Since the Apollo years, membership to the Interstellar Association of Turtles has been diligently sought after and highly prized by those lucky enough to be initiated. Now, Imperial Potentate Wally Schirra and High Potentate Ed Buckbee, are offering the club's hand-signed membership cards to all who buy their book, The Real Space Cowboys. The cards, which cost an additional $29.95 above the book price, can be bought at the duo's in-person book signings or exclusively online through Farthest Reaches, which also offers discounts to Turtle card holders on most of their items until year's end.
: Fifteen Hall of Fame astronauts joined family and friends, colleagues and collectors, and the general public in celebrating the induction of three Space Shuttle veterans into the Astronaut Hall of Fame this past weekend in Florida. Spacewalkers Joe Allen and Bruce McCandless along with pilot Gordon Fullerton spoke with collectSPACE about their induction, their thoughts on the future, and the artifacts they plan to have for loan to the Hall to remember their role in history.
: Late last month, the Beijing Evening News reported that the citizens of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao and Chinese foreign nationals can now apply to have flown small mementos on the second flight of China's crewed space program, Shenzhou 6. The applications, which at the time of the report only included one from the US (suggesting a stone), will be judged only after all are received. Launch is scheduled for September.
: Aurora Galleries will re- open online bidding today on 368 lots that did not sell during their most recent space and aviation memorabilia auction held last month. The 'second chance' sale is set to begin at 6:00 p.m. CST on eBay Live Auctions. Included among the re-offered artifacts are spacesuit components, autographs, a lunar flown flag and an Apollo-era flightsuit.
: The STS-114 crew conducted a mock countdown Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center. The astronauts, led by Commander Eileen Collins, left their crew quarters for the pad at 7:45 a.m. EDT dressed in the "pumpkin" orange pressure suits they will don for their July launch. Strapped to their seats onboard Discovery, the crew ran through the test with the Launch Control Center in Florida and the ascent team at Mission Control in Houston. With the exception of an audio glitch, the dress rehearsal went smoothly. Clouds overhead and an issue communicating with the Eastern Range stations would have halted the launch, if it had proceeded for real.
: The blur seen to the left is the Viking 2 Lander as imaged from orbit by the Mars Global Surveyor. No easy feat, as finding the 1976 NASA probe proved difficult given the lack of identifying horizon features in the panoramic photos Viking 2 sent to Earth. Even more of a challenge though has been finding Mars Polar Lander, which was lost in 1999. Using images of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) landing sites as the model of what one would expect to see, a candidate for a closer look was chosen and will be imaged later this year once the season's cover of carbon dioxide frost is melted.
: If you have seen one rocket launch, have you seen them all? That's the question Rick Houston asks while viewing Liftoff! Success and Failure on the Launch Pad from Spacecraft Films. Houston gives a go for Liftoff! but found the myriad of rockets to ramble.
: NASA astronauts and officials were among those who gathered today to dedicate a 15-foot, bronze statue of Willie McCool, who died on the Space Shuttle Columbia, reports the Associated Press. Approximately 200 people viewed the unveiling of the statue, which shows McCool's hand pointing toward the flight path of Columbia before it disintegrated during reentry. The name of McCool's widow, Lani, is etched on his ring on the statue, which stands in Lubbock, TX. The names of his sons Cameron, Chris and Sean are etched on the sleeve of his flightsuit. A statue of Rick Husband, erected at Amarillo airport, and McCool's face each other.
: NASA's Glenn Visitor Center, in collaboration with collectSPACE is inviting space memorabilia collectors to apply now for free display tables at its first space memorabilia show set for July 23. In addition to showing their collections, exhibitors may also choose to sell or swap their memorabilia. To insure room is available at the Cleveland visitor center, collectors are asked to register online or via the mail by Friday, May 27.
: Media coverage about the plight of the Hornet, a U.S. aircraft carrier that is now a museum in northern California, successfully raised enough donations to prevent its electricity from being cut off today, news services report. The ship, which recovered the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 spacecrafts and crews in 1969, is facing mounting overdue bills that could threaten its ability to stay open as an air and space museum. Also of concern is the Maritime Administration, which may require the Hornet to move from the Alameda Naval Air Station, its home of ten-years, due to how near it is to a ready-reserve fleet. The cost of preparing a new pier for the Hornet is reported to be upwards of $1 million.
