April 2, 2013 / 1:05 a.m. CT (0605 GMT) Astronaut artifacts: A toy airplane that Neil Armstrong played with as a child and a light blue toothbrush that Buzz Aldrin used on the Apollo 11 mission are among the highlighted lots from Heritage's upcoming space sale to be held April 18 in Dallas. The auction's 550+ lots include 300 space artifacts comprising the late Steven R. Belasco collection, including the moon-flown dental instrument. The auction also features more than a dozen items consigned by Lola Morrow, the "den mother" to the astronauts.
April 5, 2013 / 9:35 a.m. CT (1435 GMT) New mission for test chamber: The largest high-vacuum cryogenic-optical test chamber in the world, NASA's Chamber A at Johnson Space Center, is ready to begin tests of the largest orbital observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, prior to the telescope's 2018 launch into deep space. Designated a National Historic Landmark for its original role of testing the Apollo command and service modules, Chamber A has been upgraded over the past few years to simulate the extremely low temperatures that the JWST will be exposed to a million miles away from Earth.
April 10, 2013 / 4:40 p.m. CT (2140 GMT) To move an asteroid: President Obama on Wednesday announced his Fiscal Year 2014 budget including $17.7 billion for NASA. The budget request directed $78 million toward a mission to find, capture, retrieve and explore an asteroid, a project NASA Administrator Charles Bolden categorized as an "unprecedented technological feat." The mission could deliver a crew to an asteroid parked near the moon by 2021, advancing NASA's progress toward putting humans on Mars while also helping to protect the Earth.
April 12, 2013 / 11:30 a.m. CT (1630 GMT) Rockets rising: The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex marked a visible milestone on its countdown towards the June 29 grand opening of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the $100 million home for the historic orbiter that tells the story of NASA's 30-year space shuttle program. Using a 200-foot-tall crane, the lower segments for two full-size, high-fidelity solid rocket boosters were installed Thursday. When mated with a model of the external tank, the rocket "stack" will serve as the 184-foot-tall gateway under which visitors will pass to visit the shuttle Atlantis attraction.
April 14, 2013 / 12:00 a.m. CT (0500 GMT) R/V Sally Ride: The Navy's first academic research vessel to be named after a woman will be christened for America's first female astronaut in space. The R/V Sally Ride was announced Friday as the Navy's next ocean-class auxiliary general oceanographic research ship, a Neil Armstrong-class AGOR vessel. Ride, who passed away in 2012, worked at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego, which will operate the R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28) after its launch in 2015.
April 16, 2013 / 6:30 a.m. CT (1130 GMT) Destination Station: Space Center Houston and NASA this month put the final touches on a new 3,000 square foot exhibit about the International Space Station, which was more than a year in the making. The display uses hardware, astronaut artifacts, videos, interactive software programs and a special-effects-enhanced live stage show to highlight the international partnership which assembled this orbiting outpost, its human presence which works and lives on board, and the complex research and science that is currently taking place in orbit to benefit all humankind.
April 21, 2013 / 2:45 p.m. CT (1945 GMT) Shuttle vets enter Astronaut Hall of Fame Space shuttle astronauts Curt Brown, Eileen Collins, and Bonnie Dunbar joined Saturday an elite group of American space explorers with their induction in the US Astronaut Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Collins' and Dunbar's induction marked the first time more women than men have entered the Astronaut Hall of Fame as part of the same class.
April 21, 2013 / 4:35 p.m. CT (2135 GMT) Antares launches A-ONE: Orbital Sciences on Sunday launched the inaugural test flight of its new Antares rocket, which is designed to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Dubbed the "A-ONE" mission, the ten-minute test flight lofted a mass simulator mock-up of Orbital's Cygnus cargo spacecraft. The first of two tests for Antares conducted under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, the next mission will launch an unmanned Cygnus to the space station.
April 23, 2013 / 6:00 a.m. CT (1100 GMT) Olympic torch in outer space: Set to host the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia will launch a traditional torch relay in October. A month later, it may launch another torch and perhaps a 'flame,' to the International Space Station (ISS). Roscosmos, Russia's federal space agency, may even send the Olympic torch out on a spacewalk, but to that, it will first need to adjust its Soyuz launch plans.
April 24, 2013 / 10:55 p.m. CT (0355 GMT April 25) Spot the shuttle tank: Several large space shuttle artifacts took to the sea Wednesday, departing NASA Kennedy Space Center on board a two tugboat towed barge for delivery to the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum in Starke, Fla. Among the outbound items were a nose cone and aft skirt from a solid rocket booster, the crew transport vehicle (CTV) used to move astronauts after they returned from space and the last remaining external fuel tank at the Florida spaceport, a structural test article built in 1977.
April 25, 2013 / 6:35 p.m. CT (2335 GMT) Space shuttle un-shrink-wrapped: NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Thursday began the process of unwrapping the Atlantis orbiter from the protective shrink wrap that has encased the retired spacecraft during construction of the "Space Shuttle Atlantis" exhibit, set to open June 29. In a planned approach, workers first cut the plastic wrap into sections and then lifted it away in a dramatic reveal of much of Atlantis, including the forward fuselage, vertical stabilizer, main engines and left wing.
April 26, 2013 / 2:10 p.m. CT (1910 GMT) Atlantis exposed: Five months after rolling into its new $100 million exhibit building and two days after workers began peeling off the shrink-wrap cover that protected it from dust and spray, NASA's space shuttle Atlantis is fully in the open. Next up for the retired orbiter is for its two payload bay doors to be opened, leading to its public debut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on June 29.
April 29, 2013 / 10:35 a.m. CT (1535 GMT) SpaceShipTwo goes supersonic: Monday, Virgin Galactic flew the first rocket-powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo (SS2) space plane. The test marked the start of the final phase of vehicle qualifications prior to Virgin Galactic beginning commercial passenger ("space tourist") flights from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Piloting SS2 Monday were Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury, who are test pilots for Scaled Composites, which built the spaceship.
April 29, 2013 / 4:00 p.m. CT (2100 GMT) Enterprise's exhibit taking shape: NASA's prototype space shuttle Enterprise will soon have a new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. The metal framework for the new space shuttle pavilion now extends above and around the orbiter, as was recently captured in aerial photographs by WCBS 880 reporter Tom Kaminski. The pavilion, which is set to open this summer, replaces an air-supported structure that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, just three months after the Intrepid debuted shuttle Enterprise on display.
April 30, 2013 / 3:20 p.m. CT (2020 GMT) Canada's new space-robot fiver: Canada's robotic contributions to the space station are celebrated on the nation's new $5 bank note as was revealed Tuesday from on board the orbiting outpost. International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut, held up the new bill, which features images of the Canadarm2 and Dextre, which both helped assemble and now maintain the space station. The new bank note, which also depicts an unnamed astronaut, will enter circulation in November.