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July 4, 2005

/ 1:56 a.m. CT (0656 GMT)

Cosmic fireworks

: After a voyage of 173 days and 268 million miles, NASA's Deep Impact achieved its planned collision with comet Tempel 1. The spacecraft's coffee table-sized impactor sent back images up until 3.7 seconds before it crashed into its target with the same force as 4.5 tons of TNT. Photos taken by the "fly- by" vehicle confirmed the impact and showed a massive plume of material that was ejected from comet Tempel 1.

July 6, 2005

/ 3:00 p.m. CT (2000 GMT)

Young and Future Moon

: Thirty-six years after the first lunar landing, the planetarium at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas, will open Future Moon, showing a realistic voyage to where only 12 men have walked before. Of the dozen, Apollo 16's John Young will be present for the debut of the show, which is narrated by veteran journalist Walter Cronkite. Also on July 20, NASA will give Young, and in turn he will donate to the museum, his Ambassador of Exploration award. The acrylic display features a moon rock from Young's Apollo 16 landing site.

July 6, 2005

/ 5:13 p.m. CT (2213 GMT)

Ready to blastoff

: Today, Action Products International announced that as a result of the scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, they are experiencing a spike in interest and sales of its Space Voyagers® line of space toys. Capitalizing on the return to flight, the company has introduced a new version of its Complex 39 Space Shuttle playset, featuring a diecast shuttle, launch pad/crawler, astronaut figures and command van. Action also just released a replica diecast NASA tour bus as an exclusive for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The company said that it will ride the increased interest in space with five new diecast vehicle assortments this Fall.

July 6, 2005

/ 11:11 p.m. CT (0411 GMT Jul 7) - UPDATED

Rocket ride

: Delaware North, the privately held company that contracts with NASA to run the visitor complex for Kennedy Space Center, announced today they are building The Shuttle Launch Experience, a motion- based simulator that will deliver guests the sensations of launching on the Space Shuttle. The Experience anchors the complex's 10-year $160 million development plan that also includes a 4-D tour of the solar system, a new home for a retired orbiter and a visit to the space station in orbit.

July 7, 2005

/ 7:55 p.m. CT (0055 GMT Jul 8)

Here and Now

: Hawaiian recording artist Glenn Medeiros, known for his rendition of Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You and the MTV chart-topper, She Ain't Worth It recorded with Bobby Brown, is releasing Here and Now, a song in tribute to the "fallen astronauts of the past and an inspiration to future flights and space exploration." Medeiros, who today is also a grade school teacher, said of his lyrics that "the people of NASA need to know that their hard work... provides children (even as far away as Hawaii) with the hope to reach their dreams."

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.

July 8, 2005

/ 11:21 a.m. CT (1621 GMT)

Big Head, Blue Sky

: Taking time out from their current U.S. tour, Big Head Todd and the Monsters will be among the VIP guests at next week's Discovery launch, an event the group will commemorate by releasing a new song, liveDaily reports. Titled Blue Sky, the number has been described in a press release as the theme song for the space shuttle's much-anticipated return flight. The song will be available exclusively via iTunes on Tuesday.

July 9, 2005

/ 11:47 p.m. CT (0447 GMT Jul 10)

Reporting for duty

: Arriving a day early to avoid treacherous travel conditions caused by Hurricane Dennis, the crew of STS-114 touched down at Kennedy Space Center in a NASA Gulfstream II jet at approximately 6:30 p.m. EDT this evening. Eileen Collins and her crew spoke to a gathered group of reporters before leaving for their quarters and the beginning of four days of final flight preparations. "This shuttle flight is the beginning of a new chapter in space exploration," said Collins. "We're going to finish building the space station and do the science up there that needs to be done. I am very proud of this crew, they are ready to fly this mission," continued Cdr. Collins.

