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September 1, 2006

/ 6:01 p.m. CT (2301 GMT)

Surly Bonds

: Group 4 Scientist-Astronaut Duane "Doc" Graveline is a prolific author, having written over a dozen titles, most of which were science fiction books or factual studies of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. In Surly Bonds, his new autobiography, Graveline departs from his earlier works and returns to his beginnings as a family doctor, flight surgeon, aerospace medical research scientist and his short-lived appointment to NASA's 1965 fourth class of astronauts. Self-published, Bonds offers a candid look into Graveline's career including his reception of cosmonaut medical radio data during Vostok missions. buySPACE offers Surly Bonds inscribed by Dr. Graveline.

September 3, 2006

/ 8:36 a.m. CT (1336 GMT)

Smack down

: Earlier today, the SMART-1 spacecraft impacted the Moon's surface as planned, concluding Europe's first mission to the Moon and ESA's first solar-powered mission to another celestial body. A small flash was recorded illuminating the Lake of Excellence on the near side of the Moon, near the terminator. Before its impact for 16 months, SMART-1 gathered data about the lunar composition in visible, infrared and X-ray spectrums.

September 5, 2006

/ 8:02 p.m. CT (0102 GMT Sep 6)

Cyber Canaveral

: Alice Kramer's Shadows of Canaveral website provides visitors the opportunity to do more than just learn about the history of Cape Canaveral, Florida but virtually experience the space coast during the 1960s. Kramer, a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Central Florida, spent nearly a year building the site as a senior project using a $25,000 grant from the Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation. Shadows focuses on a fictional reporter sent to the Cape to cover the 1962 orbital flight of John Glenn. Visitors explore the reporter's room at the real Starlite Motel, which leads to other virtual "stages" including NASA's press site and mission control.

September 6, 2006

/ 6:08 a.m. CT (1108 GMT)

Fuel cell scrubs

: NASA's decision earlier this morning to postpone today's STS-115 launch attempt is only the second time in shuttle program history when an electricity- generating fuel cell has been the cause of the scrub. The first such event occurred 11 years ago to STS-69 and like today, the decision to scrub came before tanking had begun. STS-42's launch in 1992 was delayed by nearly an hour as managers worked an anomaly with Discovery's Fuel Cell #2. Flight rules dictate that all three power plants be operational before launch. In the case of an in-flight failure, the mission may be cut short, such as what happened during STS-2 in 1981 and STS-83 in 1997.

September 7, 2006

/ >6:23 p.m. CT (2323 GMT)

Space to sign

: Now that they're preparing to launch, the crew of STS-115 has little, if any free time remaining. Over the past few days, weeks and even years of scrubs and postponements however, they could have chosen to pass part of the time autographing their official portrait. That's assuming they could find a place for their signatures. Taken nearly four years ago on Dec. 5, 2002 (before the Columbia accident, STS-115 was to launch in May 2003), the STS-115 portrait continues a tradition that extends back to the first manned missions. While posing for the photograph, mission specialist Joe Tanner noticed they were set against a dark background. "Where will we sign?" Tanner asked his crewmates. As a NASA video of the photo session shows, space collectors aren't the only ones who consider contrast and placement for signatures.

September 9, 2006

/ 1:20 a.m. CT (0620 GMT)

201 and counting

: Friday morning's faulty sensor-plagued fueling of Atlantis' external tank marked the 200th time NASA loaded the space shuttle with liquid hydrogen and oxygen. The 201st fueling is now underway for today's launch attempt. STS-115's 15-story tall orange tank will be loaded with 528,000 gallons of cryogenic — super chilled — propellant. Over the past 25 years, these tankings have used 60 million gallons of liquid hydrogen and 36 million gallons of liquid oxygen, delivered by more than 6000 and 8600 tanker trucks to Florida, respectively.

September 9, 2006

/ 10:47 a.m. CT (1447 GMT)

Atlantis away!

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39B today at 10:15 a.m. CDT marking a return to flight for orbiter #104 after a four year hiatus, and a return to assembly missions to the space station. Aboard Atlantis is the six member STS-115 crew, the station's new P3/P4 integrated truss and a second set of solar arrays. During the planned 11-day mission, space station power generation will be doubled and 17.5 tons will be added to the ISS. STS-115 astronauts Joseph Tanner, Daniel Burbank, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Steve MacLean of the Canadian Space Agency will exit the ISS for three spacewalks. Commanding STS-115 is Brent Jett and Chris Ferguson is pilot. This was OV-104's 27th liftoff.

