: Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, will donate his personal papers to Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, which will use the gift as the "launch pad" for a comprehensive flight history research collection. The Apollo 11 astronaut's files along with 55 hours of interviews conducted by authorized biographer James R. Hansen will join the same archive at Purdue that houses the world's largest collection of papers and memorabilia related to the late aviator Amelia Earhart.
: July 24, 2009 will be 40 years since the splashdown of Apollo 11. You can recall that date and support the recovery ship-turned-museum that returned the crew and craft to land by purchasing the USS Hornet's limited edition 2009 calendar. Featuring rare photographs of the aircraft carrier's role in the first manned lunar landing mission, the $15 wall calendar ships Nov 15.
: A fridge-sized coolant container that was jettisoned from the International Space Station on July 23, 2007, reentered the Earth's atmosphere on Sunday night while possibly dropping parts into the Southern Ocean just south of Tasmania between Australia and New Zealand. The Early Ammonia Servicer was approved for an uncontrolled return after its structural integrity was deemed a risk to landing onboard the space shuttle. The 1,400 pound tank was the largest component from the U.S. manned program to be de-orbited since the 1979 reentry of Skylab, which rained debris over Australia.
: As the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama will be in power as the next chapter in U.S. manned space exploration history is decided. Among the issues Obama will face will be the transition from the space shuttle program of the past 30 years to the still burgeoning Constellation program that could return astronauts to the Moon. His space policy platform issued during the campaign included reconvening the National Aeronautics and Space Council of 1958-1973 to "work toward a 21st century vision of space." Recalling his own brush with space history, Obama said that one of his early memories was going to see "some of the [Apollo] astronauts brought back" to Hawaii after their splashdown.
: Listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the Most Translated Document in the world, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 60 years ago by the United Nations General Assembly will soon extend its reach to off-planet. The European Space Agency announced Thursday that a copy of the declaration "properly protected in space-proof packaging" will launch with the STS-126 mission on-board space shuttle Endeavour on November 14. The document, which was the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled, will be carried to and permanently stored aboard the ISS's Columbus laboratory.
: NASA's Mars Phoenix lander has ceased responding after operating on the red planet for five months. As its project scientists had anticipated, the spacecraft began facing shorter periods of daylight, dustier skies and colder temperature that caused its power supplies to diminish. Ultimately, the energy that was needed to operate Phoenix exceeded the solar power it could generate. Even so, the lander outlived its planned life of 90 days as it searched for and found water on Mars.
: The Swiss watchmaker Romain Jerome announced on Wednesday their "Moon Dust-DNA" collection, a line of limited edition, high-end timepieces that are studded by space artifacts. The collection, which will number 1,969 watches, derives its title from the crater-pocked dials that include a trace of real moon dust. Steel from the Apollo 11 spacecraft will be used in part to form the watch case, while fragments of Soyuz metal will comprise part of the rusted steel paws. Threads removed from a space suit worn on the International Space Station will be woven into the watch strap. The "Moon Dust-DNA" collection will start at $15000 and climb to $500,000 each.
: After Endeavour returns from the STS-126 mission presently scheduled to launch Friday night, the orbiter will be readied to return to the International Space Station in 2009. STS-127 will deliver and install the final two parts of the Japanese Experiment Module, Kibo. The crew emblem for that mission is simple by design. The black, gold, and blue insignia shows Earth, Endeavour and the ISS (the last by a star in JAXA's logo).
: They could've ended up in a museum or a scrapyard, but instead four fridge-size, 40-year-old magnetic tape drives are now restoring the Moon inside an abandoned McDonald's near NASA's Ames Research Center in northern California. The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) released their first result Thursday: an upgraded version of the iconic first Earthrise originally captured by Lunar Orbiter 1 on August 23, 1966.
Endeavour launched on "Extreme Home Improvement" mission
: Seven astronauts and seven tons of equipment and supplies are on their way to the International Space Station Friday evening, having launched at 6:55 p.m. CST onboard space shuttle Endeavour. The 15 day STS-126 mission will deliver to the outpost new crew quarters, a new toilet, a new kitchen, new refrigerator and new exercise equipment, as well as a new member of the station's crew. Endeavour's astronauts will also make four spacewalks to clean and service the ISS's two solar array rotary joints. STS-126 is the 31st shuttle night launch, the 71st to launch off Pad 39A, and the 124th shuttle mission.
: Two flags marked space history on Friday as one rose and the other fell. The white, red and blue flag of the Czech Republic was hoisted alongside flags from seventeen other nations, representing the country becoming a European Space Agency member state. Later that day, India's tricolour became only the fifth nation's flag to be deposited on the Moon by the country it symbolizes. The orange, white and green flag was painted onto the sides of the Chandrayaan-1's Moon impact probe.
