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April 18, 2014
This Week @ NASA, April 18, 2014

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

A Dragon takes flight

With a roar from its American Falcon 9 engines, SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Friday to rendezvous with the International Space Station.  The unmanned cargo vessel is carrying almost 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and supplies for the Expedition 39 crew and should arrive at the orbiting laboratory on Sunday.

Pad 39A Milestone

Also at the Cape, an important milestone in the history of Florida’s Kennedy Space Center Pad 39-A was recognized with a twenty year property agreement between NASA and SpaceX of Hawthorne, California.  The two partners inked a contract to use and operate the same historic launch site where Apollo 11 lifted off for the first manned moon landing in 1969.   From Pad 39-A, SpaceX will act as a tenant and aid NASA and other organizations in sending satellites, ISS bound cargo and eventually, American Astronauts to the International Space Station, the moon and beyond.

Kepler finds Earth-size planet

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a new Earth-sized planet orbiting the habitable zone of a distant star which means liquid water might exist on its surface.  The planet, Kepler-186f, is ten percent larger in size than Earth and orbits its parent star every 130 days.  The star is about 500 light-years from Earth and is half the size and mass of our sun.

LADEE completes successful mission 

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE for short, has successfully completed its mission to gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere.  Launched on September 6th, the robotic probe mission was designed to last one hundred and sixty days, however, it continued to provide lunar data for two hundred and twenty two days.  LADEE ended its mission with a planned de-orbit into the moon’s surface on April 17th.  

Launched on September 6th, the robotic probe mission was designed to last one hundred and sixty days, however, it continued to provide lunar data for two hundred and twenty three days. 

Lightfoot visits Armstrong

NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot toured the newly renamed Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California with visiting media to see the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge project or (ACTE) for short, up-close and personal.  The experimental flight research project will help determine whether advanced flexible trailing-edge wing flaps such as these, can improve aircraft aerodynamic efficiency and reduce airport-area noise generated during takeoffs and landings.

Lunar Eclipse

In the early morning hours of April 15th, the United States was in prime orbital position to experience a full lunar eclipse; a phenomenon that occurs when the Earth, moon and sun are in perfect alignment, blanketing the moon with the Earth's red colored shadow.  If you missed the celestial event, you’ll have to wait until the year 2019 to see the next full lunar eclipse from the US.

NASA Rover Challenge

And at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama, student racers from Nevada’s Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology took top honors in the high school division in the 2014 NASA Rover Challenge.  Not to be outdone, Puerto Rico’s Humancao Team claimed first place in the college division with stiff competition from around the globe. Over five hundred engineering students took part in the event, organized by Marshall Space Flight Center in which the challenge to design, build and race a human powered rovers up and over moon inspired obstacles was observed.  The experience is designed to provide young engineers new problem solving skills needed for future NASA missions to the moon, near earth asteroids and eventually, Mars.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …

For more on these and other stories follow us on social media and visit www.nasa.gov/twan.

Page Last Updated: April 18th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines