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November 2, 2009

/ 11:21 a.m. CT (1721 GMT)

X-38 drops into Nebraska

: A mockup that flew on drop tests for NASA's once-planned ISS crew return vehicle (CRV) dropped into Nebraska Saturday to be restored and then placed on public display. The X-38 (V-132) arrived by truck on Oct. 31 in Nebraska City from where it had been in storage at Space Center Houston in Texas. It was met by Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy and Nebraska City Mayor Jack Hobbie for a ribbon-cutting ceremony before continuing to the Strategic Air and Space Museum located near Ashland. The mockup, which made three parafoil and parachute-assisted flights after being dropped from a B-52 flying over Edwards Air Force Base between March 1999 and March 2000, was shelved after budget cuts led to the development of the X-38 CRV being cancelled in 2002.

November 3, 2009

/ 6:24 p.m. CT (0024 GMT Nov 4)

Patch preview | Expedition 24

: While the 24th resident crew onboard the International Space Station will not begin their expedition until May 2010, their increment's emblem is now ready to go. The red, purple and yellow patch depicts the orbiting outpost above the Earth as the Sun rises on the horizon. Six stars represent the six crew members, including Expedition 24 commander Aleksandr Skvortsov and fellow cosmonauts Mikhail Korniyenko and Fyodor Yurchikhin along with NASA flight engineers Tracy Caldwell, Shannon Walker and Doug Wheelock. The only writing on the badge are the roman numerals XXIV spread across the station's solar wings, denoting the 24th crew.

November 9, 2009

/ 1:19 p.m. CT (1919 GMT)

The man who launched John Glenn

: The countdown to launch the first American into Earth orbit on February 20, 1962 built up to the push of a button. Convair test conductor Thomas J. "Terrible Tommy" O'Malley, who kept that button as a souvenir of his (and his finger's) role sending John Glenn into space, died on Friday at age 94. According to the newspaper Florida Today who spoke with his daughter, O'Malley had a brief conversation with Glenn from his Cocoa Beach home shortly before passing away.

November 11, 2009

/ 8:36 p.m. CT (0236 GMT Nov 12)

End-of-program emblem

: NASA is looking for an insignia to mark the end of its space shuttle program and has turned to its past and present employees to create it. Begun last month, the patch design contest invites space agency employees and those who work for NASA's contractors to express what the shuttle means to them in the form of an emblem. The winning design will be flown in space and be adopted as NASA's official commemorative.

November 12, 2009

/ 11:00 a.m. CT (1700 GMT)

Russia's Poisk added to ISS

: Roscosmos' Mini Research Module-2 (MRM2), known as Poisk ("Explore") arrived at the International Space Station Thursday at 9:41 a.m. CST. The mini module, which will serve as a new docking port, airlock and experiment platform for the ISS's Russian segment, was launched Tuesday aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. With Poisk's addition, the station now has five docking ports (or seven if the berthing ports for Japan's HTV are included).

November 19, 2009

/ 5:33 p.m. CT (2333 GMT)

Instruments vs. artifacts

: The National Air and Space Museum opened to the public on Thursday its first gallery devoted to the still on-going space shuttle/space station-era of human spaceflight, "Moving Beyond Earth." For astronaut John Grunsfeld, who was at the opening to see the instruments he trained with and brought back from the Hubble Space Telescope go on display, the "artifacts" were anything but. "To me they are very much alive, not artifacts," explained the self-titled "Chief Hubble Hugger." Museum director Gen. Jack Dailey replied to Grunsfeld by sharing the difference between instruments and artifacts. "Now that it is an artifact, you can't touch it any more."

November 20, 2009

/ 9:58 a.m. CT (1558 GMT)

Rock-ing NASA's message

: Actor Dwayne Johnson, formerly known as "The Rock", is helping to spread the benefits of NASA in a set of public service announcements timed with the release of Sony Pictures' animated feature film "Planet 51." In the movie, Johnson voices the American astronaut Charles "Chuck" Baker, whose suit is adorned with the NASA insignia with the permission of the space agency. NASA also flew a DVD copy of the film to the International Space Station in August to celebrate the movie, which opened in theaters on Friday. In the PSAs, Johnson touts NASA's role in education, diversity and the development of new technologies referred to as "spinoffs."

November 22, 2009

/ 3:02 p.m. CT (2102 GMT)

Konstantin Feoktistov, 1926-2009

: A crew member on the 1964 first Voskhod mission, Konstantin Feoktistov, 83, died on Saturday according to Roscosmos. An accomplished spacecraft designer who worked on Vostok, Soyuz, Progress, Salyut and Mir, Feoktistov was the first scientist in space, the first civilian and the only Soviet-era cosmonaut who was not a Communist Party member. His name now lives on as a crater on the far side of the Moon.

November 22, 2009

/ 9:50 p.m. CT (0350 GMT Nov 23)

Baby's first space collectible

: Celebrating the arrival of his baby daughter Abigail Mae, who was born on the same day as he made his first spacewalk, Randy Bresnik gave out (candy) cigars Sunday to his STS-129 and Expedition 21 crewmates onboard the International Space Station. Bresnik, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with "It's a girl!", then revealed a gift for his girl, a special pink onesie decorated with his and his crew's STS-129 mission patch.

November 25, 2009

/ 5:41 a.m. CT (1141 GMT)

(Almost) 100 Days In Space patch

: Nicole Stott, who is the last of the shuttle rotating expedition crew members, or ShRECs, left the International Space Station Wednesday with the STS-129 crew aboard Atlantis. She logged 87 days on the outpost and should the shuttle land on Friday as scheduled, she will have a total of 91 days in space. That tally was apparently close enough to earn her NASA's "100 Days In Space" patch, a badge designed by astronaut Andy Thomas in 2004 based on a similar merit-earned insignia, the "Mach 25" patch, awarded to all who enter orbit. Space station commander (and prior 100 Days recipient) Jeff Williams presented Stott with her patch the day before she departed on the shuttle for her trip home.

November 25, 2009

/ 7:30 a.m. CT (1330 GMT)


: The STS-129 crew, now on their own since undocking Atlantis from the International Space Station, are not the first shuttle crew to spend Thanksgiving in orbit. They are in fact, the eighth after STS-61B (1985), 33 (1989), 44 (1991), 80 (1996), 87 (1997), 113 (2002) and 126 (2008). Unlike some of the earlier missions though, STS-129 did not fly a special turkey dinner for the crew -- at the request of their commander. "Thanksgiving isn't all about what you eat," Charles Hobaugh commented from orbit. Indeed, the holiday is also about giving thanks which is a tradition that Atlantis' astronauts are upholding.

November 27, 2009

/ 11:12 a.m. CT (1712 GMT)

Patch panels

: Among the 2,100 pounds of space station gear brought back to Earth on Friday by the STS-129 crew on Atlantis is a wall panel removed from inside the orbiting lab's Unity connecting node, dating back to when the module became only the second ISS component launched in Dec. 1998. Adorned with decals added by the visiting crews since then, this "heritage" wall was replaced with a panel decorated with many of the same emblems but organized to allow room for the five remaining space shuttle flights. Ironically, the new panel, and other similar decal collections onboard the station are all missing one mission: STS-129. Atlantis' penultimate crew forgot to add theirs to the outpost's walls and after departing asked the station's commander to help them out. "I've got at least one [STS-129 sticker] that can still be stuck," radioed ISS commander Jeff Williams as Atlantis set out for home.

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