September 10, 2006

/ 7:45 a.m. CT (1245 GMT)

Shuttle suitor

: California is no longer the only west coast state to have entered into the 'competition' for a NASA retired orbiter. According to McMinnville, Oregon's News Register, Congressman David Wu met with NASA Administrator Michael Griffin on Friday to voice a formal request for a decommissioned shuttle on behalf of his state's Evergreen Aviation Museum.
    The museum is already constructing a twin building to its current gallery, which houses Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, a Titan II missile, a Russian Soyuz capsule and an SR-71 Blackbird, among other exhibits. Wu reportedly was not specific as to which of the existing three orbiters Evergreen desired, unlike the California State Assembly, which has asked Congress and the President for Atlantis. NASA is planning to retire its space shuttle fleet in 2010.
    "It's a long shot," Wu's spokeswoman told the paper, "but if you don't take the shot, you don't get the chance."

September 11, 2006

/ 6:01 p.m. CT (2301 GMT)

An array of personal items

: The STS-115 crew had a busy second day in orbit. After docking with the international space station early this morning, the crew used both the shuttle's and station's robotic arms to move their 17.5 ton, 45-foot long truss segment with its soon to be deployed twin solar arrays. Atlantis carries a third, if a tad smaller, sun-powered, electricity generator among the crew's personal items, as well as a rock from the summit of Mt. Everest and Newton's head-bonking, gravity-finding apple offspring seeds. These and more but no drumsticks.

September 13, 2006

/ 6:47 p.m. CT (2347 GMT)

Destined for Seattle

: Spacehab, Inc., the government contractor best known for their self-named shuttle cargo carriers, said on Wednesday that they have sold to Seattle's Museum of Flight a different type of space module: a full-size, high-fidelity replica of the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory. The real Destiny has been in orbit since Atlantis launched STS-98 in 2001. The mockup features a glass floor, computer-generated Earth views and a fully outfitted astronaut sleep station. Set for delivery by October 31, the Washington museum expects to reveal the million-dollar Destiny display by spring of '07.

September 14, 2006

/ 8:41 a.m. CT (1341 GMT)

Houston, we've got a Monopoly

: Earlier this year, Hasbro, the makers of the board game Monopoly, invited players to vote for their favorite U.S. locations to replace the game's classic Atlantic City, NJ properties. Among the choices was NASA's Johnson Space Center, which landed its own space on the board after winning 79 percent of the three Houston-area candidates' votes. The home to mission control succeeds Tennessee Avenue on the limited edition Monopoly Here & Now board.
    Representing JSC's $1.8 million orange property is an outdated photo of the center's Saturn V moon rocket. The image shows the booster as it appeared prior to 2004 and its subsequent restoration, which included construction of a building to protect the rocket from the environment. It is not clear why Hasbro chose the Saturn V over other icons relevant to JSC such as mission control or the simulators used to train the center's astronaut corps.
    The Here & Now edition of Monopoly is available today through Hasbro's website and through toy retailers for $30.

September 16, 2006

/ 12:48 p.m. CT (1748 GMT)

The shape of things to come

: STS-115's crew had part of their day in orbit off today, having successfully completed their flight's three planned spacewalks, installed a new truss segment and deployed a pair of solar arrays. Their work significantly altered the appearance of the ISS, which will become apparent when they undock in a few days and perform a flyaround of the outpost, taking photographs of their mission's payload, now in place. The upgrade caused a change to Houston mission control, too.
    "The icon on our mission map up in front [of the room] changed," Flight Director Paul Dye told reporters during a briefing this morning. "For the first time in four years, the shape of the [icon] changed and it was really dramatic, in that we can see that we've really done something big for the space station." The new icon shows the truss and the solar arrays extended.
    Mission control's use of a trajectory map extends back to the Mercury program, when a telemetry-driven model of the capsule was moved along a physical map. During the programs that followed, the track was rear-projected on to a screen that displayed animations of the craft's locations.

September 17, 2006

/ 9:30 a.m. CT (1430 GMT)

These are were the voyages

of the space shuttle Enterprise. Its 30 year (old) mission (today) to explore strange new approaches, to seek out new landings and new facilities, to boldly go where no U.S. reusable winged orbiter had gone before...
    Thirty years ago today, NASA rolled out its first shuttle orbiter, OV-101. Originally named Constitution, Star Trek fans staged a successful write-in campaign to re-christen it Enterprise. Though never to launch into orbit, Enterprise flew an important series of approach and landing tests as well as was used to configure launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and later at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. In 1985, NASA delivered Enterprise to the Smithsonian, which in 2003 placed it on display at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center.
    To celebrate the 30th anniversary, Exp. 11 badge artist Tim Gagnon and Bill Coukoulis, Jr. of Space Emblem Art partnered to design and produce a commemorative patch. The insignia depicts Enterprise's launch and landing tests.

