: NASA mission managers decided Monday to remove two gap fillers that are sticking out from areas between heat-shielding tile on Discovery's underbelly. During an unprecedented EVA, STS-114 mission specialist Steve Robinson will venture under the orbiter on the end of the space station's robotic arm, locate the ceramic-impregnated fabric fillers and tug on them gently until they come out. If that does not work, Robinson will also have a hacksaw, scissors and forceps to try to cut off the protrusions. The spacewalk is set for Wednesday, as part of the mission's planned third outing.
: In addition to speaking with the President this morning, the crews on-board Discovery and the Space Station held an in-flight news conference, allowing reporters from Japan, Russia and the U.S. to inquire about their missions. collectSPACE took part in the event, asking about the personal items that the return to flight crew brought to space, such as Steve Robinson's trusty lunch box. STS-114 pilot Jim "Vegas" Kelly replied on behalf of all his colleagues, "I think each of us brought items along with us to make [the shuttle] a little more like home and also to bring stuff for other family members." A video clip of his full reply shares more details about items they have taken to space as part of their OFK and PPKs.
: After he safely performed the shuttle program's first underbelly repair this morning, spacewalker Steve Robinson photographed the orbiter from angles never before possible. "You guys are going to be happy I have a camera," reflected Robinson as he used a digital camera to capture Discovery on film. "Its quite the contrast between the gentle curves of the orbiter... with the angular sharp corners of the space station." Capcom Mike Massimino radioed in reply, "The photo sounds real nice. I think the [Mission Control] team down here would like an autographed copy when you get back." Answered Steve, "I think I would like an autograph from the team if this picture is large enough to fit everybody's name on it." A few moments later, fellow STS-114 EVA crew member Soichi Noguchi chimed in. "Well Steve, we've trained for four years. You'll be spending the next four years signing autographs." Robinson laughed but contested, "Well, I'm getting the best picture of you, so you'll have to do that."
: The History Channel has announced it will air a sequel to former Flight Director Gene Kranz's biographical documentary that first aired on the network in 2003. Beyond The Moon: Failure Is Not An Option II is scheduled to debut Sunday, August 28 at 8:00 p.m. CDT. Beyond picks up where Failure ended, in the post-Apollo era, including the transition from the white shirt, narrow tie, pocket-protector wearing men to the long hair, sideburns and women of the late 70s and early 80s.
STS-114 and Expedition 11 crew members paused this morning to pay tribute to astronauts and cosmonauts who have given their lives for exploration. The tribute, titled Exploration - The Fire of the Human Spirit was read just before Discovery and the ISS flew from light into the darkness of an orbital sunset.
: Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur told collectSPACE today that his mission's insignia is all but finalized except for the names. At question is whether their third crew member, ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter would arrive at the International Space Station prior to McArthur's and Valery Tokarev's Soyuz TMA-7 launch in October, meet them at the ISS once they are on-board or miss the expedition altogether. (Reiter's ride is with the STS-121 crew, whose liftoff is on hold until NASA repairs the External Tank so that it does not unexpectantly shed foam.) McArthur is hopeful though, and a small number of patches will be produced for the crew now with all three of their names listed. As McArthur explains, with Reiter and Tokarev with him, his crew will be the first ISS expedition to be truly international with three space agencies aboard.
: Dr. Gregory Olsen will be the third "spaceflight participant" to live aboard the International Space Station. A millionaire scientist and founder of Sensors Unlimited (whose chips are already part of the station's camera system), he avoids being labeled a space tourist. Instead, he wants to dedicate his mission to research and inspiring students to take up science. To that end, his personal patch includes the motto, Science & Technology Are The Easy Way Up!, which refers to his own path to space. In addition to the experiments he will have on Soyuz TMA-7 when it lifts off in October, Olsen plans to carry bottle labels from his South African winery.
