October 3, 2011 / 4:30 p.m. CT (2130 GMT) Shuttles trading spaces: A full scale space shuttle replica will be moving from Florida to Texas, making space for a flown shuttle. An atmospheric test shuttle may move from its planned display on a New York City pier to a new museum to be built across the street. And yet another flown shuttle will trade hands, becoming the property of its eventual exhibit home. Explorer, Enterprise and Endeavour are each, in their own way, trading spaces, in the first of a series of museum-driven moves.
October 4, 2011 / 9:50 a.m. CT (1450 GMT) That which we call a GRAIL: NASA has an assignment for U.S. students: help give the two probes headed to orbit around the moon new names. Currently referred to as Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)-A and GRAIL-B, the twin spacecraft launched last month to begin a three-and-a-half-month journey to the moon. NASA now wants to rename the probes before they start mapping the moon's gravity, giving scientists a better understanding of our natural satellite's origin and helping to choose future landing sites. K through 12 students have until Nov. 11 to suggest their spacecraft names in short essay form to be judged by GRAIL principal investigator Maria Zuber and by astronaut and educational outreach director Sally Ride.
October 6, 2011 / 8:51 a.m. CT (1351 GMT) Moon camera motion denied: U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hurley denied Monday a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the U.S. government against Apollo moonwalker Edgar Mitchell last June. At contention, a 16 millimeter data acquisition camera that Mitchell returned to Earth in 1971 and attempted to sell 40 years later. Barring another resolution, the case will go to trial next October.
October 14, 2011 / 9:13 a.m. CT (1413 GMT) Shuttle signed, sealed, waits delivery: On Tuesday, NASA signed over the pink slip for space shuttle Endeavour to the Los Angeles museum selected to display it, the California Science Center (CSC). The retired orbiter its official property, the science center, together with local LA and Inglewood city leaders, are planning the "mother of all parades" to welcome Endeavour as it inches along the 13 miles from Los Angeles International Airport to the CSC in the latter half of next year. First though, the science center needs to raise $200 million, which has begun to do through the sponsorship sale of Endeavour's 20,000 thermal tiles.
October 14, 2011 / 5:08 p.m. CT (2208 GMT) Patch preview | Expedition 34: Looking at the Expedition 34 crew patch, you first see the familiar symbols representing the current activities in space: the International Space Station and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. A closer look (or by reading the insignia's description), future spacecraft are revealed: the emblem's outer border follows the moldline of a crew transfer or generic resupply vehicle, and an inner border traces the outline of a planetary lander that will open other celestial bodies to human exploration.
October 18, 2011 / 9:37 p.m. CT (0237 GMT Oct 19) Walked this way: The bridge crossed by 53 astronaut crews to climb on board the space shuttles at Kennedy Space Center in Florida arrived at Johnson Space Center in Houston Tuesday to go on public display. The orbiter access arm and white room saved from the deconstructed Launch Pad 39B will be exhibited during Saturday's NASA open house before being moved to Space Center Houston for its permanent display. The arm and white room were in use for the 20 years spanning STS-51L and STS-116.
October 20, 2011 / 5:35 p.m. CT (2235 GMT) Butterfly 'born' in tribute on final shuttle: On July 19, three days before landing on the final space shuttle flight of the program, Rex Walheim took out his personal notebook and drew a butterfly. More than a simple sketch, his pencil drawing was meant as a tribute to the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust and also to Ilan Ramon, his fellow astronaut who died when space shuttle Columbia was lost in 2003. Walheim donated his butterfly drawing to the Holocaust Museum Houston on Tuesday, where it will join an exhibition of 1.5 million butterfly creations, one for each child lost, scheduled for 2014. Before then, beginning Nov. 1 until the end of this year, Walheim's space butterfly will be on public display at the museum in Texas.
October 21, 2011 / 8:29 a.m. CT (1329 GMT) Soyuz soars from South America: For the first time in history, a Russian Soyuz rocket has launched from somewhere other than in the former Soviet Union's territories. Marking the 1,777th launch of a Soyuz-class booster since the 1950s, Soyuz VS01 left the Earth from Europe's Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 5:30 a.m. CDT Friday. The launch was a double first: on board the Soyuz were the first two Galileo satellites for Europe's $7.2 billion global positioning system constellation.
October 21, 2011 / 11:28 a.m. CT (1628 GMT) To protect and preserve The Google Lunar X PRIZE, which since 2007 has challenged privately-funded teams to launch, land, and then travel across the surface of the moon with a robot in return for millions of dollars in prize money, also promises a $4 million Heritage bonus for the first images returned of one of the Apollo landing sites. Recognizing the risk these private rovers may pose to the historic and scientific value of U.S. lunar hardware, NASA has drafted guidelines to protect and preserve manned and robotic artifacts still on the moon. Released this past July and most recently reviewed Thursday during a commercial space conference in New Mexico, the recommendations to space-faring entities were shaped and compiled by Robert Kelso, NASA's director of lunar commercial services.
