Astronaut carries friends’ wedding rings to Space

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet tweeted this photo of his friends’ wedding rings, which will be returned to Earth in May. (Photo source: Thomas Pesquet/ European Space Agency)

This Summer a special couple will receive a wedding gift that’s truly out of this world.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who has been aboard the International Space Station since November, posted photo to social media of two wedding rings floating in micro gravity.

The flight engineer from France tweeted that he carried in his personal items the wedding bands of two friends tying the knot this Summer. Continue reading

Police: Rocket debris washes ashore on Texas beach

Debris found on a Brazoria County beach is reportedly from a rocket launched from South America. (Source: Freeport Police Department)

Debris that washed ashore along the south Texas coast has been identified as part of a rocket, according to law enforcement.

A police officer made the discovery last week while investigating a report of possible airplane or boat debris being found at a Brazoria County beach.

The large rectangular object is believed to be debris from a rocket launched from South America last month. Freeport Police Department notified the U.S. Coast Guard, NASA, Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. State Department, after making the mysterious find.

“It clearly did not burn up on reentry, landed in the ocean, and floated all the way here to Freeport,” the department posted on Facebook. “It is not dangerous, except for the smell of dying barnacles that called it home for the past two weeks.” Continue reading

Sewing Hope: The extraordinary woman called the ‘Mother Theresa of Africa’

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Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe shared how she took on the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda. (Photo source: Leah Jackson/ NSU Information Services)

Wednesday, I had the opportunity to spend time with an extraordinary woman who has changed the lives of thousands of young girls, who otherwise would remain on the fringes of society.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe is gaining worldwide attention for her humanitarian work to rescue children from a notorious rebel army in Africa. She’s helping mend those broken lives by teaching girls to sew hope with a needle and thread.

I moderated a lecture with Sister Rosemary, then interviewed the notable nun for my Power of Prayer series on KLTV.
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Soccer ball recovered from Shuttle Challenger wreckage reaches space three decades later

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A soccer ball that survived the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986 is now aboard the International Space Station. (Source: Shane Kimbrough/ NASA)

A soccer ball that was to be carried to space by the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger has finally reached its destination, 31 years later. Prior to the January 28, 1986 launch, the ball was presented to NASA astronaut Ellison Onizuka by soccer players, including his daughter, from Clear Lake High School.

Onizuka was one of the seven astronauts killed when the shuttle exploded shortly after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The ball was recovered among the wreckage and returned to the school, where it has been on display for the past three decades, according to NASA.

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WATCH: Riding atop a fire engine in Longview’s Christmas Parade

One of my favorite community events in all of East Texas is the annual Longview Christmas Parade. I’m always astonished by the number of people lining the streets, no matter the weather. Businesses and community groups really put on a show to get people in the Christmas spirit. Each year, the KLTV 7 crew is fortunate enough to ride with the city’s finest, perched atop a Longview fire engine.

Click the video below to check out all the fun!

An unfamiliar place: Making sense of the current political landscape

Our political panel in Austin included Ted Jarrett, Josh Phoebus, and Major General Tom Carter.

Time and again the current presidential campaign has defied tradition, shedding any familiarity to previous election cycles. After a brutal primary season for candidates, the two presidential nominees and their running mates are ramping up the rhetoric.

The next 100 days are sure to mired in mudslinging, with more tweets, nicknames, and distractions from the real issues facing the nation.

Not all political discourse is petty. This weekend, I had the great opportunity to moderate a round table discussion in Austin, Texas. Three panelists with extensive backgrounds in politics and government provided a fascinating look at what is steering the national conversation into uncharted territory, including what one panelist called our “Kim Kardashian culture” that invents drama for entertainment.

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‘Virus hunter’ astronaut shares details of science mission to Space Station

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins trains for spacewalks at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. (Source: NASA)

In July, a self-proclaimed ‘virus hunter’ astronaut will launch aboard a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station, embarking on a four month, science-intensive assignment to the orbiting laboratory.

