: Three-hundred eighty two (382) seconds into the launch of a cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station on Thursday (Dec 1), an anomaly resulted in the freighter's loss. Russia's Progress MS-04 lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a mission to deliver food, fuel, air, water and supplies to the space station, but an unknown problem with the third stage of its Soyuz U rocket ended in the craft falling to Earth.
: Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, 86, is recovering in a New Zealand hospital after he fell ill and was evacuated from the South Pole. Said to be in "good spirits," Aldrin was with a tour group in Antarctica when his condition deteriorated. "He has fluid in his lungs but is responding well to antibiotics," stated White Desert, the tour operator. "His condition is stable."
: NASA's first Apollo command module pilot to launch to space, Donn Eisele died 29 years ago Friday (Dec. 2) at the age of 57. Three decades later, museum director and author Francis French has rediscovered Eisele's draft memoir, which has now been published for all to read. "Apollo Pilot," edited by French, offers a "fresh and contemporary" look at Eisele's mission on board Apollo 7.
: Virgin Spaceship Unity (VSS Unity), Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo built by The Spaceship Company, completed its first glide test on Saturday (Dec. 3), at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The space tourism spaceplane separated from the VMS Eve, its WhiteKnightTwo mothership, at 50,000 feet with pilots Mark Stucky and David Mackay at its controls.
: The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday (Dec. 5) unanimously approved the "Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act." The bill, if voted on by the Senate before the end of the year and signed by the President, will direct the U.S. Mint to strike curved gold, silver and clad coins to mark the half century since the first moon landing mission.
: British astronaut Tim Peake's Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft will land on display at Science Museum, London early next year. The capsule, which returned Peake, astronaut Tim Kopra and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko to the Earth after 185 days on the space station, is the first flown spacecraft acquired by the Science Museum Group. Peake said he hopes the descent module will "serve as [an] inspiration for the next generation."
: Sony Pictures Entertainment and NASA are sending the science fiction film "Passengers" to the International Space Station for its crew to screen. In the film, which opens (on Earth) Dec. 21, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence are interstellar travelers on a 120-year journey to an exoplanet, a plot that incorporates research that NASA is advancing.
: The first American to orbit the Earth and the oldest person to fly into space, John Glenn died Thursday (Dec. 8) at age 95. Between his two historic flights, Glenn served four terms in the Senate for his home state of Ohio. Glenn made three orbits on Friendship 7 in 1962 and 134 on the space shuttle Discovery in 1998.
: The passing of astronaut John Glenn at age 95 on Thursday (Dec. 8) was shared on social media using a hashtag version of the radio hail from his first orbital launch in 1962. Astronauts, politicians and the public paid tribute to the first American in orbit with the tag #GodspeedJohnGlenn, referencing the radio call by astronaut Scott Carpenter as Glenn lifted off for space.
: The U.S. Senate on Friday (Dec. 9) passed the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act, days after the House approved the same. Pending the President's signature, the bill now directs the U.S. Mint to issue domed coins in gold, silver and clad to mark 50 years since the first moon landing and support two space foundations and the Smithsonian.
: Between them, the solid rocket booster parts now being trucked cross country were part of the launch of 26 space shuttle missions, from 1982 to 2010. The two aft skirts and frustum are headed for NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, where they be held until the California Science Center needs them for its launch-like vertical display of the shuttle Endeavour, opening in 2019.
: A Kansas judge on Wednesday (Dec. 14) ruled that an Apollo 11 lunar sample return bag belongs to the buyer who won it for $995 at a 2015 U.S. Marshals Service auction, even though NASA owned it at the time. The zippered pouch, which was used to protect the first moon rocks collected at Tranquility Base, had been misidentified and mistakenly sold as part of a forfeiture.
: Author Andrew Chaikin, who in 2014 wrote a biography of the late John Glenn ("America's Astronaut"), has now released a new look at the space hero's return to Earth in February 1962. The video, which Chaikin posted online to mark the astronaut's death, synchronizes film of Glenn on board his Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 with the audio recorded of his harrowing re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
: John Glenn's life was celebrated at a memorial service held at the Ohio State University on Saturday (Dec. 17). Family and friends of the late astronaut, the first American to orbit the Earth, paid tribute to Glenn's legacy, including eulogies by Vice President Joe Biden and NASA administrator Charlie Bolden. Glenn's son and daughter also shared remembrances of their father.
: The National Air and Space Museum is preparing to move the Apollo 11 command module, Columbia for its first conservation in four decades. The iconic capsule, covered in layers of padding, will be transported to the restoration hangar at the Smithsonian's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in northern Virginia so it can be thoroughly documented and readied for its next exhibit.
: A new photo exhibit now open at the California Science Center invites the public to relive the sea and street journey of ET-94, the last built-for-flight space shuttle external tank, through the eyes of former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti. "Mission 26: ET Comes Home" presents 30 of Garcetti's photographs of the tank's transport from New Orleans to Los Angeles.
: The almost half-century old story of an astronaut's lonely trip around the moon provided the inspiration for "Passengers," the new science fiction film featuring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. Director Morten Tyldum and writer Jon Spaihts shared with collectSPACE how real spaceflight factored into their movie even with the story being set centuries into the future.
: A veteran of three space shuttle missions, astronaut and NASA climate scientist Piers Sellers died on Friday (Dec. 23) of pancreatic cancer. He was 61. A meteorologist and project scientist before he flew into space, Sellers logged more than a month in Earth orbit and then became the deputy director for Sciences and Exploration at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
: The late astronaut John Glenn was depicted by Hollywood only two times on the silver screen: in "The Right Stuff" and in "Hidden Figures," the latter now playing in limited theaters and opening wide on Jan. 6. The two films share more than just a character though, as they both dramatize and take liberties with the "based on true events" history they aim to celebrate.
Actor Ryan Gosling will portray the first moonwalker Neil Armstrong in Universal Studios' biopic "First Man." The movie, which is expected to begin filming in 2017, is based on historian James Hansen's 2005 authorized biography of Armstrong (by the same title) and a script by "Spotlight" writer Josh Singer.
: The Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson took delivery of a space shuttle solid rocket booster (SRB) on Thursday (Dec. 29). The 149-foot booster was trucked from the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, where it had been in storage since 2012 for its possible display by the California Science Center.