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July 1, 2004 / 7:14 p.m. ET - UPDATED
Cassini rings Saturn: The international Cassini-Huygens mission has successfully entered orbit around Saturn, becoming the first spacecraft to circle the ringed planet. At 12:12am ET, flight controllers received confirmation that Cassini had completed the engine burn needed to place the spacecraft into the correct orbit. This begins a four-year study of the giant planet, its rings and 31 known moons. Cassini traveled nearly 2.2 billion miles to reach Saturn after its launch on October 15, 1997. The first images returned from orbit were details of the rings.
July 4, 2004 / 9:00 a.m. ET
Third cosmonaut dies: Andrian Nikolayev died yesterday from a heart attack, reports Interfax. The 74-year old cosmonaut was the third Soviet pilot to command a space flight, orbiting the Earth aboard Vostok 3 in August 1962. Nikolayev's second flight set an endurance record on Soyuz 9 of 18 days in 1970. Between 1963 and 1982, he and cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova were wed.
July 5, 2004 / 10:15 a.m. ET
Missile space: The US Air Force Museum in Ohio is nearing completion of its new $3.2 million Missile and Space Gallery and is now letting visitors to enter, reports the Dayton Daily News. Designed to resemble a missile silo, the gallery illustrates the history of missile and space technology with stories and pictures lining the walls. Eventually, it will also display ten historic missiles. "There's a misperception that NASA was responsible for the space program," museum historian Doug Lantry told the News. "But there was an awful lot of blue uniforms at the beginning. People familiar with rockets see the things in here and look at them like they're Model T Fords."
July 8, 2004 / 8:19 a.m. ET
The Lost Astronaut: Due to be released in October, Gus Grissom: The Lost Astronaut by Ray Boomhower explores Grissom's life from his days as a child to his service as a combat pilot, through the process by which NASA selected its seven Mercury astronauts, the jostling for position to be the first American in space, to the near-fatal suborbital flight that "haunted" his subsequent space career. Boomhower pulls from hours of interviews with the astronaut's family and friends, including Grissom's widow Betty, to author the 300-pages of The Lost Astronaut, the second biography in the Indiana Historical Society series.
July 9, 2004 / 6:00 p.m. ET
Heatshields for sale: Spaceflori.com has introduced four new 8x10" artifact displays as part of their on-going series. Available through buySPACE, each presentation has a segment of flown heatshield attached to images from the mission on which it was used. The new pieces are from the last Mercury flight (Faith 7), the first Gemini mission (Gemini 3), the first American spacewalk (Gemini 4) and the first rendezvous between two manned spacecraft (Gemini 6A). Each are limited and sell for $99.
July 11, 2004 / 9:43 a.m. ET
A desk with history: When Mr. Axel Roth, Marshall Space Flight Center's Associate Director, retired last week after 45 years at NASA, there was concern over who would get his desk. Not his job mind you, but his physical desk. In June 2003, Roth inherited the desk first occupied by Marshall's first director, Wernher von Braun. To many, reports the Huntsville Times, the desk is more than just office furniture, but a piece of history. The final drawings for the Saturn V are said to have been reviewed and approved by von Braun on the same desk. The desk has since been used by every MSFC director. "To know you are sitting at a desk he was sitting at and developed his ideas and put them on paper, that is quite a thought," said Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, a member of von Braun's team. So who gets the desk now? The space center will keep it where it resides currently, in Roth's former office. "At this point," says spokeswoman June Malone, "it will probably be used by whomever fills the slot of associate director."
July 12, 2004 / 10:24 a.m. ET
Apollo 11 scanned: Kipp Teague's Apollo Archive now includes scans of every photo captured during Apollo 11's first moonwalk. The images are the clearest to be released to date; the result of a NASA effort to scan the original Apollo film. To produce the archive, Apollo 11 film magazine "S" was removed from a double-freezer at Johnson Space Center, thawed, and then passed through an Oxberry adapted long roll film scanner. The raw digital files were then supplied to Teague for presentation online.
