April 4, 2012 / 12:01 a.m. CT (0501 GMT) Shuttle scouts: On Thursday, two T-38 jets will take to the skies above Washington, DC scouting photo ops and flight routes for the April 17th arrival of space shuttle Discovery. Whether the shuttle carrier aircraft, a Boeing 747, can fly the retired orbiter over the nation's capital and the city's many landmarks will depend on the weather, and due to security concerns, the final flight plan may not be released until that day. But should it happen, NASA plans to capture its fleet leader shuttle on its historic final flight.
April 4, 2012 / 5:28 p.m. CT (2228 GMT) IMAX donates cameras: The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum received on Wednesday the two IMAX cameras that flew on 17 space shuttle missions between 1984 and 1998. Together, the in-cabin and cargo bay cameras captured scenes for six films, including "The Dream is Alive," "Blue Planet" and "Mission to Mir." IMAX producer Toni Myers told collectSPACE that the donation didn't mean the end of IMAX in space. "I have no intention of stopping trying to make space films," Myers said. "They just won't be filmed on 65 millimeter negatives any more."
April 5, 2012 / 5:14 p.m. CT (2214 GMT) 1st Landing, 2nd app: Spacecraft Apps, a division of the archival audiovisual company Spacecraft Films, has released this week its second app for Apple's iPad. "First Landing" provides users a unique overview of the first lunar landing by Apollo 11 crew mates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Like the company's first app "Friendship 7," in "First Landing" film footage from the mission serves as a baseline for enhanced displays. The iOS app also includes interactive descriptions of the lunar module Eagle and its guidance computer, the trajectory the lander followed down to the surface and an animated look at its final approach.
April 10, 2012 / 12:01 a.m. CT (0501 GMT) Kennedy half-dollar century coin: NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has announced a special admission package for the Florida spaceport's 50th anniversary. As part of either a single day ticket purchase or annual pass, visitors receive a commemorative medal with the Kennedy Space Center 50th anniversary logo. Setting the medallions apart from simple tokens, they were minted with metal flown on Apollo and space shuttle missions. On the reverse of the medals are four scenes from the past 50 years of human spaceflight, all originating from Kennedy.
April 13, 2012 / 12:45 p.m. CT (1745 GMT) "Final Mission" patch: When space shuttle Discovery leaves Kennedy Space Center for the final time on April 17, its ferry flight crew will wearing a mission patch designed by the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft's (SCA) captain. Jeff Moultrie developed the idea for "The Final Mission" patch and then worked with the graphics division at the Johnson Space Center to finalize the insignia. The patch, which will be worn for the Enterprise and Endeavour museum flights as well, shows the three orbiters and the trio of aircraft that will take part in this final series for the shuttle-SCA combo.
April 17, 2012 / 4:15 p.m. CT (2115 GMT) – UPDATED Discovery's delivery to DC: NASA's space shuttle Discovery rose from Kennedy Space Center for the final time on Tuesday, trading rocket boosters for a jumbo jet on a mission to the Smithsonian. Discovery lifted off atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft just after dawn for the four hour flight to the nation's capital. The world's most flown spacecraft, Discovery will go on display at the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center starting Thursday, replacing the now New York-bound Enterprise.
April 20, 2012 / 5:44 a.m. CT (1044 GMT) Wheels stop: Space shuttle Discovery, the most flown spaceship in history, came to its final wheels stop Thursday, inside a hangar at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Now a "unique icon" of the past 30 years of human spaceflight, Discovery took the place of the shuttle Enterprise, which it "met" for several hours nose-to-nose for the formal transfer ceremony. Discovery is the first of NASA's retired shuttles to be delivered and go on display at its museum home.
April 24, 2012 / 12:30 p.m. CT (1730 GMT) Them thar asteroids: Planetary Resources, Inc. announced on Tuesday its plan to mine Near Earth Asteroids for their raw materials, ranging from water to precious metals. The company, which was founded in 2009 by the same entrepreneurs who gave start to the modern space tourism market and backed by Google executives among other billionaires, is poised to initiate prospecting missions to resource-rich asteroids that are "easily accessible."
April 27, 2012 / 6:48 a.m. CT (1148 GMT) TMA-22 touches down: After spending 165 days, 7 hours and 31 minutes off the Earth, Russia's Soyuz TMA-22 returned Friday with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, and NASA astronaut Dan Burbank onboard. The Expedition 30 crew members, who undocked from the International Space Station three-and-a-half hours before landing, touched down on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 6:45 a.m. CDT. The trio's departure from the ISS began Expedition 31 with commander Oleg Kononenko and flight engineers Donald Pettit and Andre Kuipers aboard.
April 27, 2012 / 10:38 a.m. CT (1538 GMT) Big Apple arrival: NASA's prototype orbiter Enterprise made its first – and last – flight in more than a quarter century on Friday, flying atop the same modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft that carried it airborne for its 1977 Approach and Landing Test flights. Enterprise's final frontier is the Big Apple, where it landed after a photogenic flyover of the city's landmarks on its way to becoming an exhibit on board the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
April 29, 2012 / 3:19 p.m. CT (2019 GMT) Astronaut award: John Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth 50 years ago and 36 years later returned to space as the oldest to ever fly, has been a chosen for the nation's highest civilian honor, the White House announced. Together with other notable Americans, including Madeline Albright, Bob Dylan, and Toni Morrison, Glenn will be honored by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. With this award, Glenn will join the small group of astronauts – including the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 crews – to receive the medal since 1963.
April 30, 2012 / 4:25 p.m. CT (2125 GMT) Ask the astronaut: Edgar Mitchell, who with Alan Shepard explored the moon during the 1971 Apollo 14 mission, is now taking your questions as part Astro Chat, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's video Q&A series. Just as Al Worden, Dick Gordon, Jack Lousma, and Fred Gregory did before him, Mitchell will share video replies to questions shared on Facebook and collectSPACE's forum, where the videos will be shared for all to watch afterwards. The deadline to post questions about his time on the moon and in space is 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) Friday, May 4.