: The Space Walk of Fame 'Project Apollo Monument' has begun taking shape with the arrival on Tuesday of its stainless steel "A" and "swoosh" joining the bronze earth and moon that will form its three-dimensional recreation of the Apollo logo. At almost the same time as its parts were being delivered in Florida, another, separate effort to commemorate the men — or a man — that went to the Moon started in Congress, where 33 Representatives led by congressman Ken Calvert (CA) introduced legislation to add Neil Armstrong's name to the Dryden Flight Research Center. The photographs that Neil Armstrong took while on the moon as well as those by his fellow lunar astronauts is the focus of yet a third separate effort to archive the history of Apollo. Started in June and announced today, Arizona State University has partnered with NASA to digitize, at high resolution, all 36000 original frames of film that were flown from the Moon to the Earth.
: To raise the money needed to raise the Space Walk of Fame's Project Apollo Monument, The Wonder of it All director Jeffrey Roth, in partnership with collectSPACE, is hosting an online and in- person silent auction featuring space memorabilia and an assortment of astronaut, sports and celebrity experiences beginning August 20 and running through the August 30th benefit dinner and screening at Space Center Houston in Texas. Starting today, bidders can pre-register and view a preview of some of the lots, which includes a walk-on role for a popular sitcom, a pre-game football stadium tour and opportunities nationwide to interact with former astronauts.
: Riding atop a Delta II from Pad 17A in Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA's Phoenix spacecraft launched at 5:26 a.m. EDT, beginning its flight to the Red Planet. The first in the agency's Scout program of smaller, lower-cost spacecraft, Phoenix reuses hardware from the earlier failed Mars Polar Lander and subsequent canceled Surveyor lander. Targeted to touchdown in May 2008 in Mars' arctic region near its north pole, Phoenix is designed to dig through martian soil and ice to investigate the history of water on the planet and its ability to support life. Also on-board is a silica-glass mini-DVD billed by the Planetary Society as the "first library for the Red Planet." In addition to thousands of names that were submitted to the society, the disc includes an archive of stories, audio and artwork created by visionaries inspired by exploration.
: For the second time in two years, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill that would direct the U.S. Mint to strike commemorative coins for NASA's 50 year anniversary in 2008. The legislation, which passed largely unchanged from its 2005 version this past Monday, calls for 50,000 gold coins and 300,000 silver coins to be sold. Struck from the NASA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act of 2007 however, was the wording from the prior bill that would have minted the coins using, in part, metal that was collected by NASA, the Department of Defense, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Smithsonian from historic spacecraft in their possession. Proceeds from the sale of the coins will go to the families of fallen NASA personnel, as well as for organizations that promote science literacy.
: The first test flight for NASA's new crew launch vehicle Ares I, known as Ares I-X, is planned for 2009. An insignia for that flight was spotted at NASA Kennedy Space Center on Monday during a media tour of the space shuttle facilities that are now and will be converted for the Constellation program that Ares I falls under. The patch incorporates a design similar to the Ares Project logo, as was earlier released by NASA. The Ares I-X test flight will launch a four segment solid rocket booster (as is used for the shuttle) together with an upper stage mass simulator and uncrewed mock-up of an Orion crew exploration vehicle. The sub-orbital I-X flight will test first stage dynamics, controllability, and stage separation.
: Shuttle mission STS-118 got off to a brilliant start launching from Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A at 5:36 p.m. CDT. The flight marks the 22nd mission to the International Space Station and the 119th shuttle mission. STS-118 also heralds the return to flight for orbiter Endeavour, which last launched nearly five years ago and has since undergone extensive modifications including the installation of a glass cockpit, global positioning navigation system and a power transfer system that will allow electricity to be siphoned from the station to extend the orbiter's planned 11 day mission by three more days. STS-118's seven person crew, helmed by Cdr. Scott Kelly, includes Barbara Morgan, the first of NASA's educator astronauts to fly in space. Twenty-two years ago, Morgan was chosen as back-up to Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe, who died when Challenger was lost in January 1986. During the mission, Morgan and her STS-118 crewmates will install a new ISS truss segment and conduct educational activities, including participating with students in live downlinks and returning basil seeds from the ISS for classrooms to experiment with and grow.
: NASA announced Friday that ISS Expedition 7 flight engineer Ed Lu has left the agency "to accept a position in the private sector" (sources say at Google). A veteran of two space shuttle missions and six months on the international space station, Lu was the first U.S. astronaut to both launch and land on a Russian Soyuz. Also announced was the appointment of Johnson Space Center deputy director Robert Cabana as the next director of Stennis Space Center. Cabana, who flew twice on the shuttle as pilot and twice as commander, replaces Richard Gilbrech, who in turn was selected to take former astronaut Scott Horowitz's job as Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems. Horowitz is departing in October.
