: The final Lockheed Martin Atlas II rocket lifted off last night, carrying a national security payload into orbit. The flight marked the 30th launch for the Atlas IIAS model and the 63rd for any version of the Atlas II. Its Rocketdyne engine traces it history back to the nation's first ICBM system and later, the manned orbital Mercury missions. Also retired yesterday was pad 36A, from which last night's Atlas was the last to launch. From that same site in 1966, Surveyors 1 and 2 departed for the Moon and in 1969, Mariner 7 lifted off to Mars. In 1972, Pioneer 10 launched from 36A to become the first man-made object to leave the solar system. The Atlas II is replaced by the more powerful Atlas 5 with its Russian designed main engine. Pad 36A will serve as back up for its sister 36B until that pad's final launch next year, after which their blockhouse may be converted into a museum.
: You saw him lead the first Hubble Space Telescope repair mission - now author Anne Lenehan shares the rest of Story Musgrave's story in her new book Story: The Way of Water. "This is not your usual biography, but that's what makes it special," says fellow author Colin Burgess, who reviews Story ahead of its October scheduled release. You do not have to wait until next month though, to reserve your copy signed by Lenehan and Musgrave; order today through buySPACE.
Our silent auction for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has reached a very successful ending. Thank you to all who participated both online and in-person at the UACC Show in California - and congratulations to the winners! Your bids raised over $20,000 for scholarships for the next generation of space explorers. The silent auction's results have been posted.
: As the first sign of the possible extent of damage awaiting NASA inspectors assessing the effects of Hurricane Frances at Kennedy Space Ctr. today, the Associated Press has published a photograph of a toppled Mercury-Redstone rocket that stood outside a credentialing center in Titusville. Another Redstone replica, this one erected at the U.S. Air Force Space Museum at the Cape Caveral Air Station, suffered a similar fate as result of Hurricane Floyd five years ago this month. In addition to inspections of NASA facilities, including the processing hangars for the shuttle orbiters, teams are expected to enter the center's Visitor Complex with hopes of reopening tomorrow, reports Florida Today.
: Jim Gerard, whose "Field Guide To American Spacecraft" tracks the locations of the nation's historical capsules and rockets, photographed today toppled boosters and some of the other damage to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as a result of Hurricane Frances. In the rocket garden, the Juno 1 had fallen and the Thor Delta lost its upper stage. Nearby, on the roads leading to KSC, two Mercury-Redstone replicas were also damaged. Gerard had to survey the damage to the VC from afar, as their gates are closed until Tuesday.
: Teams are surveying NASA Kennedy Space Center for damage caused by Hurricane Frances. Fortunately, there are no reports of any injured workers, and there does not appear to be damage to Space Shuttles Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. The most extensive damage identified so far has been to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), and to the facility that manufactures Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System tiles. About 1000 panels were blown off the VAB creating holes, including one estimated to be 50 by 50 feet, in the building that was designed to assemble Saturn V rockets.
: Karl Tate's 2002 review of Dragon Models' Apollo astronaut "Buck" delivered high praise for the 12-inch figure, but found the included 'lunar surface' base to be lacking. The subsequent Buzz Aldrin figure from Dragon excluded a stand, flimsy or otherwise. Now, Buzz or Buck owners looking to display their figure have a new option: Geraths Design's "Tranquility" Base. Cast from resin, each base is hand-painted and detailed to create a realistic looking section of lunar surface. The moon base is attached to lacquered hardwood for a solid display, available in two sizes for the addition of patches or autographs. The base also seats a clear acrylic cover.
: NASA's first sample return mission since Apollo 17 astronauts delivered rocks from the Moon came to an end today with an unplanned impact in the Utah desert. The Genesis spacecraft was to have been caught by helicopter as it descended under its parafoil, safely recovering the fragile tiles that held samples of solar particles. Instead, neither the capsule's drogue or main parachutes deployed, leading to a crash landing estimated at a velocity of 194 mph. Video of the Genesis canister after its impact with the Utah Test and Training Range west of Salt Lake City showed it partially buried and with structural damage. It was not clear if any of the samples survived the crash, though efforts were to begin this afternoon to remove the capsule from the site.
• Gemini and Apollo astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, co-chair of NASA's Return To Flight Task Group, testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Joining the General to address the status of the shuttle fleet, was group member and fellow former astronaut James Adamson.
• Stafford arrived in Washington, DC after two days of signing autographs at the UACC Convention and Show held this past weekend in Burbank, Calif. Byallreports, the Sims & Hankow-produced event was a joy for all.
• Show guest Jack Lousma's signature has been sewn into of Sandy Kipp's "Michigan Celebrity Quilt," which features a square for the Skylab and shuttle flyer. Kipp's patchwork will be auctioned Sunday at the "Quilts at the Crossroads" annual festival at Mott Community College.
• One of only a few early astronauts not in Burbank was James Lovell, whose foreword leads a new book on the creation of the Blue Angels, First Blue. Copies signed by the title's focus, "Butch" Voris, are being sold for charity.
