June 2, 2005 / 4:23 p.m. CT (2123 GMT) Suits for space spies: A recent venture into a long-locked room at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station uncovered artifacts of a by-gone era: space suits for U.S. Air Force candidates who trained in the 1960s to be space spies, revealed NASA today. The Manned Orbiting Laboratory relics were labeled 008 and spy-suit-able 007.
June 3, 2005 / 1:15 a.m. CT (0615 GMT) Baikonur birthday: The Cosmodrome, the Soviet Union's (and now, Russia's) version of Kennedy Space Center, marked its 50th anniversary yesterday at a ceremony held with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The former top-secret testing ground for Soviet ballistic missiles, the Cosmodrome became the launch site for the world's first satellite and manned space flight. Today and for the two years since the loss of shuttle Columbia, the wind-swept steppes of Baikonur, Kazakhstan has served as the only gateway to the International Space Station. On Thursday the two presidents toured a rocket and satellite assembly plant, met with space program veterans and laid the first brick for Baiterek - a joint Russo-Kazakh launch complex.
June 4, 2005 / 2:37 p.m. CT (1937 GMT) Lost Moon-walkers: In celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has introduced a limited edition print signed by astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise. The 8 by 10-inch print features a collage of photographs from training through the launch and successful homecoming of the Apollo 13 moonwalkers. Advertised for $150 each, the prints' proceeds will go towards student scholarships.
June 5, 2005 / 6:16 p.m. CT (2316 GMT) Greatest American: Two astronauts have made the ballot of 100 candidates for the 'Greatest American' as nominated by more than 500,000 people. Mercury 'original' and Space Shuttle septuagenarian, John Glenn is joined on the list by first on the moon Neil Armstrong. Also vying for the Greatest title are sound barrier breaker Chuck Yeager, "Cosmos"-ologist Carl Sagan, and Apollo actor Tom Hanks. Voting opens tonight at 7:00 p.m. CDT during the three-hour premiere of the Discovery Channel's companion special hosted by Matt Lauer. Nominees will be eliminated each Sunday based on the previous week's votes until the live finale reveals the Greatest on June 26.
June 8, 2005 / 3:26 p.m. CT (2026 GMT) Redstone repaired: In September 2004, Hurricane Francis bore down on Kennedy Space Center, causing damage to several of its historic rockets standing on display. Among them was a Redstone booster that had its mock-up Mercury payload lose several of its side panels. On Tuesday, exhibits company Guard-Lee, Inc. delivered and installed the repaired capsule and escape tower, reports Field Guide to American Spacecraft editor Jim Gerard. Guard-Lee will also repair another Redstone, one of only eight that were man-rated (six of which were used on missions), that was toppled by the storm winds.
June 10, 2005 / 6:15 p.m. CT (2315 GMT) Congressional downlink: The last time the U.S. Congress wanted to know more about living in space, they launched two of their own aboard the shuttle (former Sen. Jake Garn (R-UT) in 1985, and then-Rep./ now Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in 1986). This time, they are bringing space to them. Expedition 11 crewmember John Phillips is scheduled to appear before the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee on June 14. The live via satellite session is the first time Congress has accepted testimony from space. Flanking Phillips (from space) on Capitol Hill will be fellow ISS astronauts Peggy Whitson and Mike Fincke. All three are expected to discuss what it is like to live and work in space, focusing on the space station's role in preparing for the long duration missions called for by the President's Vision for Space Exploration.
June 12, 2005 / 3:23 p.m. CT (2023 GMT) Go / No Go: Its easy to understand why Apollo 7 and Apollo 9 are often overlooked. The only two flights of the lunar program to stay in earth orbit, they are overshadowed by the giant leaps that followed them. But, as columnist Rick Houston reminds, if it wasn't for these missions' small steps, the history books today may have read very differently. Fortunately, Spacecraft Films didn't forget these flights with their recent Apollo 7: Shakedown Cruise and last year's Apollo 9: Spider Takes Flight sets.
June 13, 2005 / 7:02 a.m. CT (1202 GMT) Hero honored: Fallen Columbia astronaut Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson was honored Sunday by his hometown of Spokane, WA with the unveiling of a bronze statue in his likeness. The third of seven STS-107 crew members to be similarly celebrated, Anderson's memorial will eventually be relocated to the plaza of a new science center, which will also bear his name. Joining yesterday's tribute were astronauts Fred Gregory, Carlos Noriega and STS-114/Discovery mission specialist Stephen Robinson.
