: As noted in "Today in Space History" above, forty-six years ago, NASA began a journey of exploration and discovery. In celebration of its "birthday," reflecting on the past and focusing on the future, NASA has introduced "Why We Explore," a series of essays offering historical perspectives on fulfilling the Vision for Space Exploration. In the first essay, Steven Dick, NASA Chief Historian, argues "the question 'Should we explore?' must be seen in deep historical context, not in the context of present-day politics or whims." Future essays will address the consequences of exploration and "knowns and unknowns" against the backdrop of Apollo.
: CG Publishing has partnered with collectSPACE to offer two great chances for collectors to add to their NASA Mission Reports libraries. For the first time, twenty Apogee volumes are now available as a limited edition set with beautiful hand stitched bindings, faux-leather boards and an art deco foil rendering of an early rocket design. Spanning the X-15 to Apollo, the Collector's Edition Mission Reports are ideal for collecting autographs or displayed as is on your shelf. And, for those looking to expand their softcover editions, we are now offering lightly-damaged copies for up to 50% off the list price! Our sale extends through October 15th.
: Bidding closed today at Aurora Galleries International's space and aviation memorabilia auction at their Bell Canyon, Calif., offices and online through eBay Live. Over 1200 lots were sold this weekend, including a lunar surface-used wrist checklist and a rare collection of Wernher von Braun paraphernalia. The recorded results for days one and two are available.
SpaceShipOne climbed to 377,591 feet this morning - surpassing the highest altitude achieved by the X-15 - on its second qualifying space flight from Mojave, California, winning the $10 million Ansari X Prize for the first privately-sponsored sub-orbital manned spacecraft to fly twice in two weeks. SS1 pilot Brian Binnie became the second to earn his commercial astronaut wings, following Mike Melvill who flew the two previous SS1 flights. Mojave Aerospace Ventures will be awarded the prize money and a trophy next month at a ceremony to be hosted by the St. Louis Science Center.
: Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr., the youngest of the Mercury 7 astronauts, today died of cardiac arrest at his home in Ventura, California. He was 77. He piloted the final flight of the Mercury program and later commanded Gemini 5. Family members have asked for donations in Cooper's honor be made to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. A memorial service is pending.
: RocketBoosters, the non-profit coaltiion selected by Paul Allen's Mojave Aerospace Ventures to exclusively offer SpaceShipOne logo collectibles, has updated their website to include cancelled postcards dated for the private spacecraft's two Ansari X Prize flights. The postcard for the September 29, launch features an image of the aircraft carrier White Knight with SS1 in tow; the view from space as seen by Mike Melvill graces the front of the October 4, card. Still available, is the card from the maiden June 21, SS1 space flight. The three are $10 each, including free shipping inside the U.S.
: Construction continues at NASA's Johnson Space Center to restore the Saturn V rocket that welcomes visitors and employees at the main entrance to the Houston facility. A photo update posted to the center's website shows the progress made raising the building that will protect the booster from weathering. The steel skeleton is now mostly complete and wall sheeting is underway. Though work is on-going, donations are still needed to return the Saturn V to its like-new appearance.
: NASA will honor the life and achievements of astronaut Gordon Cooper during a memorial service at 10:00 a.m. (CDT) Friday, October 15, at Johnson Space Center (JSC). Sean O'Keefe, long-time associates and family friends will pay tribute at the service, followed by a tree planting at the space center's Memorial Tree Grove. Due to limited seating, the service is private; the public may watch the NASA TV broadcast.
: The U.S. Air Force Space Command introduced a new space badge Thursday, replacing the one worn by space and missile operations professionals. The badge also replaces the missile operations occupational badge, known as "the pocket rocket," worn by those in the missile operations career fields. General Lance W. Lord, AFSPC commander said "Just as pilots wear the same badge... our space professionals should wear the same badge to reflect the unity of their mission and capabilities." It will be six to nine months before the badge is made available, as it is approved and produced.
: Apollo 7 LMP Walt Cunningham has once again offered items from his personal collection for sale through his website. The artifacts, which are sold first come, first served beginning today, include flown flags and patches, unflown hardware and rare autographs. According to the site's webmaster Tracy Kornfeld, this may also be the last opportunity to order All-American Boys in hardcover directly from Walt.
: Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator, announced today the redesign and revision of the NASA History website. Still accessible at the same URL, history.nasa.gov, the new site conforms to the NASA portal standards and improves access to files.
