collectSPACE | space history | space memorabilia | space artifacts

Smithsonian, someday

: Just two days after their history-making return to Earth, the crew of the SpaceX Dragon “Endeavour” spoke to the press about the Demo-2 mission. Asked by collectSPACE to consider the fate of their spacecraft (and a certain sequined dinosaur), Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken said their capsule could someday land in the Smithsonian – but not yet. First, Endeavour is slated to fly again. (And as for “Tremor,” what’s in it for their sons?)

Mars 2020 Zippo

: As NASA’s Perseverance rover lifted off to cache signs of life on Mars, Zippo launched a new lighter in tribute to the mission. The Mars 2020 Collectible Lighter is a limited edition of 1,000 that features a gold plated depiction of Mars and laser engraved wireframes of the six-wheeled rover and Martian surface. The new lighter continues Zippo’s 60-year history of celebrating the United States space program with NASA and contractor designs.

Well-suited rover

: Looking ahead to the day that boot prints replace wheel treads, NASA is flying its first spacesuit material swatches on its Perseverance Mars rover. The sample fabrics include Vectran, Orthofabric, and two types of Teflon, as well as the polycarbonate from a helmet visor. In addition to observing how the materials fare on the surface of Mars, the spacesuit squares will also be used to calibrate the rover’s SHERLOC laser and spectrometers.

Save Space Camp

: Threatened by financial shortfalls due to the pandemic, Space Camp and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center may be forced to permanently close by October. The Huntsville, Alabama museum and astronaut training experience have launched the “Save Space Camp” campaign to raise the $1.5 million that is needed to remain open. Donations are sought from Space Camp alumni and the millions who have visited the Space & Rocket Center.

‘The Right Stuff’

: The cast and crew of “The Right Stuff,” the Disney+ scripted series from National Geographic, debuted a clip from the pilot episode during a virtual panel as part of Comic-Con@Home on Saturday (July 25). A new adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s book by the same title, “The Right Stuff” focuses on the Mercury astronauts and NASA’s early efforts to send an American into space. Moderated by (real-life) astronaut Mae Jemison, the panel also discussed the research that went into shaping each of their portrayals.

Tianwen-1 to Mars

: A Chinese Long March 5 launched China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft to Mars Thursday (July 23), beginning China’s first attempt at landing on the red planet. The Tianwen orbiter, lander and rover are now on their way to arriving at Mars in February 2021, followed by a descent two to three months later. The probes will study Mars’ geological structure, environment and atmosphere.

EVA audit

: When NASA announced that the 300th American spacewalk was upcoming, it hinted at a change to how the extravehicular activities were counted. Saying only that the definition of an EVA has evolved, NASA has opted to rewrite the record for many of its historic missions, including the Apollo moon landings. The result has created ripples that affect previously celebrated spacewalks.

Apollo 11 joysticks auctioned

: Three hand controllers that helped achieve the first moon landing mission 51 years ago hit the auction block on Saturday (July 18), where they sold for over $780,000. The two rotation control sticks and translation hand controller were used aboard the Apollo 11 command module by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in 1969. NASA sought the artifacts be returned so they could be handed over to the Smithsonian, but was unsuccessful. The controllers were sold by Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills to unidentified buyers.

‘Eau de Luna’

: Having already raised almost half a million dollars for the smell of space, a crowdfunded perfumer has now set sights on the moon. The “Eau de Space” campaign on Kickstarter, which is bottling what astronauts have described as the smell of outer space, is adding “Eau de Luna,” the smell of the moon, as a stretch goal. Backers will be able to choose between the two cosmic fragrances, compared to burnt metal and gunpowder, respectively, after the campaign reaches $700,000 in pledges.

SpaceX splashdown

: Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken returned to Earth aboard SpaceX’s first crewed Dragon on Sunday (Aug. 2), and in doing so, became the first U.S. astronauts to splash down in 45 years. Returning from a 64-day test flight to the International Space Station, Hurley and Behnken’s spacecraft, Endeavour, landed safely in the Gulf of Mexico (another first), off the coast of Florida.

Perseverance to Mars

: NASA’s first leg of a round trip mission to Mars lifted off Thursday (Jul 30), sending a six-wheeled rover named Perseverance and the Ingenuity helicopter to the Red Planet. Set to land on Feb. 18, 2021 in Jezero Crater, the Mars 2020 mission will search for sign of life and cache them for a possible future return to Earth. Perseverance launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Sample return

: Two pieces of Mars are set to go home as part of NASA’s Perseverance rover. The Martian meteorite slices will serve as calibration targets for two instruments on the mission, enabling the rover to locate and cache samples from the red planet’s surface for their future return to Earth. One of the meteorites was provided by the Natural History Museum in London to help in the search for the geological evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.

‘For All Mankind’

: Apple has released a first look at season two of “For All Mankind,” Ron Moore’s alternate history series. The minute-long teaser advances the space race into the shuttle era, while heating up the Cold War in the process. The video was first shown as part of a Comic-Con@Home virtual panel that streamed Saturday (July 25) with Moore, his fellow producers and the series’ co-stars.

Tied for 10

: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy each completed their 10th career extravehicular activity (spacewalk) on Tuesday (July 21), tying the American record first set by Michael Lopez-Alegria and Peggy Whitson. Behnken and Cassidy freed fixtures and prepped for the addition of a commercial airlock while outside of the International Space Station. NASA identified the spacewalk as the 300th U.S. EVA conducted since Gemini 4 in 1965.

Moon disaster deepfake

: Had the Apollo 11 moon landing failed and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were tragically lost 51 years ago on Monday (July 20), then President Richard Nixon would have addressed the nation with a speech that began, “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace, will stay on the moon to rest in peace.” MIT has now brought the alternate history to life in a film intended to raise awareness of deepfakes.

‘Hope’ to Mars

: Riding on a rocket launched from Japan, the UAE’s Hope probe left Earth for Mars on a mission to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. Billed as the first Arab interplanetary mission, if Hope is successful and circles Mars in February 2021, the United Arab Emirates will join the small club of nations that have operated a spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet.

Nassau Bay Spire

: When it is lit at night, the new monument at the corner of NASA Road 1 and Space Center Boulevard will shine into the sky, illuminating the connection between a small Houston suburb and NASA. Dubbed the “Nassau Bay Spire,” the installation commemorates the role of Johnson Space Center in Nassau Bay’s success.

Space Tag

: Alabama has traded the historic Saturn V for the new Space Launch System on its space-themed, specialty license plate. First introduced as a fundraiser to “Save the Saturn V” at the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, the plate has depicted the Apollo-era booster for 15 years. The new Alabama Space Tag also updates its “First on the Moon & Beyond” tagline for “Dare to Explore.”