: Who better to be the symbol for a rover naming contest than another rover? NASA has solicited the help of Disney and Pixar's WALL-E to promote a competition among U.S. students to devise the name for the Mars Science Laboratory that is targeted for launch in 2009. The winner will have the opportunity to sign their own name on the six-wheel, nine-foot long rover.
: In April 1959, LIFE Magazine signed an exclusive $500,000, 3 year contract with the Mercury 7 astronauts (and their 7 wives) for their personal diaries leading up to and including their first flights into space. As an outcome of the deal, LIFE photographer Ralph Morse had unprecedented access to the astronauts as they trained. His photos, which documented the space program well beyond Project Mercury, are now a part of a free, searchable online archive hosted by Google of about ten million photos taken by LIFE magazine photographers.
: At 12:40 a.m. CST on Thursday, the International Space Station marked ten years in flight on the anniversary of its first component launch in 1998. The Proton that lifted off with the Zarya service module was followed into orbit by 30 Progress rockets, 27 U.S. space shuttle missions, 17 Soyuz, another Proton and one each European ATV and Russian Soyuz booster. One hundred sixty seven (167) people from 15 nations have visited the station (50 took up residency) and together they ate more than 19000 meals while logging 57,309 orbits about Earth.
For the first time since the Apollo program, NASA has tested a launch abort motor for a manned spacecraft. The ground firing held Thursday at ATK's facility in Promontory, Utah produced flames more than 100 feet high. The 5.5-second test of the 17-foot tall, high impulse motor demonstrated the results of a series of motor and component tests conducted earlier this year in preparation for a test with a mock-up of the Orion capsule scheduled for the spring of 2009. The last abort motor test was in January 1966 to qualify the Apollo escape system.
: Chosen as a member of Flight Test Department 731 at TsKBEM (known today as RKK Energia), Gennadi Dolgopolov, 73, died on November 13. One of the first eight civilians named by Vasily Mishin (Chief Designer Sergei Korolev's successor) for space flight training on May 23, 1966, Dolgopolov was disqualified one year later as a result of medical concerns. He remained with Energia as an engineer and later deputy director. He is survived by his wife, a daughter, and a son.
: NASA announced Friday the crew members assigned to International Space Station expeditions through 2010, as the station transitions from three to six crew contingents. Among those confirmed for six month stays at the orbiting outpost were NASA astronauts Tracy Caldwell, Catherine Coleman, Scott Kelly, Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock. Joining them onboard will be Roscosmos cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Kalery, Dmitri Kondratiyev, Mikhail Korniyenko, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka. European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli will round out the new crews who will form ISS Expedition 24 through Expedition 26 in 2010.
: When Dr. Don Pettit was last on the space station in 2002, he used his free time, usually on Saturday mornings, to perform science experiments motivated by his own curiousity. Six years later, Pettit demonstrated that his sense of wonder is still strong. After spending 10 days transferring and installing equipment, as well as controlling the station's robotic arm, Pettit used some of his off-duty time on Sunday to film a new episode of "Saturday Morning Science". Using a clear plastic cover, Pettit improvised a new way to drink coffee.
: Had the crew presently in space selected Tim Gagnon's original proposed design for their STS-126 patch (shown to the left), they would have flown to the space station wearing a subtle tribute to collectSPACE.com. Our maroon and black color palette was ultimately set aside, however elements from Gagnon's artwork, as well as the reason he chose to pay tribute to this site were carried forth as part of the crew's official insignia, which was created with the assistance of Gagnon and fellow collectSPACE member, Jorge Cartes.
: Despite it being irradiated, the turkey was moist, the thermostabilized candied yams weren't too sweet, and the rehydratable greens beans could have passed as fresh. The cornbread dressing was a tad dry, but the cranapple dessert rivaled the best on Earth. Space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts will share this Thanksgiving dinner with the crew on-board the International Space Station Thursday. (The taste test was courtesy NASA's food lab at Johnson Space Center.)
: NASA's 124th shuttle mission, STS-126, came to a close at 3:25 p.m. CST on Sunday as Endeavour landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The seven crew members' "home improvement" mission, which served to upgrade the International Space Station from a "three bedroom, one bathroom house" to a "five bedroom, two bathroom home", also installed a urine recycling system and serviced the outpost's paddle wheel joints to keep its solar arrays tracking the sun. Landing 15 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes and 37 seconds after lifting off November 14, Endeavour made the 100th daytime shuttle landing, the 52nd touchdown at Edwards and the first on a temporary runway built at the Southern California air base.