August 4, 2005
/ 10:58 p.m. CT (0358 GMT Aug 5)
Take out off or delivery
: When the crew on-board Discovery told The Today Show this morning that the one thing they missed most was pizza, Domino's team members thought of becoming the recognized leader in orbital delivery. "Domino's Pizza wants to figure out a way to deliver pizzas to our brave astronauts aboard the shuttle Discovery," said Domino's Holly Ryan. The pizza chain is quite aware however of the difficulty of delivering to outer space, so "Plan Beta" involves Domino's Pizza offering to cater a "welcome home" party for the STS-114 astronauts at the conclusion of the mission. "If they'll let us borrow a shuttle, we'll deliver to space," said Ryan. "If not, Domino's can deliver to the Discovery's shuttle bay door upon their touchdown," now scheduled for August 8.
: When IMAX first released its 3D movie Space Station in 2002, it elicited praise for its unprecedented use of depth- filled but real space views to send viewers on a virtual mission to the orbiting outpost. Now on DVD, how well does the three-dimensional, large format film translate to the 2D small screen? It may be a matter of who you ask: reviewer Rick Houston questions the lack of old school red/blue glasses but praises extras that are truly extra. His son though, well, he had a blast...
: Discovery undocked from the space station at 2:24 a.m. CDT, briging to an end more than a week of joint crew operations. Following their departure, STS-114 pilot Jim Kelly flew a loop around the outpost to allow Discovery's crew to photograph the ISS before a final separation burn moved them away from the station. Discovery will orbit the Earth until August 8, when it will piloted to a landing at Kennedy Space Center.
: Sally Ride was the first U.S. woman in orbit; Eileen Collins was the first female commander; but before either could fly, the first woman on the launch pad was Cecelia "Cece" Bibby. An artist who added the astronauts' mission logos to their Mercury spacecraft, she went where no woman had gone: into the white room, and broke through the glass gantry. Bibby will appear with astronauts and other pioneers at the UACC Convention & Autograph Show in Secaucus, New Jersey next weekend.
: Due to low clouds at the Kennedy Space Center, Mission Control waved off the two landing opportunities for Space Shuttle Discovery today. STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins and the rest of her crew will return the orbiter to normal flight operations for another day. There are several opportunities to land tomorrow, including two at the Kennedy in Florida, two at Edwards Air Force Base in California, and two at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. The first opportunity to land Tuesday is at 4:07 a.m. CDT at Cape Canaveral.
: The crew of STS-114 awoke on what should be their last day in orbit to the song "Good Day Sunshine" by The Beatles, continuing a Mission Control tradition to begin the astronauts' mornings with an appropriately-themed audio clip. Wake-up songs got their start during the Gemini program with an altered lyrics version of "Time to Get Ready for Love" played to James Lovell and Frank Borman aboard the rendezvous mission of Gemini 7. NASA's History Office has released a playlist compiled by Colin Fries of the songs, spanning the Gemini through Space Shuttle eras, as well as, oddly enough, the power-on tunes chosen for three Mars rovers.
: Space Shuttle Discovery landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base, California at 7:12 a.m. CDT, more than 13 days after the STS-114 crew launched from Florida. The 50th Edwards touchdown in Space Shuttle Program history came after weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center prevented two landing opportunities Monday and then again, today. Dubbed the most photographed spaceflight, STS-114 set several firsts. It carried the Orbiter Boom Sensor System on its maiden flight, performed the first shuttle back-flip, and on the third of three EVAs, completed the first repair to the underside of Discovery, making spacewalk history. Eileen Collins, James "Vegas" Kelly, Stephen Robinson, Wendy Lawrence, Charles Camarda, Andrew Thomas and Soichi Noguchi will have a welcome home ceremony at 3:00 p.m. August 10 at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas.
: BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse in Clear Lake, Texas, located near Johnson Space Center, introduced Discovery Ale today in celebration of this morning's STS-114 landing. Brewer Scott Ulinger based the beer off of the Belgian-style Saison Ale that is traditionally brewed in small farmhouse breweries in the spring for summer enjoyment. It is golden in color with a fruity and spicy flavor, a result of the Belgian yeast strains used to ferment it. BJs' plans to offer Discovery Ale for a limited time, during which NASA employees and space program contractors receive a $1 off its list price.