June 15, 2005 / 1:27 a.m. CT (0627 GMT) Details denied: A federal judge Tuesday denied a request from the lawyer for the former head of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center for a detailed list of all the artifacts his client Max Ary is accused of stealing, reports the Associated Press. When attorney Lee Thompson asked for the list in May, he said that Ary brought many pieces from his own personal collection to the Hutchinson museum and was given broad powers to act on its behalf by the Cosmosphere board of directors. Judge J. Thomas Marten said he thought the indictment provided enough details for Ary to defend himself. "It all boils down to a few questions," said Marten of his ruling.
June 15, 2005 / 12:04 p.m. CT (1704 GMT) Saving and streaming Saturn V: As the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama begins the repair and restoration of their Saturn V, a webcam has now been installed to provide visitors to their website a live overhead view of the work. Conservation Solutions, which has been restoring Johnson Space Center's Saturn booster, will also oversee the work at USSRC. Unlike the Houston rocket, which had its climate-controlled building raised around it, Huntsville's 500F Saturn V will be shrink wrapped until funds can be raised to build the new facility.
June 15, 2005 / 3:50 p.m. CT (2050 GMT) Rollout redux: With safety modifications in place, Space Shuttle Discovery is back at Launch Pad 39B having completed its second 4.2-mile journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). Slowed from its usual pace of 1 mph due to its bearings overheating, the Apollo-era giant crawler transporter supporting Discovery arrived at the pad at 11:17 a.m. CDT today in preparation for the planned Return to Flight in July. A launch date will be decided during a June 29-30 Flight Readiness Review.
June 17, 2005 / 2:41 a.m. CT (0741 GMT) Lagomarsino's LMs: As well as building the full scale Lunar Module that would be the first to land men on another world, the Grumman Aerospace Corporation also let their magnificent creation be replicated in miniature. Their contractor model of the LM attracted the attention of many, though none perhaps as passionately as Andrew Lagomarsino, who has worked to restore the mini-moon landers to their new condition, luster and glory.
June 18, 2005 / 10:00 p.m. CT (0300 GMT Jun 19) Relics of the Space Race: The Kansas Cosmosphere's Mollett Early Spaceflight Gallery opened today, providing the public unprecedented access to American and Soviet Space Race relics. Together in one room for the first time are the U.S. Gemini X spacecraft and a U.S.S.R. Vostok that also flew; a Voskhod model and, once home from its nationwide tour, Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule Liberty Bell 7. As if that wasn't enough, the Mollett gallery also features interactive recreations of Cape Canaveral's 5/6 Blockhouse and Titan launch pad.
June 20, 2005 / 12:00 a.m. CT (0500 GMT) Desolation demo: IMAX has begun their promotion for the September 23rd release of Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D presented by Tom Hanks. Movie posters and a teaser trailer have appeared in theaters, as well as on the internet. With never before seen photographs, CGI renditions of the lunar landscape and previously unreleased NASA footage, audiences will be immersed in the experiences of the Apollo astronauts, based on "The Lunar Surface Journal" by Dr. Eric Jones.
June 21, 2005 / 10:36 p.m. CT (0336 GMT Jun 22) - UPDATED Signal-less sail: Cosmos 1 was to have been the world's first solar sail spacecraft had its submarine-launched Russian ICBM booster not have experienced a first stage engine problem, as Russian evening news reports suggest. For their part as the project co-sponsor, The Planetary Society is holding out hope. Citing ground- based tracking data, the Society's controllers say there were indications that Cosmos 1 separated from its Volna launch vehicle as had been planned. "It is obviously very worrisome," said TPS Project Director Louis Friedman of the satellite, "but it is too early to draw any conclusions."
June 22, 2005 / 12:14 a.m. CT (0514 GMT) New Moon: HBO has announced it will re- release Tom Hanks' Emmy-award winning miniseries From the Earth to the Moon on September 20 as a new 'Signature Edition' DVD collection. The five-disc, 12-hour set will feature a new widescreen transfer, remastered audio tracks and what appears to be the same line-up of extras as were included in the first DVD release. Though they're now only rumors, reports also suggest expanded footage.
