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Moon Rock Gains Traveling Companion for Historic Return to Space


HOUSTON — A moon rock collected during the historic Apollo 11 mission more than 40 years ago will be heading back to space and a new home aboard the International Space Station, sharing quarters with a piece of Mt. Everest.

On May 20, 2009, former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski carried the rock to the top of Mt. Everest where he collected a rock from the world’s highest mountain to accompany the lunar sample for its return to space.

During an event Jan. 6 at Space Center Houston, Parazynski will present both rocks to NASA astronaut and STS-130 mission Commander George Zamka. Zamka will deliver the rocks to the space station during space shuttle
Endeavour’s mission next month.

Collected from the Sea of Tranquility on the lunar surface, the moon rock and its Mt. Everest companion will be displayed inside the station’s Tranquility module, which the STS-130 crew will deliver to the station.

During the presentation, Parazynski will share the story of his journey to the top of the world and what inspired him to carry along the lunar sample, followed by an audience question and answer session. The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to noon CST in the Blast Off Theater in the Mission Status Center at Space Center Houston. NASA Television will air a recording of the event at 3:30 p.m.

SPACE WALLPAPER: Apollo 11 Bootprint


(Above) One of the first steps taken on the Moon, this is an image of Buzz Aldrin’s bootprint from the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon on July 20, 1969.


Fisher Space Pen Co. Launches Limited Edition Pen to Commemorate Apollo 11


Fisher Space Pen Co. is making available 1,000 limited edition AG7-40LE Space Pens. The pen is designed as a replica of the historic anti-gravity model pen that was invented by company founder, Paul C. Fisher, in 1966 and flew aboard the Apollo missions.

The 40th anniversary pen features a piece of “Kapton” foil, used as protective thermal insulation on the Apollo 11 Command module, Columbia, which carried the astronauts to the moon and back. This rare artifact floats in a water-clear acrylic dome sealed into the pen’s cap.

The presentation case tells the historic story of the Apollo 11 mission as well as other monumental moments in human spaceflight. The iconic photo of Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon is replicated in a resin casting of the footprint inset into the hinged lid. And, an innovative magnetic pedestal allows the pen to sit on its own “launch pad” for display when the lid is closed. The story continues on the sides of the case with a band of plated stainless steel and is engraved with a timeline that tells the moment-by-moment story of the mission’s key events, from launch to splashdown.

The pen is finished with black titanium nitride. The detailed engravings inlayed with 24-karat gold include the pen’s sequential serial number, the names of the Apollo 11 crew and the image of an astronaut planting the American flag into the lunar surface.

The Fisher AG7 Space Pen, featuring Fisher’s sealed and pressurized anti-gravity ink cartridge, has been issued to astronauts for NASA human spaceflights since 1968.

“The 40th anniversary of the moon landing presented the perfect opportunity to respectfully honor my father’s invention and the useful role it has and continues to contribute to human space exploration,” said Cary Fisher, company president. “I believe he would be delighted and proud to offer 1,000 people the opportunity to own a piece of history from that remarkable era.”

SPACE ART: Apollo Spacecraft Recovery


(Above) This Artist concept illustrates the recovery of the Command Module following splashdown at the conclusion of an Apollo Lunar mission.

Apollo 11 Moon Rock on the International Space Station


(Above) A moon rock brought to Earth by Apollo 11, humans’ first landing on the moon in July 1969, is shown as it floats aboard the International Space Station. Part of Earth can be seen through the window.

The 3.6 billion year-old lunar sample was flown to the station aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-119 in April 2009 in honor of the July 2009 40th anniversary of the historic first moon landing. The rock, lunar sample 10072, was flown to the station to serve as a symbol of the nation’s resolve to continue the exploration of space. It will be returned on shuttle mission STS-128 to be publicly displayed.

VIDEO: Obama Chats with Crew of Apollo 11

President Obama honors Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin on the 40th anniversary of man’s first steps on the moon.

Iconic Images: Apollo 11 Crew Meets With President Obama


(Above) President Barack Obama chats with Apollo 11 astronauts, from left, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, Monday, July 20, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

VIDEO: ‘MythBusters’ Talk Moon Landing

Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, from the popular TV show “MythBusters,” discuss Apollo moon landing conspiracies on CNN.

