Sotheby's in space
: Sotheby's on Thursday (Jul 20) offered 173 space history artifacts at its first auction focused on U.S. spaceflights. Among the top performing lots: $125,000 for an original illustration of Mars architecture by space artist Chesley Bonestell; $275,000 for the flight plan flown on Apollo 13; and $1.8 million for a lunar sample bag used to hold the first moon rocks collected on Apollo 11.
Mission Control needs your help
: Marking 48 years since the first moon landing, Space Center Houston on Thursday (Jul 20) kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to continue and expand the restoration of NASA's Apollo-era Mission Control. In return for your donations on Kickstarter, supporters can receive a specially-designed mission patch, autographed collectibles or even an invitation to tour inside Mission Control with Apollo 11 flight director Gene Kranz.
Sotheby's returns to space
: Other than the (record setting) auction of a Russian capsule in 2011, Sotheby's has not focused on space artifacts since a pair of Soviet space sales in 1993 and 1996. That changes this week with Sotheby's Space Exploration auction in New York. The 173 lot sale includes the flown Apollo 13 flight plan, an oversize Lunar Orbiter print and a moon dust stained Apollo 11 lunar sample return bag, which is expected to sell for millions.
Space Camp lands NASA 945
: A veteran of five space shuttle landings, astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson logged "a couple of thousand flights" on NASA 945, learning and practicing how to touch down from orbit. Gibson helped to dedicate the exhibit of the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, home to U.S. Space Camp, on Thursday (July 13).
Arrive, prospect, return
A private company plans to return a few pounds of moon rock to Earth by 2020 for science and for sale. Moon Express, which became the first company to gain permission from the U.S. government to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon a year ago, revealed its family of MX probes on Wednesday (July 12), as well as announced three missions to establish the first commercial permanent robotic outpost at the moon's south pole.
Astronaut seeks adventures
: After flying to space on five missions and summiting Mount Everest on his second try, astronaut-explorer Scott Parazynski is sharing his adventures in a new memoir. To promote "The Sky Below," Parazynski has launched a photo contest, inviting followers to share images of their #MostEpicAdventure on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In return, Parazynski will award the winner with memorabilia from his space adventures.
: Valerie Roche, the co-creator of the LEGO NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket, has partnered with Emmanuel Urquieta to design the ultimate accessory: the Launch Umbilical Tower (LUT). Now accepting votes on LEGO Ideas, the LUT needs 10,000 supporters before the Danish toy company will consider it for commercial production.
Canada's new astronauts
: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday (July 1) revealed his country's two new astronauts at a celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary. Test pilot Joshua Kutryk and engineer Jenni Sidey comprise their nation's fourth astronaut group since 1983 and bring Canada's total number of candidates to 14. Kutryk and Sidey will join NASA's 22nd class of astronauts for two years of basic training beginning on Aug. 21.
Buran on the move
: RSC Energia, the lead spacecraft contractor for Roscosmos, turned over a full-size mockup of a space shuttle to a new public attraction on Tuesday (Jun. 27). The Soviet-era Buran OK-KS test orbiter will travel by road and sea to the site of the Sochi Olympics for its display at the Sirius Science and Art Park. Although it was never space-worthy, the Buran OK-KS was built to test flight software and to qualify ship components for launch.
Native Americans and NASA
: In 2019, the U.S. Mint will recognize the roles that Native Americans have made in NASA history on a $1 coin. Under the theme, "American Indians in the Space Program," the legal tender coin will honor engineer Mary Golda Ross, who developed the Agena upper stage; Apollo flight controller Jerry Elliott; and NASA astronaut John Herrington. The Mint's artists created 18 proposed designs for the coin's reverse, or tails side.
Apollo 11 tails
: How do you adapt an iconic photo of an Apollo 11 astronaut on the moon to be struck onto the tails side of a series of curved coins? That was the challenge for the U.S. Mint as its sculptor-engravers set about creating concepts for the reverse of the 2019 coins that will mark 50 years since the first moon landing. The U.S. Mint's three design candidates have now been made public.
Bill Dana, 'José Jiménez' (1924-2017)
: The honorary eighth Mercury astronaut, Bill Dana died on Thursday (June 15) at the age of 92. A comedian, Dana's character José Jiménez won the attention and admiration of the early U.S. astronauts for his routine as a reluctant spaceman. On May 5, 1961, Dana's place in NASA history was secured as Deke Slayton radioed, "Okay, José, you're on your way!" as Alan Shepard lifted off to be the first American in space.
Apollo 16's Orion honored on Mars
: When NASA's Mars rover Opportunity drove near a crater in April during the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 16 moon landing, the concurrence inspired a connection between the missions. NASA's science team informally named the Martian feature Orion Crater, after the Apollo 16 lunar module Orion, which landed with John Young and Charlie Duke in April 1972.
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