August 1, 2011 / 10:13 a.m. CT (1513 GMT) Ask the astronaut: Fred Gregory, who flew as pilot on the second flight of the European Space Agency's (ESA) Spacelab prior to his commanding two shuttle flights dedicated to Department of Defense payloads, is the 4th space explorer to participate in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's (ASF) Astro Chat series. Just as Al Worden, Dick Gordon and Jack Lousma did before him, Gregory will share video replies to questions posted on collectSPACE's discussion forum, where the videos will be shared for all to watch afterwards. The deadline to post questions about his time in space is 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) on August 4.
August 2, 2011 / 12:02 a.m. CT (0502 GMT) Brian O'Leary, 1940-2011: Brian T. O'Leary, who in 1967 was selected by NASA with 11 scientist-astronauts but resigned six months later, died July 29 at 71. O'Leary wrote in his book "The Makings of an Ex-Astronaut" that he disliked the jet pilot training and grew disillusioned with NASA's treatment of scientist-astronauts at the time. After leaving NASA, O'Leary held several teaching and research positions before his personal interests led him away from mainstream science. Since 2003, O'Leary wrote and spoke about unconventional clean energy sources.
August 2, 2011 / 1:06 p.m. CT (1806 GMT) Drought reveals Columbia debris: Recent drought conditions across Texas have led to the uncovering of debris from the Feb. 2003 loss of space shuttle Columbia. A four-foot tank — part of the PRSD system for storing reactants for the orbiter's power-providing fuel cells — was found Friday after the water level in Lake Nacogdoches in Nacogdoches, Texas receded. NASA is working with local authorities to recover and deliver the tank to the Columbia Debris Repository at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
August 4, 2011 / 3:04 p.m. CT (2004 GMT) Taking a little piece of us to Jupiter: Scott Bolton, the principal investigator for NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, revealed this week that a plaque dedicated to Galileo and three LEGO figurines — the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno, and Galileo Galilei himself — are aboard the planet-bound probe. "We're carrying all these instruments and of course, our primary goal is to get all this science data and bring it back to Earth to help us understand how we got here and what's going on [at Jupiter], to help us answer our children's questions. Along that way, we also wanted to commemorate and take a little piece of us."
August 5, 2011 / 11:30 a.m. CT (1630 GMT) Juno's journey to Jupiter begins: NASA's Juno spacecraft launched on Friday at 11:25 a.m. CDT on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Fla. The liftoff began Juno's five-year journey to Jupiter, where the solar-powered probe will enter an elliptical polar orbit to understand the planet's formation, evolution, and structure. Juno will arrive at Jupiter in July 2016 and circle the giant gas planet 33 times before being destructively de-orbited.
August 11, 2011 / 2:05 p.m. CT (1905 GMT) Shuttle shuffle: Space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery traded places on Thursday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, offering the chance for a unique "nose-to-nose" photo of the two retired orbiters. Discovery was rolled over from its temporary home inside the Vehicle Assembly Building to Orbiter Processing Facility-1, where Endeavour had been being prepared for public display at the California Science Center. Endeavour will now wait in the VAB until October, while Discovery is further readied for exhibiting at the Smithsonian's Steve F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.
August 15, 2011 / 2:15 p.m. CT (1915 GMT) Space shuttle surplus: Since 2009, NASA has partnered with the US General Services Administration (GSA) to offer museums and educational institutions the ability to request space shuttle and other program artifacts no longer needed by the space agency. The eighth round of artifact screening began on Monday. According to NASA, about 29,000 items of historical space significance have been offered to date, mainly from the space shuttle, with contributions from the Hubble Telescope, Apollo, Mercury, Gemini and space station programs. Approximately 3,000 artifacts have been requested by eligible organizations.
August 15, 2011 / 3:43 p.m. CT (2043 GMT) Last look before launch: On Friday, NASA gave the media a last, close-up look at Mars Science Laboratory, the six-wheel, car-size rover — dubbed Curiosity — launching this November. On Saturday, engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory began folding down and stowing Curiosity's high-gain antenna, 7-foot instrument-tipped arm and camera and laser-equipped mast, before replacing the rover's wheels and tucking them in for the flight to Mars.