July 10, 2005

/ 9:11 a.m. CT (1411 GMT)

Tagging Thomas

: When Discovery's crew took to the tarmac on Saturday, they were all wearing custom name tags featuring the STS-114 emblem and the shuttle launching over what appears to be a dark-colored hill. Of course as name tags, each had the moniker of a crew member: Collins, Kelly, Noguchi, Robinson, Camarda and the two Thomases, Andy and Wendy. The former Wendy Lawrence donned her new last name without explanation. Was this a typo? A crew 'gotcha'? Or perhaps a reference to the late Dave Thomas' fast food chain? Inquiring minds want to know, so we asked NASA. Updates coming soon.

July 10, 2005

/ 4:13 p.m. CT (1613 GMT)


: Though it might appear too obvious for mention, STS-114 just happens to be the 114th flight of the Space Shuttle program. Discovery will be making her 31st trip up hill with a brand new External Tank. Two of the orbiter's three main engines have flown before: one on four missions, most recently on STS-111 in 2002; the other made its second flight on STS-109 installed on Columbia. The two Solid Rocket Boosters are assembled from segments that previously flew 52 different launches. Of particular note, the uppermost cylinder of the left SRB first lifted a shuttle skyward on STS-1, over 24 years ago.

July 10, 2005

/ 5:54 p.m. CT (2254 GMT)

Countdown clock starts

: The countdown for the launch of STS-114 commenced this evening at 5:00 p.m. CDT at the L-minus 1 day and 19 hours mark. You wouldn't know that though, from the famous clock at the Kennedy Space Center's press site as it remains dark. A relic from much earlier days, it is unable to display hours greater than '24'. As such it will blink on at 10:00 a.m. ET on July 12 at T-11 for a 12 hour, 55 minute planned hold.

July 10, 2005

/ 11:04 p.m. CT (0404 GMT Jul 11)

The truth about Thomas

: When we last left Wendy Lawrence, she had seemingly adopted a new last name as was displayed on her blue flight suit's name tag. Not just any name either, but one that is shared by her fellow STS-114 crew mate Andy Thomas. So why the mysterious moniker? NASA spokesman Doug Peterson explained: Sometime during their training for STS-114, a crew member gave an interview wherein the unidentified astronaut mixed up Andy's and Wendy's names. So when it came time for the crew to make their new name tags, a joke version emerged with the new Ms. Thomas. Though Wendy wore the alternate badge to her Florida arrival for launch, she will not do the same in space, said Peterson.

July 11, 2005

/ 6:04 p.m. CT (2304 GMT)

Americans are go for flight

: Support for the space shuttle's return to flight is strong among Americans, according to a Gallup survey organized by the Space Foundation and sponsored by the Coalition for Space Exploration. The findings, which measured U.S. interest for NASA's exploration plans, showed more than 77% of those questioned say they support the agency's stepping stone approach to launch the shuttle, complete assembly of the station, build a replacement to the orbiter, return to the Moon and then go to Mars and beyond. These results represent a growth from 68% from a similar poll last year.

July 13, 2005

/ 1:52 a.m. CT (0652 GMT)

Go Discovery!

If the weather cooperates, Space Shuttle Discovery and the crew of STS-114 will launch today at 3:50:53 p.m. ET from Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Final preparations for the orbiter's return to flight were underway on Tuesday night. The rotating service structure was rolled back to uncover Discovery after an on-pad repair successfully replaced a damaged set of tiles (the result of a window cover falling). Discovery's mission will bring supplies and equipment to the space station, as well as a stash of 6,000 mementos.

July 13, 2005

/ 4:35 p.m. CT (2135 GMT) - UPDATED

Faulty fuel sensor

: The planned launch today of the Space Shuttle Discovery had to be scrubbed due to the failure of a low level hydrogen fuel sensor installed in the External Tank. The STS-114 crew was in the final stages of strapping in to the vehicle when the issue was first reported. Shuttle Deputy Manager Wayne Hale said that the turnaround for the next launch attempt will not be earlier than Saturday, July 16. NASA officials said there could be a variety of causes for the glitch, not limited to the sensor itself, but in the electronics box on- board Discovery or even in the wiring. The External Tank will have to be drained of its liquid hydrogen and oxygen propellant before NASA can hope to identify the anomaly.