June 22, 2005 / 8:32 a.m. CT (1332 GMT) Air Force missile pioneer dies: Retired General Bernard Adolph Schriever, widely regarded as the father and architect of the U.S. Air Force space and ballistic missile programs, died of natural causes at home in Washington on June 20. Under Schriever's leadership, the USAF developed programs such as the Thor, Atlas, Titan and Minuteman missiles, and aerospace systems, including those supporting NASA in its Mercury program.
June 22, 2005 / 11:32 a.m. CT (1632 GMT) Autopen archive: Authorized though not authentic, astronaut autopens continue to be sent by NASA to fulfill the requests it receives for autographs. Although telltale signs such as shakiness and abrupt stops can help collectors single out these machine-generated fakes, the only sure method is to compare suspects with known autopen patterns. Fortunately, resources such as Simon Vaughan's and Roy Gutzke's guide; Russell Still's Relics of the Space Race; and Stephen Beck's website have offered galleries of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era examples. Continuing their work has been Craig Sadler's Space Directory, which, with the help of Robert McLeod, Thierry Bisiaux and Derek Horne, has created an archive for 150 Space Shuttle astronauts' autopen patterns. The Directory is now seeking help from others to expand their listings to add the astronauts/autopens they are missing.
June 22, 2005 / 8:47 p.m. CT (0147 GMT Jun 23) Houston, we have a line: The American Film Institute revealed a list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time on Tuesday night, during a three-hour CBS special broadcast. A jury of 1,500 film historians, artists, and critics ranked "Houston, we have a problem" from Apollo 13 (1995) as the 50th most memorable line. Leading the AFI chart was Clark Gable's confession from Gone With The Wind (1939) "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
June 23, 2005 / 11:02 a.m. CT (1602 GMT) ASTP Flight Director dies: M. P. "Pete" Frank III, lead U.S. flight director for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, suffered fatal injuries as a result of a car accident and has died, reports journalist James Oberg. Frank retired from NASA in 1984, as Chief of the Flight Operations Integration Office. His wife Bobbie was also injured in the accident, and is listed in critical condition.
June 24, 2005 / 4:53 p.m. CT (2153 GMT) Brand's bobblehead: The Lancaster, CA JetHawks will host astronaut Vance Brand at their August 19 game in celebration of their annual Aerospace Appreciation Night. The first 1,000 fans to arrive for the Minor League baseball game against the Bakersfield Blaze will receive a Brand-shaped bobblehead doll of him grasping the Apollo-Soyuz spacecraft and holding a space shuttle. This is the fourth "local hero" figurine that the JetHawks have distributed to their fans: SpaceShipOne's designer Burt Rutan was honored on June 17, and in August 2004, both NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton and the late X-15 pilot Pete Knight made their debut as large-headed dolls.
June 25, 2005 / 4:09 p.m. CT (2109 GMT) Go / No Go: The television camera carried by the Apollo 12 crew would have been the first to send back color images taken from the lunar surface had Alan Bean not aimed its lens toward the Sun. As a result, Apollo 12 went without footage - color or otherwise - of its EVAs (moonwalks). One would assume then, that filling a three disc DVD set dedicated to the mission's video might be a problem. To the contrary, reviews Rick Houston of Apollo 12: Ocean of Storms, the latest title by Spacecraft Films.
June 25, 2005 / 8:21 p.m. CT (0121 GMT Jun 26) - UPDATED Affidavit on Ary: The former head of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center asked his employees to remove artifacts from safes that he did not have access to, unsealed court files show. As reported by The Hutchinson News, an affidavit filed by NASA special agent Michael Mataya alleges that items were moved at Max Ary's request to a storage area where logs show he entered, at times after normal business hours. Mataya's affidavit also alleges that when he was questioned about the sale of a NASA-owned artifact, Ary replied, "that he did not recall [the item] until he... found [it] was on one of his sale lists." Ary allegedly made as much as $195,007 from four auction of 91 artifacts, the indictment says. In April, Ary pled innocent to allegations that he sold space artifacts that belonged to the Cosmosphere and to NASA.
