December 3, 2012 / 6:00 a.m. CT (1200 GMT) Spidernaut at Smithsonian: "Nefertiti," the first jumping spider to return from space and readjust to life on Earth, will live out its days (about six months) on display in the "Insect Zoo" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The focus of a student-inspired science experiment, Nefertiti lived for 100 days on the International Space Station (ISS), proving it was able to adapt to zero-g and still be able to pounce on its prey. The spider's space flight habitat is exhibited alongside the "spidernaut."
December 4, 2012 / 2:05 a.m. CT (0805 GMT) Smithsonian's spidernaut dies: Just days after its debut inside the "Insect Zoo" at the National Museum of Natural History, the first jumping spider to survive a trip to space and back died of natural causes. Nefertiti was 10 months old. The "Johnson jumper" spider flew lived on the International Space Station for 100 days as the focus of a student-initiated science experiment. Its body now will join the Smithsonian's specimen collection to "contribute to the understanding of spiders," the museum's staff reported.
December 7, 2012 / 7:25 a.m. CT (1325 GMT) Apollo 17 at 40: Just after midnight on Dec. 7, 1972, 40 years ago Friday, the last moon landing mission to date, Apollo 17, lifted off for the Taurus-Littrow lunar valley. On board, Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt capped the first voyages to another celestial body "with peace and hope for all mankind." The mission wasn't just about lasts; it also set several firsts including the first night launch and the first scientist NASA flew in space.
December 7, 2012 / 5:24 p.m. CT (2324 GMT) SpaceX supplies space patches: SpaceX, the company behind the first private craft to resupply the space station, is now supplying Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule mission patches for sale. The company is offering a set of nine embroidered emblems with patches for each of its nine flights to date, spanning its first Falcon 1 launch in 2006 to its historic flight to the International Space Station earlier this year. SpaceX is limiting the sale to 200 sets.
December 12, 2012 / 2:07 p.m. CT (2007 GMT) Alaska's moon rocks recovered: Five tiny pieces of Tranquility Base are back home in Alaska after having gone missing almost 40 years ago. An arson's fire in 1973 served as the lead-in to a teenager-turned-reality show skipper's theft of the moon rocks, which he sued the state of Alaska to have declared legally his own. The key to the state reclaiming its Apollo 11 lunar sample display turned out to be a photo taken in the Atlasta House in 1970...
December 14, 2012 / 7:33 a.m. CT (1333 GMT) When we last left the moon: 40 years ago Friday, the last mission to land men on the moon began the journey home to Earth. The Apollo 17 lunar module "Challenger" lifted off from the Taurus-Littrow valley on the moon with Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt after they spent three days exploring the surface. "Few events have ever marked so clearly the passage of history from one epoch to another," President Richard Nixon said after the last two moonwalkers reunited with Ronald Evans on the command module "America" in orbit around the moon. The three then returned to Earth, splashing down on Dec. 19, 1972.
December 17, 2012 / 4:30 p.m. CT (2230 GMT) Ebb and Flow no more: NASA's twin lunar spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, which comprised the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, met their end Monday on the side of a mountain near the moon's north pole. The washer and dryer size probes, which for nearly a year mapped the moon's gravity, were purposely placed on a collision course that would avoid the lunar heritage sites, including the Apollo, Surveyor and Luna landing sites. The final resting place of Ebb and Flow has been named for the late astronaut Sally Ride, who led GRAIL's MoonKam.
December 19, 2012 / 6:22 a.m. CT (1222 GMT) Soyuz TMA-07M lifts off: Soyuz TMA-07M rocketed Wednesday into the frigid evening sky above Kazakhstan from 'Gagarin's Start' at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. On board the Russian spacecraft were a trio of crewmates for the International Space Station. Roman Romanenko of Roscosmos, NASA's Tom Marshburn and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield will spend five months on the orbital outpost, during which time Hadfield will become the first Canadian to lead a spaceflight and just the second non-Russian, non-American space station commander.
December 20, 2012 / 8:38 a.m. CT (1438 GMT) Repairing Enterprise: The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York reopens to the public Friday for the first time since late October when it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Home to the Enterprise, NASA's test orbiter, the converted WWII aircraft carrier's Space Shuttle Pavilion won't be restored until next spring. Until then, the museum's curators are working to reinstall the damaged tip of Enterprise's tail and will shield the shuttle for the winter.
December 21, 2012 / 2:39 p.m. CT (2039 GMT) Space ranger chic: It did not take long after NASA released photos of its new spacesuit prototype for the comparisons to begin. The white and fluorescent green Z-1 suit, with its bubble helmet, has more than just a passing resemblance to a certain Disney-Pixar animated astronaut. But that is okay; according to his animator, the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear was drawn from NASA's historic suits.