July 16, 2005

/ 8:01 p.m. CT (0101 GMT Jul 17)

House approves space coins

: H.R. 68, also known as the NASA and JPL 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act was passed by the House of Representatives last Tuesday, moving the U.S. Mint one step closer toward the production of space flown metal coins. The bill, which calls for a $50 "sun" gold coin and nine $1 "planet" silver commemoratives to be issued in 2008, honors the upcoming golden anniversary of United States' space exploration successes and the individuals who were lost in the pursuit of the nation's space efforts.

July 17, 2005

/ 1:01 p.m. CT (1801 GMT)

Houbolt history exhibit

: John C. Houbolt, the NASA engineer who developed the idea for lunar orbit rendezvous as the way that Apollo should and did go to the Moon, will be honored by his Illinois hometown with a new exhibit at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, reports the Chicago Tribune. Houbolt's brother Neal and his wife, Nancy will donate $225,000 toward the $1 million display, which is expected to open late next year or early in 2007.

July 17, 2005

/ 3:54 p.m. CT (2055 GMT)

Lunar camera crew

: The Westinghouse Electric team that designed and built the Apollo lunar camera will attend their first reunion this Wednesday, 36 years to the day after the product of their work beamed back man's first steps on the Moon. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Historical Electronics Museum in Maryland, where Apollo cameras are on display. The gathering will include managers Joe Dollard, Larkin Niemeyer and Lenny Svenson, along with Stan Lebar, Westinghouse's Lunar Camera Team leader.

July 18, 2005

/ 7:08 p.m. CT (0008 GMT Jul 19) - UPDATED

Diagnosing Discovery

: Space Shuttle Program managers have continued working through the weekend to determine the failure of an Engine Cut-Off sensor problem that delayed Discovery's launch attempt last Wednesday. At a press conference this afternoon, Bill Parsons, Space Shuttle Program Manager announced that troubleshooting is continuing. "Once the problem is resolved the next opportunity to tank the vehicle would be Tuesday, the 26th of July," said Wayne Hale, Program Deputy Manager. Hale is hopeful that the problem could be identified this week and managers are still optimistic about a launch within the current window, ending July 31.

July 19, 2005

/ 12:42 a.m. CT (0542 GMT)

Small screen Station

: Tuesday, Warner Home Video releases the IMAX film Space Station, the first large-format movie shot aboard the international outpost. Though the DVD version loses a dimension from the 2002 3D original, it gains a 'making of' featurette, two astronaut guided tours of the station, never before seen photographs and commentary by both the director and an astronaut. Narrated by Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds), Space Station follows two crewed spacecraft that leave Kennedy Space Center and the Baikonur Cosmodrome to rendezvous with their new home, 220 miles above Earth.

July 19, 2005

/ 10:00 a.m. CT (1500 GMT)

First Man on the Mountain

: When Space Mountain launched at Disneyland in 1977, the 'Original' Mercury astronauts were there to begin the countdown. For its 50th year, the California resort has re-opened the high speed interstellar attraction, following two years of being re-Imagineered for the 21st century. Space Mountain now sports new effects and rocket vehicles, a new soundtrack by composer Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles, Alias) and a smoother, darker ride. Joining Mickey Mouse for a re-launch ceremony last week was first man on the Moon Neil Armstrong. "Space travel and Disneyland were born of imagination," said the moonwalker, who left his famous footprints for a plaque to be later hung at Space Mountain.

July 20, 2005

/ 12:00 a.m. CT (0500 GMT)

SpaceShip schedule

: As earlier reported, SpaceShipOne is destined for display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum; its final flight to be hung between Yeager's Bell X-1 and Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis in the Milestones of Flight Gallery. On the way to Washington, SS1 and its carrier aircraft White Knight will make an appearance alongside their civilian astronaut pilots at the EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The first privately developed vehicle to reach outer space will land at Dulles International Airport on August 1, MSNBC's Alan Boyle reports on his Cosmic Log website. A layover at the Udvar-Hazy Center will keep SS1 out of view until its trucked to the Mall, installed and formally accessioned by investor Paul Allen on September 28. The public may get its first view of the X Prize winning spacecraft on that day or the next, writes Boyle citing NASM's Claire Brown.

