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Marny Skora
RELEASE : 08-057
'NASA at 50' - Celebrate Science, Technology and the Exploration Spirit

HAMPTON, Va. -- NASA invites the public to celebrate our mid-century mark. Our astronauts have circled the world, walked on the moon and built the International Space Station. Our advances in aeronautics have improved civil and military aircraft and taken us to the aeronautical frontier, traveling 10 times the speed of sound. We have studied Earth, visited the planets, imaged the universe and peered back to the beginnings of time.

On Tuesday evenings throughout October, we invite you to relive some of these accomplishments by joining us for a lecture series at the Virginia Air and Space Center in downtown Hampton. Each lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. and is FREE and open to the public.

    NASA Human Spaceflight: Past, Present and Future
    Kenneth S. Reightler, Jr., Former Astronaut, now Lockheed Martin V.P.

    Experience the human journey into space -- from the early beginnings at NASA Langley, through the successful moon landings to current day operations on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station -- with someone who's been there. Reightler spent eight years as a NASA astronaut and piloted two shuttle missions before joining Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. Look ahead with me, says Reightler, to the future of NASA and human spaceflight.

    Exploration of the Moon and Planets – A New Perspective on Earth
    Dr. James W. Head, Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences, Brown University

    Sputnik completely changed our perception of Planet Earth. Since then, NASA has systematically explored the moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, comets, the asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and their satellites. As a result, says Dr, Head, we have a new understanding of how Earth and other planetary bodies formed and evolved, and we now have clues to where we are heading in the future. From his work on the Apollo program to serving as co-investigator for the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, Dr. Head has studied Earth in the context of the Solar System for nearly five decades.

    Why NASA and Earth Science are Vital for Human Wellbeing
    Dr. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute, Columbia University

    Our generation's greatest challenge is to live both peacefully and prosperously and sustain our crowded planet. NASA technology, says Dr. Sachs, is at the very center of much of what we know and need to further understand Earth's climate, water system, carbon and nitrogen cycles and the functioning of our ecosystem. Renowned for his work in economic development, environmental issues, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation and globalization, Sachs has been named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.

    50 Years of NASA Aeronautical Research
    Roy V. Harris, Former Director of Aeronautics, NASA Langley Research Center

    When NASA was created in 1958, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) has been in existence for 43 years and was the unchallenged world leader in aeronautics research and technology development. Changing NACA to NASA doubled its mission, but did not alter the new agency's commitment to improving civil and military aviation. NASA's aeronautics research has covered nine decades, says Harris, and is critically important to our nation's transportation, defense, economy and its competitiveness in a global world.

    Hampton Roads holds a seminal place in this country's aerospace history. With the creation of NASA, Langley Research Center in Hampton expanded its mission to include space research. Langley was NASA's original field center and the training location for the original astronauts. Project Mercury, America's inaugural man-in-space program, was conceived and managed in Hampton. Today, Langley's mission is three fold: exploration, science and aeronautics.

For more information on the October lecture series: "NASA at 50: A Celebration of Science, Technology and the Spirit of Human Exploration," go to:

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