: Two spacecraft came close to an unintentional rendezvous Wednesday, despite the fact their launches were 31 years and one day apart. The crew of STS-118 was notified earlier today about their conjunction with a Delta rocket body that came soon after they reached orbit. The spent stage came within 1.2 kilometers of shuttle Endeavour but was far enough away that a course correction was not required. The Delta body had been in space since August 9, 1975, having launched from Vandenberg AFB with the European Space Agency's COS-B satellite, a gamma-ray telescope that provided the first complete map of the galaxy in that spectrum. COS-B reentered on January 18, 1986, 10 days before Challenger was lost with Christa McAuliffe. Her backup for that flight, Barbara Morgan, is among Endeavour's crew for STS-118.
: The Huntsville Times reported that the U.S. Space & Rocket Center has landed a prize catch at a west Alabama fish farm: Apollo 12's mobile quarantine trailer. The modified Airstream trailer, which was believed to be long-lost, was found at the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center, having been transferred there in 1984 to serve as living quarters for researchers. In November 1969, the trailer housed the second moon landing crew of Charles Conrad, Alan Bean and Richard Gordon upon their return to safeguard against the spread of any lunar pathogen. After its use by NASA, the MQF was repurposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Georgia, where it once isolated scientists from Africa exposed to the Ebola virus. Placed in storage for years, it was moved to the Fish and Wildlife Service, ultimately making its way to Marion, AL. Rocket Center officials announced Friday that the MQF will go on display in their new Davidson Saturn V Center, scheduled to open in January. There were four NASA trailers used to quarantine returning lunar crews: the Smithsonian's Udvar Hazy Center exhibits the one used on Apollo 11; the MQF for the third lunar landing, Apollo 14, is displayed onboard the U.S.S. Hornet Museum; and the fourth was lost to fire.
: NASA released on Friday it had signed a $1.8 billion contract with ATK for the development and testing of the first stage of the Ares rockets intended to take astronauts back to the Moon. The contract includes the delivery of a four-segment stage for the Ares I-X test flight planned for 2009. As the first stage utilizes the same solid rocket booster as ATK currently produces for the space shuttle, the Utah-based contractor plans to build the I-X first stage with cylinders and stiffeners flown previously on 30 shuttle missions, including STS-31, the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope; STS-71, the first shuttle docking with the Mir space station, and STS-51A, the earliest of the flights flown by any of the I-X cylinders.
: At 10:17 a.m. CT (1517 GMT) on Tuesday, the first element of the International Space Station, the functional cargo block Zarya ("Sunrise") will pass its 50,000th orbit of the Earth. Built in Russia under a U.S. contract and derived from Mir modules, the FGB originally provided the power, communications, and attitude control for the station, though today it is primarily used for storage and propulsion. Launched November 20, 1998, Zarya has traveled 1.3 billion miles (2.3 billion km).
: NASA's first educator astronaut to fly in space, Barbara Morgan, began today the educational component of her mission, taking part in the first of three downlinks with students. The live, two-way broadcast saw Morgan, with crewmates Alvin Drew, Clay Anderson and Dave Williams, reply to questions posed by kids at the Discovery Center of Idaho, Boise. Before she served as backup to Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe, Morgan taught elementary school in McCall, Idaho. Two more downlinks are scheduled during STS-118, including with the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Morgan is flying aboard Endeavour surprise souvenirs for the organizations that supported her 22 year path to orbit.
: The first scheduled shuttle mission of 2008, STS-123 will launch with Japan's Kibo Logistics Module and Dextre, Canada's dual-armed robotic manipulator to the International Space Station. The flight's crew patch, seen here for the first time publicly, features depictions of both payloads as well as shuttle Endeavour, ISS, and a stylized NASA astronaut insignia. Targeted to launch on Valentine's Day, STS-123's crew is led by Dom Gorie with pilot Gregory Johnson and mission specialists Rick Linnehan, Robert Behnken, Michael Foreman, JAXA astronaut Takao Doi and Expedition 16's Garrett Reisman.
: Australia's Perth Mint has begun taking orders for what they are billing as the world's first 'orbital coin,' a $1 AUS legal tender coin, designed in such a way so to allow its depiction of the world's first satellite on its reverse to literally revolve around the Earth at its center. The coin, limited to 25,000 pieces, is struck from proof quality 99% pure silver. The first of five coins in The Perth Mint's "Orbit and Beyond" series, this coin, to be available September 10, is timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sputnik and is dated 1957 - 2007.
: JAXA, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency, will see the launch of its first human spaceflight facility, the Kibo Japenese Experiment Module (JEM), over the course of three space shuttle missions beginning next year. Just as its three parts, the logistics, pressurized and exposed modules, will dock together, so does JAXA's logos for Kibo. The three-in-one insignia are designed so that they can stand alone with each mission, noting the JAXA astronaut accompanying each flight, i.e. Doi and STS-123, Hoshide and 124, and Wakata and 127.