July 12, 2004 / 7:47 p.m. ET
Apollo 11 at the White House: The crew of Apollo 11 and their families will visit the White House on July 21, for a meeting with the President. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins will mark their mission anniversary at a reception with other astronauts the night prior at the National Air and Space Museum. UPI reports today that sources say the astronauts will publicly speak out in support of the President's vision for space, though they were unable to confirm when or if that might happen.
July 12, 2004 / 8:46 p.m. ET -
Boeing website celebrates A11: All the major components of the Apollo spacecraft and its launch vehicle, with the exception of the Grumman-built Lunar Module, were developed by companies that would join to comprise Boeing, boasts the aerospace company on its new website celebrating next week's 35th anniversary of Apollo 11. In addition to detailing Boeing's role in the first manned lunar landing, the site features a mission log, a multimedia gallery (including an anniversary video), a list of factoids, and a section devoted to other events in '69.
July 16, 2004 / 7:42 a.m. ET
Apollo in widescreen: Moonpans.com, the Apollo panoramic photo specialists, have introduced two giant posters as the start of a new series to compliment their line of high-quality prints. The panoramic posters, which each measure 62 by 21 inches, are the result of hundreds of hours by the company assembling dozens of individual NASA photos into seamless lunar landscapes. The first two vistas to be released include Apollo 14's Lunar Module Antares shown shining in the sun and Apollo 15's Hadley Plain as Dave Scott works near the lunar rover. The posters are available for order today for $20 each on moonpans.com and buySPACE.
July 16, 2004 / 5:30 p.m. ET
Go/No Go: When Rick Houston, manager of communications for NASCAR Busch Series is on the road, he likes to pass the time watching DVDs. So much so, that he has amassed over 600 titles in his private collection. Rick is also a space history enthusiast, so he is sure not to miss a good documentary or space flight docu-drama. To that end, Rick will be contributing space DVD reviews on a bi-weekly basis, beginning with today's look at The First Israeli in Space about 107's Ilan Ramon.
July 16, 2004 / 9:10 a.m. ET - UPDATED
Moon rocks for everyone: On Tuesday, they were only for the Apollo 11 crew (source: NASA Watch). On Wednesday, they were for all the Apollo astronauts (source: MSNBC). Today, NASA stated that moon rocks would be awarded to all crew members from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, not to mention news anchor Walter Cronkite. The astronauts, their families (and Mr. Cronkite) won't get to keep their moon rocks, but they will be able to donate them to their favorite museum or institute (pending NASA approval).
July 18, 2004 / 8:36 a.m. ET
Museum moves module: When we last saw the Apollo 9 Command Module it had just arrived in California by way of a truck from Michigan. Since then, it has sat in a dark corner, hidden from view at the San Diego Aerospace Museum. As Francis French and Sonia Lopez share, "Gumdrop" is on the move again, this time not nearly as far and in preparation for its public display.
July 20, 2004 / 7:48 a.m. ET
Delta V: Five years ago today, this site debuted to an audience of one, its editor. By word of mouth and newsgroup posts, collectSPACE grew in size and scope its first year, from an article lamenting the retirement of Hallmark's series of space ornaments to assisting in the recovery of a stolen piece of Challenger wreckage posted to eBay. Today, 35 years after Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon, cS is one of only a few websites documenting how space history is appreciated, from the personal space memorabilia collections of its readers to the current whereabouts of the artifacts and astronauts celebrated by collectors worldwide. From only a handful of readers in 1999, cS now reaches thousands daily. The change over the past five years has been a series of small steps; reaching you, the reader, is our giant leap. Thank you for helping create our own history.