September 17, 2006

/ 11:14 p.m. CT (0414 GMT Sep 18)

The politics of personal patches

: As was earlier noted, Iranian-American space flight participant Anousheh Ansari had planned to wear both of her nations' flags on her space suit's sleeve and had incorporated the flags into her personal mission patch. Political concerns though took precedence and both NASA and Roscosmos had her remove the Iranian flag from her arm. The fate of Ansari's personal insignia was "still up in the air," her husband told the press on Thursday. Today, the verdict was evident: a solid white triangle replaced the green, white and red both on Mrs. Ansari's flight suit and Sokol launch pressure suit.

September 17, 2006

/ 11:14 p.m. CT (0414 GMT Sep 18)

Incognito insignias

: The 14th crew of the International Space Station (or at least its two core crewmembers) launched on-board Soyuz TMA-9 this evening, along with first female, self-funded space flight participant, Anousheh Ansari. NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Roscosmos cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin will join ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter already on-board, for half of their six-month stay, after which astronaut Sunita Williams will take Reiter's place. Ansari will return to earth with the ISS Expedition 13 crew in 10 days.
    The ISS Expedition 14 crew's mission insignia is only the sixth in U.S. space flight history to not list the names of the crew as part of its design. Three Gemini flights — VII, IX and X — launched with nameless emblems sewn onto the astronauts' spacesuits. The first moon landing's mission patch read only 'Apollo 11'; according to Michael Collins, they wanted their design to "be representative of everyone who had worked [on Apollo 11]... yet who would never see their names woven into the fabric of a patch." The Apollo 13 crew also omitted their identities from their emblem, which in hindsight was fortunate given that they had to swap pilots a mere three days before the launch. It is unlikely they could have replaced the patches in time.
    "It doesn't have names... because I have flown before and its not as much a big deal to me anymore to have my name on a patch," joked Commander Lopez-Alegria about the ISS 14 emblem in an interview with collectSPACE. "I think maybe I've matured a little bit and realized that this, even though it is the 'crew patch,' it really represents the whole mission and [that] is about a lot more than just the crew. So, that is why I decided not to put names on it."
    The patch represents more than just the ground teams, too. According to Lopez-Alegra, the badge's five stars are in memory of the United States' and Russia's fallen crews.

September 18, 2006

/ 4:21 p.m. CT (2121 GMT)

NASA's greatest* fan

: NASA has teamed with Wired Magazine to find and reward the space agency's "greatest* fan." The short- format video contest that began today and ends Friday at midnight, will judge the fans' greatness based on 30-second, 2 megabyte digital films submitted through NASA's website. Nine finalists will be selected by a team of NASA judges after which the public will choose the winner by voting online. The Greatest Fan and his/her guest will receive a free trip to Florida to view the space shuttle launch (or an attempt thereof) as a VIP.
    * Some restrictions apply. For the purposes of this contest NASA has defined "greatest" as applying only to citizens of the U.S. born between the years of 1982 and 1993. Only the first 1500 entries will be accepted.

September 18, 2006

/ 10:52 p.m. CT (0352 GMT Sep 19)

SS1 on ISS

: MSNBC's Alan Boyle reports on his Cosmic Log that Anousheh Ansari is carrying with her to the International Space Station a small piece of her previous space venture. Citing Burt Rutan, in e-mail sent to NBC correspondent Jim Oberg, Boyle shares that Ansari has a silver-dollar-sized, carbon-fiber part of the Ansari X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne that was last in space June 21, 2004 (the piece was removed from SS1 after its debut sub-orbital space flight). Also on-board are patches flown with Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie on their later two flights.

September 19, 2006

/ 12:40 p.m. CT (1740 GMT)

Final flight

: Liberty Bell 7, Gus Grissom's Mercury capsule, made a four minute final flight on Monday — not by rocket, as it first did in July 1961, but by hoist and crane as it was lowered from a flatbed truck into the basement of the Kansas Cosmosphere. The Hutchinson space museum, which owns the spacecraft and oversaw its restoration after it was recovered from the ocean floor exactly 38 years from the day it splashed down and sank, plans to invest $100,000 over the next year to build a new exhibit to accompany the vehicle's display. Liberty Bell 7 had been traveling on a six-year, nationwide museum tour.

September 21, 2006

/ 6:15 a.m. CT (1115 GMT)

Atlantis arrives home

: The STS-115 crew brought shuttle Atlantis to a Florida landing at 5:21 a.m. CDT today, touching down on Runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center. The nighttime landing was the 15th for the east coast spaceport and the 21st in program history. Wheels stop marked an end to the 11 day, 19 hour mission to the International Space Station, which resumed its assembly with the addition of a new truss segment and pair of solar arrays. The six-person STS-115 crew led by Commander Brent Jett will be welcomed home to Houston at Ellington Field's Hangar 990 Friday during a ceremony set for noon.

