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This Week @ NASA, February 1, 2013
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This Week at NASA…



Each year, NASA honors the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the our family whose lives were lost in the support of the agency’s mission of exploration and discovery.

This year's Day of Remembrance, Feb. 1, the 10th anniversary of the loss of Columbia, saw tributes held around the agency.

Among them…

A wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery’s astronaut memorial by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other senior officials.

A memorial at the Marshall Space Flight Center’s Morris Auditorium with guest speaker, astronaut and former Marshall engineer, Jan Davis. The event included a moment of silence and a candle lighting ceremony.

And a wreath-laying ceremony hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation televised live on NASA television from the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Evelyn Husband-Thompson, Widow of STS-107 Commander, Rick Husband: “For many of us gathered here in Florida today, this commemoration is not only historic, it’s also very personal. We remember the Columbia crew as colleagues, as friends, as parents and as spouses.”

Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center Director: “Often times when lacking sufficient data we make poor decisions and that results in events like Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia. It’s important that we pause to remember and reflect. We must do our very best to prevent something like that from ever happening again.”

A special memorial tribute was featured on NASA thanks these Fallen Heroes and the families they left behind for their sacrifices in the service of our nation and America’s space program.



Media touring the Kennedy Space Center’s “Swamp Works” research laboratories also got a photo op with the Orion spacecraft inside KSC’s Operations and Checkout building where it’s being prepped for Exploration Flight Test-1 scheduled for 2014.

Kennedy Director Bob Cabana updated attendees on the center’s continuing transformation to a multiuse government and commercial space launch complex.

Bob Cabana, Kennedy Space Center Director: “We have a plan and we are executing that plan and we have made tremendous progress. We have a very positive path forward.”

Orion, designed to take U.S. astronauts farther into space than ever before, will be propelled by NASA's new heavy-lift Space Launch System. The SLS is designed to be flexible for launching crew and cargo spacecraft from KSC and will enable new human missions of exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and across the solar system.



The successful launch of NASA’s new TDRS-K communications satellite on Jan. 30 was also occasion for the Kennedy Space Center to host a two-day get-together for ardent users of social media. The select group of Tweeps and other tech-savvy space afficianados heard from special guest speakers about NASA’s continuing mission of exploration and discovery. Among them, Badri Younes, the head of NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation, or SCaN program, who outlined the role and advanced capabilities of the next-generation comm satellite.

Badri Younes, Deputy Assoc. Admin., SCaN: “We support all of the launches that take place here in the United States. We are preparing the stage for the future as I said, to make sure that the future of human exploration will be carried forward as contemplated, as planned.”



The International Space Station will be getting a new instrument in 2014 that’ll measure ocean-surface wind speed and direction. The ISS-RapidScat instrument will help improve weather forecasts, including hurricane monitoring, and understanding of how ocean-atmosphere interactions influence Earth's climate. Rapid-Scat is a clever re-purposing of hardware originally built to test parts of NASA's QuikScat satellite that, until 2009, spent ten years successfully collecting ocean and wind data.



NASA wants your ideas on how the International Space Station can be better used to test new technologies! The agency’s National Lab and Technology Demonstration offices are taking proposals to develop advanced or improved exploration technologies aboard the world’s only laboratory in microgravity! They’ll also welcome your suggestions for improving the unique laboratory environment of the orbiting outpost.

For details, go to . You’ve got ‘til Sept. 30 to “weigh in.”



NASA chief technologist Mason Peck was briefed at the Dryden Flight Research Center on projects to develop technologies for next-generation aircraft and spacecraft. Peck says the transfer of such technologies will help fuel industry’s future in space.

Mason Peck, NASA Chief Technologist: “I think we're actually seeing for the first time the level of private investment in commercial space that we really haven't seen before, and that actually could indicate the start of a commercial space age. But NASA is right at the center of that.”

Peck also visited several NASA partners at the Mojave Air and Space Port, including Firestar Technologies, XCOR Aerospace and Masten Flight Systems. NASA's Flight Opportunities Program has contracted with Masten and XCOR to fly promising technologies on sub-orbital space-access vehicles, while Firestar has developed several technical innovations to benefit NASA via the agency's Small Business Innovative Research and Technology Transfer programs.