NASA’s Kate Rubins is counting down the days until the scheduled July 6 launch of Expedition 48/49, which will be the first spaceflight for the molecular biologist. Before her selection to the space agency’s astronaut corps in 2009, the 37-year-old helped developed the first ran a biomedical research lab that studied viral diseases like Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa Fever. Rubins even traveled Central and West Africa to conduct research and supervise study sites, her biography stated. Once aboard the orbiting outpost, she is planning to conduct several biological and human research investigations.

Rubins will spend four months in low Earth orbit along with crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The trio will join NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, who are already on orbit.
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New spacecraft named after astronaut killed in E. Texas space shuttle tragedy

The next Cygnus spacecraft to visit the International Space Station will be named S.S. Rick Husband, Orbital ATK announced Tuesday. (Source: NASA)

The next Cygnus spacecraft to visit the International Space Station will be named S.S. Rick Husband, Orbital ATK announced Tuesday. (Source: NASA)

The next cargo spacecraft to launch to the International Space Station will bear the name of an American astronaut killed in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy over East Texas.

An Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft bearing the name S.S. Rick Husband will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 22.

Husband served as commander of the STS-107 mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke apart during reentry over East Texas on February 1, 2003.

All seven crew members perished in the accident, just 16 minutes before the scheduled landing in Florida. Continue reading

Actor Kirk Cameron shares his spiritual walk from atheist to evangelist

Actor Kirk Cameron shares his spiritual walk from athiest to evangelist

Actor Kirk Cameron is no stranger to talking about his faith. He’s become one of the most prominent Christian voices in Hollywood.

Actor Kirk Cameron became a pop culture idol as the star of the 1980s hit TV comedy ‘Growing Pains.’ Raised in a family without God, he found his faith while portraying teenager Mike Seaver on the ABC sitcom.

Now, as one of the most prominent Christian voices in Hollywood, Cameron is inspiring others by sharing his spiritual walk.

“As a recovering atheist, I look back and I see how God used a friend who invited me to church even though I didn’t have any interest in God, to hear the message of the Gospel, at a time that I was thinking about what life was really all about and what happens after you die and how did we get here in the first place,” Cameron said.

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Emotional ESPN film profiles heroic death, legacy of NFL great Joe Delaney

This month, the heroic story of NFL legend Joe Delaney will be shared with millions of people around the world in ESPN’s latest ’30 For 30′ film. Wednesday night, I got the chance to attend an advance screening of ‘Delaney,’ the short film profiling the life and legacy of the Kansas City Chiefs running back who died in 1983 while trying to rescue three children from drowning in a pond.

The 20-minute documentary, screened at the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, beautifully captures an emotional account of Delaney’s tragically short 24-year life and legacy.

The running back from Haughton had an extraordinary collegiate career in both football and track at Northwestern State University. Chosen by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft, Delaney exploded on the field and was selected AFC Rookie of the Year in 1981 and played in the Pro Bowl. Continue reading

Wildly popular ‘The Art of the Brick’ exhibit opens at Tyler Museum of Art

Thousands of people are expected to wind their way through an exhibition featuring thousands of LEGO bricks arranged into 25 large-scale sculptures at the Tyler Museum of Art.Wildly popular 'The Art of the Brick' exhibit opens at Tyler Museum of Art

The Art of the Brick, a global-touring exhibit by Nathan Sawaya, is being hosted at the museum on the campus of Tyler Junior College through September 13.

Opening weekend, the exhibit broke museum records for attendance on an opening day, single-day, and opening weekend.