June 26, 2005 / 1:52 a.m. CT (0652 GMT) Capt. Bean's badge retired: As was first reported in December, Alan Bean may be an astronaut, the fourth man to walk on the Moon and an accomplished artist, but he's also a Fort Worth, Texas police captain. At least he was, until yesterday, when he retired his badge. And not just any badge, either; the badge he carried with him to the Moon in 1969. The honorary credentials came full circle on Saturday, passing between the same hands that first presented it, reported The Dallas Morning News. Sgt. John Stout (retired) accepted the badge, standing in front of a black and white photograph of himself awarding it to Bean 36 years ago. With the badge, Bean returned a Forth Worth flag and a key to the city that for two months will be at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.
June 26, 2005 / 4:57 p.m. CT (2157 GMT) Stafford selects Stafford for moon rock: NASA announced it would award Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts moon rocks for displays in their names at museums of their choice in July 2004. Eugene Cernan became the first Ambassador of Exploration to designate his rock's home, the National Museum of Naval Aviation, this past May. Thomas Stafford will become the second on July 12, during a ceremony to be held at the museum that bears his name. Joining him to witness the award at the Stafford Air and Space Museum in Oklahoma will be the astronaut's Apollo-Soyuz Test Project crew members.
June 28, 2005 / 1:35 a.m. CT (0635 GMT) Statue for space hero:Quest for Space Exploration, a 7-foot high bronze sculpture of astronaut James A. Lovell incorporating glass, steel, and granite will be unveiled at 11:00a.m. today in the Adler Planetarium's Rainbow Lobby. The statue, commissioned by the Illinois planetarium for its 75th anniversary, was created by Omri and Julie Rotblatt Amrany (noted for their Michael Jordan sculpture at the Chicago Bulls' United Center). Last April, Lovell announced he was donating his personal collection to the Adler, as well chairing their anniversary celebration.
June 28, 2005 / 11:28 a.m. CT (1628 GMT) Have spacesuit, will travel: Dennis Tito, the California businessman who became the first self-financed tourist in space on April 28, 2001, has donated his spacesuit to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. The Sokol KV-2 pressure garment will be placed on display in the National Mall building in early July and will be the focus of a "Curator's Choice" lecture on August 10. The museum also exhibits U.S. astronaut Norm Thagard's Sokol spacesuit that he wore to the Mir.
June 28, 2005 / 3:16 p.m. CT (2016 GMT) Crawler creator dies: Donald Buchanan, an engineer who led NASA's design of the Crawler Transporter that carried Saturn IB and V rockets to their launch sites, and is now used to move the Space Shuttle from its assembly building to the pad, died June 13, The New York Times reports. The concept for a four-track crawler was chosen over barges and a rail system, in part for its ability to carry as much as 12 million pounds. He was 82.
June 29, 2005 / 7:12 p.m. CT (0012 GMT Jun 30) Comet contest: On July 4 at 12:52am CT NASA's Deep Impact probe will slam an impactor into Comet Tempel 1. The crater that will be born as a result is predicted by scientists to be on the order of 328 feet across. As the composition and structure of Tempel 1 is unknown however, the exact size of the hole is anyone's guess. The Great Comet Crater Contest, sponsored by The Planetary Society, invites everyone to try their hand at the physics of colliding bodies. All entrants who guess within 10 meters of the correct diameter will be entered into drawings for the grand prize: a custom plaque made of the same copper heavy mass material of the impactor.
June 30, 2005 / 4:11 p.m. CT (2111 GMT) Date for Discovery: NASA managers have set July 13 at 3:51 p.m. EDT for the launch of Discovery on mission STS-114, marking the shuttle's return to flight after the loss of Columbia in 2003. Discovery's crew, led by Eileen Collins, will test new safety procedures and deliver much-needed supplies to the International Space Station. July 13 begins a launch window that runs through July 31.
July 8, 2005 / 1:06 a.m. CT (0606 GMT) Blogger ballot: With a debt of gratitude to our readers, this site has been nominated as a choice for favorite blog in the Houston Chronicle's Ultimate Houston Readers Pick for 2005. Voting is open through August 9 for everyone, regardless if you are a Houston resident or subscribe to the paper. This editor won't be so forward to suggest how you should vote, though if you're seeing this then you likely know his choice. Other spacey nominees: Space Center Houston (Place to Take A Tourist) and The Space Store founder, Dayna Steele for Radio Personality.