: Bill McArthur and Valery Tokarev, the twelfth International Space Station Expedition crew, launched aboard their Soyuz TMA spacecraft at 10:55 p.m. CDT Friday to begin a six month stay in space. With them, is third space tourist Gregory Olsen, who, with the ISS 11 crew, will return after eight days on the station. Safely in orbit, the trio are scheduled to dock at the International Space Station at 12:32 a.m. Oct. 3.
: The Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas will host a public ceremony on October 7 to announce their new Space Exploration Gallery, the Dallas Business Journal reported on Friday. The museum, which has had the Apollo 7 Command Module on display since June 2004, will add to the gallery Donn Eisele's Apollo 7 spacesuit and a moon rock (making it the only lunar sample in north Texas). The exhibit will be accompanied by an evening lecture series that includes presentations by Walter Cunningham and Eugene Kranz.
: A campaign to restore the Titan 1 rocket sitting outside Titusville High School in Florida was scrapped recently when the group leading the effort learned that 34 years of display had left the rocket too compromised to proceed, reported Florida Today on Friday. Instead of discarding of the booster however, the Save the Rocket Foundation will turn ownership over to Brevard Community College's SpaceTEC program to be used as a training aid for future aerospace workers. The landmark rocket will be moved to the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and the remaining $12,000 in cash raised for its refurbishment will be applied to its care under BCC.
: Having made its public debut at Space Center Houston in August, Orange County Choppers' Space Shuttle Tribute Bike is ready for its televised roll- out. Monday night, the Discovery Channel airs the first of two episodes of American Chopper that follows the Teutuls to Johnson Space Center to find their inspiration for the bike that pays tribute to the crews who were lost and to the entire NASA Space Shuttle program. Part two airs the following Monday, also at 9:00 p.m. CT.
: The catalog for Aurora's space and aviation memorabilia auction, to be held at their Bell Canyon, Calif. office and online through eBay on October 15-16, has now been posted to their website as a downloadable PDF document. Printed catalogs will begin mailing this week according to Aurora. Among the 1,370 lots offered, the catalog identifies highlights including an original Mercury spacesuit glove, a hand controller flown on Apollo 9 and an M&M candy flown on SpaceShipOne.
: More than just a gallery of his collection, Bob McLeod has scanned over 500 authentically signed covers and posted them to several albums on his website as a collector's guide to: all 327 astronauts who have orbited the earth onboard NASA spacecraft; all 145 NASA crews; the 75 NASA astronauts who never flew or have yet to fly; and, the ten finalists for NASA's Teacher in Space program. Arranged by when an astronaut made his/her first flight, McLeod's gallery starts at MR-3's A. Shepard and ends at STS-114's S. Noguchi.
: Soyuz TMA-7 carrying the twelfth ISS crew and the third space tourist docked with the International Space Station at 12:27 a.m. CDT Monday. On-board were William McArthur, Valery Tokarev and Greg Olsen, who launched Friday on the 100th Russian crewed spaceflight (TMA-7 was also the world's 250th mission to cross 100km). Hatches between the Soyuz and ISS were opened at 3:36 a.m., uniting Expedition 11's John Phillips and Sergei Krikalev with their soon-to-be traveling partner home to Earth (Olsen) and their ISS 12 replacement crew.
: The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) has chosen historian James Hansen to receive its 2006 Gardner-Lasser Aerospace History Literature Award for his soon-to-be-released biography First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong (Simon & Schuster). The AIAA presents the award to the historical non-fiction work of the past five years that best deals with the science, technology or impact upon the society of the aeronautics or astronautics field. Hansen's history, which ultimately led to his being honored for Armstrong's history can be first traced not to a classroom, but to a hometown golf course, finds John McGauley in his profile of Hansen.
: One of the first dedicated space memorabilia dealers with a website, Lunar Legacies has been from its start one of the most respected sources for artifacts and autographs among collectors. As such, it's with regret that Lunar Legacies proprietor Donnis Willis has announced his site and company will close this week as the pressure from a new business has limited his time to dedicate to space sales. Willis' website, which dates to 1998, will become a "ghost" in a few days, but may return as Willis pursues finding assistance for the work it entails.
