July 4, 2008 / 8:48 a.m. CT (1348 GMT) Snoopy celebrates NASA: For the second consecutive year, Charles Schulz's comic strip beagle Snoopy will be offered clad in a white spacesuit atop a Hallmark Keepsake ornament. In 2007, Spaceman Snoopy was issued to honor the Apollo 11 moon landing. For 2008, the theme is NASA's 50th anniversary featuring Snoopy back on the Moon with a banner that reads Peanuts Celebrates NASA's 50 Years, 1958-2008. Hallmark will begin sales of the ornament on July 12-13 through its Gold Crown stores.
July 4, 2008 / 9:36 p.m. CT (0236 GMT July 5) Astronaut Snoopy: Along the same theme as the Hallmark ornament mentioned above comes Medicom Toy's vinyl collectible doll, Astronaut Snoopy. Distributed in the United States by Sideshow Collectibles, Astronaut Snoopy stands 5.3" tall and is styled after the blue suited beagle drawn by Charles Schulz for NASA. Shipping later this year for $44.95, Astronaut Snoopy is a limited edition.
July 4, 2008 / 11:57 p.m. CT (0457 GMT July 5) When Charlie met Snoopy: The Charles M. Schulz Museum in California will mark the 40th anniversary of Apollo 10 next year with an exhibit examining the role Charlie Brown and Snoopy played in the mission -- that is, the Peanuts characters rather than the spacecraft that borrowed their names. Opening January 31, "To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA" will also cover Schulz's contributions to NASA's Manned Flight Awareness safety program. Among the exhibit's artifacts will be the original artwork of Charlie Brown that was flown aboard Apollo 10.
July 8, 2008 / 12:15 a.m. CT (0515 GMT) Eight is enough: NASA released Monday the target launch dates for the 8 remaining shuttle missions manifested to fly over the next two years until the orbiters are retired. Following the last Hubble servicing mission this October and a resupply mission to the space station scheduled for November, NASA plans five flights in 2009 and three launches in 2010 ending the nearly 30 year-old program with the 25th mission for Endeavour and 35th for station-bound space shuttles. Should their schedule hold, Atlantis' 32nd and last flight will fly in February 2010, and Discovery will retire two months later after its 38th launch.
July 13, 2008 / 11:56 a.m. CT (1656 GMT) ISS's new Nikons: In August 2007, NASA purchased 76 cameras, 39 lenses and 64 flashes from Nikon to support both training and spaceflight activities. Six of the D2XS digital SLR cameras finally made it to orbit last month, according to Nikon, which released on Friday that four of the six cameras were left at the space station when shuttle Discovery undocked with the STS-124 crew. Other than a change to the type of lubrication oil and new specialized software, the D2XS cameras used aboard the space shuttle and ISS are the same as consumer models.
July 16, 2008 / 12:01 p.m. CT (1701 GMT) Columbia composed: American musician and composer Anne Cabrera has released "Columbia: We Dare to Dream," a tribute to the fallen STS-107 astronauts. Performed using a synthesizer, Cabrera's seven track album varies between emulating a traditional orchestra to the more electronic sounds and textures more commonly associated with the instrument. Packaged with a full-color 24-page booklet of Cabrera's similarly-inspired poetry and prose, "Columbia" is offered on CD through Chubby Crow Records, on Amazon, and soon through digital downloads.
July 16, 2008 / 4:39 p.m. CT (2139 GMT) House restrikes NASA coins: For the third and presumably final time, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for the U.S. Mint to strike coins for the 50th anniversary of NASA. Unlike prior attempts, Tuesday's vote followed the Senate's passage of a similar bill last month, clearing the way for the President to sign it into law. Under the terms of the bill, the Mint is directed to issue nine silver dollars and a gold $50 coin to comprise a set themed around the solar system. Each will honor U.S. robotic missions to the planets with the 'Earth' silver coin's design depicting NASA's crewed flights and the gold 'Sun' memorializing fallen astronauts. The act further stipulates that funds raised from the sale of the coins are to support NASA's Family Assistance Fund, the McNair Educational Science Literacy Foundation, Challenger Center for Space Education and the Smithsonian for care of space artifacts.
