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This Week @ NASA, May 25, 2012
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This Week at NASA…
ENTER THE DRAGON – JSC
“Station, Houston on space-to- ground two, Dragon will be departing the 30 meter hold momentarily.”
A day after grappling the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the International Space Station’s robotic arm …
“Houston, station looks we’ve got us a dragon by the tail.”
…and berthing Dragon to the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module …
“Second stage capture is complete.”
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “The first private spacecraft ever launched and sent to the space station is now a visiting vehicle and it wouldn’t have been possible without every single one of you on this team.”
… the Expedition 31 crew opened the hatch to the first commercial cargo spacecraft to visit the ISS.
Don Pettit, NASA Astronaut: “We all remember the completion of the Transcontinental railroad, which opened up the Western frontier of the United States and it was celebrated or commemorated by pounding in the golden spike. This is kind of the equivalent of the golden spike.”
Joe Acaba, NASA Astronaut: “I have a lot of confidence in our future. This is a great first step to move us forward now with the commercialization of this and like Don had said earlier, I think we would feel very comfortable in a human rate vehicle just like this one.”
Following the historic hatch opening station crewmembers entered Dragon to begin unloading supplies. The SpaceX demonstration flight to the ISS is part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS program, which provides investments to stimulate the commercial space industry in America. Under the program, SpaceX and other companies successfully complete a test flight to begin delivering regular cargo shipments to the station.
ECLIPSE FROM SPACE – JSC
Video taken from the International Space Station documents the May 20 annular solar eclipse. While flying at about 240 statute miles above Earth, NASA astronaut Don Pettit captured the moon’s shadow being cast on the planet below as the moon lined up between sun and Earth. This was the first solar eclipse of 2012. The next one – a total eclipse is scheduled to take place on November 13.
105 YEARS ‘TIL THE NEXT VENUS TRANSIT – HQ
Another rare celestial event is just on the horizon. A transit of the planet Venus across the Sun is scheduled for June 5. A transit takes place when a planet passes directly between the Sun and Earth. In doing so, Venus will block a portion of the Sun, much like a solar eclipse by the moon. Despite being almost four times larger, Venus is much farther away than the moon, so the planet will be seen from Earth as a small, dark disk moving slowly across the face of the Sun.
Transits of Venus are among the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena, occurring in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits about eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years.
The most recent Transit of Venus happened in June 2004. After 2012, the next transits of Venus will be in December 2117 and December 2125.
LUNAR SITES PROTECTED – HQ
A set of guidelines developed by NASA to protect the Apollo and other historic landing sites on the moon will be followed by contestants in a Google-sponsored competition to space. That agreement in principle comes about as 26 teams worldwide continue their plans to build and send robots to the lunar surface in hopes of claiming a share of the 30-million dollars in awards offered by The Google Lunar X-Prize. The first privately-funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the moon, have it travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send HD video, images and data back to Earth, will claim the prizes. Bonus awards will go to those imaging the six Apollo landing sites and others, including that of NASA’s Surveyor spacecraft. All Google Lunar X-Prize monies must be claimed by the end of 2015.
HONORING FALLEN MILITARY HEROES - GSFC (CP) – Eric Drezek Reporting
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was the guest speaker at the second Goddard Veterans Memorial Day observance at Goddard Space Flight Center. Bolden and Center Director Chris Scolese joined active duty and retired service members to honor those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Chris Scolese, Goddard Center Director: “At Goddard as you all know we truly value our diversity it captures a broad understanding of all the things that we are and that we do and it makes Goddard a much better place and I think it makes NASA and the country a better place.”
Charles Bolden: “People who, every day put on the uniforms of our Armed Forces and risk their lives protecting the Freedoms and Liberties of this great Nation of ours; I also know many of us have been personally touched by the loss of one of these brave and selfless heroes, so this is also a day where we pause and honor the memories of members of our own NASA family who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to this great county.”
The annual event is presented by the Goddard Veterans Advisory Committee. Invited guests included members of the group, Wounded Warriors, and the Tuskegee Airmen.
NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS WEEK – HQ
Again serving as guest speaker, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was behind the lectern at the Small Business Administration’s annual Procurement Awards Breakfast in Washington. Joined by Glenn Delgado, the agency’s Associate Administrator for Small Business Programs, Bolden noted the important roles played by entrepreneurs and small businesses not only in fueling the American economy, but also in NASA‘s past, present and future successes as envisioned by President Obama. The event was held as part of National Small Business Week.
GLOBAL SPACE EXPLORATION CONFERENCE – HQ
“To work on some of the technologies…”
Also in Washington, at the Global Space Exploration Conference, or GLEX, Acting Associate Administrator, Robert Lightfoot, represented NASA in a roundtable discussion of international space agency leaders about future missions. Sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, GLEX brought together senior leaders from the world’s major space agencies, industry, governments, academia and non-governmental organizations to exchange ideas and discuss opportunities presented by future human and robotic space exploration.
ANSWER: HE TOUTS “SPINOFFS” – HQ
Our This Week @NASA answer is: This television game show celebrity is now hosting a public service announcement pointing out that much of the technology we rely on in our daily lives comes from technologies developed by NASA for space exploration. The correct response …
“Hello everyone I’m Alex Trebek.”
Who is “Jeopardy” quizmaster, Alex Trebek?
Now for the This Week @NASA Daily Double … the answer: Trebek’s new PSA can be seen on NASA Television, the NASA TV YouTube page, and nasa.gov, along with similar videos featuring which other celebrities and musicians showing how NASA Spinoffs benefit life here on Earth today?
