: Five years after taking orbit, the International Space Station is finally receiving an official emblem. The result of two years of work by a PR group established by the ISS partners, the insignia is set to debut today at a session in Paris.
The design is an "ugpraded variant" of Canada's proposal, chosen over those received from the European Space Agency, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Approval from the International Coordinating Council is all that is needed before the emblem will become an official brand of the ISS, to be used in advertisements and on products soon to appear in many partner countries.
: The Texas Department of Transportation is now offering a speciality license plate that honors Columbia and her fallen crew while raising funds to further aviation and space activities in the state. "Columbia Remembered", which displays the orbiter over the Earth and under seven yellow stars, is available for a $30 fee of which $22 is earmarked for use by the Aviation and Space Foundation of Texas.
: Are you a member of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation's Astronaut Autograph Club? Act now as only a few spots remain (membership is limited to 350) and if you register before December 15, you will also receive a bonus autographed photo and letter from James Lovell. A holiday gift that keeps giving, membership dues fund scholarships for college students pursuing advanced math and science degrees.
: National headlines this morning speculate that President Bush will announce a bold new space policy, in particular a return to the Moon, either as part of the centennial celebrations of the Wright Brothers' first flight or during his State of the Union address before Congress and the nation. According to unnamed sources close to the White House, Bush's vision calls on NASA to use existing hardware as well as mature technologies to achieve U.S. dominance in cislunar space.
: White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said today that the President has no plans to announce a new vision for the U.S. space program "in the near future." During his afternoon press briefing, McClellan asked reporters not to follow "premature" reports (see: "The lunar rumor mill") as an interagency review of space policy was still ongoing.
: PayPal founder Elon Musk gathered the press this evening in front of the National Air and Space Museum to unveil his latest project, a seven story, mostly reusable rocket dubbed the Falcon. Also announced was the Falcon V, a five-engine version with a capacity of over 4.5 tons to low orbit. At $1500 per pound to orbit, the Falcon V will represent a new world record in the cost of access to space.
: Of the six space artifacts offered as part of Lelands' Americana online auction, only four elicited bids before closing last night. An Apollo 16 flown flag and an orbital chart autographed by nine astronauts both sold for $2,241 each, while a control panel from the Mir Space Station realized $8,419. A desk set believed by its owner to be embedded with moon dust failed to attract even one bid towards its $50,000 reserve.
: Patti LaBelle has been nominated for a Grammy Award for "Way Up There," the anthem she performed for the Columbia memorial service at the National Cathedral on February 6, 2003. The song, written by LaBelle's long-time collaborator Tena R. Clark, was originally commissioned by the NASA Art Program to celebrate the Centennial of Flight.
: Swann Auction Galleries has set March 27, 2004, for their next Space Exploration sale. The auction will include Apollo 11 flown artifacts from Buzz Aldrin including a chart section that plots the descent path for for the landing ($40,000/$50,000) and a page from the flight plan that details the ascent from the lunar surface ($7000/$9000). Also of note are items from the estate of STS-107 astronaut David Brown. His NASA T-38 helmet ($18000/$22000), blue NASA flight suit with name tag and patches ($30,000/$40,000) and a signed crew photograph ($12,000/$18,000) will benefit charities.
: The Beijing Space Medical Engineering Institute has registered Yang Liwei's portrait and signature as trademarks, prohibiting their commercial use without authorization. The legal protection was in response to ads that used the first taikonaut, his picture, and autograph to sell wall calendars and playing cards.
: Despite being designed to survive the rigors of spaceflight and reentry into the atmosphere, thirty or more years of public display on Earth can have its toll on the condition of a spacecraft. Instruments are removed and replaced with mock-ups, corrosion surfaces, and plastics yellow or brittle. Learn from Jim Remar what it takes to bring a capsule back together as the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center's Restoration Laboratory work to repair and reassemble Gemini 6.
: Beginning next year, Alabama motorists will be able to help save one of the three remaining Saturn V rockets by purchasing a speciality license plate. The tag, which depicts a Saturn V pointing towards the Moon, as well as the International Space Station, reads "First to the Moon and Beyond". One thousand of the specialty plates must be ordered for $50 each before production can begin ($41.25 from every tag sale will go to the restoration).
: Vice President Cheney, John Travolta, Neil Armstrong and others gathered in Virginia yesterday to dedicate the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. With the official public opening set for Monday, the museum features 60 space artifacts, with another 75 to be installed after the restoration of Shuttle Enteprise. The sights inside the Udvar-Hazy Center were so moving, that it inspired our illustrated, poetic preview.