July 16, 2008 / 7:38 p.m. CT (0038 GMT Jul 17) Six for six: NASA announced Wednesday the crew of STS-128, a supply mission to the International Space Station targeted for launch on July 30, 2009. Commanding the mission will be Rick Sturckow, whose prior command, STS-117, was also on Atlantis, as were two of his STS-128 crewmates: Pat Forrester and Danny Olivas. Joining them will be Kevin Ford as pilot, Jóse Hernandez, and the European Space Agency's Christer Fuglesang. In Atlantis' bay will be a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module with equipment to expand ISS from a three to six person crew, beginning with Nicole Stott, who will launch with STS-128.
July 16, 2008 / 10:05 p.m. CT (0305 GMT Jul 17) Boilerplate drops into Downey, again: A test capsule used to develop landing and parachute systems for the Apollo program returned on Wednesday to the site where it was built in 1963 to be restored and put on display. Boilerplate 19 (BP-19) was carried by truck from Apollo Park in Lancaster, California, where it was shown for years, to the former North American Aviation facility in Downey, California, where the Apollo command modules were assembled. The hollow capsule, along with another like it that arrived in March 2007, will be placed on public exhibit at the Columbia Memorial Space Science Learning Center when it opens at Downey, targeted for this winter.
July 17, 2008 / 6:00 p.m. CT (2300 GMT) Bill Dana's bobblehead: X-15 rocketplane astronaut Bill Dana will this August join the ranks of fellow aerospace pioneers Gordon Fullerton, Pete Knight, Chuck Yeager, Burt Rutan, Vance Brand and Buzz Aldrin when the Lancaster JetHawks baseball team honor him with his own bobblehead doll. Dana, a retired test pilot and former Chief Engineer at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center who made 16 flights in the X-15, including its last in 1968, will be celebrated by the Minor League team for the fourth annual Aerospace Appreciation Night. The first 1000 fans arriving at Clear Channel Stadium Aug 9 will receive dolls.
July 18, 2008 / 9:33 p.m. CT (0233 GMT Jul 19) Pink is the new blue: When Mattel offered the first special edition Space Camp Barbie in 1998, the fashion doll was dressed in the blue flight suit made famous by astronauts and donned weekly by campers in imitation. Ten years later, for the new "Silver Label" edition unveiled Friday, Space Camp Barbie has gone... pink. The 12-inch blond haired Barbie and her 'friends' Nikki and Teresa, are decked out in a pink baby tee, a costume white spacesuit with pink accentuated helmet, and a 'mood star' necklace. Limited to just 50,000, the dolls will be sold only at Space Camp gift shops in Huntsville, and Toys 'R' Us nationwide.
July 18, 2008 / 10:23 p.m. CT (0323 GMT Jul 19) Of space chimps and moon flies: In the new film "Space Chimps", the grandson of Ham, the first primate in space, plays the part of the 'reluctant astronaut'. Before he can launch however, Ham III finds a fly in his helmet, a scene reminiscent of another animated film, "Fly Me To The Moon", which follows three flies as they tag along with the Apollo 11 mission. Given their shared themes, one could wonder if the sequence wasn't a good natured swat at the flies by the chimps' filmmakers. "We did not have any idea about that movie until shockingly recently," co-writer Rob Moreland told collectSPACE. "It came up absolutely independently in the spirt of 'wouldn't it be funny to have a fly buzzing around inside the guy's helmet?' It was just as pure and simple as that," he said.
July 21, 2008 / 2:19 a.m. CT (0719 GMT) Space for space: NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio is now accepting applications for exhibit space during its 4th annual space memorabilia show, to be held in collaboration with collectSPACE.com on October 18-19. Space collectors, dealers, museums, and related organizations are invited to exhibit and/or sell their space mementos. Visitors will also have an opportunity to attend presentations by special guests (to be announced), and tour some of Glenn's unique space research facilities.
July 21, 2008 / 12:12 p.m. CT (1712 GMT) Star Dogs: The first Earthlings to orbit the planet and return safely are the focus of a new 3D animated film opening in December 2009. "Star Dogs Belka and Strelka" from Russia's Center for National Film recounts the based-on-fact-but-fictional story of how the two dogs and a rat met before being launched on Sputnik 5 in 1960.
July 23, 2008 / 4:00 p.m. CT (2100 GMT) Patch preview | STS-119: The crew of the first scheduled shuttle mission to launch in 2009 may have derived inspiration for their flight's insignia from both their payload and their last names. The shape of the STS-119 patch appears to serve double duty: it acknowledges their cargo, the last set of solar array wings for the International Space Station, while also resembling the capital letter 'A', referencing four of the crewmembers' surnames, including commander Lee Archambault, pilot Dominic Antonelli, and educator mission specialists Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba.