The Daily Double question: Who are recording artists Will.i.am, Norah Jones and comedian Stephen Colbert?
“If you’d like to learn more about how NASA is improving our lives, visit www.nasa.gov.”
CARBON-SENSING SHERPA – WFF/JPL
NASA’s newest airborne science aircraft, the C-23 Sherpa, has departed from the Wallops Flight Facility on its first mission. The flying science platform supports the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment, or CARVE, headquartered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. CARVE will collect an integrated set of data to provide unprecedented insights into Arctic carbon cycling, or the release and absorption of carbon from Arctic ecosystems. The C-23 joined NASA’s crewed science aircraft fleet in January, expanding the agency’s capabilities to conduct research worldwide.
Mike Cropper, Airborne Science Project Manager, Wallops Flight Facility: “Besides airborne research we can use it for logistical support for cargo type missions, range surveillance, recovery operations for balloon program or sounding rockets, or any other type of mission that somebody may be able to think of. It’s a pretty versatile aircraft, easy to modify, a lot of capability to the plane itself.”
The C-23 will conduct investigations in Fairbanks, Alaska through September.
LANGLEY RECEIVES NEW RESEARCH PLANE – LARC (CP) – Katherine Barnstorff Reporting
It wasn't something you see every day – what looked like a Coast Guard jet arriving at NASA's Langley Research Center in October, 2011.
But a closer look showed all official markings - gone. That's because the HU-25C Guardian, which had been at a Coast Guard base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts was about to join NASA Langley's fleet in Hampton, Virginia.
It took a few months to get the business jet equivalent ready for its first NASA airborne mission doing atmospheric research. But changes the Coast Guard had made already paid off.
Bruce Fisher, Chief Engineer: “This aircraft also has a number of modifications the Coast Guard made to the aircraft which we can adapt for atmospheric science and for aerospace/ aeronautical research.”
They include a removable hatch in the bottom and over-sized windows that can be used for optical imaging systems. It all adds up to a more versatile plane for scientific research.
Bruce Fisher, Chief Engineer: “This is a big step forward in capability – in power, range, altitude, speed and weight that we can carry that we could not carry before.”
The Guardian's first NASA mission is scheduled for Greenland, but the crew hopes warmer climates are in the future.
PEOPLE, PROGRESS, PARTNERSHIPS – MSFC
The annual Marshall Space Flight Center Director's Breakfast was held at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. The theme of this year’s event, “People, Progress, Partnerships,” focused on Marshall’s accomplishments over the past year and the Center’s support of NASA’s mission and long-range strategy. Acting Center Director Gene Goldman discussed Marshall’s activities with community leaders, elected officials and industry partners in attendance.
Goldman also handed out Marshall Center Contractor Excellence Awards, given annually to prime contractors, subcontractors and suppliers who’ve made significant contributions to Marshall-managed NASA projects, including development of the agency’s new Space Launch System and its support of the commercial space transportation industry.
ASIAN-PACIFIC HERITAGE MONTH PROFILE – Fran Lawas-Grodek (GRC)
Fran Lawas-Grodek, Computer Engineer – Glenn Research Center: “My name is Fran Lawas-Grodek. I’ve been with NASA for, this will be my 29th year at NASA. I’m a computer engineer in the IT Security Office here on the lab. I work with a group of people where we protect the lab, labs data that flows through the computer networks. One of my main responsibilities is the firewall team lead. The firewall protects the data that comes in and out of the lab from the public Internet and what I do with my part is to make sure that the adequate protections, the sufficient protections are put in place within the firewall. What I like most about working at NASA is the people that I’ve met and worked with along my way. We have such a great diversity of people, people from all backgrounds, different races, different cultures, different beliefs and we are all working together to achieve the same goal. I graduated from Cleveland State University. My major originally was, it was accounting, but I found Computer Science to come fairly easily. I can say that my parents inspired me the most when I was growing up. They came here and they had no family. So, knowing all those things that they’ve had to deal with, the differences and the cultures, that they were able to succeed is what’s inspiring to me that I know that I can succeed if I want to try something different. What I would say to young people in preparing for a career of their choice is to find the job that they would do for free. This would be the job they would have the passion, and it would make them happy in doing it, and even better yet, is that they could eventually and will be getting paid for it.”
NASA ANNIVERSARY: PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY’S “MOON” SPEECH TO CONGRESS May 25, 1961 - HQ
JFK Moon Speech: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
51 years ago, on May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy, in a speech before a special joint session of Congress, challenged the nation to set its sights on sending an American to the moon. So directed, NASA ramped up its human spaceflight effort, starting with Project Mercury, and continuing on through Gemini, and Apollo.
“That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”
In July, 1969, Kennedy’s goal was realized when joined by Apollo 11 crewmate Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their safe return home after landing on the lunar surface.
NASA ANNIVERSARY: STS-96 - FIRST DOCKING TO THE ISS, May 29, 1999 – HQ
Thirteen years ago, on May 29, 1999, Discovery made the first space shuttle docking to the International Space Station. STS-96, the second flight to the complex, was commanded by Kent Rominger and was piloted by Rick Husband. Mission Specialists were Ellen Ochoa, Tamara Jernigan, Daniel Barry, Julie Payette and Valery Tokarev. Also onboard: 3,567 pounds of material that included clothing, sleeping bags, spare parts, medical equipment, supplies, hardware and about 84 gallons of water.
And that’s This Week @ NASA!
For more on these and other stories, or to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, log on to www.nasa.gov.
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