: On September 23, the new large-format IMAX movie Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D opens nationwide, giving audiences the chance to experience mankind's six lunar landings as they have never before. Actor Tom Hanks who produced, co-wrote and narrates the film, culled voice roles from his prior "crews". His Apollo 13 cast mates Gary Sinise and Bill Paxton, formerly Ken Mattingly and Fred Haise, were hired to recite the words of Gene Cernan and Ed Mitchell in Desolation. From Hanks' From The Earth To The Moon actors Peter Scolari and Brian Cranston reprise their roles as Pete Conrad and Buzz Aldrin. Scott Glenn, previously Alan Shepard in The Right Stuff, plays Charlie Duke. The other moonwalkers' dialogue was recorded by actors new to the astronaut role: Morgan Freeman as Neil Armstrong; Matthew McConaughey as Alan Bean; Matt Damon as Al Shepard; Paul Newman as Dave Scott; John Travolta as Jim Irwin; Barry Pepper as John Young; and John Corbett as Jack Schmitt. Additional voices are provided by Kevin Pollack, Rita Wilson, Tim Matheson, Frank John Hughes, Rick Gomez, Donnie Wahlberg and Neil McDonough.
: The life of Columbia astronaut Kalpana 'KC' Chawla is the focus of a new comic book, part of long series of graphic novels dedicated to India-born heroes and historical events, reports the AFP. The 32 page comic is the 437th in the Amar Chitra Katha library published by the India Book House since 1970. The book recounts Chawla's early childhood to her experiences as mission specialist. It sells for Rs 30 (approximately 70¢).
: A photo taken on August 30 of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility and posted to the space agency's website offers the distant-but-first-look at the post-Katrina conditon of its first stage from a Saturn V rocket. Located at the entry gate to the Space Shuttle External Tank manufacturing plant, which itself is just outside New Orleans, the stage appears to have weathered the storm mostly unscathed, though the photo's angle does not reveal its five engines (including the last F-1 produced for the Apollo program). Additional space artifacts caught in the hurricane's path included an unmanned Command Module that was on display at the Stennis Space Center's StenniSphere; its status has yet to be reported, though other museums in the Biloxi, MS area have had varying degrees of wind and water damage.
: Thirty years to the week after Apollo Command Module #111 flew the U.S. side of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the capsule began a new journey from the site of its launch to the state of its birth. Previously on display inside the Apollo / Saturn V Center at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, the CM left on July 20 for the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The capsule, which includes the cockpit controls flown to the Moon on Apollo 16, was built in nearby Downey. The Science Center will dedicate the command module next month during their festival of flight.
: The members of Yahoo's Astronauts Group have banded together to organize a 67 lot charity auction to benefit the Red Cross and Salvation Army Katrina relief funds. The auction, which comprises space memorabilia and artifacts donated by more than 30 collectors, also includes four custom autograph lots from Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke, Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Al Worden and Skylab 1 pilot Paul Weitz, as well as their NASA nurse Dee O'Hara. Everyone may bid, regardless if they are a member of the group. The auction began tonight and runs through next Wednesday, Sep 14.
: Employees at NASA's Johnson Space Center can now have meals at home with the likes of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride, at least in spirit, according to an ad from the center's exchange store. The NASA logo cafeteria trays, which date back to the early days of the center's history, are being sold through the on-site shops to make way for their "spiffy" replacements. As the advertisement poses, "Who knows what great space giant has eaten off your tray?" The platters are individually dated on their reverse.
: As first announced in 2004, flight sim developers things-to-come has released LunarPilot, an add-on Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) package to Microsoft Flight Simulator. The software, which also includes a North American P-51D "Mustang" sim and the scenery with which you can fly the LLRV to a landing on a simulated lunar surface, can be ordered for $34.95 as an immediate download from the t-t-c website or, for $5.00 more, be shipped to you on CD. Also offered is a limited edition box set for $69.95 that in addition to LunarPilot includes a reprint of Bell Aerosystems' original LLRV flight manual and a photo card signed by LLRV pilot Jack Kluever. LunarPilot accurately replicates the cockpit controls and flight profile the LLRV, which its pilots called the "flying bedstead," within the limits of the MS software.
