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June 1, 2003

/ 12:54 a.m. ET

Aurora, day two

: The second day of bidding is set to begin at Aurora Galleries' space and aviation auction, starting with lot 677 and spanning ASTP through the ISS, and wrapping with a large selection of rocket mail. Our live reporting of the 'hammer' prices continues...

June 2, 2003

/ 10:12 a.m. ET

Court coverage

: The trial of Robert Hagan, a former Texas Constable accused of stealing Columbia debris, begins today at a federal courthouse in Lufkin, Texas. Throughout the trial, retired NASA OIG Senior Special Agent Joseph Gutheinz will be filing our coverage.

June 3, 2003

/ 3:59 p.m. ET

Court coverage con't

: Florida and Texas are playing host this week to two federal court cases we have been following since their associated arrests. As was noted yesterday, the first Space Shuttle Columbia debris theft trial has begun in Lufkin, Texas, where an elected law enforcement official, Constable Robert Hagan is being tried for the alleged theft of tile fragments.

Meanwhile, in Orlando, Florida, the four students who allegedly stole a safe full of moon rocks from Johnson Space Center last summer are finally getting their day in court, after a month long delay associated with tracking down the only defendant not to plead guilty.

June 3, 2003

/ 8:57 p.m. ET

Will the real Soviet Sputnik please stand up

: Reuters reports today on the eBay/Sovietski sale of a "genuine" Sputnik satellite, though interviews with Russian artifact experts leads to the question as to whether the $25,000 offer is for an original, replica, or made-to-order fake.

According to Cathleen Lewis, Soviet and Russian curator at the National Air and Space Museum, only four back-ups were produced yet many more are on display and are known to exist worldwide.

Adding to the count are the two owned by collector George Stauffer, a vintage car dealer in Wisconsin, who is also trying to sell one of his. He acquired the couple through "a NASA official in Florida who knew a Russian with the right contacts."

June 3, 2003

/ 11:51 p.m. ET

I claim this patch...

Who better to adorn the logos for the two Delta rockets set to launch NASA's twin Mars rovers than the Red Planet's most famous native and the space ranger who claimed it in the name of Earth?

June 4, 2003

/ 11:33 a.m. ET

History to air Failure

: The History Channel will debut on August 19, "Failure Is Not An Option", a film based on the biography of Flight Director Gene Kranz.

June 4, 2003

/ 11:25 p.m. ET

Moon rock thief convicted

: Gordon McWhorter, who with three NASA interns stole a NASA safe filled with moon rocks and Martian meteorites last summer, was found guilty today in federal court. He faces up to 25 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

June 5, 2003

/ 10:07 a.m. ET

Price-less moon rocks

: Before sentencing of convicted moon rock thief Gordon McWhorter can proceed, the court must set a value for the stolen goods. This may be a first, as there has never been a legal sale (at least that we know) of Apollo-recovered lunar samples (dust and dust-stains withstanding). An evidentiary hearing is set for August 5, with sentencing to follow August 27.

June 6, 2003

/ 11:46 a.m. ET

Sputnik sale crashes

: Sovietski's eBay sale of a Russian Sputnik (see our earlier note as to whether it was real or a replica) has crashed to Earth, reports Reuters. Bidding opened at $25,000 but quickly grew.

"When it went to $26,000, we were kind of excited and then it shot up to $200,000 and we were really excited, and then it went up to $500,000 and we were kind of becoming a little more skeptical," said a spokesperson for the San Diego-based vendor of Soviet collectibles.

When it reached $99 million, the bids were assumed to be hoaxes and Sovietski removed the listing.

June 7, 2003

/ 2:25 a.m. ET

Texas justice?

Despite testimony that he thought that the tile he conveniently left in his patrol car when he left to go home would make for a good "remembrance", Robert Hagan II, a Texas county constable, was judged yesterday as not guilty of stealing debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia by a federal court-appointed jury.

June 9, 2003

/ 2:09 a.m. ET

Apollo, the technical manual

: In the early days of Star Trek fandom, artists fleshed out the Starship Enterprise with diagrams and blueprints showing how the craft would have "really" functioned. Scott Sullivan has done space fans a similar service with his new book "Virtual Apollo", writes Karl Tate in his review for collectSPACE.