: NASA's chief engineer from 1962 to 1981, Max Faget, 83, passed away Saturday. His design for a one-man spacecraft in 1957 led to the shape of the Mercury capsule, which in turn influenced the designs for the Gemini and Apollo spacecraft. Faget also contributed to the plan for the Space Shuttle orbiter.
: The Space Store, as the Ansari X Prize Foundation's online retailer, now is selling the commemorative program that was offered at the qualifying flights of SpaceShipOne. The full-color book has 50 pages of photos and information about the spacecraft, its creators at Mojave Aerospace Ventures and the X Prize.
: The International Space Station's next crew Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 11:06 p.m. Wednesday aboard Soyuz TMA-5. After a two-day chase, they will dock with the orbiting outpost on Saturday, beginning their planned six-months on the ISS.
: Will the real Soyuz TMA-5 official emblem please stand up? It would appear that due to late assignments to the mission, in addition to efforts started by different members of the crew, that two designs now exist. One, championed by astronaut Chiao, and designed by Marc Jacobs was prominently displayed during NASA's coverage of the launch last night, as well as appeared in the crew's official portrait. The other, worn on cosmonaut Shargin's Sokol spacesuit and created by Alex Panchenko of USSR-AirSpace, was selected by the Soyuz commander Sharipov (Panchenko also produced the other patches worn by all three TMA-5 members). So which is official? Tradition states that whatever was worn by the crew passes into canon, but we will let you decide.
: NASA gathered at the Johnson Space Center Friday to honor the memory of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper. The three surviving members of the "Original Seven" joined many of their fellow astronauts to remember their fallen brother. Said Sen. John Glenn, "Gordo has scrambled," invoking the language of test pilots. "I'm sure we'll all rendezvous out there somewhere." The Expedition 9 crew Mike Fincke and Gennady Padalka paid tribute to Cooper from orbit, ringing the ship's bell on the International Space Station.
: A Russian Buran space shuttle previously slated for delivery to a German museum may remain standed in Bahrain until a legal dispute between its past and present owners is settled, reports the Gulf Daily News. At question is whether the company that built the Buran, NPO Molniya can sell the shuttle to the Sinsheim Air and Technical Museum after the Space Shuttle World Tour, which brought the orbiter to Bahrain, defaulted on their payments. At a court hearing Tuesday, a lawyer for the Singapore-based Tour will argue that the Buran cannot be sold until its ownership is ruled in court.
Tracy Kornfeld, who created the website for Apollo 7 LMP Walt Cunningham, was recently selected by the mission's CDR Wally Schirra to do the same for him. Kornfeld, who is still in the early stages of development, is planning to film Capt. Schirra as he responds to questions submitted through a temporary form, the results of which will be used to add audio and video clips to the new Walter Schirra website.
: The prices realized for the 212 space memorabilia lots sold by Regency-Superior Galleries last Saturday are now listed under the Sales / Auctions section of Resources. The highest bid of $8,500 was received for a small silk U.S. flag carried to the Moon aboard Apollo 11 by Michael Collins. Bidding was also strong for a presentation album of photographs showing Laika, Belka, Strelka and other dogs as well as rats, guinea pigs and frogs flown on early Soviet flights.
: Purdue University broke ground Saturday on its newest building, The Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, honoring its alumnus-astronaut at a ceremony with some of the 21 other Purdue graduates who were selected for space flight present. In addition to the engineering college and School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Armstrong Hall will also house a moon rock donated by Martha Chaffee, on behalf of her late husband, Roger. Chaffee was gifted the lucite-encased lunar material in July by NASA as an Ambassador of Exploration. Construction on the Hall will begin this spring for scheduled completion by May 2007.
: On Nov. 1st, the National Air and Space Museum will permit visitors to explore its 53,000-square-foot James S. McDonnell Space Hangar for the first time since opening in December the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The new facility houses over 100 space artifacts, including Space Shuttle Enterprise, a Saturn V instrumentation unit and Gemini 7.
: Following our publishing Ed Hengeveld's and Philip Corneille's guide to astronaut portraits, Chris Spain became inspired by the authors' comments that the addition of thumbnail images to their index would be a welcome improvement. The results of Spain's efforts debuted today as an illustrated subset of the work encompassing the 57 individuals that comprised the first five NASA astronaut groups (1959 through 1966), i.e. all Mercury, Gemini and Apollo crew members. The new site also includes as a bonus thumbnails for mission portraits.
