Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has announced that a privately funded effort has located and recovered two of Apollo 11′s first stage F1 engines located on the ocean floor about 350 miles from Cape Canaveral in 3 miles of water. The engines were part of the first stage booster that lifted Apollo 11 on the flight that resulted in the first manned landing on the moon.
NASA manager Jesco von Puttkamer (b.1933) died on December 27 at his home. Von Puttkamer immigrated to the US in 1962 and joined Wernher von Braun’s team in Huntsville, Alabama, where he worked on Apollo. He also worked on the Skylab program and helped rescue the space station when it would have been sold for scrap after it deorbited. While working at NASA, he also served as a Technical Advisor to Paramount Pictures for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. For more than a decade, von Puttkamer was responsible for the daily ISS Onorbit Status reports. In addition to published more than a dozen non-fiction books, he also published the Star Trek novelette “The Sleeping God.”
Astronaut Sally Ride (b.1951) died on July 23. In 1983, Ride became the first American woman (and youngest at that time) astronaut to fly into space when she flew on Challenger flight STS-7. Prior to that she worked on the development of the shuttle’s robotic arm. She flew on Challenger again in 1984 and was in training for a third flight when Challenger explored. Ride left NASA in 1987 and taught physics. In 2003, she served on the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the addition of Sy Liebergot as a special guest. Liebergot served as EECOM for NASA from Apollo 8 to Apollo 15 and was on duty when an explosion rocked Apollo 13. He continued to work at NASA and served as controller for the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz Test Mission.
Astronaut Janice Voss (b.1956) died on February 6 after a battle with breast cancer. Voss served as a mission specialist on five space shuttle missions between 1993 and 2000. Flying two missions each on Endeavour and Columbia and one on Discovery. Following her in-space career, Voss worked as the Science Director for the Kepler Space Observatory and Payloads Lead of the Astronaut Office Station Branch.
Engineer Roger Boisjoly (b.1938) died on January 6. Boisjoly worked for Morton Thiokol in 1986 and warned NASA that due to falling temperatures, the O-Rings on the space shuttle Challenger could undergo a catastrophic failure and urged for them to cancel the flight. The next day, his predictions came true when Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight.
NASA has announced that SpaceX has been given permission to dock the Dragon capsule with the International Space Station. The Dragon will be carried aloft by the Falcon 9 Rocket on February 7, contingent on final safety reviews, testing and verification of the craft.
Astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were honored on November 16 when they were each awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda. The medals were presented by Representatives John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi and Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the United States. Glenn flew into space twice, on the third Mercury mission and on STS-95. Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins flew on the first lunar landing mission and each also flew on a Gemini mission. The Apollo astronauts received the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1969.
British amateur Astronomer Nick Howes is leading a search to find Snoopy, the lunar module used by the Apollo 10 crew to fly within 8.5 miles of the lunar surface. Following the mission, the module was jettisoned into a solar orbit while the crew returned to Earth in the command module, Charlie Brown.
Tor Books and NASA have announced a collaboration to publish a series of
science based, commercial fiction books, referred to as “NASA inspired Works of Fiction.” The series will allow authors to work closely with NASA Subject Matter Experts to ensure that the science incorporated into the novels is accurate. The Goddard Space Flight Center’s Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office will host a two-day workshop for authors.