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: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) doubled the size of its astronaut corps on Saturday (April 10), announcing two new members, including a woman. Mohammad AlMulla and Nora AlMatrooshi will train with NASA’s next astronaut class at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where first Emirati astronaut Hazza AlMansouri and his backup Sultan AlNeyadi are already preparing for future missions to the space station and perhaps the moon.
Philip Chapman, 1935-2021
: NASA’s first astronaut born in Australia, Philip Chapman died on Monday (April 5) at the age of 86. Selected with the second class of scientist-astronauts in 1967, Chapman coordinated the experiments for the 1971 Apollo 14 moon landing, but resigned from NASA a year later before flying into space himself. Chapman went on to work on commercial reusable spacecraft and the development of solar power satellites.
: It took 38 years, but Richard Truly is about to get one of the ten envelopes that he and his STS-8 crewmates autographed while aboard the space shuttle Challenger. While his four fellow astronauts each got theirs, Truly’s went missing – and he was the only stamp collector on board the 1983 mission. The reunion is thanks to another collector, David Ball, who won the STS-8 cover after it was listed on eBay without explanation.
Four for Inspiration4
: An analog astronaut and a former Space Camp counselor will join a billionaire and a pediatric cancer survivor on the crew of the first all-civilian spaceflight. Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski won seats aboard the SpaceX Dragon that will launch with benefactor Jared Isaacman and St. Jude’s physician assistant Hayley Arceneaux. The Inspiration4 mission will orbit the planet for 3 days at an altitude above the International Space Station.
: The mirror-like finish on VSS Imagine, Virgin Galactic’s first SpaceShip III, serves both as a thermal coating and reflects “our inherent human fascination with space.” Revealed Tuesday (March 30), the new ship and its next-to-be-built sister ship, “VSS Inspire,” feature a more modular design than the previous SpaeShipTwo in an effort by Virgin Galactic to increase its flight rate.
Delta in the garden
: Two-and-a-half years after lifting off for a final time, the last Delta II has taken root in the iconic rocket garden at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. The United Launch Alliance (ULA) retired rocket, with its trademark “Delta Blue” finish, stands out among the mostly black-and-white boosters on display.
8 minutes closer to the moon
: The world’s largest rocket stage ignited for a successful, full-duration hot fire on Thursday (March 18), bringing NASA 8 minutes closer to returning astronauts to the moon. The Space Launch System (SLS) core stage burned its four RS-25 engines for the same time they would during a launch but while bolted down on an Apollo-era test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. With the “Green Run” tests complete, the focus will now turn to launching the Artemis I mission.
: Anna Kikina, Russia’s only woman in its active cosmonaut corps, now has her very own one-of-a-kind Barbie doll. Mattel chose Kikina for its “You Can Be Whoever You Want” campaign, which uses Barbie dolls styled after role models to inspire young girls to pursue the career of their dreams. The Anna Kikina doll will not be sold, but given away in a contest in celebration of the 60 anniversary of human spaceflight.
Duct tape tool
: The astronauts on board the International Space Station now have a one-handed tool for dispensing an indispensable item: duct tape. Devised by HUNCH, or High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware, the new tape dispenser solves a sticky problem by freeing up one of the crewmember’s hands while cutting off strips of duct or Kapton tape. Astronauts use the tape in everyday activities just like on Earth, but also in repairs and to keep items from floating away in microgravity.
: Astrobotic has revealed its mission patch for what is set to become the first commercial lunar landing. The Peregrine Mission One (PM1), slated to launch as soon as this year, is represented on the patch by a peregrine falcon, similar to the American bald eagle on the Apollo 11 insignia. The PM1 emblem also includes nods to the NASA and other payloads aboard the Astrobotic lander.
Casio celebrates STS-1 at 40
: Casio’s new G-Shock digital watch marks 40 years since the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle. The limited edition watch, which goes on sale on Monday (April 12), features design elements inspired by the aesthetics of the Columbia orbiter, including a backlight that illuminates a silhouette of the space shuttle and a dial adorned by the NASA’s red “worm” logotype.
‘Yu.A. Gagarin’ launches
: Three new crew members for the International Space Station launched Friday (April 9) aboard the “Yu.A. Gagarin,” Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft named for the first human to fly into space 60 years ago this month. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov together with astronaut Mark Vande Hei lifted off on a two-orbit rendezvous to join ISS Expedition 64/65.
Space Explorers Club
: Registrations open on Monday (April 5) for the Space Explorers Club, the new virtual engagement program from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. Limited to 35 members, the club will present a different astronaut speaker each month, beginning with Apollo 13 and space shuttle Enterprise pilot Fred Haise in May. Registrants will also receive autographs, a certificate and, when possible, a special invite to an in-person meet.
The ‘Wright’ stuff on Mars
: It has flown to the moon, to Earth orbit and the International Space Station; now a swatch of fabric from the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft is set to take flight again, this time on Mars. Muslin from the Wright brothers’ Flyer is attached to NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter, which will soon become the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet.
‘Gagarin’ flies again
: Continuing a tradition, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft that is set to launch just days before the 60th anniversary of human spaceflight in April has been given the name of the first cosmonaut. The “Yu.A. Gagarin” will fly with cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov, together with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, to the International Space Station. The crew’s rocket will also be decorated with a 60th anniversary commemorative logo.
: A team of scientists and students associated with NASA’s Lucy probe to study Trojan asteroids has named 27 small bodies in the asteroid belt after trail-blazing astronauts. The namesakes include active and former NASA astronauts, Air Force candidates and a Soviet-era cosmonaut of African American, Hispanic and Native American descent. The new designations join about 40 asteroids previously-named for space explorers.
: Russia’s next Soyuz rocket to lift off will sport a new look inspired by the first launch of a cosmonaut 60 years ago. In a rare change of color, the Soyuz-2 is trading its gray and orange paint pattern for a white and blue livery that evokes the frosted-over Vostok booster that Yuri Gagarin rode into space in April 1961. GK Launch Services chose the palette, pulling the blue from in its logo and that of the state space corporation Roscosmos.
: Twenty-one missions have landed on the moon to date, and even more have impacted the lunar surface. The total record of human heritage on Earth’s natural satellite is now being catalogued by the For All Moonkind Moon Registry. The new online resource has entries for all lunar missions and invites the public to help complete the record of every object that rests on the moon.
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