: Rick Houston resumes his bi- weekly DVD reviews with the Fox Home Entertainment revision of Spacecraft Films' Apollo 11: Men on the Moon. Contained on this set's three discs is more than simply footage of the launch, lunar landing and splashdown but as Houston describes, audio and video extras that bring those scenes from space history to life like never before.
: International Space Station Expedition 9 crewmembers, Mike Fincke and Gennady Padalka landed on target in the steppes of Kazakhstan Saturday after 188 days in space. Riding home with them was Yuri Shargin, who had come to the ISS for an eight day stay with the Expedition 10 crew. Returned to Earth, Padalka and Fincke will now take part in debriefings and medical activities in Star City, Russia before traveling to Houston in mid-November for further post-flight activities.
: Reader Scott Henderson was shopping with his family this weekend when one of his daughters found in Carlton Cards a new space-related ornament being offered among their Heirloom series of tree decorations. The LIFE Magazine ornament replicates the August 8, 1969, issue's cover and displays a three-scene hologram of Apollo 11's journey to the Moon, from launch through landing. Carlton is the first greeting card chain to sell a space history ornament since Hallmark released its final "Journeys Into Space" ornament for Christmas 1999.
: A small but notable space section is included in the upcoming Swann Galleries' Autographs auction to be held in New York on November 9. Among the lots offered are several checklists and other flown artifacts from Buzz Aldrin's collection. Also to be sold is a lithograph signed by the STS-107 fallen crew.
: Saturn's Titan, the only known moon with an atmosphere, is ready for its close-up. NASA's Cassini orbiter will fly by Titan today at a closest distance of 745 miles, using its onboard equipment to pierce the moon's dense haze and get a first glimpse at its surface geology. This flyby, the first of 45 passes, will help prepare for the Huygens probe descent into Titan's atmosphere to occur on January 14, 2005. As no one yet knows what exactly awaits the probe on touchdown, The Planetary Society is inviting children and adults alike to create their own visions of what the Huygens lander will reveal by entering their contest, "Imagining Titan: Artists Peer Beneath the Veil." The grand prize for the artist that best imagines the craft's journey is a trip to the mission control in Darmstadt, Germany where the winner will be present for the spacecraft's encounter with Titan. Artists age 10 or older may enter by no later than November 28.
: The image at left was not taken in space, though the MMU it pictures did fly the first untethered EVA in 1984. The Manned Maneuvering Unit flown by Bruce McCandless was installed at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center today, as part of the exhibits awaiting the opening of the McDonnell Space Hangar. The MMU hangs above such items as Apollo 11's water recovery collar and bags.
: An upcoming episode of the National Geographic Channel's one-hour series Expeditions to the Edge will re- stage the Gemini VIII mission, in part with scenes filmed recently at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Current JSC employees were recruited to play mission control "team members" for Flight Directors John Hodges and Gene Kranz. An airdate for the "Lost in Space" episode of Expeditions has yet to be announced.
: After a lifetime of ups and downs - 34,700 ups and downs to be exact - NASA's last KC-135 aircraft, the "Weightless Wonder V" was retired Friday. The Wonder, the last operational KC-135A in the world, will be replaced by a C-9 aircraft acquired by NASA from the Navy to begin zero-g flights next year. In addition to its role as the Vomit Comet, NASA 931 was used as an advance scout for Space Shuttle ferry flights and transported both hardware and personnel as required. The Wonder made its final landing at Houston's Ellington Field yesterday, where it was escorted by fire engines to its hangar. The trucks then sprayed an arch of water over the plane, marking its retirement from service to NASA.
: The USS Constellation museum frigate was docked at the Naval Academy in Annapolis today for a ceremony highlighting the connection between the legacy of the Constellation's namesake and Project Constellation, NASA's new family of crew exploration vehicles. Representing NASA at the event, Adminstrator Sean O'Keefe was given two original planks of wood from the USS Constellation, one of which will fly in space on a future mission and one to be put on display at NASA, "as yet another reminder of the legacy of exploration." In return, O'Keefe presented the museum Navy and American flags flown aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis that were part of the Sept. 11th dedicated "Flags for Heroes & Families" carried on STS-110 in April 2002.