August 17, 2011 / 5:52 a.m. CT (1052 GMT) Stephen Colbert's (a) space nut: The man who NASA named a space treadmill for was presented Tuesday with his own piece of the space agency's final space shuttle mission. Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, was gifted by the STS-135 crew with one of the eight frangible nuts that held shuttle Atlantis on the launch pad until liftoff. The nut, which was explosively divided in half to release the shuttle to fly, inspired Colbert to quip, "As if launching a rocket were not phallic enough, you literally bust a nut when you when you go into space."
August 20, 2011 / 12:13 a.m. CT (0513 GMT) Inside Apollo 10: It's not every day that the public can poke their head into a spacecraft that flew astronauts around the moon but on Friday that was what visitors to the Science Museum in London got to do. As part of the museum's centenary celebration, the plexiglas cover which usually separates spectators from the inside of the Apollo 10 command module was removed for the day. Queues of museum-goers had the chance to look in and photograph the cockpit where Thomas Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan sat more than 40 years ago. The rehearsal mission for the first manned lunar landing, Apollo 10 also holds the record for the fastest humans have traveled: 24,791 mph.
August 22, 2011 / 8:50 p.m. CT (0513 GMT) NASA inspired sci-fi: Tor/Forge Books and NASA are collaborating on a new series of science based, fiction books, which they are calling "NASA inspired works of fiction." The books, which will be written around concepts pertinent to the current and future work of NASA, are in an effort to encourage math and science education. Goddard Space Flight Center scientists and engineers will be paired with Tor/Forge's award-winning roster of writers to help the authors use the popularity of science fiction as a means to raise awareness of the role NASA plays in everyday lives.
August 24, 2011 / 12:34 p.m. CT (1734 GMT) Station-bound supply craft lost: Progress M-12M (44P), a Russian uncrewed resupply spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, was lost Wednesday after the upper stage of its Soyuz-U launch vehicle failed to place it into orbit. The Progress lifted off at 8 a.m. CDT (7 p.m. local time at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan) with 2.9 tons of spare parts, equipment, oxygen, water and propellant for the space station. Communications were lost with the Progress 5 minutes and 20 seconds into its flight. According to NASA, given a recent restocking by the final space shuttle mission last month, the station is in a "good position logistically to withstand this loss of supplies." As both Progress and Soyuz use launch vehicles with similar upper stages, the planned Sept. 22 liftoff of the next three station crewmembers on Soyuz TMA-22 may be delayed.
August 27, 2011 / 2:20 p.m. CT (1920 GMT) Display decisions: Responding to concerns raised publicly by politicians and by some of the museums that missed out on receiving a space shuttle, the NASA Office of Inspector General reviewed the process by which the space agency chose institutions in California, Florida, New York and Virginia to exhibit Endeavour, Atlantis, Enterprise and Discovery. The OIG's 26-page report found that NASA implemented the selection process fairly, without improper influence, but did make errors in ranking the museums.
August 30, 2011 / 6:31 p.m. CT (2331 GMT) Beads in Space: Buzz the Space Frog and Ray Gamma, the Monkey in Space, will be visiting hospitals beginning Thursday as part of Beads of Courage Beads in Space 10-city tour honoring Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Buzz and Ray are both handcrafted, space-themed beads that with others like them flew aboard space shuttle missions STS-132 and STS-134 to raise awareness about Beads of Courage and its mission to offer arts-in-medicine supportive care for children coping with serious illness. At the events, each participating child will receive a Beads in Space shuttle bead and poster, and have a chance to take part in a bead design contest. The commemorative shuttle also beads are being sold to support Beads of Courage.
August 31, 2011 / 6:15 p.m. CT (2315 GMT) Shuttle program officially ends: Just over five weeks after its final mission returned to Earth, NASA's space shuttle program came to its official end on Wednesday. Beginning Thursday, all on-going shuttle related work, which is mostly focused on preparing the three orbiters for their display at museums, will be led by the Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement Office. To mark the end and to thank the shuttle team, Johnson Space Center hosted last Saturday a "Salute Our Space Shuttle: Foundation for Our Future" celebration, complete with celebrity tributes, a Five For Fighting concert and retirement of the shuttles' flags.