Former NASA astronaut Thomas Kenneth "TK" Mattingly, who flew to the moon and worked in Earth orbit, died on Tuesday (Oct. 31) at the age of 87. After being pulled from Apollo 13 due to being exposed to the German measles, Mattingly orbited the moon as the command module pilot on Apollo 16 and commanded two space shuttle missions, STS-4 and 51-C. Mattingly logged a total of 21 days and four hours in space.
: The National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. has debuted the first public display of a fragment of the asteroid Bennu as collected by NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission. The small stone is comprised of water-rich minerals and carbon-rich molecules indicative of how our solar system and life, itself, may have first formed. The exhibit is part of the museum's meteorite gallery in its Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals.
: What has six wheels, a robotic arm and is covered in buttercream? NASA's Perseverance rover, of course. Or at least, the pastry-formed Perseverance made by celebrity chef Duff Goldman for the "Taste of Space" at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Goldman debuted his latest space-themed cake on Friday evening (Nov. 3), before dishing it up for dessert.
: NASA recognized the cultural significance of its once-retired logo with a panel discussion and dedication ceremony at the agency's headquarters on Monday (Nov. 6). Richard Danne, the design director behind the "worm," joined others to review his role in redefining the look of NASA in the mid-1970s and, with the logotype's return, its ongoing legacy today. NASA then dedicated a large 3D worm monument and awarded Danne with the agency's Exceptional Public Achievement Medal.
: The California Science Center began stacking its vertical display of the space shuttle Endeavour on Tuesday (Nov. 7) with the lift of a solid rocket motor onto its aft skirt. The move was similar in some ways to what NASA is preparing to do for its Artemis II launch to the moon, but also different in some key ways, including being achieved outside of an assembly building.
: The California Science Center stacked its second solid rocket motor (SRM) on Wednesday (Nov. 8), marking a key step towards the vertical display of space shuttle Endeavour. Proceeding just as smoothly as the first, the two boosters are now standing in the work site of the future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center in Los Angeles. The next step in the "Go for Lift" operation will be the addition of external tank attach points and then topping both rocket motors with forward assemblies (nose cones).
The first person to lead a crew on a mission to the moon has died at the age of 95. Frank Borman joined NASA with its second class of astronauts in 1962 and flew on two missions: the Gemini 7 long duration (14-day) flight in 1965 and Apollo 8, the first human mission to orbit the moon in 1968. A fighter and test pilot, Borman later headed Eastern Airlines after he retired from NASA and the Air Force. In total, Borman spent nearly 20 days in space, including 20 hours rounding the moon.
As history records, 2003 began with a tragedy and ended with a multiple launches to Mars. In Season 4 of "For All Mankind," which is now streaming on Apple TV+, 2003 opens on Mars and leads to a tragedy. The two timelines do not cross, but as the series's showrunners and technical advisor told collectSPACE, that doesn't mean they did not pull inspiration from real-life space exploration.
In 2002, astronaut John Herrington became the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to fly into space. Now, he has "signed" a new, limited edition patch to help send Native American girls to Space Camp. Herrington is the fourth astronaut to take part in the Space Hipsters Facebook group's "Taking Up Space" fundraiser with his own "Signature Edition" patch, featuring images from his STS-113 mission and Chickasaw heritage.
: Blue Origin now has an official ballpoint pen for all of its upcoming crewed flights. The commercial spaceflight company has partnered with Fisher Space Pen, makers of the pressurized ink cartridge flown on all crewed missions since 1968. To celebrate the agreement, Fisher has released three new commemorative space pens, each incorporating Blue Origin's feather logo.
: SpaceX launched a fully-integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket Saturday (Nov. 18) from its Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The mostly successful test flight debuted the vehicle's hot-fire stage separation system and placed the Starship into space, but ended early due to the booster exploding and the ship self-destructing rather than each descending to water landings.
: SpaceX's Starship is the latest of the company's vehicles to be made into a Mattel Matchbox toy. The moon and Mars-bound spacecraft has joined the iconic toy brand's line of aerospace-themed sets, Sky Busters, alongside a model of SpaceX's Dragon descent capsule. The main mix of Matchbox cars has also gained a new Dragon and a Falcon Heavy coming in 2024.
: A small bear cub dressed in red dungarees with white polka dots and a blue cap took a spin aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday (Nov. 22), to celebrate his birthday and engage children in an astronaut's mission. Andy Mogensen tumbled alongside a plush doll of the 72-year-old Danish comic strip character Rasmus Klump and answered kids' questions about space.
: An astronaut who first controlled a robot arm as a cherry picker and helped deploy a probe to Venus before leading NASA's science directorate, Mary L. Cleave died on Monday (Nov. 27) at the age of 76. Cleave was the tenth woman to fly in space, the first female capcom to talk to another woman in space, the first woman to fly after the 1986 Challenger tragedy and the first female associate administrator of NASA's science division.