July 24, 2008 / 12:36 p.m. CT (1736 GMT) NASA Images.org: NASA and the Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco, made available on Thursday the most comprehensive collection ever of NASA photographs, historic film and video. The website combines for the first time 21 NASA imagery collections into a single, searchable online resource. The site's launch is the first step in a five-year partnership that will add millions of images and thousands of hours of film.
July 24, 2008 / 9:34 p.m. CT (0234 GMT Jul 25) It's full of stars: "Quantum Quest," a 3-D large-format film targeted to hit theaters in September 2009, blends science fact with science fiction through the use of footage captured by seven on-going NASA robotic missions with a story line that follows a young photon on its journey from the Sun. The first movie initiated by JPL and NASA "Quantum Quest" also features a cast of real and fictional astronauts including Chris Pine and William Shatner ("Star Trek's" Captain Kirks), Mark Hamill ("Star Wars'" Luke Skywalker) and moonwalker Neil Armstrong.
July 25, 2008 / 12:58 p.m. CT (1758 GMT) The ultimate product placement: Garrett Reisman, now back on Earth after orbiting the planet for 95 days, returned to Comedy Central's The Colbert Show Thursday after first appearing on the program in May from aboard the International Space Station. A fan of the show, Reisman wore one of Colbert's "WristStrong" bracelets in space 'protecting' his right wrist while using the ISS's arm and "firing our laser cannon." In accordance with the 'rule' that the red wristband be given to someone more famous, Reisman and Colbert simultaneously exchanged theirs on the show, leaving the host wearing the ISS-flown bracelet.
July 26, 2008 / 3:42 a.m. CT (0842 GMT) Robert T. Herres (1932-2008): One of four U.S. Air Force pilots selected during August 1967 as the third and final class of Manned Orbiting Laboratory astronauts, Gen. Robert Tralles Herres passed away on Thursday at age 75. Serving as chief of the flight crew division, Herres trained to be a crewmember on-board the planned military station until its cancellation in 1969. Though he'd never be an astronaut, Herres became the first chief of U.S. Space Command in 1985 and the first Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1987, before leaving the military in 1990.
July 26, 2008 / 6:43 a.m. CT (1143 GMT) To protect or collect: Should the Apollo 11 landing site be protected from future visits? What about Apollo 17's? What about Luna 9 or other robotic missions? In the light of the growing interest by international spacefaring societies and commercial efforts to return to the Moon, an increasing concern now exists about how to safeguard the lunar heritage sites. As Space.com's Leonard David writes the issue was recently aired during NASA's Lunar Science Conference held July 20-23 at the Ames Research Center.
July 28, 2008 / 1:32 p.m. CT (1832 GMT) Revealing EVE: Virgin Galactic on Monday rolled out the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft that will ferry SpaceShipTwo on the first stage of future sub-orbital spaceflights. The first WK2, christened 'EVE' in honor of Virgin founder Richard Branson's mother, is the largest all carbon composite aircraft in the world; its wing spar is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured. EVE's first flight is scheduled for Fall 2008.
July 29, 2008 / 1:05 p.m. CT (1805 GMT) Patch preview | Richard Garriott: The first offspring of an American astronaut to follow his parent into space, Richard Garriott drew the inspiration for his personal flight insignia from his father's mission patch. Designed in collaboration with his mother, Garriott's emblem blends art with science by using Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of man.
July 31, 2008 / 6:04 p.m. CT (2304 GMT) McDonnell's Mercury: Mercury spacecraft #19 went on display Thursday at the Saint Louis Science Center James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Missouri. One of 20 built by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation at its St. Louis facility, #19 was moved to the Cape in March 1962 to serve as the backup to #16, which launched with Wally Schirra on Mercury-Atlas 8 in October of that year. Never to fly in space, #19 was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1968. Before returning 'home' to St. Louis, #19 was at the Swiss Museum of Transport & Communication in Lucerne.
July 31, 2008 / 9:00 p.m. CT (0200 GMT Aug 1) The right book: The Chicago Public Library announced Thursday that Tom Wolfe's 1979 book about the original Mercury astronauts, "The Right Stuff" will be their 15th selection for the citywide book club, "One Book, One Chicago." Chosen in part to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA, approximately 2,000 copies of "The Right Stuff" will be available for loan through the library's branches. In addition, the city will host a free screening of the 1983 film adaptation, organize special exhibitions and events at the area's museums and universities, and honor Tom Wolfe in October as the 2008 Carl Sandburg Literary Award winner.