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This Week @ NASA, July 1, 2011
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STS-135 CREW READY FOR LAST SHUTTLE MISSION – KSC
With the launch of STS-135 officially set for July 8th at 11:26 a.m. eastern daylight time the four-member crew -- Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- is making its final preparations for the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program.
Space shuttle Atlantis' 12-day mission to the International Space Station will deliver the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module filled with supplies and spare parts to sustain station operations once the shuttles are retired. The mission also will fly the Robotic Refueling Mission, an experiment designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites in space, even satellites not designed to be serviced.
Gerstenmeir: "This flight is incredibility importantly to Space Station the cargo that is coming up on this flight is really mandatory for Space Station."
The first space shuttle mission, STS-1, came on April 12, 1981, with veteran astronaut John Young and first-time flyer, Bob Crippen, aboard Columbia. The liftoff of Atlantis will be shuttle launch number 135.
BOLDEN ON NASA'S FUTURE - HQ
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden outlined the agency's post-shuttle future in a speech to media and members at the National Press Club in Washington.
Administrator Bolden: "I'm here to tell you that American leadership in space will continue for at least, at least the next half-century because we have laid the foundation for success – and failure is not an option."
Bolden told the luncheon gathering and a national television audience that NASA will continue its human space exploration efforts aboard the International Space Station, and by developing new technologies and capabilities to send future generations to multiple destinations beyond low Earth orbit.
Administrator Bolden: "We are not ending human space flight, we are recommitting ourselves to it and taking the necessary, and difficult steps, today to ensure America's pre-eminence in human spaceflight for years to come."
Bolden also spoke of NASA's continued innovation in aeronautics research, and dedication to sending robotic science missions into the solar system and beyond.
As a special guest, four-time shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly spoke of the continuing recovery of his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, and the end of the shuttle era.
Mark Kelly: "I love her very much, but I have to say, I also love the space shuttle very much. The space shuttle has been very good to this country it is an incredible ship that is difficult to let go, in just one week from today, the Space shuttle will rocket off the planet one last time."
ROBOTIC LANDER TESTED AT MARSHALL – MSFC
NASA's Robotic Lander Development Project at the Marshall Space Flight Center conducted the second free-flight test of a robotic lander prototype. The lander successfully executed its planned flight profile, rising to a six-foot hover and descending to a controlled soft landing.
Overhead and side mounted cameras captured the action in high definition and infrared, allowing engineers to see the performance, and gauge the temperatures of thruster plumes invisible to the naked eye.
These tests will aid in the design and development of a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of performing science and exploration research at multiple destinations in the solar system.
WEBB TELESCOPE MIRRORS POLISHED - GSFC
All of the mirrors that will fly aboard NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have been polished, representing a major milestone for the observatory. JWST has four types of mirrors made of Beryllium. Its primary one, which is actually comprised of 18 individual mirrors, will enable scientists to capture light from faint, distant objects in the universe faster than any previous space observatory, and see objects as far away as the first galaxies in the universe.
As the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb telescope is the world's next-generation space observatory. It is the most powerful space telescope ever built.
NASA AIRCRAFT HELPS PROVIDE A CLEARER VIEW OF AIR POLLUTION – LaRC/GSFC
Two NASA aircraft are conducting research flights over the Baltimore-Washington region and northeast Maryland this summer to improve how ground-level air quality is measured from space.
DISCOVER-AQ, for Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality, is a targeted, four-year, science investigation to complement data gathered by NASA satellites.
Spaceborne instruments monitoring air quality have trouble distinguishing between pollution high in the atmosphere and pollution near the surface where people live. DISCOVER-AQ's measurements will be combined with ground-based observation sites to help scientists tell the difference.
ASTRO MIKE LEADS WEB CHAT WITH LORI GARVER – HQ
Lori Garver: "We can work with the private sector and tap into that US industry.
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver Web-chatted with users of the social medium, Twitter, about the future of the agency. Hosted by astronaut Mike Massimino, better known to tweeters by the handle AstroMike, the one-hour question and answer session was carried on NASA TV's UStream channel. Garver and Massimo invited the Twitter community to ask questions about NASA's plans for human exploration of space post Shuttle.
Lori Garver: "The exploration plans of this nation, I think we will do it in a cooperative way, have the Red Planet in our sights. The whole point of what we are doing is to develop these capabilities so we can go farther."
Mike Massimino: "OK, awesome, alright we have another question"
They also discussed how NASA Astronauts will continue to travel and work aboard the International Space Station with 13-hundred plus viewers.
AGENCY HONOR AWARDS CEREMONY – HQ
The annual Agency Honor Awards ceremony was held at NASA Headquarters on June 30. The event recognized employees – both individual and groups at NASA centers and facilities across the country who've made significant contributions to the NASA mission and America's space program over the past year. A total of 88 awards were presented during this year's ceremony.
50TH ANNIVERSARY – HQ
The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington was the scene of a special celebration noting the 50th anniversary of the first nuclear spaceflight. The fete honored the flight of the Transit IV-A spacecraft on June 29, 1961, carrying with it a SNAP-3B radioisotope powered generator that produced 2.7 watts of electrical power, as well as other nuclear-powered missions undertaken by NASA in the subsequent 50 years.
AND NOW CENTERPIECES...
F-18/MARS SCIENCE LAB RADAR FLIGHTS - DFRC
Diving like a bird of prey, a NASA Dryden F/A-18 has been putting the landing radar for the Mars Science Laboratory through its paces over Edwards Air Force Base in California. The aircraft carried an experimental pod that housed the test radar underneath the aircraft's left wing. During the flights, the F/A-18 climbed to 40,000 feet, then made stair-step dives over Rogers Dry Lake at angles of 40 to 90 degrees in order to simulate what the radar will see during entry into the Martian atmosphere. Being developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Mars Science Laboratory with its Curiosity rover is NASA's next exploration mission to the Red Planet.
MOJAVE INTERMEDIATE SPACE CHALLENGE - DFRC
Hundreds of fourth-through-sixth grade students from the California high desert communities of Mojave and California City recently participated in the seventh annual Intermediate Space Challenge rocket contest at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The challenge introduced science, technology, engineering and math through the hands-on experience of building and launching a rocket. Twenty-one classroom teams from Mojave and Hacienda elementary schools built their own rockets, wrote essays, and cheered in youthful exuberance as their rockets soared hundreds of feet into the air. NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's Education Office supplied 10 rockets, and gift bags for the winners. Since 2005, about a thousand students have participated in the annual events, competing against their individual grades for the grand prize – a traveling trophy – that is awarded to the school scoring the highest overall average score.
And that's This Week @NASA.
For more on these and other stories, log onto: www.nasa.gov
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