September 2, 2010 / 10:31 a.m. CT (1531 GMT) Assignments: NASA and its partners in the International Space Station (ISS) named on Thursday the crew of Soyuz TMA-08M, who will join the Expedition 34 crew in December 2012 and then, after three months, become the first three members of the Expedition 35 crew. NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, the Canadian Space Agency's Chris Hadfield and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko will be ISS flight engineers until March 2013, when the handover will establish Hadfield as the first Canadian commander of the ISS. The three are scheduled to land in June 2013.
September 2, 2010 / 11:32 a.m. CT (1632 GMT) Patch preview | Chris Hadfield: Canada's first astronaut to command the International Space Station will don a guitar pick-shaped patch to represent his long-duration mission and his interest in music, according to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), which revealed the crest on Thursday. Commemorating Hadfield's Expedition 34/35 mission from December 2012 to June 2013, the emblem's design uses colors and imagery to signal Hadfield's role in Canadian history, including a trio of stars representing his three spaceflights (and his three children), and a blue pool signifying the "need for fresh water conservation" -- one of Hadfield's underlying goals for the mission. As for the pick shape, Hadfield plays guitar (and sings lead vocals) in the all-astronaut band Max Q and in the folk quartet Bandella.
September 2, 2010 / 8:17 p.m. CT (0117 GMT Sep 3) And the Emme goes to... The American Astronautical Society's Eugene M. Emme Astronautical Literature Awards, named for NASA's first historian, recognize books that advance the public's understanding of the science and technology of spaceflight and exploration. For the first time this year, a Junior Award has been added to reward children and young adult titles. The winners of the 2009 Emmes, announced by the society on Thursday, are "Ambassadors From Earth" by Jay Gallentine; Children's: "If I Were An Astronaut" by Eric Braun; and Young Adults: "Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow" by Brian Fies. The winning authors will be honored during the AAS annual conference in Cape Canaveral, Fla. this November.
September 3, 2010 / 4:34 p.m. CT (2134 GMT) Hold the horseradish: The astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station will soon be able add to their menu "ginger-lacquered short ribs with pea puree and pickled mushrooms," but they will likely need to provide their own horseradish. The condiment was (in the form of créme fraiche) included in the winning dish developed by Top Chef 'cheftestant' Angelo Sosa but may be left out of the recipe once NASA's space food systems lab is done deconstructing the dish to be freeze-dried. The short will fly on one of the final space shuttle missions.
September 8, 2010 / 2:37 p.m. CT (1937 GMT) Patch preview | Soyuz TMA-01M: At first, there was simply "Soyuz." Then came the Soyuz 7K-T in 1973, the Soyuz-T in 1979, Soyuz-TM in 1986 and Soyuz-TMA in 2003; each revision reflecting new upgrades to the spacecraft. Scheduled for launch Oct. 7, Soyuz TMA-01M will mark the first flight of the new "digital" Soyuz TMA-M, incorporating a digital flight computer and digital telemetry system in place of their older analog counterparts. Soyuz TMA-01M's crew patch, which debuted online Wednesday, emphasizes the digital upgrades to the Soyuz by using 1's and 0's -- binary code -- to form the silhouette of the craft.
September 9, 2010 / 2:02 p.m. CT (1902 GMT) - UPDATED Sep. 10 Discovery departs for one last time: Early Thursday morning, space shuttle Discovery left Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its 41st and final quarter-mile rollover to the 52 story Vehicle Assembly Building. The trip, which included the opportunity for shuttle workers to pose with the orbiter as it sat outside for several hours, marked the first leg of Discovery's last trip to space, STS-133, set for launch on Nov. 1. Later on Thursday and extending into early Friday, Discovery was hoisted by crane and mated to its two solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank for its final mission.