July 20, 2005

/ 7:03 a.m. CT (1203 GMT)

Google's moon

: Honoring the anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, 36 years ago today, Google has added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface "to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor." The new Google Moon enables you to surf the surface and check out the spots where Apollo astronauts made their landings. To reach Google Moon, click on the lunar module on their website's customized logo for today.

July 20, 2005

/ 9:10 a.m. CT (1410 GMT)

Small Step sculpture

: The Danbury Mint has begun advertising its One Small Step for Man hand-painted, cold cast porcelain sculpture portraying Armstrong and Aldrin at the moment the American flag first 'flew' on the surface of the moon. Set against the front page of a newspaper headlining the event, Small Step stands 11 inches tall and is listed at $99 (or three payments of $33 each, less an additional $7.50 for shipping and handling).

July 20, 2005

/ 9:17 p.m. CT (0217 GMT Jul 21)

A man, a moon rock and his mother-in- law

: John Young was the honored guest at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas today, where he donated his NASA Ambassador of Exploration award. Joining Young was his wife Suzy, Director of the Johnson Space Center Gen. Jefferson Howell and astronauts Rick Hieb, Ken Bowersox, David Leestma, James Reilly and Robert Cabana. Young's speech, delivered before an audience of children, mixed humor into his message that Earth's fate relies on the continued exploration of the Moon and Mars.

July 20, 2005

/ 11:06 p.m. CT (0406 GMT Jul 21)

Return to Florida

: With some work still to go, NASA is moving toward a new launch date for Space Shuttle Discovery Tuesday, July 26, at 9:39 a.m. CDT. For a launch on Tuesday, the official countdown will begin Saturday. There are at least four opportunities for launch during the current window, which extends through July 31.

July 23, 2005

/ 5:37 a.m. CT (1037 GMT)

Scouts and space

: More than 40,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders are expected for the National Jamboree, to be held July 25 through August 2 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. NASA is planning a strong presence at the event, including having astronauts, scientists, managers and engineers serve as staff. Specially designed patches and postcards will highlight the cooperation between the Boy Scouts of America and NASA. Sixty-four percent of astronauts were scouts, including 11 of the moonwalkers.

July 23, 2005

/ 6:12 a.m. CT (1112 GMT)

Get the shingles

: Geraths Design is now taking orders for their Friendship 7 panel wall plaque, a replica of the "nose art" from John Glenn's Mercury spacecraft. Modeled at actual size, the panel reproduces Cece Bibby's artwork as it appeared and flew on the vehicle to orbit and U.S. history. The 19 by 14 inch plaque sells for $99.95 (Freedom 7, Liberty Bell 7, Sigma 7 coming soon).

July 24, 2005

/ 1:37 a.m. CT (0637 GMT)

Space shown

: NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio held its first-ever Space Memorabilia Show on Saturday, in collaboration with collectSPACE. Dealers and collectors from around the country set up over 25 tables of displays and artifacts for sale inside GRC's Visitor Center, where astronaut Jim Lovell's Apollo 8 spacesuit and the Skylab 2 crew command module are located. Approximately 500 members of the public toured the show, which featured guest aerospace engineer Matt Melis signing copies of his Return To Flight movie poster.

July 25, 2005

/ 6:48 a.m. CT (1148 GMT)

Thomas no more

: As an epilogue to the note we posted during her and her crew's first launch attempt two weeks ago, Wendy Lawrence arrived in Florida on Friday with her custom crew name tag bearing her real surname. Gone was the earlier version of her badge that linked her and crew mate Andy Thomas. All joking aside, NASA has given the green light for tomorrow's launch of Space Shuttle Discovery with lift-off set for 9:39 a.m. CT.