The Art of the Brick is such a popular exhibition because the artist uses a familiar childhood toy to create powerful and engaging sculptures,” TMA Executive Director Chris Leahy said in a news release. “Children and adults are instantly captured by the creativity and design of these human forms. We’ve gotten calls from as far away as Tuscaloosa, Ala., asking when they can see this show.” Continue reading

Ministers patrolling E. Texas streets through community policing program

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30 Titus County ministers of various denominations are enlisted in the Clergy And Police Alliance, or C.A.P.A., riding with Mouth Pleasant police officers on patrol.

Rockie Simpler is not a peace officer, but a man of the cloth. Still, his ministry puts him alongside Mount Pleasant police officers — armed only with the word of God.

“This patrol car is my church,” Simpler said. “I use it as a tool to go out and help people with the Lord. I use it to help somebody who has a problem and a need.”

Simpler is among the 30 Titus County ministers of various denominations who are enlisted in the Clergy And Police Alliance, or C.A.P.A. They participate in regular patrols and volunteer for an on-call rotation after completing a six-week training course. Ministers are given an inside look at the duties of law enforcement officers and an overview of the criminal justice system. Continue reading

Shuttle Columbia debris collected in E. Texas goes on public display for first time

The ‘Forever Remembered’ exhibit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center marks the first time artifacts from the shuttle disasters are on public display. (Source: NASA)

A new exhibit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida memorializes the Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke apart over East Texas in 2003.

The 2,000 square foot exhibit, housed at the Space Center’s visitor complex, features the personal effects of crew members and recovered shuttle hardware from both the ill-fated Columbia tragedy and the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

It marks the first time that artifacts from Columbia will be on display to the public. Much of the debris was collected by East Texas volunteers in a months-long recovery effort that began when the shuttle broke apart on February 1, 2003. Continue reading

Theology on Tap serves up Bible study with a twist

The Tyler-area men’s group ‘Theology on Tap’ is catching on with East Texas, drawing as many as 70 attendees each month.

A Christian men’s group in Tyler is reaching out the faithful in an unlikely way, through Bible study with a twist. Theology on Tap provides fellowship and conversations about faith and spirituality in a casual setting.

Rev. Justin Braun, a priest with the Catholic Diocese of Tyler, helped start the group in 2012. “We’re East Texas men. We like beer. You know, and we like to talk about Jesus. So, we can do those things together.”

Once a month, the group meets at various restaurants in the Tyler area, with as many as 70 men participating. Organizer Nathan Ihrig said the idea was to create a relaxed environment, while offering meaningful discussion. “Guys are more willing to come and enjoy a beer or two and eat and listen and ask questions.” Continue reading

Jimmy Kimmel Live returns to Texas for South By Southwest

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live returned to South By Southwest in Austin for a week of shows.

Austin’s iconic South by Southwest festival has gone from an eclectic festival featuring arts and entertainment to a showcase of innovation and ideas.

Techies, foodies, and celebrities have also found a home at SXSW, including late-night TV comedian Jimmy Kimmel. This year, the funnyman brought Jimmy Kimmel Live back to Austin for a week of shows, March 16-20, 2015.

Joining Jimmy for the 29th annual South By Southwest, an impressive list of A-list guests. Some of the standouts included Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tony Romo, and Willie Nelson. Continue reading

Texas DMV rejects hundreds of ‘indecent, vulgar’ personalized license plates

Since 2011, the Texas DMV has rejected more than 1,600 submissions for personalized license plates.

Picking a personalized Texas license plate isn’t a free-for-all. The Department of Motor Vehicles uses very specific criteria for reviewing vanity plate requests, resulting in more than 1,600 rejected requests.

Car enthusiasts at Saturday’s ‘Classic Cars & Art in the Park’ in Mineola are very familiar with the application process. Dozens of hot rods, rat rods, sports cars and classic trucks drew admirers from across East Texas.

Show organizer Ronnie Gorman says a personalized plate captures the character of the car. Putting a custom tag on his classic car was a simple process. “Like on our Impala, we had a 1966 Impala. It said ‘TUFF 66,’ and it was a pretty sweet car,” he said. Continue reading