June 11, 2003

/ 12:36 a.m. ET

Celebrating 'The Right Stuff'

: In conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the "The Right Stuff", Warner Home Video has repackaged the Mercury program epic as a deluxe, feature-packed two-disc DVD Special Edition. To mark its debut, most of the cast and crew reunited Monday for a reception, screening and panel discussion at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles, California.

June 12, 2003

/ 9:29 a.m. ET

Story's Story on DVD

: Six-time shuttle astronaut Story Musgrave presents his favorite space imagery, music, and memories in "A Space Story", released now on DVD. Just in time to celebrate his induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Story has signed copies for buySPACE.

June 13, 2003

/ 10:49 p.m. ET

Barney Fife would have known better

: It only took four months to do so, but former Texas Deputy Jeffrey Arriola has plead guilty to stealing Columbia debris.

June 16, 2003

/ 7:37 p.m. ET

Constable may be indicted, again

: The case against suspected Columbia debris thief, Constable Robert Hagan, II, may have been lost in federal court, but now the state may have a try. Speaking with former NASA agent Joseph Gutheinz, Hagan's lawyer said that the state would convene a grand jury tomorrow to try to indict Hagan on charges of filing a false police report, related to his possession of Space Shuttle debris.

June 19, 2003

/ 10:22 a.m. ET

The Mercury 13

: On Saturday, Sally Ride will become the first woman to be inducted to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, an honor first bestowed in 1990 to the Mercury astronauts. Before Ride took her ride (20 years ago this week), there were the 18 women who, in the 1960s, were tested to learn if they had the "right stuff" to join the likes of Shepard, Glenn, and Carpenter in space. Of the 18, 13 performed exceptionally well, though the distinction didn't translate to a launch aboard an Atlas.

Though its not the Hall of Fame, Martha Ackmann gives the "Mercury 13" their due in her book by the same title, reviewed by Carpenter's daughter, Kristen Stoever.

June 22, 2003

/ 7:06 p.m. ET

A weekend to remember

: Despite the occassional rain (okay, torrential downpour), the Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony held yesterday was an event not to miss. In addition to the four honorees (Story Musgrave, Sally Ride, Dan Brandenstein, and Hoot Gibson), more than 20 astronauts joined the celebration, including the band Max Q. Also appearing were cast members from "The Right Stuff", marking the film's 20th anniversary.

June 24, 2003

/ 3:40 a.m. ET

Mercury 13 response

: Bernice T. Steadman, one of the Mercury 13 and author of "Tethered Mercury, The Right Stuff But The Wrong Sex", has responded to the review of Martha Ackmann's book "The Mercury 13", written by astronaut Scott Carpenter's daughter Kristen Stoever.

June 25, 2003

/ 9:52 p.m. ET

"First Man" update

: The Tuscaloosa News provides a quick update on James Hansen's progress researching Neil Armstrong's authorized biography. The professor is wrapping up his research, which included interviewing fellow astronauts, Armstrong's ex-wife, Walter Cronkite and a prom date. "First Man" is set for release in 2005.

June 27, 2003

/ 4:48 p.m. ET

Danbury delayed

: According to a postcard we received with today's mail, the second model in the Danbury Mint's "Milestones in Space Exploration" series is now expected to ship early next year (January 2004). Though the card stops short of revealing the identity of the next model, it was earlier reported that Danbury would follow "Apollo 13" with a scale replica of John Glenn's Mercury spacecraft, Friendship 7 (originally set for a 2003 summer release). The Mint's Program Manager David Macoy apologizes for "any inconvenience" and thanks you for "your patience".

June 28, 2003

/ 10:16 p.m. ET

Mercury memories

: The Share Your Mercury Memories Time Capsule, organized by the University of Central Florida and the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Foundation, is seeking testimonials from the 200,000 people who made Project Mercury a success. The writings, along with period artifacts, will be sealed in a time capsule on July 21, not to be opened again for 35 years. If you have memories to contribute, packets are available through the U.S. Spacewalk of Fame Museum in Titusville, Florida.

Speaking of the Spacewalk of Fame, an effort is now underway to keep its museum's current location open. The new management of the Miracle City Mall, that hosts the Hall, has asked that the museum's premises be vacated by December 31. An online petition requests that the mall's management reconsiders their decision.

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