: The first African-American to command a Space Shuttle mission and the first Native American Indian to fly on one both announced on Friday their resignation from NASA. Frederick D. Gregory, who has logged 455 hours in space over three flights, totaled over 30 years with NASA and since 2002 has been the space agency's deputy adminstrator, will stay at his current role until a successor can be confirmed by the Senate. John Herrington, who performed three spacewalks outside the International Space Station on his one mission STS-113, left NASA to pursue a career as a commercial space pilot with Rocketplane, Ltd., a space tourism rocket developer.
: All Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft - and the astronauts they carried - were recovered by US Navy ships after their splashdown. Those looking for a souvenir of these sea-based chapters in space history often turned to naval covers - postcards or envelopes postmarked on-board the USS Hornet, USS Intrepid, USS Lake Champlain and other naval ships that assisted or led NASA recovery operations. Among those who created and serviced naval space covers, Morris W. Beck was perhaps the best known to collectors. Between 1962 and 1975, he produced hundreds of different covers for the space flights. Beck collector Owen R. Murray has now catalogued these cachets on his website, as well as thousands of other naval event covers produced by Beck.
: Apollo/Skylab astronaut- turned artist Alan Bean will share 23 of his original paintings for an exhibit opening in October at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. The show, which is scheduled to run through the last day of the year, will include a public presentation by the moonwalker, date to be announced according to the Alan Bean Online Gallery.
: Presented and narrated by actor Tom Hanks, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D will launch in 85 IMAX theaters worldwide on September 23rd, marking the widest initial release of an IMAX film ever. Theaters in 29 states, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom, will debut the film, followed later by five more states, Australia, France, Mexico and the Netherlands. Of the 85 theaters debuting Desolation, 10 will be playing the 3-D film's 2-D version.
: Hundreds of pages of Kansas Cosmosphere records, obtained by The Hutchinson News, indicate that at least 22 artifacts turned in to authorities by former Cosmosphere President Max Ary's attorney were owned by the museum. According to court documents, the space artifacts were among three boxes of items given to federal investigators in connection with the indictment against Ary filed in May. Ary pled innocent to all charges and is scheduled to begin trial October 18.
: Roy D. Bridges, once astronaut and twice NASA Center Director, will retire from the space agency in January 2006, he announced today. In 1985, Bridges piloted Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS- 51F. A retired U.S. Air Force Major General, Bridges held the position of Kennedy Space Center Director from 1997 through 2003, when he left to become Director of Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Bridges will stay in his position until NASA can find and name his successor.
: NASA outlined its plan for returning astronauts to the Moon today, borrowing heavily from the spacecraft and profiles of the Apollo and shuttle programs. Described by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin as 'Apollo on steroids,' the exploration architecture combines a three-times as large Apollo command module with solid rocket boosters, external tank and main engine elements developed for the Space Shuttle. The resulting system that can land four moonwalkers, launch crew and payload to the International Space Station and ultimately, maintain up to six astronauts on a future mission to Mars.
: Former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center director Max Ary filed a civil lawsuit Friday against the museum, seeking more than $300,000 for "space artifacts, and various personal property" that he claims belonged to him and is now combined with the Cosmosphere's collection, reports The Hutchinson News. The lawsuit also argues that the museum denied Ary more than $65,000 placed in a trust that was designated as a retirement program for the then- director. Current Cosmosphere President Jeff Ollenburger told The News on Monday that he was unfamiliar with the lawsuit and had no comment. Ary is scheduled to stand trial in October for allegedly selling artifacts that belonged to the Cosmosphere, part of a 19-count federal indictment.
: How did producer Tom Hanks, director Mark Cowen, moonwalker David Scott and others bring the experience of walking on the Moon to audiences in the 3D IMAX film Magnificent Desolation? collectSPACE provides a three-part answer: watch a behind-the-scenes featurette, read our review and view photos of the astronauts and Hanks at the premiere.