July 25, 2005

/ 10:01 p.m. CT (0301 GMT Jul 26)

Go Discovery! (again)

: NASA will make a second attempt at launching Space Shuttle Discovery Tuesday at 9:39 a.m. CDT (by coincidence, the same time that Columbia launched for what became its final flight in January 2003). The earlier sensor anomaly that scrubbed the STS-114 liftoff two weeks ago will not halt tomorrow's attempt even should it occur again, so long as it matches NASA's understanding of the hydrogen fuel tank problem. The chances of a weather violation remains at 40 percent.

July 26, 2005

/ 2:33 a.m. CT (0733 GMT)

Annual auction

: The commanders and pilots of NASA's historic Return To Flight missions will sign a one-of-a-kind print to raise funds for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Apollo 7's Wally Schirra and Walt Cunningham will join Rick Hauck and Dick Covey of the STS-26 crew, as well as Jim Lovell, Scott Carpenter, John Glenn and many other Hall of Fame enshrinees for the third annual Astronaut Memorabilia and Experiences Silent Auction. Bidding gets underway on August 1 and closes 12 days later at the UACC Autograph Show in NJ. Beginning today, all potential bidders need to pre-register.

July 26, 2005

/ 9:39 a.m. CT (1439 GMT)

Returned To Flight

: The Space Shuttle Discovery soared spaceward this morning from Launch Pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center. Lifting off at 9:39 a.m. CDT, the crew of STS-114 returned NASA's orbiter fleet to flight and are now heading for a rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station. Commander Eileen Collins and her six crew mates will deliver supplies to the orbiting laboratory and test new safety techniques. This flight is the first since the loss of Columbia in 2003.

July 26, 2005

/ 9:06 a.m. CT (1406 GMT)

Fossil flight

: When we reported that Andy Thomas had requested to fly two stones in the STS-114 Official Flight Kit, we did not know the nature of either pebble. The list of Discovery's stowed souvenirs labeled both simply as "rocks". As it turns out, one of the stones is in fact a fossil and not just of any dead dinosaur. It is a 3.5 billion year old stromatolite, which quite possibly could be the earliest evidence of life on Earth. The rock was found in an area of Australia that might be an analog for looking for past life on Mars. After its high flight, the stromatolite will return down under to Macquarie University for display.

July 26, 2005

/ 9:46 a.m. CT (1446 GMT)

Returned To Flight

: The Space Shuttle Discovery soared spaceward this morning from Launch Pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center. Lifting off at 9:39 a.m. CDT, the crew of STS-114 returned NASA's orbiter fleet to flight and are now heading for a rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station. Commander Eileen Collins and her six crew mates will deliver supplies to the orbiting laboratory and test new safety techniques. This flight is the first since the loss of Columbia in 2003.

July 27, 2005

/ 1:31 p.m. CT (1831 GMT)

Noguchi's noodles

: Nissin Foods, whose Top Ramen and Cup Noodles are a staple with college students everywhere, revealed Tuesday that aboard Discovery is a special version of their instant meals for STS-114 mission specialist Soichi Noguchi. "Space Ram" replaces the stringy noodles typical of Nissin's products with ball shaped pasta for easier consumption in orbit. The soup is also thicker to decrease the chance of spills. Available to Noguchi in four flavors - soy, miso, curry and pork broth - Space Ram is currently not planned for sale to the public.

July 27, 2005

/ 6:53 p.m. CT (2353 GMT)

Grounded while flying

: While apparently not a threat to Discovery now in orbit, the damage to its External Tank during ascent has resulted in NASA effectively grounding the remainder of the shuttle fleet. Of high concern is a large piece of foam that was seen falling off the tank's Protuberance Air Load (PAL) Ramp moments after Solid Rocket Booster separation. The space agency thought it had arrested this hazard in the 2.5 years since foam struck Columbia's wing, leading to its loss. Atlantis had been scheduled to launch STS-121 on September 9, a date that is as of now indefintely on hold. The STS-114 crew has been uplinked the data and images of the PAL foam shedding, other areas of divots in the foam and two minor chipped tiles located on the underside of Discovery.