Apollo 11: One Giant Leap For Mankind


July 1969. It’s a little over eight years since the flights of Gagarin and Shepard, followed quickly by President Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon before the decade is out.

It is only seven months since NASA’s made a bold decision to send Apollo 8 all the way to the moon on the first manned flight of the massive Saturn V rocket.

Now, on the morning of July 16, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins sit atop another Saturn V at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The three-stage 363-foot rocket will use its 7.5 million pounds of thrust to propel them into space and into history.

At 9:32 a.m. EDT, the engines fire and Apollo 11 clears the tower. About 12 minutes later, the crew is in Earth orbit.


(Above) Smoke and flames signal the opening of a historic journey as the Saturn V clears the launch pad.

After one and a half orbits, Apollo 11 gets a “go” for what mission controllers call “Translunar Injection” — in other words, it’s time to head for the moon. Three days later the crew is in lunar orbit. A day after that, Armstrong and Aldrin climb into the lunar module Eagle and begin the descent, while Collins orbits in the command module Columbia.

Collins later writes that Eagle is “the weirdest looking contraption I have ever seen in the sky,” but it will prove its worth.

When it comes time to set Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, Armstrong improvises, manually piloting the ship past an area littered with boulders. During the final seconds of descent, Eagle’s computer is sounding alarms.

It turns out to be a simple case of the computer trying to do too many things at once, but as Aldrin will later point out, “unfortunately it came up when we did not want to be trying to solve these particular problems.”

When the lunar module lands at 4:18 p.m EDT, only 30 seconds of fuel remain. Armstrong radios “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration as the tension breaks, and a controller tells the crew “You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue, we’re breathing again.”

Armstrong will later confirm that landing was his biggest concern, saying “the unknowns were rampant,” and “there were just a thousand things to worry about.”


(Above) Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong working at an equipment storage area on the lunar module. This is one of the few photos that show Armstrong during the moonwalk.

At 10:56 p.m. EDT Armstrong is ready to plant the first human foot on another world. With more than half a billion people watching on television, he climbs down the ladder and proclaims: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Aldrin joins him shortly, and offers a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explore the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.


(Above) Buzz Aldrin climbs down the Eagle’s ladder to the surface.

They leave behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs. It reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Armstrong and Aldrin blast off and dock with Collins in Columbia. Collins later says that “for the first time,” he “really felt that we were going to carry this thing off.”

The crew splashes down off Hawaii on July 24. Kennedy’s challenge has been met. Men from Earth have walked on the moon and returned safely home.

In an interview years later, Armstrong praises the “hundreds of thousands” of people behind the project. “Every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, ‘If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault.’”

In a post-flight press conference, Armstrong calls the flight “a beginning of a new age,” while Collins talks about future journeys to Mars.

Over the next three and a half years, 10 astronauts will follow in their footsteps. Gene Cernan, commander of the last Apollo mission leaves the lunar surface with these words: “We leave as we came and, god willing, as we shall return, with peace, and hope for all mankind.”

The bootprints of Apollo are waiting for company.

NASA Mourns the Death of Walter Cronkite


The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the death of veteran journalist Walter Cronkite.

“It is with great sadness that the NASA family learned of Walter Cronkite’s passing. He led the transition from print and radio reporting to the juggernaut that became television journalism. His insight and integrity were unparalleled, and his compassion helped America make it through some of the most tragic and trying times of the 20th century.

“From the earliest days of the space program, Walter brought the excitement, the drama and the achievements of space flight directly into our homes. But it was the conquest of the moon in the late 1960s that energized Walter most about exploration. He called it the most important feat of all time and said that the success of Apollo 11 would be remembered 500 years from now as humanity’s greatest achievement.

“It was Walter Cronkite’s impassioned reporting on America’s inaugural moon landing that inspired me to join in the dreams of many to travel to space and accept the risks that this exploration brings while I was a student in naval flight training.

“In honor of his ethical and enthusiastic coverage of our nations’ space program, NASA was proud to honor Walter in 2006 with an Ambassador of Exploration Award and presented him with an Apollo lunar sample.

“For decades, we had the privilege of learning about our world from the original ‘anchorman.’ He was a true gentleman. Our thoughts and prayers are with Walter’s family and his millions of friends and supporters.”


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