The first Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System, or NLAS has been shipped for integration for a launch expected in late 2013. Right now, nanosatellites can be deployed only in small numbers by rocket or from the International Space Station.

But NLAS, developed by the Ames Research Center, can hold up to 24 cube satellites, opening up opportunities for smaller research projects to access space. NLAS is expected to be used by NASA, other government agencies, and commercial entities.



Representatives from the Glenn Research Center joined media and the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in braving single-digit temperatures to show off the system’s new hydrogen-powered bus – and Ohio’s first operational electrolysis-based refueling station. Refueling at the bus’s depot station eliminates the vehicle’s need to lug large hydrogen-filled supply tanks.

Glenn coordinated the technical effort that included contracting with the Sierra Lobo Corporation to install the refueling station. The project is sponsored by NASA's Space Technology Game-Changing Development Program.



Marshall Space Flight Center and nearby Redstone Arsenal have both been awarded the designation of Storm-Ready Community by the National Weather Service.

The designation recognizes the work of both facilities to document their notification systems and severe weather preparedness.

Weather service officials were at the arsenal to present Marshall and Redstone with their Storm-Ready Community signs for their Welcome Centers.

David Nadler, National Weather Service: “The purpose of Storm Ready is just what it says. It’s weather preparedness, safety and awareness and making sure that the communities are very much prepared for significant weather events that impact the area.”

Steve Doering, Marshall Center Operations Director: “This is a great way to recognize all the hard work that has gone into this – to our facility to be able to make sure that we have the best possible protection available for our employees.”

Marshall is only the second federal location in Alabama to receive this Storm-Ready designation.


Sorita Wherry, NASA Engineer, MSFC: My name is Sorita Wherry. I’m the lead systems engineer for the robotic lunar lander development project. I’m supporting the Warm Gas test article now known as the Mighty Eagle.

My duties as a lead systems engineer includes making sure that I understand the system and functions of the Mighty Eagle as well as the most important thing is making sure that the vehicle is safe at all times.

Diversity is important at NASA because it gives us a variety of backgrounds and cultures so that we can see the experiences, the values, the ideas and opinions of other people who may be different within the organization.

I look at my career. And I look at all the things that I’ve accomplished, the different projects that I’ve worked on, and what better way to culminate my career is being on the project that I’m on now – the Robotic Lunar Lander Development Project and supporting the Mighty Eagle.

I’ve worked at NASA for 27 years. It’s a project where it feels good when you can see things that happen. To see something that flies. To work with a team of people who are very smart, very intelligent, and can actually develop something that flies.

I love what I do. It’s new to me, but it’s an awesome experience. And this journey that I’ve had at Marshall Space Flight Center has been a great journey.



Thirty-nine years ago, on February 5, 1974, a flyby of Venus by Mariner 10 enabled the spacecraft to conduct atmospheric studies and collect photographs of the planet’s extensive cloud cover. While Venus’ clouds are nearly featureless in visible light, Mariner 10’s ultraviolet camera filters captured them in never-before-seen detail.


“We have main engine start … zero and liftoff of Stardust.”


And on February 7, 1999, the Stardust probe launched atop a Delta II rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Station for a rendezvous with Comet Wild2. Stardust became the first U.S. mission to a comet and the first-ever spacecraft to bring back a comet sample when it successfully returned to Earth on January 15, 2006.



And, employees of the Marshall Space Flight Center commemorated this year’s 40th anniversary of Skylab by hosting five astronauts who flew on America's first space station, Joe Kerwin, Paul Weitz, Ed Gibson, Gerald Carr and Jack Lousma shared their stories and highlights from their missions aboard Skylab.

From May 1973 to February 1974, three crews occupied Skylab, a Saturn V rocket modified at Marshall. Its nine astronaut residents conducted human-adaptation and materials experiments, as well as scientific studies of the Earth, sun, and stars. The research they performed on Skylab then enabled the ground-breaking science being studied now aboard the International Space Station for the benefit of humankind.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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