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June 28, 2013
This Week @ NASA, June 28, 2013

This Week at NASA…



 “3-2-1…drop…Pegasus is away”!!!

NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph or IRIS mission is underway.

IRIS was air-launched on an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus rocket over the Pacific Ocean near Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The NASA Small Explorer Mission will observe the characteristics of solar material as it moves through the little-understood interface region between the sun's photosphere and corona that powers the sun’s million-degree atmosphere and drives the solar wind.




Astronomers using the Pan-STARRS-1 telescope on the summit of the Haleakala crater in Maui, have detected the 10,000th near-Earth object, an asteroid called 2013 MZ5. Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets that can approach the Earth's orbital distance to within about 28 million miles and range in size from a few feet to as large as 25 miles across. 2013 MZ5, about 1,000 feet across, wont approach close enough to Earth to be considered potentially hazardous. 



NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier and other agency officials attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Michoud Assembly Facility for the vertical weld center, where friction-stir weld tooling will be used to assemble the core stage of the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket. The event included a tour of the SLS assembly area and an update on work in support of NASA's Orion spacecraft. The first SLS mission — Exploration Mission 1 — in 2017 will launch an un-crewed Orion to demonstrate performance of the integrated system prior to a crewed flight.

 Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations:
“It seems like a long way away when we talk about 2017 or we talk about 2021. But I think when you think about all of the manufacturing and all the work and all the hardware and all the systems and all of the design work that needs to come together, it’s not that far away.”

The core stage of the SLS, which stands some 200 feet-tall, will store cryogenic fuel to feed the rocket's RS-25 engines. NASA is developing the SLS and Orion to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration.



Media were updated on NASA's human spaceflight programs at the Kennedy Space Center. Orion and NASA’s new Space Launch System will enable future missions of deep space exploration.

Tom Erdman, NASA Space Launch System:
“We are designing a rocket that will be evolvable, sustainable and affordable for this country and for the world.”

The agency’s Commercial Crew Program and its industry partners will ensure America’s own domestic crew launch capability to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

Ed Mango, NASA Commercial Crew Program:
“If I had a hat, I would take it off and salute all of those folks that are working very hard today within the program in order to get a U.S. capability.”

Kennedy’s Ground Systems Development and Operations program is refurbishing the center’s infrastructure for all future government and commercial launches.



Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency conducted a 6-hour 34-minute spacewalk to prepare for the arrival of a new Russian module later this year. The pair replaced a fluid flow control panel on the station's Zarya module and installed clamps for the power cables of the combination research facility, airlock and docking port,that will replace the Pirs airlock.

This is the second of up to six Russian spacewalks planned this year. Two U.S. spacewalks by NASA's Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency are scheduled in July. 



International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini attended a recent unveiling ceremony at Marshall Space Flight Center for Marshall’s upgraded Payload Operations Integration Center, which plans and coordinates the science activities onboard the International Space Station.

Mike Suffredini, International Space Station Program Manager:
“The reason we’re going to unveil this is about research. And where research is managed is right here at Marshall Space Flight Center.”

The renovated room features a video wall that can be configured to display images and scientific data from multiple experiments and sources. With more than 200 experiments on the station at any time, rapid sharing of information between the ground and the crew in space is important. 

ATLANTIS UNVEILED – KSC Mike Curie Reporting

The new, $100-million Space Shuttle Atlantis attraction is making its debut at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Atlantis is raised 30 feet off the ground and rotated at a 43.21 angle as if orbiting Earth, providing guests with an up-close, 360-degree, multi-level view of the orbiter. Multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive exhibits and high-tech simulators tell the story of NASA’s successful, 30-year Space Shuttle Program.

A HUNCH FOR S.T.E.M. – LARC (CP) Sasha Congiu Reporting


NASA Langley has developed a “HUNCH” for students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The HUNCH program, which stands for High School students United to Create Hardware program, helps students develop skills needed to pursue a technical or scientific career.

With the help of Langley engineers HUNCH students design and build complex projects, such as this Barany chair used to test spatial disorientation in pilots and astronauts.

There’s even time to take some projects for a test spin.

Langley plans to continue its HUNCH endeavors with potential plans to build a mockup of the International Space Station’s Destiny Laboratory in a future project.

ROCKET WEEK 2013 – WFF (CP) Patrick Black Reporting


Rocket science students and teachers from across the nation gathered at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility for Rocket Week 2013.

There were three courses for the students; RockOn! RockSat-C and RockSat-X – with each step more technically challenging than the previous, to help the students expand on the skills needed to support the aerospace industry.

Also part of Rocket Week was the Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students, or WRATS program. WRATS provides high school teachers with knowledge about the dynamics of rocketry and the science gained from suborbital sounding rockets, to reinforce STEM concepts they teach in their classrooms.

“3,2,1, ROCKON!!!”

NASA ANNIVERSARY: July 4, 1997 – Mars Pathfinder Lands on The Red Planet


On July 4, 1997 the Mars Pathfinder landed on The Red Planet seven months after it was launched. Pathfinder landed in the Chryse Planitia region of the Oxia Palus quadrangle. The mission carried a series of scientific instruments to analyze the Martian atmosphere and the composition of its rocks and soil. Pathfinder consisted of a lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and a lightweight robotic rover named Sojourner. In addition to scientific objectives, the mission was also a "proof-of-concept" for various technologies, such as the airbag-mediated touchdown and automated obstacle avoidance, both later used by the Mars Exploration Rovers. 

And that’s This Week @NASA.

For more on these and other stories, or to follow us on Foursquare, Twitter and other social media, log on to www.nasa.gov.

Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: Gary Daines