: Or not. Sara Lee, maker of "America's favorite choice for breakfast foods" announced on Friday that its "Jimmy Dean Fully Cooked Sausage Patties" are currently enjoyed by the crew of space shuttle Endeavour. "We believe that no matter where you are... every great day should begin with a Happy Breakfast," said Sara Lee's VP of breakfast and he's right, most of the crew do have the morning meat on their menus. Therein lies the rub, are they Jimmy Dean's?
: Dave Williams, STS-118 mission specialist, set a record today for the most time spacewalking by a Canadian Space Agency astronaut during the flight's fourth scheduled EVA. Williams surpassed Chris Hadfield's career total of 15 hours by a margin of more than two hours. If Williams celebrates his accomplishment, he could choose to do so with cookies developed by his country for consumption by astronauts. Canasnacks, which are making their first flight inside the fresh food locker on Endeavour, are bite-sized sandwich cookies filled with maple, cranberry or blueberry flavored cream. Tasty as they are nutritious, each vacuum sealed pack includes five types of the Canasnacks, providing a daily dose of prebiotics. Of course, should Williams have a hankering for something a bit more meaty, he also has caribou jerky, which he said, "Really helps me get going."
: The Space Walk of Fame's adventures and artifacts auction began this evening at 6:00 p.m. CT with a 20-lot catalog to bid on. The auction, which was organized to benefit the completion of the Project Apollo Monument being erected in Titusville, Fla., features the opportunity to tour Johnson Space Center with Apollo 7 LMP Walt Cunningham, have astronauts Fred Haise and Joe Kerwin speak at your next group or company meeting, or spend two days at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame with some of the people it serves to honor (including a "mystery" guest). Other lots include: an explosive bolt that flew on Mercury-Redstone 2 with 'Ham' the chimp; a flown hand controller locking pin from Walter "Wally" Schirra's Sigma 7 Mercury spacecraft; and a walk on role in the popular CBS series, How I Met Your Mother.
: Space shuttle Endeavour touched down safely at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, landing at 11:32 a.m. CT on runway 15 at the shuttle landing facility. Endeavour's crew, led by commander Scott Kelly and including NASA's first teacher-turned-astronaut, Barbara Morgan, were in space for 12 days, 17 hours and 55 minutes during which time they continued assembly of the international space station, installing a truss segment, replacing an attitude control gyroscope, and transferring a total of 5000 pounds of supplies. The crew performed four spacewalks, and took part in three educational downlinks with students. The STS-118 mission was the 22nd shuttle flight to the ISS and the 119th mission in shuttle program history. Completing its 20th mission, Endeavour's landing today was the 65th touch down at Kennedy Space Center.
: Three weeks after announcing a partnership with Arizona State University to scan and serve online the 36,000 photographs captured by Apollo astronauts of the Moon, NASA has begun another collaboration to digitize, catalog and present the complete archive of five decades worth of space program imagery. Together with Internet Archive, a San Francisco non-profit known for its library of websites, The Wayback Machine, NASA will create a "one-stop-shop" for all of its historic photographs, video and film holdings, accessible for free by the public, historians, students, and scientists.
: Sam Cravero was in the market for office space; what he found instead was space history. According to a report by Philadelphia's CBS affiliate KYW, Cravero stumbled upon the former Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory at Johnsville, PA, where the Mercury astronauts had trained on the nation's largest operating centrifuge during the 1950s. Now abandoned by the Navy, which had a base at the location until 1995, the equipment, including the mechanical arm, is still in place. Cravero, who also found blueprints and vintage photos of the facility inside in the building, told KYW he is "open to the idea of a museum," but that it is likely to be moved to an existing institution and expects to choose by year end.
: Space shuttle Discovery and the crew of STS-120 are scheduled to launch in October with the second multi-port node for the international space station. Along with them for the ride will be the original prop lightsaber used by Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Return Of The Jedi. Before leaving the planet, the lightsaber will depart Lucasfilm in California for Space Center Houston with a Star Wars-studded send off.
: NASA yesterday named The Boeing Company as the contractor for design and construction of the upper stage of the Ares I rocket that will take crews to the space station and return astronauts to the Moon. Under the terms of the $514.7 million contract Boeing will deliver a ground test, three flight test, and six production units that will integrate a J-2X main engine, a fuel tank for liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants as well as associated avionics. Ares is the second moon rocket that Boeing will have helped build. In 1963, NASA awarded Boeing the contract for the S-IC first stage of the Saturn V, and Boeing would later acquire North American and McDonnell Douglas, which built the two upper stages.
: Howard "Bill" Tindall, Jr., former Director of Flight Operations at NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center (today Johnson Space Center) through the Apollo program, authored over 1,100 memoranda documenting technical decisions made for all unmanned and manned flights through Apollo 13. His "Tindallgrams" became well-known, not just for their content, but for the style in which that information was conveyed. As one of his colleagues wrote about Tindall, the tindallgrams, and the meetings that inspired them, "he made it a lot of fun!" At our readers' request, collectSPACE has uploaded the tindallgrams in the NASA-University of Houston archives.