: With their John Young signing behind them, Novaspace Galleries has announced their next through-the-mail autograph sessions set for the summer. In late June, Apollo 11 CMP Michael Collins will return to the Tucson, Arizona-based Galleries to sign for a base fee of $295. Following Collins in August will be Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman, who for the past few years has chosen to refuse autograph requests. For this, Borman's first fee-based signing, a charge of $150 will be asked per item. Collectors must be invited by Novaspace to take part in either/both signings by joining an email list.
: Added in 1976 to observe the United States' bicentennial, the 209x110 ft. American flag painted onto the side of the 525-foot Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) lost panels during the 2004 hurricanes that assaulted the east coast of Florida. It took almost seven months as other repairs took precedence, but finally this week the 6-foot Stars and 9-foot Stripes were restored by Kennedy Space Center workers. Sitting 450 ft. above the ground, the retouched flag required 6,000 gallons of paint.
: The conservation specialist responsible for the repair and restoration of the Saturn V at Johnson Space Center told exhibit officials in Alabama on Wednesday that the booster at the US Space & Rocket Center isn't as damaged by man or nature as its Houston cousin, the Huntsville Times reports. Joseph Sembrat of Conservation Solutions, Inc. has had his team assessing the Huntsville rocket for about a month, in preparation for moving the Saturn V to a temporary pad where the public will be able to watch its restoration. Sembrat has said his team has identified original hardware that may be used to replace mockups currently on display as part of the effort.
: Last July, NASA announced it would award every Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronaut (as well as Walter Cronkite) a moon rock while naming each an Ambassador of Exploration. The first such honor came today in Pensacola, Florida at the National Naval Aviation Museum, where Eugene Cernan had chosen his lunar sample will remain on display. The physical award, including and especially the moon rock it features, remains the property of the space agency. The Ambassadors and their awards are to help NASA inspire the next generation and share the benefits of exploration.
: A new documentary airing on Saturday pays tribute to the crew of Columbia, as filmed by one of their own. Astronaut Diaries debuts on The Science Channel tomorrow at 8 p.m. CDT. It offers never-before-seen footage taken by David Brown during two years of training with his crewmates. Brown's movies are juxtaposed with surviving family members, who offer insight and observations of the fallen crew's personalities.
: The publicly known count of artifacts missing from the Cosmosphere increased dramatically last week when the attorney representing Max Ary filed a 2003 search warrant as part of a motion to learn more about the charges held against his client. When the Kansas museum first reported the results of their internal audit, the number of items that could not be located was said to be "more than 100." The actual count however, is itemized in the warrant at over 400. Ary's indictment only holds him responsible for 120 items; court documents do not explain the fate of the nearly 300 other items missing.
: It may be small in size, but the segment of rope seen here is large with history. Outside of museums, flown artifacts from the early Mercury missions are few and far between. This cut piece of lanyard is one of a limited number of fragments from the United States' second manned orbital flight that is being offered as attached to an 8 x 10" display from Spaceflori. The international orange-color lanyard was used to retain survival gear for Scott Carpenter aboard Aurora 7. After the flight, it was presented to the commanding officer of the US Farragut, who assisted in the capsule's recovery.
: Photographs from NASA's Mars Global Surveyor released today are the first ever taken of a spacecraft orbiting another planet by a separate probe circling that planet. The images of Mars Odyssey, seen here, and ESA's Mars Express were taken in April when the two came within 55 and 155 miles of Surveyor. All three craft are moving at almost 7,000 miles per hour.
: The Republic of the Marshall Islands is set to release a new 5 stamp set celebrating the Space Shuttle's Return To Flight. Designed by artists Paul and Chris Calle, each of the stamps show one of the five orbiters: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour; in different stages of flight. News of these stamps and other recent space philately briefs are in the first issue of the Space Unit's Capsule Comments.
: Rick Houston files a double review of two made-for-TV documentaries on DVD giving new meaning to the title of his Go / No Go column. Inside the Space Station from The Discovery Channel takes viewers 220 miles above the Earth; NOVA's Welcome to Mars offers an unmatched look at Mars rovers in motion.
: The Mars Society is hosting an auction and sale of red planet- related collectibles, including art, stamps, books and coins collected by MS lifetime member Leonard Bromberg. The items are divided among those to be sold directly and lots offered only at The Mars Society's eighth conference in August. Society members receive 10% off the nearly 300 pieces.
