalog of titles aboard the ISS was recently released by NASA in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by GovernmentAttic.org. The list includes the predictable (e.g. "The Right Stuff", "Fly Me To The Moon") and the not so predictable (e.g. "Ten-Day MBA", "The Dog Whisperer"). And though "The World Is Not Enough" is not, the astronauts can view "Goldfinger".