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Allard Beutel
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-4769)

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

September 5, 2003
NASA Sponsors "Return To Flight" Media Workshop
News media are invited to attend a series of "on-the-record" briefings and hands-on demonstrations Sept. 16-18 at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. The workshop will offer a detailed look at NASA's efforts to safely return the agency's Space Shuttles to flight.

The workshop will provide the status on work under way in Shuttle operations, equipment and procedures, including:

  • Thermal Protection System: in-flight inspection and repair; ground maintenance and inspection; and long-term improvements
  • Improved ground and flight-based launch and landing imagery
  • External Tank and Solid Rocket Booster improvements
  • Possible changes in Shuttle flight paths and launch conditions
  • Improved mission and program management processes

    Briefing panels and hands-on activities will detail the challenges and complexity involved in return to flight efforts. Media will be given an update on the International Space Station Program, as well as have an opportunity to speak with the Station crew. The latest plans for the next Shuttle mission (STS-114) will also be discussed.

    Media planning to attend must fax a request for press accreditation to the JSC newsroom at: 281/483-2000 before 6 p.m. EDT Sept. 10. Because of limited capacity, attendance at the demonstrations may be restricted to one reporter and/or photographer per organization. See briefing schedule below:

    Introduction to Space Shuttle Return-to-Flight Planning
    Media Workshop, Sept 16-18, NASA's Johnson Space Center

    Sept. 16
    8 a.m. CDT -- Welcome and Overview
    9:30 a.m. -- International Space Station Status and Overview
    12 p.m. -- Development Efforts: Thermal Protection System
    2 p.m. -- Development Efforts: Ascent and Entry Imagery
    3 p.m. -- Development Efforts: External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters

    Sept. 17:
    8 a.m. CDT -- Status of Planning: Space Shuttle Mission STS-114
    9 a.m. -- Development Efforts: Flight Design
    10 a.m. -- Development Efforts: Mission, Program Management Process
    12 p.m. -- 5 p.m. -- Hands-on activities, facility tours
    Sept. 18:
    9 a.m. CDT -- International Space Station In-flight Crew Press Conference
    10 a.m. -- 6:30 p.m. -- Hands-on activities, facility tours

    Media may attend hands-on activities and briefings by experts in Return to Flight engineering development, training and operations. Several sessions will be held each day, and media will attend in small groups to allow individual attention and activities. The planned opportunities include:

  • Thermal Protection System In-flight Repair and Inspection As engineers complete a series of test runs in one of the largest vacuum chambers in the world, they will explain and allow media to participate in demonstrations of materials and techniques that may be used for TPS repair in space.

  • Space Shuttle Ascent and Entry Training Media may participate in a simulation of a Space Shuttle launch and landing, view the facilities used to train astronauts for those phases of flight and meet the instructors.

  • Shuttle Cockpit Rendezvous Simulators In a theater-like Space Shuttle aft cockpit simulator at JSC, astronauts and instructors will fly a possible modified rendezvous approach to the International Space Station that may facilitate increased imagery of the Shuttle.

  • Virtual Reality Training and Station Mockups Media may experience a spacewalker's eye view of the Shuttle and Station in the Virtual Reality Laboratory used by astronauts to train. Media also will have an opportunity to tour nearby International Space Station and Soyuz trainers guided by veteran crewmembers and instructors. .

    In addition, tours of additional JSC facilities such as the Mission Control Center, Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and engineering laboratories will be available.


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