: STS-114 mission specialist Charles Camarda carried "a little something" on Space Shuttle Discovery for his daughter Chelsea, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports. Selected pre-flight by the Old Dominion University incoming freshman, the "David Yurman sterling-silver ring set with a blue topaz matching the blue in the Discovery crew patch" flew more than five million miles around the Earth. Said Chelsea of the still to be unstowed souvenir, "you get some kind of authenticity certificate" that it orbited the world some 225 miles above.
: Braving the heat and humidity of a Houston afternoon in the summer, hundreds of people crowded into NASA Hangar 276 today to welcome home the STS-114 crew. Dubbed the 'Discovery Seven', the astronauts thanked their families, friends and NASA colleages - many of whom were in attendance - for their support of the mission. During the event, Houston's Mayor Bill White proclaimed the day 'Discovery STS-114 Day.' After the ceremony, the astronauts met with crowd, where they posed for photographs and signed autographs.
: Testimony began yesterday in the trial of Sherrie Shaw, a former National Museum of Naval Aviation conservator accused of stealing artifacts and selling them on eBay, reports the Pensacola (FL) News Journal. Among the items Shaw is charged with taking is a Mercury spacesuit boot, which she says was discarded. Testimony by museum officials contests that removing items from their collection is a rare occurrence and when it does happen, it involves a paper trail leading to Washington, DC. Further, a check of where the boot should have been revealed the set's right half and another right boot "that looked similar to the Mercury space one". If convicted of all charges, Shaw faces 40 years in prison.
: NASA's Stennis Space Center celebrated its 30th anniversary of testing Space Shuttle Main Engines with the ignition of one yesterday at its south Mississippi facility, reports the Mobile (AL) Register. Joining invited members of the public and press to witness the firing were astronauts Fred Haise, Jerry Ross and Alan Poindexter. The engine test was one of more than 2,200 made since the first on May 19, 1975.
: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter launched today from Cape Canaveral aboard the agency's first Atlas V rocket. Cruising to the red planet will take seven months, followed by six months aerobraking to refine its orbit. MRO's mission is to see if long-standing bodies of water existed on Mars in part by using the largest-diameter telescopic camera ever sent to another planet. MRO will also transmit about 10 times as much data per minute as all prior Mars craft.
: A jury took two hours today to find Sherrie Shaw guilty of theft, forgery and selling stolen property. A former conservator, Shaw was convicted of stealing medals, citations and a Mercury spacesuit's left boot from the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida, and then offering them for sale on eBay. When sentenced in mid-September, Shaw could face a penalty ranging from probation to 20 years in prison, according to the Pensacola News-Journal and AP.
: Expedition 11 commander Sergei Krikalev set the endurance record earlier today for the human with the most cumalative time living in space. At 12:44 a.m. CDT, Krikalev logged more than 748 days outside Earth, surpassing the time held by Sergei Avdeyev since 1999. Krikalev achieved the record after two flights to the Mir space station, two missions on the Space Shuttle and two long duration stays on-board the International Space Station. When Krikalev reenters, he will have racked more days than two round trips to Mars.
: Rocket Boosters, the consortium of Mojave, Calif. not-for-profit organizations, is offering a Wan-of-a-kind Star Wars action figure on eBay. The 12" Ben Kenobi rocketed to space, not aboard the Millennium Falcon, but among the X Prize-required ballast stowed on SpaceShipOne for its October 4, 2004 $10 million-qualifying flight. Dressed in his original Jedi garb, Kenobi's flowing brown tunic was signed by SS1's designer Burt Rutan and its two civilian astronauts, Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie. Obi-Wan's traveling mate, a 12" Luke Skywalker doll previously sold for $1,525. After 16 bids during its first day at auction, SS-Wan is at $1,025.