October 22, 2011 / 11:43 p.m. CT (0443 GMT Oct 23) ROSAT's return: For the second time in as many months, a satellite fell uncontrolled to Earth on Saturday. The ROentgen SATellite, or ROSAT, an X-ray telescope operated by DLR, the German Aerospace Center, ended its 21 years, four months, and 23 days in space sometime between 8:45 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. CDT. German aerospace officials expected up to 30 parts of the car-size satellite to survive the re-entry. "There is currently no confirmation if pieces of debris have reached Earth's surface," DLR said.
October 24, 2011 / 12:36 p.m. CT (1736 GMT) Shuttle spotting in the VAB: Starting next month, visitors to Kennedy Space Center in Florida will have the chance to go inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and, for at least a limited time, get up-close with one of NASA's space shuttles. The KSC Up-Close tour, which will begin Nov. 1 and run eight times a day through Kennedy's Visitor Complex, will bus guests to the VAB, where public tours have been suspended since 1978. In addition to the walking tour of the 52-story VAB's transfer aisle, the KSC Up-Close tour will take guests to see the launch pads and other landmark facilities at the Florida spaceport.
October 25, 2011 / 4:40 p.m. CT (2140 GMT) iPads ISS-bound (Angry Birds, too!): The first Apple iPads to launch into space will fly onboard the next Russian Progress resupply spacecraft departing Earth on Oct. 30, says NASA. Intended for entertainment use only, the iPads will be joined on orbit a couple of weeks later by the red feathered star of one of its most popular games. A plush "Angry Birds" doll will serve as the "zero-g indicator" for the Soyuz TMA-22 crew slated to launch on Nov. 13.
October 26, 2011 / 10:31 a.m. CT (1531 GMT) NEEMO aborts 'asteroid' due to Rina: The six-member NEEMO XV crew surfaced from the ocean floor Wednesday, evacuating the Aquarius underwater lab and their simulated 13-day asteroid mission due to the threat of an approaching storm. "Hurricane Rina [is] just a little too close for comfort," the NEEMO team wrote on Twitter. The crew, including astronaut Shannon Walker and Mars rover investigator Steve Squyres, spoke to collectSPACE about their mission while they were still submerged. This was the first NEEMO expedition to focus on exploration research.
October 27, 2011 / 9:17 p.m. CT (0217 GMT Oct 28) Kickstart(er) space history Two projects on the fundraising website Kickstarter offer the chance to make space history. "KickSat" by Cornell graduate student Zac Manchester is offering anyone the chance to deploy a tiny spacecraft similar to the mini trio of Sprites that flew to the International Space Station on space shuttle Endeavour's final mission. Zach Jankovic's "The Astronaut's Secret" is aimed at telling the untold story of Rich Clifford, who made his third spaceflight after being diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, by producing a documentary. Both projects have raised thousands of dollars but are still seeking sponsors.
October 28, 2011 / 2:21 p.m. CT (1921 GMT) Moon camera surrendered: Apollo 14 lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell will hand over to the government a camera that he kept as a souvenir of his moon landing mission rather than face a federal lawsuit over the artifact's rightful ownership. In court papers filed Thursday, Mitchell agreed to surrender the data acquisition camera, which he tried to sell for $60,000 to $80,000 last June. Once back in federal property, the 16-mm camera will be donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for display.
October 30, 2011 / 2:31 p.m. CT (1931 GMT) Progress returns Soyuz to flight: Russia's Progress M-13M (45P) cargo craft is now on orbit, heading to a Wednesday docking with the International Space Station (ISS). Flying for the first time since the identical Soyuz-U rocket configuration was lost in a launch failure in August, the successful Sunday morning liftoff was crucial, not just for the supplies aboard the Progress (including the first two Apple iPads in space) but to clear the way for Soyuz crew flights to resume next month, keeping the ISS manned.
October 31, 2011 / 11:17 a.m. CT (1617 GMT) Boeing rents retired shuttle hangar: Most recently home to shuttle Discovery, Orbiter Processing Facility 3 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida has a new lease on life. On Monday, NASA, in collaboration with Space Florida, announced that Boeing has leased the hangar and other nearby former shuttle facilities to build and execute its CST-100 capsule-shaped spacecraft, in part supporting NASA's commercial crew program. In addition to using the OPF, Boeing will also move into the Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility and Processing Control Center.
October 31, 2011 / 7:04 p.m. CT (0004 GMT Nov 1) Shenzhou 8 flies for first docking: China's first attempt at rendezvous and docking got off the ground Monday with the launch of the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft. Targeted for a Wednesday link up with the Tiangong-1 space module launched last month, Shenzhou 8 will dock twice, first for a scheduled 12 days and then again before returning to Earth. In addition, the unpiloted craft carries 17 space life science experiments, including six for Germany marking China's foray into international space operations.