July 28, 2005

/ 9:41 a.m. CT (1441 GMT)

Nine on-board

: For the first time since 2002, nine astronauts - the seven member crew of STS-114 and the two person crew of Expedition 11 - are on the International Space Station. Discovery docked at 6:18 a.m. CDT after performing a backflip to allow the station crew to capture imagery of its heat shield. The two crews began eight days of joint operations when at 7:50 a.m., hatches were opened and Discovery's crew came aboard.

July 29, 2005

/ 4:31 a.m. CT (2131 GMT)

Preview premiere

: The 20-lot catalog for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's 3rd annual Memorabilia & Experiences Silent Auction is now available to preview. Lots range from ball games with astronauts to a dive into inner space, not to mention several flown to the moon artifacts. Online bidding opens Monday, August 1st through the 13th. All bidders need to register for a paddle.

July 29, 2005

/ 7:12 p.m. CT (0012 GMT Jul 30)

Planet X

: A planet larger than Pluto has been discovered in the outlying regions of the solar system, announced today Mike Brown of Caltech, whose research is partly funded by NASA. Currently about 97 times further from the sun than the Earth, the 10th planet is the farthest-known object in the solar system, and the third brightest of the Kuiper belt objects. The discoverers are awaiting word from the International Astronomical Union before announcing the name they proposed for the planet.

July 29, 2005

/ 11:43 p.m. CT (0443 GMT Jul 30)

Racking up a record

: Today is the first day of cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev's third year in space. When Krikalev arrived at the International Space Station as Expedition 11 commander, he had logged more than 1 year, 5 months and 10 days in space over two flights to the Mir space station, two Space Shuttle missions and a prior stay on the ISS during Expedition 1. In August, he will surpass the record of 748 days for cumulative time in space set by Sergei Avdeyev. At the end of this mission, Krikalev will have lived more than 800 days above Earth.

July 30, 2005

/ 9:06 a.m. CT (1406 GMT)

Day for Discovery

: Mission managers today decided to extend STS-114 by one day to spend more time docked with the International Space Station. Discovery's crew will use the extra day to transfer more supplies to the ISS in case of a delay to the next shuttle mission. An additional 10 gallons of water - enough for 20 additional days on the ISS - will be transferred, as well as two laptop computers, paper and other "office supplies". Discovery's reentry and landing is now set for August 8.

July 30, 2005

/ 10:42 p.m. CT (0342 GMT Jul 31)

Tower toppling

: The 179-foot, 1,300-ton mobile server tower at Cape Canaveral's Complex 13 will be demolished August 6, having stood abandoned since 1978. The pad supported five Atlas/Agena unmanned launches for NASA's 1966-67 Lunar Orbiter program, as well as the 1964 launch of Mariner 3. The tower is being demolished as part of an environmental clean-up project. Over 170 pounds of explosives will bring the tower down.

July 31, 2005

/ 2:29 p.m. CT (1929 GMT)

Shuttle souvenirs

: As of today, on flight day six of the STS-114 mission, there are 804 lots listed under the "Space Shuttle Program" category on the auction website eBay. According to the Elmira, New York Star-Gazette, Eileen Collins' hometown newspaper, that count was nearly doubled in the hours after the launch of Discovery on July 26. While most of the items that were listed were of the run-of-the-mill variety, e.g. decals, pins, patches and t-shirts, there were a few stand-out sales. A Space Shuttle tribute Harley Davidson was listed on the site's "Motors" section for a $10,000 starting bid (ending today, it hasn't yet met its reserve despite receiving eight bids). The most expensive item, a wind tunnel prototype orbiter, opened at $25000 but has yet to see a single bid.

July 31, 2005

/ 3:38 p.m. CT (2038 GMT)

Tiziou's tribute

: Jacques Tiziou, who with artist Ardis Shanks produced the Skylab II wives' patch in 1973, has designed a decal celebrating the current mission of STS-114 commander Eileen Collins. The oval-shape black and white emblem reads, "James, Soichi, Stephen, Andrew, Wendy and Charles Love Their MOM, Discovery STS-114". The sticker refers to Colonel Collins' Air Force callsign and her maternal role with the crew in her charge.

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