: Tom Hanks' latest lunar masterpiece Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D opens in theaters today. Want a free ticket? Then go to your local DVD store and pick up Hanks' Emmy award winning HBO mini-series, From The Earth To The Moon, newly repackaged as the "Signature Edition" (read Rick Houston's Go/No Go review). Each copy includes a coupon to an IMAX screening. Want even more freebies? Enter our Magnificent Desolation trivia giveaway and you could win one of 40 Magnificent prize packages including a mini-movie poster, a collectible bookmark and an actual frame of IMAX 3D film taken from Magnificent Desolation!
: The three NASA facilities that were in the path of Hurricane Rita are making damage assessments and cleaning up. Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi sustained minor or no storm damage. On Tuesday, Mission Control at Johnson reestablished communications with the space station after control was transferred to Russia before Rita made landfall. The Michoud Facility reopened Tuesday as External Tank #119, expected to fly with STS-121, began its way from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Michoud for modification. Stennis Space Center, where the space shuttle's main engines are tested, was unaffected by Rita.
: A federal judge decided Tuesday to allow prosecutors the use of evidence collected during a search of former Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Director Max Ary's house, reported The Hutchinson News. Ary's lawyer, Lee Thompson, had argued Monday that the search was improper and papers collected during it should be thrown out of the upcoming October 18 trial. The documents, prepared by Ary for his attorney, included a list describing various space artifacts Ary claims he owned and how he came to possess them. Ary pleaded innocent to 19 charges of stealing and selling space artifacts held by the Cosmosphere in its collection.
: Conservation Solutions, Inc., the company managing the repair and restoration of both Johnson Space Center's Saturn V rocket and its cousin at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is making progress on the condition of the boosters. CSI's work in Huntsville remains on schedule to be finished at the end of October, though the USSRC still needs to raise more funds to build the Saturn a home for its display. In Houston, CSI had to halt the restoration as the evacuation from Hurricane Rita began. As they pick up work after the storm, their team is reported to be completing metal repair and stage painting.
: Scientist and entrepreneur Gregory Olsen is hours away from riding a Soyuz to the International Space Station (ISS) for a 10-day flight as the world's third space tourist to the orbiting outpost. With him on the spacecraft, Olsen will be carrying a variety of mementos for the round trip. Banners from the University of Virginia, Princeton University and other institutions; a set of keys from his dad; a Civil War medallion from the late historian Brian Pohanka, which will be returned to his widow; and wine labels that Olsen will put on gift bottles from the winery he owns in South Africa are all on-board the Soyuz, according to MSNBC's Alan Boyle. Should he need some last minute advice, Olsen also has with him a copy of the Space Tourist's Handbook written by Eric C. Anderson, president and CEO of Space Adventures, Ltd., the company that booked his seat on the Soyuz and ISS.
: Gennady V. Sarafanov, who in 1974 led a flight to the Salyut 3 space station (but failed to dock), died yesterday, due to complications from an unspecified surgery, reports the website of the Russian magazine Novosti Kosmonavtiki. He was 63. The commander of Soyuz 15, Sarafanov was named for a second mission but it was canceled before he could fly. He retired in 1986, logging a total of two days in orbit.
: Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, a veteran of five Space Shuttle missions, retired from NASA today to become president and chief executive officer of the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Logging more than 50 days in orbit, Dunbar flew on STS-61A, STS-32, STS-50, STS-71 and STS-89. On her latter two flights, she visited the Mir space station, which Dunbar had trained in Russia to live aboard as a long-duration crew member. During her 27 years at NASA, Dunbar had also served as a payload officer, flight controller and for five years as asst. director for University Research. She was chosen as an astronaut in 1980, in the second group selected to fly on the shuttle.
: The 100-year old National Aeronautic Association has introduced the first coin in its Collier Trophy Centennial Medallion Collection. Celebrating the 2004 winner, the coin shows the aviation award on one side and SpaceShipOne on the other. Association members can buy the card-mounted medallion for $21.95; non-members pay $5 more and domestic shipping is free.