September 21, 2006

/ 5:25 p.m. CT (2225 GMT)

Red's rock

: Chris Kraft, NASA's first flight director, will be the next to be honored with a NASA Ambassador of Exploration Award during a private ceremony to be held at his alma mater Virginia Tech on September 30. The award, which features a small sample of moon rock collected by the Apollo 11 mission, will remain on display at the school's engineering college. A founder of Houston Mission Control, Kraft led all Mercury and several Gemini flights prior to becoming Johnson Space Center's director.

September 24, 2006

/ 6:59 p.m. CT (2359 GMT)

Astronaut's art on the move

: Moonwalker Alan Bean's paintings, which capture both his memories of the lunar surface and real moon dust that he has mixed into the paint, will be celebrated by a touring exhibit. The Alan Bean Traveling Show, organized by The Greenwich Workshop, launches Thursday at the Elk Dreamer Gallery in Wakeeney, Kansas. According to Greenwich's website, seven more venues are confirmed through February 2007, with stops advertised in California, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington state. Bean's paintings were shown in fall 2005 at The Butler Institute of America.

September 25, 2006

/ 9:16 p.m. CT (0216 GMT Sep 26)

Hallway of humor

: It's a tradition that may predate the building where it is now staged: when a shuttle crew returns from orbit, their training teams decorate the hallway outside the astronauts' offices with jokes and gags that were collected from their years training and weeks in space. The STS-115 crew's training teams had four years and 12 days to prepare for this week. Although open to all Johnson Space Center employees, this hallway of humor has been closed to public eyes, until now. collectSPACE was granted access to Building 4 to share the experience.

September 26, 2006

/ 7:55 p.m. CT (0055 GMT Sep 27)

The Emmy goes to...

60 Minutes for their interview with Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, which first aired in Nov. 2005. The 15-minute segment, which is now sold on DVD and features Ed Bradley speaking with Armstrong and veteran CBS anchor Walter Cronikite, was presented the Emmy award for Outstanding Interview in a News Magazine during the 27th annual ceremony for news and documentaries held yesterday. The Emmy was one of four given to 60 Minutes, the most for one program.

September 28, 2006

/ 5:26 p.m. CT (2226 GMT)

Souvenir space inside SS2

: In 2009, as six paying passengers climb aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo for a sub-orbital space flight, they will not need to concern themselves with making sure their carry-on luggage fits in the bins above or fully under the seats in front of them: as there will neither be the compartments overhead nor will their suitcases be permitted to fill them.
    Unveiled today in New York, Virgin's concept cabin for SpaceShipTwo (SS2) incorporates fully reclining seats to maximize both weightless flying room and comfort during reentry. Passengers will be free to float about without the hindrance from tethers, allowing them full access to large windows. The pressurized cabin will afford a shirt-sleeve environment, though Virgin is considering the use of suits and helmets throughout the flight.
    collectSPACE asked Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic's President about what storage for souvenirs or other items would be allowed aboard SS2, to which he replied, "You'll be carrying very little personal payload, but you'll be able to carry a very small [camera]", which Whitehorn said his company was talking with companies about. For personal mementos or souvenirs, collectSPACE has learned, there may be allocations within the passengers' clothing but for safety reasons the mementos would need to stay stowed.

September 30, 2006

/ 1:57 a.m. CT (0657 GMT)

One small step for a man and machine

: They may be among the most well listened to words ever spoken and yet what actually was said wasn't very well heard. As his left boot first touched the lunar surface, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong radioed back, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" and the majority of those words transmitted successfully. Missing was the 'a' between 'for' and 'man', kicking off a debate to this day as to whether Armstrong misspoke or the 'a' was lost in the static. The answer, as it turns out, was always there but it took almost 40 years for the audio technology to advance to the point to reveal it.
    As Mark Carreau with the Houston Chronicle reports in today's issue of the paper, Peter Shann Ford, a computer programmer whose work enables physically handicapped people to use their nerve impulses to communicate (such as Dr. Stephen Hawking), was able to use audio analysis software and speech pattern psychology to rediscover the missing 'a'. Ford contacted James Hansen, Armstrong's authorized biographer, with his findings, who organized for Ford to meet with Armstrong and Smithsonian historians earlier this week in Washington, D.C.
  "I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford's analysis of it and I find the technology interesting and useful," said the man who made the small step. "I also find his conclusion persuasive," stated Armstrong at the end of their meeting.

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