July 21, 2004 / 5:35 a.m. ET
TQ fashion: The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center introduced yesterday its first fashion line incorporating a stylized logo referencing man's first exploration of the Moon in 1969. The "Tranquility Base" design will appear on tee and polo shirts, hats and visors as well as a variety of other merchandise for adults and children. The TQ line was created in partnership with Ft. Hays State University students who developed the logo, merchandise tags and packaging. "We were looking [for] a new line of merchandise with broad consumer appeal that could be sold in our gift store as well as marketed to a variety of other retail outlets," said Jim Remar, VP of Museum Operations. To that end, the Cosmosphere also announced a distribution partnership with collectSPACE partner Countdown Enterprises for sale of the Tranqulity Base line through their website and at their new Houston retail outlet, Rocket Town. The TQ line will soon also be available for order through buySPACE.
July 21, 2004 / 9:48 p.m. ET
Signings scheduled: If you miss seeing Gene Cernan and Bruce McCandless in Burbank this September, and desire either or both of the space walkers autographs, Novaspace Galleries has announced they will host a signing for mailed-in memorabilia received at their Tucson, Arizona store by no later than August 31. Fees schedules and order forms are on novaspace.com.
July 22, 2004 / 11:47 p.m. ET
Moon rock repository: In 1979, ten years after the first moon rocks were returned by Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin, Johnson Space Center in Texas dedicated the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility as its primary repository for NASA's material from other worlds. Twenty-five years later, the facility remains home to 80% of the 872 pounds of lunar material returned by six crews.
July 23, 2004 / 3:42 p.m. ET
Contractors catalog: Barring their making their own, NASA contractors that needed models of the rockets and spacecraft they were building during the 1960s, turned to Topping, Inc. With a client roster that read like a who's who of the growing space industry, such as Convair, Douglas, Grumman, Hughes, Lockheed, Martin, and McDonnell, Topping produced miniatures of most of the space program's early inventory of vehicles. As they were never offered for sale to the public, Topping's scale "contractor" models are today considered rare and as a result, sought by collectors. Some of these models, if in good condition, can sell for several thousands of dollars at auction. Collector Keith Scala discovered a copy of a Topping's catalog and has scanned each page as a PDF. While it doesn't show the company's entire line of space miniatures - as it was printed in 1961 - it does have quite a few illustrated in their original, pristine form, as well as further information about Topping and their scale models.
July 24, 2004 / 9:30 a.m. ET
Challenger crew honored: Authorized by Congress in 1969 to honor "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind," the Space Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to the seven members of the Space Shuttle Challenger's STS-51L crew during a private ceremony held yesterday. In total, 27 astronauts have been honored with the Congressional Space Medal, including John Young, Jim Lovell, Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Shannon Lucid, William Shepherd and John Glenn. Neil Armstrong was presented the first Space Medal in 1978.
July 26, 2004 / 5:00 a.m. ET
Endeavor's enigma: Today, thirty-three years ago, Apollo 15's Command Module Endeavor lifted off with three astronauts at its controls. The spacecraft and its interior panels would orbit the Moon 74 times and then return to Earth. The spacecraft would eventually go on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio but not without first losing its control panels. As Historic Space Systems' President John Fongheiser reports, the answer to where they disappeared, a mystery for years, crosses paths with the Soviet Union and NASA budgets.
July 28, 2004 / 11:00 a.m. ET
Benedict retires: Howard Benedict was celebrated by colleagues, friends, fellow journalists and astronauts during a private reception held at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Tuesday evening on the occassion of his retirement as executive director of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. An Associated Press aerospace writer for 31 years, Benedict was approached in 1992 by the Mercury 7 astronauts to lead their efforts to award scholarships to college students. Both he and retiring ASF Chairman James Lovell were presented with Omega Speedmaster watches for their years of service. Benedict was also gifted by KSC Director Jim Kennedy with a belt buckle studded with the last stone rolled over by Apollo 13 on its way to the launch pad. Linn LeBlanc, ASF Associate Director since 2001, succeeds Benedict.
July 30, 2004 / 9:52 a.m. ET
Go/No Go: Rick Houston returns with his "Go/No Go" series of DVD reviews with a look at the film that aimed to combine the experiences of the 24 astronauts that flew to the Moon into one mission. Rick writes that the "For All Mankind" disc may in fact, not be for all.