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Oct. 11, 2001

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

650/604-5026 or 604-9000

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Actors playing Orville and Wilbur Wright, an astronaut flying a simulated spacecraft and airplane experts will conduct live, NASA Internet ‘webcasts’ on dates in October through December to celebrate almost a century of powered flight.

Webcasts enable students to watch live video, listen to audio and interact in real-time on the Internet with experts. The worldwide webcasts will look at how engineers today study flight as well as how the Wright brothers conducted research a hundred years ago. The brothers made the first powered flight on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

"This is part of an on-going series of Internet webcasts and other activities celebrating the centennial of flight. They will provide students with first-hand contact with NASA women and men," said Linda Conrad, of the NASA Quest program at NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. "Each webcast is designed to engage the classroom in science and mathematics, including lesson plans and curricula developed by NASA." Students can participate in the NASA-sponsored Internet events without pre-registering.

Web activity will kick off on Monday, Oct. 15 at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) with a one-hour Internet chat featuring Sylvia M. Johnson of NASA Ames who will discuss how new materials can protect spacecraft from the heat of re-entry into Earth's atmosphere and how these materials are changing aerospace designs. During Internet chats, youngsters use computers to converse with mentors by typing questions and reading responses and dialogue via the World Wide Web.

Later, on Monday, Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT), Imelda Terrazas-Salinas of NASA Ames will conduct an Internet chat in Spanish and English. Her topic will be the arc jet facility at Ames that engineers use to test materials that protect aerospace vehicles from the heat of high-speed flight into and through the atmosphere.

"Nick Engler, who built and flew a model of the 1901 Wright glider, also will conduct a web chat," said Susan Lee of NASA Quest. "He's going to compare and contrast the methods of the Wright brothers with current NASA methods." The Engler chat will be Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT).

"We are building and flying Wright airplanes to gain a better understanding of the innovative thinking of the Wright brothers," Engler said. "Our Wright aircraft are part of an expedition in 'new' archaeology, yet another recently-developed discipline in which scholars recreate historic and prehistoric events to gain a better understanding of the people who lived them."

"On Oct. 18, we'll have a chat with an aerospace engineer and a flight controller who will play the roles of Orville and Wilbur Wright," Lee said. The one-hour web chat is slated to begin at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT).

"The following week, on Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT), we'll have a live one-hour webcast with astronaut Kenneth Ham. He will speak via the Internet as he tests the handling ease of a crew return spacecraft design on a huge NASA Ames simulator," Lee said. Astronauts often train in the largest vertical motion simulator in the world, located at Ames. "They practice simulated space shuttle landings there," she explained.

Students and the general public can visit a website ( to find out how aeronautical engineers use airplane models, wind tunnels, supercomputers, simulators and other tools during the airplane design cycle. The website has additional activities for K-12 students. For more information about the Internet webcasts and chats please call Lee at 650/604-0766. She also can be reached via e-mail,



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