: Regency-Superior has posted their October 16th auction catalog to their website, including a section of 290 lots of astronaut autographs, artifacts and artwork. Among the highlight lots identified by Regency's Senior Vice President Alan Lipkin are: an original painting by moonwalker Alan Bean; a patch and nametag worn by Challenger crew member Judy Resnik; and an Apollo 11 signed menu with a Polaroid photograph of the crew standing in line to eat during their quarantine.
• Three-time space shuttle mission specialist G. David Low has been named VP of Orbital Sciences' Technical Services Division in Greenbelt, MD. Low most recently helped Orbital develop new human exploration systems.
• On September 17, the Big Hollow Astronomy Complex in Burlington, IA will honor former residents Ed Stone and Jim Kelly by naming an observatory for them. Retired Jet Propulsion Lab director Stone will attend the event; Kelly, who will pilot STS-114, will miss the dedication.
• Tomorrow, some 50 students from three countries will join Pedro Duque and other ESA astronauts to debut the Newton in Space educational DVD in the Erasmus User Centre at ESTEC in the Netherlands. The first in an ESA series, the DVD demonstrates basic scientific principles using video from onboard the International Space Station.
: Rick Houston reviews this week Spacecraft Films' Apollo 8: Leaving The Cradle three-disc DVD set. To quote the crew reading from Genesis during the 1968 first lunar orbit flight, Rick watched the in-flight television transmissions and film footage that comprise the 2003 Fox release and saw that it was good.
: Last December, Richard Jackson closed Missile, Space & Rocket Used Books, his business of thirty years. On September 23rd, he will offer his remaining inventory and collection of over 6,000 space related books at Waverly Auctions next sale in Falls Church, Virginia. The auction catalog can now be viewed online and a print version is mailing upon request.
: If there is one astronaut's autograph that is in constant demand, not only by collectors but also by the general public, it is Neil Armstrong's. Though he has signed many thousands of autographs since returning from the Moon, Armstrong's personal decision to stop responding to requests in 1994 has lead to a perception (and perhaps a reality) that his autograph is rare and growing in value. That in turn, has given rise to a wave of forgeries that now outnumber the authentic examples of Armstrong's autographs on sites such as eBay. In an effort to better educate the buying public, a group of collectors and dealers have assembled nearly 100 examples of the first moonwalker's signature, organized chronologically, to illustrate the evolution of Armstrong's authentic autograph. Originally presented in abbreviated format in the UACC's Pen & Quill, the uncut article is now listed as part of resources on this website.
: When spectators arrive in Mojave, Calif. later this month and next, to witness the attempts by SpaceShipOne to win the X Prize, they will have at least two choices for souvenirs. As reported by Desert News, negotiations for the X Prize to manage the sale of SS1-logo merchandise have ended and the rights have been awarded to The Rocket Boosters, a coalition of area non-profits that previously oversaw the souvenirs at Scaled Composites' first SS1 sub-orbital flight. The X Prize will sell its own logo items, while the Boosters will offer a similar selection to the SS1 goods they displayed last June - with a few additions. Patches and cloisonne pins bearing the SS1 logo are high on callers' wish lists and will be for sale at the X-Prize events, told Boosters' president Tonya Rutan to the Desert News last Thursday.
: Considered by many to be the definitive account of the manned lunar program, Apollo: Race To The Moon by Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox has been out of print for many years since its 1989 release. Critical acclaim coupled by demand has driven used copies to skyrocket in value, from $50 to a few hundred dollars each. Now, anyone wanting their own can order a reprint for $17 directly from apollostory.com, the authors' website. While there, in addition the requisite book information, visitors will find an image gallery that illustrates excerpts from Apollo and an audio archive of Mission Control loops of dramatic moments from Apollo.
: Perspective Books, LLC is now offering limited edition copies of its children's book, I Am A Space Shuttle. I LOVE TO FLY! by Becky Cross, each with a bookplate signed by the five-person crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-29. Sale of the $50 book, which is on a first-come, first-served basis by mail order only, benefits the Association of Space Explorers (ASE).
: For nearly 20 years, the Association of Space Explorers has organized an annual conference for their astronaut and cosmonaut members. This year, the U.S. chapter is hosting its first National Congress coinciding with the astronaut reunion held annually by NASA in Houston, Texas. The general public is invited to take part in this ASE gathering at a special "Evening With The Astronauts" on October 14th, at Rocket Town. Proceeds from the evening's reception and autograph session will benefit the ASE's educational and environmental awareness outreach programs.
• Farthest Reaches has announced a "major site update" to their online catalog of space memorabilia. Having just wrapped co-hosting the 2004 UACC Convention & Show, FR's Steve Hankow has also announced New York City as next year's setting for the astronaut autograph event.
• Collector and cS contributor Bob McLeod has debuted his first website, entitled "Eagle Has Wings". As McLeod describes, he wanted to present "mostly unusual, varied and rarely seen astronaut autograph material." In addition to his signature galleries, the site also features a primer to forgeries, including Armstrong and the Soyuz 11 crew.
