“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden responded to questions at a Congressional hearing on the agency’s FY2015 budget proposal. Announced March 4, the 17-point-5-billion dollar budget affirms the bi-partisan plan agreed to by Congress and the President – enabling NASA to carry out an ambitious deep space exploration program. One that includes sending humans to an asteroid and Mars, extending use of the International Space Station to at least 2024, testing and developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket and fostering Commercial partnerships.
Bolden was joined by NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg at the March 26 Asteroid Initiative Opportunities Forum at NASA headquarters, which featured status updates on the latest plans, concepts and technologies being considered for the Asteroid Redirect Mission to capture a near-Earth asteroid and redirect it closer to the moon for study. Also discussed was a broad agency announcement soliciting ideas for the mission and new engagement opportunities in the agency’s Grand Challenge to find asteroids that pose a potential threat to human life.
Nyberg and Parmitano in DC
Nyberg, who spent nearly six months aboard the International Space Station last year, was in town for a series of post-flight appearances with Expedition 36/37 crewmate Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. The pair visited Goddard Space Flight Center where they shared images from their mission with Goddard employees. Nyberg also participated in a “Kid-Friendly” NASA Social at headquarters – with more than a hundred NASA followers attending.
The space station has three new crew members – the Expedition 39/40 crew launched from Kazakhstan on March 25, Eastern Daylight Time. But the planned same day arrival was prolonged after their Soyuz spacecraft was unable to complete a third thruster burn to fine-tune its approach to the station. NASA’s Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev finally arrived at the orbital laboratory on March 27. They were welcomed aboard by Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NASA Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian Federal Space Agency.
NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have released the first images from the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, which launched into space Feb. 27. The images of the March 10 “extra-tropical cyclone” over the northwest Pacific Ocean, captured precipitation in the form of rain and snow. This type of cyclone, which occurs when warm and cold air masses collide north or south of the tropics, can produce rain, snow, ice, high winds, and other severe weather.
The high school division of NASA’s Exploration Design Challenge is down to five teams. The educational program, associated with the first flight test later this year of the Orion spacecraft, challenges K-thru-12 grade students to design radiation protection for astronauts on deep space missions. The final five were announced by astronaut Rex Walheim and Lockheed Martin’s Heather McKay during a live broadcast from Johnson Space Center.
NASA's Super Guppy aircraft arrived at Redstone Army Airfield Wednesday, carrying one of the largest composite fuel tanks ever built. Manufactured by NASA and Boeing, the 5-point-5 meter diameter composite cryotank was delivered to nearby Marshall Space Flight Center where it will be filled with extremely cold, or cryogenic, hydrogen fuel and undergo a series of pressure and temperature tests to see how it performs compared to similar-sized, but heavier metal fuel tanks in use today.
Angry Nerd robot
A NASA-sponsored robot, named “Angry Nerd”, was entered into the 2014 Greater DC Regional FIRST Robotics Competition by a team of students from Northern Virginia’s Herndon High School. The March 27-29 event at George Mason University is one of many regional competitions around the country in this year’s FIRST Robotics season that involves a challenge called, “Aerial Assist”, where teams control their robots to score as many balls in goals as possible. More than 350-thousand students from around the world are vying to compete in the FIRST Championship to be held in late April, in St. Louis.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …
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Page Editor: Gary Daines