: To date, Code 3 Collectibles has focused its National Air and Space Museum Collection on the exploration of the Moon. That will change December 18th when they begin taking orders for a 1/10th replica of the Mars Exploration Rovers now on their way to the Red Planet. Register now to view photos of the model.
: Today marked the official opening of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the companion facility to the National Air and Space Museum. Our photo report captures areas of the new center that were not included in our preview, as well as news of damage to one of the key aircraft and a surprise found among the attendees.
: One hundred individuals, one for each year since the Wright Brothers' first flight, were honored yesterday as Aviation Heroes for their "ingenuity, bravery and determination" -- qualities that lead to Orville and Wilbur's success. Among those named were space explorers Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, Walter Schirra, Alan Shepard, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Michael Collins, Charles Conrad, James Lovell, Thomas Stafford, Valentina Tereshkova, Donald Slayton, Mae Jemison, Bruce McCandless, Sally Ride, Eileen Collins, and Shannon Lucid. Also included were rocket pioneers Theodore Von Kármán, Robert Goddard, Sergei Korolev, and Wernher von Braun, as well as X-15 test pilot Scott Crossfield and aerospace industrialist James McDonnell.
: Fort Hays State University and the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center have announced plans to digitize thousands of space-related documents from the museum's archives for an online library. The first records may be ready by the end of January, accessible through both the Cosmosphere's and Fort Hays' websites. "This will allow anyone to examine these items without having to handle them," said Cosmosphere President Jeff Ollenburger to the Associated Press.
The Michigan Space and Science Center will close its doors today, due to years of falling attendance and troubled finances, reports The Jackson Citizen Patriot. Some of the artifacts from the museum's collection will be moved to the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, also known as the Air Zoo, by May 2003. Items that were on loan from the Smithsonian, including the Apollo 9 Command Module, are awaiting a decision from the National Air and Space Museum as to where they will be placed on display next. Other artifacts that now face a move include Walter Cronkite's model of the lunar module used for his Apollo 12 telecast, a launch console from John Glenn's Mercury flight, and an Apollo 15 recovered moon rock.
If all has proceeded smoothly, Britain's Beagle 2 is now safely on the surface of Mars, while the European Space Agency's Mars Express is still achieving orbit about the planet. For confirmation of the landing, we will need to wait until 1:30am ET at earliest, to listen for nine musical notes composed by the British rock band Blur to be broadcast through Mars Odyssey to ground controllers on Earth. Stay "tuned" for more news.
: Europe's first mission to the Red Planet has thus far been a mixed success: ESA's Mars Express has achieved orbit however Beagle 2 has failed as of yet to phone home. The first attempt to make contact came and went three hours after when it should have landed without receiving a signal. This does not immediately mean that the probe has been damaged, but could be that Beagle 2 had its antenna in the wrong direction to communicate via NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. The next chance to hear from the lander will come at approximately 5:45pm, when the Jodrell Bank Observatory will listen for direct contact.
Europe's first Mars lander remains silent nearly 24 hours after its assumed touchdown on the Red Planet. An attempt this evening to acquire a signal from Beagle 2 by the Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK was unsuccessful. Controllers will continue their efforts during daily opportunities with NASA's Mars Odyssey and with radio telescopes located in the UK and US. ESA's newly arrived Mars Express will also attempt communications (if needed) after January 4th.
: The People's Bank of China announced today that a set of gold and silver coins will be issued on Monday to mark the country's first manned space flight, reports the Xinhua News Service. Both coins will display the solar system on the obverse and Yang Liwei's portrait on the reverse. The gold coin will be valued at 150 yuan ($18 US) while the silver will be 10 yuan ($1 US). Plans call for 30,000 gold and 60,000 silver coins to be issued.
: Ken Havekotte, Donnis Willis, Scott Cornish and Tahir Rahman are together authoring a UACC-style autograph study on the changing shape of Neil Armstrong's signature. To insure the authenticity of the autographs, they are limiting their signature examples to the products of commercial signings and typed signed letters. For other types of items to even be considered, they need to have been received directly from Armstrong by the contributor and will be subject to review by all four of the study's authors. If you believe your example(s) can meet the criteria, scans should be e-mailed to Cornish.
: Looking at the events of 2003, you find they reflect different eras of the past four decades of space flight. The year began in resemblance to January 1986, with the tragic loss of a crew. Later in 2003, we harked back to 1961 to draw parallels between Yang Liwei, Yuri Gagarin, and Alan Shepard. These and the year's other top space events of 2003 were shaped by and added to space history.