: Sunday's issue of the Orlando Sentinel added details to the STS-114 crew's plans to carry mementos from the STS-107 families. As reported by Michael McLeod, Sandy Anderson, wife of mission specialist Michael Anderson, "is sending a pin with the Columbia mission logo on it." Lani McCool, wife of pilot Willie McCool, will send her silver "Hope" ring, a gift from her husband along with his "scorched name tag, the only one to be recovered from the [wreckage]." Doug Brown, brother of Dave Brown, "is flying pennants of the high school, college and medical school" Dave attended.
: Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. CDT (7:00 p.m. PDT), The Space Show welcomes back Robert Pearlman, VP of Countdown Enterprises and collectSPACE editor, to discuss topics related to space history and space memorabilia collecting. Listeners to Seattle's KKNW and on Live365.com can call, e-mail, or instant message questions to host Dr. David Livingston.
: NASA's Voyager 1 probe is entering a vast, turbulent expanse, where the sun's influence ends and the solar wind crashes into the thin gas between stars, a NASA press conference announced today. At approximately 8.7 billion miles from the Sun, Voyager 1 has crossed the termination shock into the heliosheath.
: To mark the 40th anniversary of the United States' first spacewalk by Ed White on Gemini IV and the space flight qualification of their watch, Omega will offer a "First Space Walk 40th Anniversary" special edition Speedmaster Professional in June. Featuring a blue dial and silver 30 minute, 12-hour, and seconds counters, the Gemini IV chronograph has a subtle red engraving 1965-2005 below the rhodium-plated 12 o'clock hour marker. One of the watch's most striking features however, will remain hidden: the mission's patch is color etched on the piece's sapphire crystal case back.
: The Space Shuttle Discovery is back in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Carried by an Apollo-era Crawler Transporter, Discovery entered the VAB at 3:30 p.m. CDT after a 10-hour, 4.2 mile trip from Pad 39B (briefly interrupted by an over heated bearing on the transporter). Today's rollback was the 15th in Space Shuttle Program history. Inside the VAB, technicians will de-mate Discovery from its external tank and solid rocket boosters on May 31. Discovery will then be attached to a new, modified stack designed to minimize potential ice and frost buildup that could shed and damage the orbiter during launch. Discovery will roll back out to Pad 39B in mid-June for a return to flight launch targeted for July 13.
: The Space Topic Study Unit, an astrophilatelic society, will hold its next meeting on June 4 during the National Philatelic Exhibitions (NAPEX) in McLean, Virginia. Attending and speaking at the gathering will be Rear Admiral Carl J. Seiberlich, former Commanding Officer of the USS Hornet (CVS-12) for the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 mission recoveries. His presentation on the role he played during the return of the first lunar landing and the current conservatory work for the USS Hornet, will be followed by an autograph signing.
: Like was done for his fellow fallen crewmates Rick Husband and Willie McCool, Michael Anderson will be honored by his hometown with a bronze statue shaped in his likeness. His friends and family in Spokane, Washington are raising funds to underwrite the $125,000 needed for the memorial. For a $2 donation to the Michael P. Anderson Memorial Statue Fund, supporters can receive a limited edition, multi-color wristband debossed with the simple message: "DREAM".
: If you have never attended the annual convention and autograph show hosted by the UACC (Universal Autograph Collectors Club), Out & About with Roger Martin had its cameras at last year's show and has put together a video segment that offers a great introduction. The Los-Angeles based TV news magazine series interviewed show guests Scott Carpenter, Eugene Cernan, Walt Cunningham and Rick Searfoss, as well as UACC President Michael Hecht about the Burbank show.
for the First Man, one giant profit (and maybe a lawsuit) for his barber. The Associated Press reports that Marx Sizemore, owner of the Lebanon, OH barber shop that Neil Armstrong frequented until recently, sold some of the first moonwalker's hair to University Archives' President and celebrity hair collector John Reznikoff. The price tag? $3,000. When Armstrong learned of the unauthorized sale, he requested Sizemore pursue the return of his hair, but Reznikoff reportedly was not interested. As such, Armstrong, through a lawyer, is threatening Sizemore with legal action if either the hair is not returned or the $3,000 isn't donated to a charity of the astronaut's choice. Backing Armstrong's case is an Ohio law that protects the rights of the famous, reports the AP.