The Source for Space History and Artifacts
On the road again
: SpaceX's efforts to build a reusable rocket system has extended to its choice of conveyors for its recovered stages. The company is now reusing NASA's former Orbiter Transporter System (OTS) previously used for nearly 30 years to move the space shuttle orbiters. SpaceX acquired the transporter through a surplus auction and then modified it for use with its Falcon 9 first stages.
520 days and counting
: Jeff Williams broke the record Wednesday (Aug 24) for the most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut, and he still has two more weeks before he leaves the space station. Williams, whose total time off Earth was spread over his four missions, surpassed the 520 days Scott Kelly set in March. Williams' record will hold until April 2017, when Peggy Whitson will log her 534th day in space, assuming her next mission stays on schedule.
: The first orbital rocket stage to touch down vertically after being launched now stands as a monument at the California facility where it was built. SpaceX raised the historic Falcon stage on Saturday (Aug. 20), eight months after its recovery in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The 165-foot-tall booster is mounted on its landing legs for the display outside of SpaceX's Hawthorne headquarters.
: Spacewalking astronauts on Friday (Aug. 19) installed a new International Docking Adapter at the space station, adding a new parking spot for SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner commercial crew spacecraft. Latched to the end of the mating adapter earlier used by the space shuttle, the IDA is the first of two to be attached to the orbiting laboratory. Astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins completed the installation during their six-hour spacewalk, configuring the IDA for its future use.
Apollo 11 anniversary coins
: The U.S. Mint may honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing if Congress approves a bill calling for new curved commemorative coins to be issued in 2019. The legislation is ready to pass in the House of Representatives but further support is needed in the Senate. Advocates are asking the public to contact their senators to cosponsor the bill by Sept. 15.
Boeing's boarding ramp
: Astronauts bound for space aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will cross the 50-foot access arm installed on Monday (Aug. 15) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Complex 41. The gantry, and its white room, were bolted to the 172-foot level of the crew access tower that now stands to support Boeing's Starliner flights atop Atlas V rockets, beginning as soon as 2018.
: As its first trailer promotes, the upcoming 20th Century Fox film "Hidden Figures" is based on the 'untold true story' of the black women mathematicians whose role during the early space race helped to launch the first U.S. astronauts. Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Kevin Costner, the movie will open in January with original music by Pharrell Williams.
Super Bowl space football
: Astronaut Scott Kelly will hand off a football flown aboard the International Space Station at a kickoff event counting down to Super Bowl LI in Houston. The Touchdown Tour community celebration, to be held Aug. 27 at Space Center Houston, will feature a robot training field, panel discussions and Kelly passing the ball to the head of the committee hosting the game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017.
Lunar bag lawsuits
: A moon rock bag used by the Apollo 11 astronauts is now the focus of a legal dispute involving lawsuits in Illinois and Kansas. The zippered bag was forfeited by a convicted museum curator in 2005, sold at auction by the U.S. Marshals Service in 2015, confirmed by NASA to be stained with moon dust, and now contested by the government to still be the space agency's property.
'Sooner State' shuttle
: A simulator used by all 135 astronaut crews to launch aboard the space shuttle has landed in Oklahoma for its display at the Stafford Air & Space Museum. Earlier relocated from NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the shuttle fixed-base simulator ultimately did not find a display space at the Windy City museum and so was moved to the Stafford in the Sooner State, where it will go on exhibit.
Go for moon landing
: The U.S. government has cleared the first private enterprise, Moon Express, Inc., to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon in 2017. The decision, a first in the history of space exploration, conforms to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which requires private entities to gain approval from the appropriate state party. The FAA, working with the State Department, granted the permission.
Women of NASA
: Maia Weinstock's Women of NASA LEGO minifigures set has rocketed to 10,000 votes on LEGO Ideas, qualifying it for a production review by the toy company. The set honors five women who made space history, including astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, mathematician Katherine Johnson and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton.
: Reid Wiseman is the 50th human to orbit the Earth and live on the ocean floor. Wiseman on Friday (July 29) 'splashed up' after eight days at the Aquarius Reef Base commanding NASA's NEEMO 21 mission. A veteran of 165 days on board the space station, Wiseman continues the legacy of astronaut-aquanauts first started by Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter, who lived for 30 days aboard the US Navy's SEALAB II in 1965. Update: According to NEEMO's mission director, Megan Behnken is the 50th astronaut-aquanaut; Wiseman is no. 49.
: The next ship to lead a Star Trek television series will bear the same name as a NASA space shuttle. But unlike Enterprise, which debuted on TV 10 years before a real-life orbiter adopted its title in tribute, this new ship's name may be, in part, a way for its creators to return the honor. Is the space shuttle Discovery the namesake for "Star Trek: Discovery," premiering on CBS in 2017?
: ESA on Wednesday (July 27) bid farewell to the first spacecraft to land on a comet, switching off the relay aboard its Rosetta orbiter that enabled communications with the small Philae lander on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Last heard from just over a year ago, mission managers consider Philae to be in an eternal hibernation. Cutting off the comm link will extend the power for Rosetta, which is approaching its own end of mission and soft impact with the comet in late September.
I(SS) am Groot
: Rocket Raccoon and Groot from Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" star on a newly-revealed mission patch for all of the payloads launching to the U.S. National Laboratory on board the International Space Station in 2016. CASIS (the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space) announced the collaboration with Marvel Custom Solutions at San Diego Comic Con on Friday (July 22). The patch and a soon to be announced STEM contest are intended to engage the next generation of scientists.
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