: NASA honors its fourth Ambassador of Exploration Friday as agency officials will present Apollo 7's Walt Cunningham with an acrylic-encased moon rock. Per NASA's rules governing the award, Cunningham will donate the rock to a museum; in his case, the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas (which will also host the ceremony starting at 11:00 a.m.).
: Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and sole funder of Burt Rutan's X Prize entry, SpaceShipOne, donated the trailblazing commercial craft to the National Air and Space Museum today. It is now on prominent public display hanging between the Spirit of St. Louis and the Bell X-1 in the NASM's Milestones of Flight gallery. Before being suspended, SS1 was restored to its appearance after its first record setting flight in June 2004 sans X Prize markings but with re-created fairing damage.
: Representatives from PlanetSpace and Canadian Arrow will be in White Sands, New Mexico today to announce their plans to convert one of their future space tourism rockets into a replica of the V-2. Their full- scale model of the German rocket will be assembled from decommissioned components of what they intend to be a flown-in-space crewed vehicle by 2008. The conversion is possible because the Arrow's design is based on the V-2: their tail and nose cone structures are identical. When its completed, the replica rocket will be donated to the White Sands Missile Range Museum for display at Complex 33, the site of the first U.S. launch of a V-2 on April 16, 1946.
: Collectors, space enthusiasts, teachers and students looking for NASA printed materials can now order selected documents from NASA's website and have them delivered, or pick them up the following day, from any of the nearly 1000 OfficeMax office supply stores. Educator guides, posters, pictures (lithos) and classroom activities ordered through NASA's site qualify for savings of up to 50 percent from the print and document OfficeMax facilities. Among the materials offered under the partnership are a Space Shuttle orbiter glider kit and a lithograph of the Earth taken on Apollo 17.
: Consider them the new Topping or Precise; Inergi Design Service is building for NASA models of the boosters and vehicles that the agency will use to take astronauts to the moon, reports The Huntsville Times. Inergi has designed and built about 20 models of the agency's proposed heavy-lift cargo and crew rockets, the crew exploration vehicle with its service module and the lunar lander. The computer-designed and plastic-molded scale models take 16 people to assemble, and costs about $5,000 with NASA paying about $20,000 to Inergi for the four custom displays that comprise a set.
: The Expedition 11 crew landed at 8:09 p.m. CDT on Monday after departing the International Space Station approximately two hours earlier. On-board Soyuz TMA-6 were Sergei Krikalev, John Phillips and space flight participant Gregory Olsen. At the time of landing, the Expedition 11 astronauts had logged 179 days in space, which brought Krikalev up to a career total of about 803 days - the most for any space traveler.
: China's second manned mission, Shenzhou 6, has its own insignia. Crew mates Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng were photographed on their way to the pad wearing a circular patch sewn on the center of their spacesuits. The design, according to the website SpacePatches.info, shows the outline of two faces within what appears to be a helmet (a reference to the mission's two-man crew), along with the earth's horizon, stars and a flight path that may be shaped like the arabic numeral "6".
: China launched Shenzhou 6, its second manned space flight in as many years, at 8:00 p.m. CDT (9:00 a.m. Beijing Time) with a two man crew, twice as many as Shenzhou 5. Safe in earth orbit, China's second and third flown "taikonauts" Nie Haisheng and Fei Junlong are expected to be in space for three to five days.
: When Shenzhou 6 lifted off last night, it carried with it the first Chinese newspaper to fly in space, reports the Xinhua news service. The paper, which was printed on silk, reproduces an issue of the Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily that celebrates the two taikonauts, Fei's and Nie's mission. Though they may not have access to the paper while in orbit (it is stowed in the reentry module), it includes the first article to appear in a Chinese daily on the subject of astronomy, reprinted from the 100-year old issue of Jiefang's predecessor Shenbao. Also on-board are four embroidered Shenzhou 6 insignias, a painting of Chairman Mao Zedong and 10 letters written by students that were selected from the 40,000 submitted.
