“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited Marshall Space Flight Center to see work being done on the avionics and flight software for NASA’s Space Launch System rocket. Marshall’s System Integration Lab conducts flight simulations of the avionics system -- including hardware, software and operating systems -- that will guide the launch vehicle, to see how the SLS will perform during launch.
There also was a media event at Marshall on March 11 to announce the signing of a newly expanded Space Act Agreement between NASA and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The new agreement calls for Marshall to provide technical expertise to the company as it plans for integration of science payloads on its Dream Chaser spacecraft. Teledyne Brown Engineering, which will work with SNC under a Teaming Agreement also participated in the event.
Just hours after leaving the International Space Station, the Expedition 38 crew made a safe return to Earth – touching down in Kazakhstan on March 10, Eastern Daylight Time. NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy spent 166 days in space. Meanwhile, the Expedition 39/40 crew continues preparing for its upcoming trip to the ISS. NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev traveled from Star City, Russia to Kazakhstan to complete training for their launch to the station later this month.
Onboard the International Space Station, NASA’s Rick Mastracchio and new station commander, Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency answered questions about life and research in space during a March 13 In-flight event with Administrator Bolden and about 100 students participating in the U.S. Senate Youth Program. Mastracchio, Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin are scheduled to remain onboard the station until mid-May.
During an 83-second free flight test at Kennedy Space Center, the Morpheus prototype lander rose to 580-feet -- higher than the Washington Monument and its highest altitude to date. Morpheus then flew 837 feet downrange at 30 mph – both farther and faster than any previous test -- before descending and touching down about a foot from its target. Seven NASA centers are involved with Project Morpheus, which is testing NASA's automated landing and hazard avoidance technology and an engine that uses "green" propellants. These capabilities could be used to deliver cargo to planetary surfaces on future missions.
Citizen scientists who develop improved algorithms for identifying asteroids have a shot at 35-thousand dollars in prize money being offered through NASA’s Asteroid Data Hunter series contest. The contest series, being conducted in partnership with Planetary Resources Inc. of Bellevue, Washington, starts on March 17. NASA's asteroid initiative seeks to enhance the agency’s ongoing work to identify and characterize near-Earth objects for further scientific investigation.
At the South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas, NASA exhibits, panel discussions and presentations highlighted the agency’s efforts to find answers to tough questions, such as: Is there life on other planets? And, are we smarter than the dinosaurs? There was also info about NASA Earth science missions, the soon-to-fly Orion spacecraft, the Space Launch System and the Asteroid Grand Challenge – as well as a live question and answer session with the crew aboard the International Space Station.
A Women’s History Month program at headquarters titled, “Involving Everyone in the Conversation.” featured presentations by Administrator Bolden and former NASA astronaut Sandy Magnus – now executive director at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The program also included panel discussions about the relationships and challenges of workforce diversity and encouraging students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.
And that’s what’s up … This Week at NASA.
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Page Editor: Gary Daines