: Alabama's new Saturn rocket license plates became available this week to resident motorists, the Huntsville Times reports. Today, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center will be serving cake with the tags at the Madison County Courthouse in celebration of the long awaited arrival of the fundraising plates. Of the tags' $50 annual fee, $41.25 will go to the Space Center's Save the Saturn campaign to help pay for restoring one of the three original Saturn V rockets left in the world. Nearly 1,500 of the vanity rocket-adorned license plates were "presold" to meet the requirements to begin manufacturing of the tags.
: While abridged from the 608 pages of the hardcover First Man, the audio version of James Hansen's Neil Armstrong authorized biography will have a few special features of its own. Narrated by Tony award winning actor Boyd Gaines, both the CD and cassette tape recordings will run 10 hours. The 10-CD set will include an "enhanced" disc with Apollo 11 footage. In both versions, there will be excerpts from Apollo 11 audio (voice comm) as well as from CBS coverage (Cronkite) of the mission. To be released in October, the 'book-on-tape' will be introduced by Rick Armstrong, Neil's son, recalling his experience as a 12-year-old watching Apollo 11 lift-off.
: What if Apollo 17 wasn't the last crewed landing on the Moon? What if in '73 Apollo 18 lifted off with the crew of the CM Independence and LM Yorktown? And what if that crew couldn't all return home... That is the premise of Darkside, a play by Ken Jones, which is presently in its final week of staging by the Rude Guerilla Theater Co. at the Empire Theater in Santa Ana, CA. And while the story may be fictional and the props sparse by design, the production hired Larry Evans with the Orange County Space Society to insure Darkside was historically accurate. As technical advisor, Evans chose the designs of the badges, checklists, flight plans and even an Apollo 18 crew insignia, complete with symbolic elements noted. Darkside closes next Saturday after a run of three weeks.
: Space Shuttle Discovery, atop its Boeing 747 carrier aircraft, safely landed at Kennedy Space Center at 8:58 a.m. CDT today, finishing a cross-country journey that began at Edwards Air Force Base, California on Friday. The orbiter, which would have returned to Florida directly from space had the weather not prevented such, made two pit stops along its voyage, first in Oklahoma and then in Louisiana. Once de-mated from the 747, Discovery will begin being prepared for its next mission, STS-121, currently set for launch in March.
: The History Channel's Apollo: The Race Against Time, debuting on Saturday, explores how artifacts from NASA's Apollo missions are being restored and preserved. To be featured during the hour special are the only remaining Saturn V rocket that was built to launch, located today at the Johnson Space Center in Houston; the restoration of a lunar rover vehicle at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center; and the Apollo spacesuits, including the one worn by Apollo 11's Buzz Aldrin, being carefully preserved at the National Air and Space Museum. Aldrin and fellow moonwalker Gene Cernan are interviewed, as is Flight Director Gene Kranz, who takes viewers on a tour of the Apollo Mission Control.
: The Space Shuttle Tribute Bike, built to honor all those who build, fly and work on the Space Shuttle, was unveiled this morning at Space Center Houston. The Teutels with Orange County Choppers and the TV series American Chopper were on hand to roll ride out their creation as was retired astronaut Duane "Digger" Carey, who traded his seat on the orbiter for a motorcycle tour of the nation. The "making-of" of the shuttle bike will be shown on future episodes of Chopper.
: In the 1960s, a group of 12 test pilots flew the X-15 rocket plane at extreme altitudes and speeds. Eight pilots, five Air Force and three NASA, flew above 50 miles, a height recognized by the U.S. Air Force as being in space. The Air Force pilots received astronaut wings; the NASA pilots did not. That omission will be rectified at a ceremony to be held today at Dryden Flight Research Center. Wings will be presented to NASA research pilots William H. "Bill" Dana and posthumously to John B. "Jack" McKay and Joseph A. Walker for their record setting X-15 flights that exceeded the atmosphere.
: Aurora Galleries and collectSPACE will co-host a free appraisal clinic for space artifacts, autographs and memorabilia this Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Rocket Town located near Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. Collectors, NASA employees and the public are invited to the Space Road Show, where they can also learn how to consign to either Aurora's next auction or to collectspace.com/buySPACE.
: The tug of war over Gus Grissom's Mercury spacesuit graced national headlines again Wednesday, this time in the Washington Post. Still at issue (though, not really) is the rightful owner of the silver garment and where it should be displayed. The debate is still being driven by two parties: the astronaut's widow and a 15-year-old girl whose petition asked for the spacesuit to be given to the Grissoms to do with as they saw fit, a subject that changed with today's update. Both Betty Grissom and Amanda Meyer had separately stated earlier that they wanted the suit moved to the astronaut's memorial museum in Indiana. Not so any longer, the Post reports; while Miss Meyer continues to advocate for the Hoosier homecoming, Betty Grissom is said to prefer the Happiest Place on Earth™ - namely, Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. So where will the spacesuit go? No where fast says the Smithsonian, which holds its title. The suit will stay put at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida.
: Friday, the Arizona Museum for Youth will open a new exhibit dedicated to the artwork of Robert McCall. Dreaming Tomorrow will feature "40 pieces ranging from small space stamps and mission emblems to 6-foot murals," reports The Arizona Republic. In addition to McCall's paintings and prints, the exhibit will also include interactive displays, large models of futuristic spacecraft and a moon rock loaned by NASA.
: The last seven surviving members of Operation Paperclip - the U.S. Army's codename for securing 118 German rocket scientists at the close of World War II - gathered Saturday at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama, reports The Huntsville Times. The reunion was held during the museum's second event to honor Saturn engineers and Apollo astronauts, as well as to support the restoration of the Saturn V moon rocket that is on display at the center. To fundraise for the Save the Saturn campaign, the colleagues of the late Wernher von Braun autographed copies of Saturn (by Alan Lawrie) that details the history of every Saturn stage. Among the rocket team members to sign the 200 books were Walter Jacobi and Konrad Dannenberg. Rounding out the reunion of Paperclip pioneers were Ernst Stuhlinger, Heinz Hilten, Dieter Grau, Hans Fichtner and Oscar Holderer. Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronaut Wally Schirra also attended.
: The projected path of Hurricane Katrina has it threatening NASA facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Michoud Assembly Facility, located near New Orleans, is where the Space Shuttle's External Tanks are produced. Seven complete tanks, as well as another eight to 10 in various stages of assembly, are at risk from the Category 5 storm, according to CBS News' reporter Bill Harwood. Should the Lockheed Martin managed facility suffer extensive damage it could lead to another delay to the launch of STS-121. Also in Katrina's possible ground track is NASA's Stennis Space Center in the vicinity of Biloxi, MS and the agency's primary center for rocket propulsion testing. Though of minor concern in relation to the threat to actively used hardware and to the risk to human life, a Saturn V rocket's first stage that sits at the entrance to the Michoud facility is uncovered and may be subjected to wind gusts up to 175 miles per hour.
UPDATE for August 30
: Initial reports suggest Michoud endured Katrina, experiencing widespread leaks and roof damage. The status of Stennis Space Center is unknown.
: One of the world's most colorful cities is adding NASA blue to its palette. Four astronauts from the recent Space Shuttle Discovery Return to Flight mission, STS-114, are spending time in New York City this week. Commander Eileen Collins, a native of New York state, and Mission Specialist Charlie Camarda, who grew up in Queens, together with Stephen Robinson were welcomed today by hundreds of visitors to the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space. Beginning tonight and continuing on Wednesday, the trio of astronauts will take part in media appearances, including the network morning shows. Also tomorrow, Collins and Camarda will throw the first pitches at a Mets game as Robinson and fellow crewmate Soichi Noguchi cheer them on. On Thursday, the four astronauts will attend NASA's Small Business Solutions Conference.