September 11, 2010 / 9:10 a.m. CT (1410 GMT) Patch preview | Soyuz TMA-20: Revealed Friday by Roscosmos (alongside the formal release of the earlier-seen Soyuz TMA-01M patch), the Soyuz TMA-20 badge continues the recent Russian tradition of incorporating children's art into the design. For this patch, which Dmitry Kondratyev, Catherine "Cady" Coleman and Paolo Nespoli will wear when they launch aboard the 25th Soyuz to fly to the International Space Station in November, the Northern Star and the Big Dipper were adapted from a painting by a Russian girl, Marina Korolenko. Another constellation, the Southern Cross, also appears, as borrowed from the patch for Expedition 27, which the TMA-20 crew will be a part.
September 13, 2010 / 3:33 p.m. CT (1933 GMT) Counting cosmonauts: Progress M-07M is now at the International Space Station (ISS) having autonomously docked on Sunday. In addition to delivering propellant, oxygen and water as well as parts, experiment hardware and other supplies for the station's six crew members, the unmanned cargo vehicle has also packed onboard census forms for the ISS's trio of Russian cosmonauts. According to RSC Energia, which readied the forms and Progress for launch, it's "assumed that the Russian cosmonauts of the ISS [are] among the first [to] take part in the All-Russian population census of 2010." The first Russian Federation census since 2002 and only the second in its post-Soviet history, the census is scheduled to begin on the ground in October, after Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko land but before Fyodor Yurchikhin can return to Earth.
September 14, 2010 / 8:52 p.m. CT (0152 GMT Sep 15) Assignments: NASA released Tuesday the names of the astronauts who will "launch on need" aboard Atlantis should the final space shuttle crew onboard Endeavour's STS-134 mission require rescuing. Commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus be the STS-335 contingency flight crew until Endeavour is deemed to be safe in space. What the four do after that is still to be determined: they'll either disband as a crew, or if approved, will launch on the STS-135 mission, a final flight by Atlantis bringing an end to NASA's 30-year space shuttle program in June 2011.
September 16, 2010 / 12:55 p.m. CT (1755 GMT) Patching past mistakes: Over the decades since the Gemini and Apollo missions flew, the crew patches sold to the public through NASA visitor center and space museum gift shops have diverged in design, sometimes greatly, from those that the early astronauts wore on orbit. Now, two separate efforts have debuted offering collectors more accurate replicas. ¶ AB Emblem, which provides the patches that today's NASA astronauts wear to space, has partnered with collector and patch researcher Eugene Dorr to produce a very limited set of Gemini patches that better match the insignias worn by the two-men crews, including the very first space mission patch, donned for Gemini 5. ¶ Even closer to the original source, Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham commissioned artist Tim Gagnon to create a more faithful-to-the-original Apollo 7 replica patch. Offered signed and numbered, they are limited to just 300 pieces.
September 16, 2010 / 2:34 p.m. CT (1934 GMT) Bid on astronauts (or their artifacts): The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) on Thursday began accepting bids for their Fall 2010 semi-annual auction. Featured among the 50 lots are astronaut-accompanied tours and meals, as well as artifacts including David Leestma's flight suit worn while he trained for the cancelled STS-61E mission (pictured). Bidding is open online through Sept. 25 when the auction will come to a close at the Autographica autograph collector's show being held in London, England.
September 21, 2010 / 4:32 p.m. CT (2132 GMT) On the pad with shuttle Discovery: Space shuttle Discovery completed its final trip to the launch pad early Tuesday, arriving atop Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to be readied for its final mission, STS-133, scheduled to launch on Nov. 1. Hours after Discovery was secured on the pad, collectSPACE joined a small group of media for a rare chance to photograph the spacecraft from above and below before it launches on its last spaceflight.
September 23, 2010 / 2:55 p.m. CT (1955 GMT) Patch preview | Expedition 28: Ron Garan revealed on Thursday the design for his and his crew mates' International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 28 patch, which features a tribute to the 50th anniversaries of Russia's and the United States' first manned spaceflights. Posting to his Fragile Oasis blog, Garan described the symbolism contained within the emblem, including the significance of the names "Гагарин" and "Shepard," which appear at the bottom of the badge-shaped insignia along with the words "50 Years." Garan writes: "Expedition 28 is scheduled to occur during the timeframe of the 50th anniversary of both the first human in space Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the first American in space, astronaut Alan Shepard."