: Stamps marking this week's launch of Shenzhou 6 are now available for pre-order through post offices and philatelic counters in Inner Mongolia. Set for release after the spacecraft safely lands, the series of stamps and related items include 5000 covers marking the successful recovery of SZ-6, 3000 stamp albums and 3000 sets of four covers postmarked for flight milestones.
: Whether you choose to bid in this weekend's Aurora auction or not, the results should be of interest to all. The dedicated space auctions hosted by Aurora and other houses offer collectors one of the few gauges of the demand for space items. To that end, collectSPACE has worked with Regency-Superior, Swann Galleries and Aurora to archive the results of their space sales. As of today, we have a record dating back to 1999 for all three, including Aurora's April 2005 auction. Mid- to late week, Aurora will provide the hammer prices recorded over the next two days to collectSPACE to include in the archive. Those results, particularly for any Apollo 11 crew signed items, should be of special interest to Ken Winans and Dr. Mike Reynolds, who have compiled an investor's index to space collectibles. Based on 13 years of auction results, it shows that the cumulative return for photos and items autographed by Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins even outperforms the S&P 500 as they trade near a period high.
: 2004 was a good year for Burt Rutan. As the designer of SpaceShipOne, he and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen won the $10 million X Prize, was honored by the National Air and Space Museum for current achievement and was named the Robert J. Collier Trophy winner (see next item). Columnist Rick Houston reviewed the Discovery Channel documentaries that record Rutan's Race to Space and Winning the X Prize. The DVDs in the Black Sky set share how Rutan re-shaped space in 2004.
: China's Shenzhou 6 spacecraft and its two-astronaut crew have safely returned to Earth after an on-time Sunday landing on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng landed at 3:32 p.m. CDT (4:32 a.m. Oct. 17 Beijing Time) and reported to flight controllers they were "feeling good". In total, they spent nearly five days in space (115 hours, 32 minutes) orbiting the Earth 76 times (2,019,456 miles).
: Biographer James Hansen begins tomorrow a 20-city book tour timed with First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong hitting store shelves. His schedule brings him to many of the places where Armstrong once worked or lived, including NASA centers in Florida, Texas, Ohio and California, as well as the astronaut's hometown, Wapakoneta, Ohio. Along the way, Armstrong's former colleagues, rather than the 'first man' himself, will make appearances with Hansen. Other stops include the author's hometown and his home today.
: The federal trial against Max Ary, the former director of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, will begin this afternoon with jury selection. Ary faces 19 federal counts ranging from mail fraud to money laundering related to his alleged unauthorized sale of space artifacts from the Cosmosphere's collection. His defense has argued in hearings that many of the items in contention belong to him and he has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.
: Two space artifact and memorabilia auctions posted catalogs to their respective websites this week. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation will host their second silent auction at Autographica featuring artifacts and experiences donated by astronauts and their supporters. Regency-Superior will dedicate the morning and early afternoon of December 3 to the sale of over 500 space collectible lots from their first Saint Louis- based auction to also allow internet bidding via eBay Live.
: Simon & Schuster released the authorized biography of Neil A. Armstrong, First Man by James Hansen Tuesday with an advertisement in the New York Times, a podcast featuring Hansen and a book tour getting underway. The book, which ships as a hardcover, an eBook and an audio CD/cassette, has received praise from early reviews including by Ad Astra (Leonard David), Quest Magazine (Tom Crouch) and our own, "Visor lifted on astronaut's life in First Man". Author-signed copies can be ordered from Boggs SpaceBooks and via buySPACE.
: For the first time NASA has used the capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope to support human exploration by searching for oxygen-bearing minerals on the Moon. Hubble's resolution and sensitivity to ultraviolet light have allowed scientists to pinpoint possible locations of ilmenite, a titanium oxide rich in oxygen, at the Apollo 17 landing area. Samples of ilmenite returned by the Apollo astronauts provided NASA a means of comparing ultraviolet 'fingerprints' captured by Hubble. The observations weren't easy because the Moon moves across the sky faster than Hubble can track it and is very dim in ultraviolet light. Despite focusing on Taurus Littrow (as well as Apollo 15's Hadley Rille) the stages left on the Moon weren't visible; they are too small for Hubble which is limited to seeing items on the lunar surface three quarters the length of a soccer field (approx. 60-75 yards).
: Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Air Force launched their final Titan IVB - and their last rocket to bear the Titan name - this afternoon with a liftoff at 1:05 p.m. CDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Beginning with the Titan I ICBM missile that first launched in February 1959, 368 Titans have left the pad, including 10 Titan II boosters that carried astronauts to orbit during NASA's Project Gemini. In the mid-1970s, NASA launched its Mars-bound Viking and interplanetary Voyager probes on-board Titan III rockets. The Titan IVB was used by NASA in 1997 to send Cassini to Saturn. In addition to its service to the space program, Titan rockets have been used to launch DoD reconnaissance satellites.
: Following the opening statements by the prosecution and defense on Wednesday, testimony started in the federal trial against Max Ary. Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center President Jeff Ollenburger, Ary's handpicked replacement, said that he had a difficult time believing the evidence that pointed to wrongdoing by Ary, according to Chris Green with The Hutchinson News. Said Ollenburger, who broke into tears on the stand, "There was no one I respected more on the Earth." Ollenburger will offer testimony again on Thursday.
: Chinese officials shared the commemorative contents of Shenzhou VI during a ceremony held in Beijing Space City on Wednesday. Among the 64 articles removed from the capsule were: a national flag previously carried on a Chinese polar expedition; an International Olympic Committee flag; a flag for the 2010 Shanghai Expo; postage stamps; children's artwork; and, a traditional painting depicting horses. Also onboard were logos of Hong Kong's Goldlion, Ltd. and other companies.
: Testifying for the second day at the federal trial against Max Ary, Kansas Cosmosphere President Jeff Ollenburger said the museum's former director disclosed in e-mails he had taken and sold artifacts from the Cosmosphere's collection, The Hutchinson News reports. Ollenburger spoke of an e-mail, sent out Nov. 5, 2003 by Ary, wherein he said that he felt "nauseated" when he realized he had sold an item owned by NASA and wanted to share the "full story". Ollenburger said that he ultimately felt threatened when Ary told him, "If you want the fight, we'll be ready." See Friday's article under Space History News for more on today's testimony.
: Apollo 16 moonwalker Charles Duke testified in the federal trial of Max Ary Friday, saying he had given 10 small, lunar surface-carried Kansas flags to the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, not to Ary, in late 1999, reports The Hutchinson News. At the request of the former museum director, Duke said he wrote a letter in late 2003 or early 2004 saying that his understanding was that one of the flown flags could be kept by Ary. On cross-examination, Duke said he felt "uncomfortable" with the request but wanted to keep his friend, Ary, happy. Duke's letter was written after Ary had sold the flag at a Superior Galleries auction held in 2001, for which Ary is now facing criminal charges. See The Hutchinson News' article under Space History News on Saturday for more on today's testimony.
: Aurora has announced that on Sunday they will re-open bidding on 224 lots that went unsold or were omitted from their prior space memorabilia auction held October 15-16. Registered bidders can participate through eBay Live, beginning at 11 a.m. CDT.
: NASA will award a moon rock to Apollo 12 Command Module Pilot Richard Gordon during a ceremony on November 19. The lunar sample, which will be presented in Gordon's name and remain NASA property, will be on long term loan to The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, where it will be placed on public display. The honor is part of NASA's Ambassadors of Exploration program, which bestows moon rocks to all Mercury, Gemini and Apollo veterans and Walter Cronkite.
: If you have ever wanted to get behind the controls of a Gemini capsule here's your chance. Adapting Orbiter, a free Space Shuttle flight simulator, open source programmers have repurposed the software to accurately recreate the two-seater spacecraft, featuring a virtual cockpit with a working altitude indicator eight ball.
: A federal jury on Monday viewed the space artifacts that former Kansas Cosmosphere Director Max Ary is accused of stealing and selling from the museum. Cosmosphere Vice President for Museum Operations Jim Remar identified the artifacts allegedly sold by Ary at auction as being either owned by or on loan to the Cosmosphere by their unique identifiers, including part numbers and serial numbers. The jury also learned that three boxes turned over by Ary's attorney on his behalf contained artifacts that were museum property. More details will be published under Space History News on Tuesday, courtesy of C. Green/The Hutchinson News.