• Novaspace Galleries has scheduled a custom signing with Buzz Aldrin for next month. All memorabilia for the Apollo 11 moonwalker's autograph must be received by October 17. Also new to Novaspace is a giclee art print, limited to only 100, of the cover art to astronaut Michael Collins' book Liftoff. The "Beyond My Grasp - Gemini 10 EVA" print is offered signed by the author and the artist.
: Black and white PDFs of Aurora Galleries' next auction catalog are now on their website, with full-color listings to follow soon on eBay. The sale, which is scheduled for the first weekend in October, offers more than 1200 lots of space- and aviation-related memorablia, including a collection of notes, memos and letters by Wernher von Braun and the wrist checklist that David Scott used while on the lunar surface. The Apollo 15 moonwalker will attend the second day of the auction to sign autographs for a fee. collectSPACE will report the auction results after each day's bidding sessions closes.
: The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian opens today on the Mall in Washington, DC with three exhibits that illustrate the history and culture of the Native peoples. One of the permanent exhibitions, "Our Universes," explores American Indian annual ceremonies as windows into ancestral Native teachings. While under the exhibit's star-filled "night sky," visitors discover how celestial bodies shaped the daily lives of Native peoples, as well as how they established calendars. Elsewhere in the museum's collection of 7,000 artifacts, are a wooden flute and eagle feather carried to orbit aboard STS-113 by NASA's first Native American astronaut John Herrington.
: It may have never been intended to orbit the globe, but a Russian Buran space shuttle has been circling the Earth since being retired from atmospheric approach and landing tests in 1988. After being offered on the web without a sale, Buran-Analogue 002 was finally sold to an Australian company organizing its exhibition in Sydney Harbour for the Olympics. When the display closed due to financial constraints, investors negotiated to have the Buran moved to Bahrain where it was displayed as part of a 2002 summer festival. Again money issues became a concern, and the Buran laid in waiting, partially dismantled, at a Persian Gulf port. Now, according to Spiegal Online, the Buran is slated again to move, this time to Germany sometime over the next six months. For a reported high six-digit deal, the orbiter will join the exhibits - including both Air France and Russian Concordes - at the Sinsheim Air and Technical Museum.
: Five years after debuting on HBO and winning three Emmys, including outstanding miniseries, Tom Hanks' From The Earth To The Moon makes its network television premiere on TNT next weekend. There is no need to wait however, as the docu-drama is available as a four-disc DVD box set including extras not seen anywhere on TV. Rick Houston reviews the Apollo program recreation as the focus of his Go/No Go column.
: "I felt just like this so many times on the moon," says astronaut-artist Alan Bean of his self-portraitFeelin' Fine offered as a limited edition giclée canvas and open edition print from the Greenwich Workshop, "even though I didn't have time to stop and 'assume the position.' I think it takes a certain attitude of cockiness to be an astronaut, and it's hard to show those emotions when I am behind the gold visors." The artwork show Bean in a spacesuit with his hands on his hips in a proud stance. Both editions are also sold by Novaspace.
: With the first of two X Prize launches set to begin in two days, Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne is in reach of the $10 million purse for the first privately-developed, reusable spacecraft. So, what's next? For SS1, its future lies with Virgin Galactic, a new company from Sir Richard Branson that has licensed the vehicle's design to be the first commercial space tourism operator. The Virgin SpaceShip Enterprise will start flying in 2007, with each of its five passenger seats for sale for $190,000 (US) each. For rocket developers, the next goal is America's Space Prize, announced today by Robert T. Bigelow of Budget Suites and Bigelow Aerospace. A $50 million bounty awaits the team launching the first crewed commercial orbital spacecraft with a 5-7 person capacity.
: A teddy bear named Terence will fly aboard SpaceShipOne tomorrow as the Scaled Composites' vehicle makes its first attempt at winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize, according to the Press Association. Since May, the stuffed bear has been logging flights with Royal Air Force pilots in Iraq and at airshows as part of a charity drive organized by the Great North Air Ambulance in Cumbria. The not-for-profit helicopter squadron intends to auction Terence after his space flight, with his logbook of his travels, to fund their life-saving air services.
: In 1964, Atlas and Titan rockets arrived on the grounds of what was then the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. On Thursday, 40 years later, the New York Hall of Science is reopening its' Rocket Park with legendary journalist Walter Cronkite, astronauts John Young and Ellen Baker, state and local representatives as well as area school children attending. The exhibit includes the restored Atlas and Titan rockets, as well as the Mercury 1 capsule used for an unmanned test in May 1960. The Rocket Park also features replicas of a Saturn V's F-1 Engine and a "climb-in" Friendship 7.
: SpaceShipOne made the first of two qualifying flights to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize today with pilot Mike Melvill again at the controls. The suborbital three-seater spacecraft climbed 337,500 ft. according to Prize judges, clearing its goal of 62 miles by nearly 10,000 ft. At the top of its engine burn, SS1 began to roll sharply, a potentially serious problem explained by Melvill in a brief statement as attributed to pilot error. The next launch is tentatively planned for Monday, October 4.