September 24, 2010 / 12:37 a.m. CT (0537 GMT) Soyuz TMA-18 stuck in space: Expedition 24 crew mates Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko were expected to be back on Earth on Thursday evening; instead, they are spending at least another day aboard the International Space Station after a problem arose undocking their Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft. Commands to release the latches holding the two vehicles together failed, essentially leaving the Soyuz stuck to the Poisk module, leading to the landing being waved. Should troubleshooting be successful, the trio will retry undocking late on Friday and land in Kazakhstan early on Saturday.
September 24, 2010 / 6:15 a.m. CT (1115 GMT) Re-staging Gemini-Titan: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex hoisted Wednesday the second stage of a Titan II (topped by a mockup Gemini capsule) on top the rocket's similarly-restored first stage, reestablishing the 109-foot Gemini-Titan as the tallest standing vehicle in the Florida facility's Rocket Garden. Removed in 2006 and ultimately replaced by a more historically-accurate replica assembled from an Air Force Titan II missile obtained by NASA, the Gemini-Titan stands to share the history of the "unsung hero of the early NASA programs."
September 25, 2010 / 1:26 a.m. CT (0626 GMT) TMA-18 touches down: After a day's delay troubleshooting a stuck docking mechanism that prevented their leaving the International Space Station on Thursday, ISS Expedition 24 crew mates Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko departed the space station at 9:02 p.m. CDT Friday and landed aboard Soyuz TMA-18 near Arkalyk, Kazakhstan at 12:23 a.m. Saturday (11:23 a.m. local time). The undocking marking the end of Expedition 24 (and the start for Expedition 25), the landing wrapped 176 days in space, 174 on the ISS, for the three.
September 28, 2010 / 3:40 p.m. CT (2040 GMT) Putting the final pieces in place: Tuesday morning, NASA marked two milestones for its soon-to-be-ending space shuttle program as a couple of final components arrived and departed at Kennedy Space Center. First at the Assembly Refurbishment Facility, a ceremony marked the rollout of the final solid rocket booster assembly -- the right-hand forward -- to the Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking to support the STS-335 contingency flight (and if approved, STS-135 mission). Meanwhile, back at the turn basin, the space shuttle program's final external fuel tank was offloaded into the Vehicle Assembly Building from the barge that arrived on Monday from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Originally also slated for STS-335 (and STS-135), ET-122 will fly with STS-134 in February.
September 30, 2010 / 4:14 p.m. CT (2114 GMT) U.N. schedules space stamps: The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) plans six postage stamps for release in April 2011 celebrating the "50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight." The stamps were included in the September/October 2010 issue of the UNPA Philatelic Bulletin, which listed them on a calendar for the next year. Among the few other details published: the stamps will be made available in sheets of 20 with six face values (44¢, 98¢, F.s. 0,85, F.s. 1,00, € 0,55, and € 065) as well as in souvenir-sheet format. April 12, 2011 marks half a century since Yuri Gagarin became the world's first space traveler.
September 30, 2010 / 11:20 p.m. CT (0420 GMT Oct 1) Deconstructing 39B: Construction crews at Kennedy Space Center began this week the deconstruction of the gantries at Pad 39B in advance of using the launch site to support NASA's next-generation launch vehicle. The piece-by-piece dismantling, which avoids debris damaging the pad's concrete surface, started with the 102-foot long, 50-foot wide, and 130-foot high Rotating Service Structure and will include the pad's Apollo-adapted launch tower, the Fixed Service Structure. The iconic gantries were used for 53 space shuttle missions, beginning in January 1986 with the ill-fated final launch of Challenger through Discovery's STS-116 mission in 2006 (the structures' final use was for the Ares I-X test flight in 2009). NASA's schedule calls for the pad to be "clean" of the towers by January 2011.