: Gene Cernan, James Lovell, Sally Ride and Story Musgrave are among the astronauts featured for the third year of the Astronaut Autograph Club. Now accepting new memberships, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation offers the Club to 350 families or individuals annually to raise funds for the next generation of space explorers in college today. Members will receive monthly a personalized letter and autographed photo from a Hall of Fame astronaut and a custom box to keep them.
: NASA is celebrating five years of human space flight aboard the International Space Station with special activities over the next two weeks. Events start Thursday with a panel discussion and news conference featuring former station residents at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Astronauts Jim Voss, Peggy Whitson, Ed Lu, Michael Foale and Mike Fincke will take questions from NASA employees and the media during the discussion, which NASA TV will broadcast live.
: Two curators who had worked under Max Ary testified on Tuesday that the former director controlled the Kansas Cosmosphere's collection. Lee Thompson, Ary's attorney, questioned Vice President of Museum Operations James Remar about his qualifications and decisions as curator under Ary. Jurors also learned that Ary's compensation dropped $60,000 in 1998, a year before he began selling the museum's space artifacts at auction. The prosecution is scheduled wrap up its case on Wednesday. More details will be published by Chris Green with The Hutchinson News tomorrow morning.
: This morning, the prosecution rested its case in former Cosmosphere Director Max Ary's federal trial. Their final witness, NASA investigator Michael Mataya, testified that Ary earned approximately $65,000 from sales of Cosmosphere and NASA property in 2000 and 2001. Ary's defense attorney challenged Mataya's statement of his qualifications and experience on executing federal search warrants and his use of information provided by the Cosmosphere. While the jury was in recess, the defense motioned to dismiss nearly all of the 19 counts against Ary, to which Ary had pleaded innocent. That motion was denied. The defense will begin presenting its case later today. More details will be published by The Hutchinson News tomorrow morning.
: Max Ary may testify in his own defense at his federal trial Friday. Ary's attorney, Lee Thompson, said after court Thursday that his client plans on testifying, but the final decision was still to be made. Ary's wife, Jan meanwhile testified on Thursday saying her husband collected artifacts in his small office to sell for both himself and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. The sales came during "a difficult year" in 1999 when both of Ary's parents died. Ary's wife also said he became "physically ill" when he discovered that space artifacts belonging to the museum had traveled to his new home in Oklahoma City. More details will be published by Chris Green with The Hutchinson News tomorrow morning.
: Testifying at his federal trial today, Max Ary said that he accidentally intermingled Cosmosphere and NASA artifacts with his personal collection. The mistake occurred as he was preparing to sell items for both himself and the Kansas museum in 1999. Ary testified it was difficult to distinguish the items and identifying tags had been removed from the items by an intern, who was supposed to determine which artifacts were eligible for sale by the Cosmosphere. During cross- examination, Ary said he sold items, including spacesuit components for $8,500 that had been discarded as trash by the museum, using his personal auction account. The testimony and presentation of evidence ended on Friday; closing arguments will begin Monday. More details will be published by The Hutchinson News on Saturday morning.
: The jury for Max Ary's trial began deliberations at 2:00 p.m. after final arguments concluded this morning. Ary has pled innocent to charges that he stole and sold space artifacts from the Kansas Cosmosphere, the museum he helped found.
: American Experience on PBS debuts Monday nightRace to the Moon, an hour-long documentary by Kevin Michael Kertscher. With images and audio never before broadcast, the show recounts Apollo 8's trip to the Moon, the mission many consider to be NASA's most daring and important. Interviews with the Apollo 8 astronauts, their wives, mission control staff and journalists take viewers inside the space race of the late 1960s to reveal how a bold decision by administrators put NASA's Apollo program back on track, ultimately allowing the United States to land on the moon before the Soviets.
: Continuing his 20-city book tour for First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, James Hansen recently visited his own hometown as well as that of his title's focus. Journalist John McGauley followed Hansen on his voyages home to report who was- and who was not - there waiting to greet the biographer in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Wapakoneta, Ohio last weekend.