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This Week @ NASA, February 21, 2012
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This Week at NASA…

John Glenn, Mercury/Shuttle Astronaut: "We learned to do things first. And we, with an educated citizenry, a little investment, wow, new hope, business and industries and whether it was better ways of making steel or automobiles or whatever it was, we led the world in innovation and technology and that’s where the new and good jobs came from."

Senator John Glenn, spoke during a NASA Future Forum at the Ohio State University, about the fundamental elements that once made America a leading innovator are their importance to the nation’s future. NASA officials, University representatives and students participated in a panel discussion about NASA’s role in advancing innovation, technology, science, engineering, education and the economy. The Future Forum coincided with the 50th anniversary of Glenn's historic Friendship 7 space flight. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station sent a congratulatory message and talked with Glenn during an in-flight call from the Station.

Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 Commander: "Fifty years ago today , Friendship 7 was orbiting planet Earth and that helped in a big way to pave the way for America to become a space power and to go to the moon and to do the things that we're doing right now on the International Space Station."

Charles Bolden at podium: "It is my privilege today to be here to share NASA's Fiscal Year 2013 budget."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson outlined the president’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal for NASA during a news conference at NASA Headquarters.

The proposed budget would enable NASA to continue the space exploration program envisioned by President Obama, one that creates jobs and spurs the American economy well into the future while sending us farther into space than ever before.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: "We've made steady and tangible progress on the next-generation deep space crew capsule and our new heavy lift rocket that will launch astronauts on journeys to destinations farther in our solar system. Those priorities are funded in this budget. Already we've been doing test firings of the J-2X engine that will power the heavy lift's upper stage. Orion has undergone water drop tests for its eventual ocean landings. Funding is included in this budget to keep this important work going."

2012's first test of the J-2X, NASA's first human-rated engine to be developed in 40 years is in the books. Engineers at the Stennis Space Center conducted a short, 1-point-8 second test firing of the J-2X powerpack. The powerpack comprises components on the top portion of the engine designed to generate the thrust needed to power the upper stage of NASA's Space Launch System, the next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle that will be capable of missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

Gregory Carmouche, Powerpack #2 Lead Test Engineer: "It's a pretty important test., we have had the facility down for almost two years. So the first test allows us to get the facility up and operational and to make sure that it can do the things that it’s supposed to do to support the J-2X Powerpack test."

Stennis is planning to conduct about a dozen tests on the powerpack from now through this summer.

The Expedition 30 crew conducted the International Space Station’s 30th Russian-based spacewalk. Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov spent a total of 6-hours, 15-minutes completing a variety of work on the orbiting outpost. The duo moved one of two “Strela” cargo cranes from the Pirs Docking Compartment to the Poisk Mini-Research module, and installed a Materials Sample Experiment, which will investigate the effects of space on the mechanical properties of those materials.

The pair was unable to complete all of the originally planned work – including the installation of five protective shields on the Zvezda Service Module.

This was the third spacewalk for Kononenko and the first for Shkaplerov.

“So man meets machine aboard the International Space Station.”

Another first inside the Space Station. Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Robonaut completed the first handshake between a humanoid robot and an astronaut in space. The historic milestone took place during a two-day checkout of Robonaut’s joints, hands and fingers. Robonaut is designed with the dexterity to complete work in space typically performed by humans. Designed at The Johnson Space Center, Robonaut was launched to the station on STS-133, the final flight of space shuttle Discovery.

A special Valentine’s Day treat for space fans in the Washington D.C. area. Three NASA astronauts from recent ISS expeditions shared experiences from those missions – complete with pictures. A captive Headquarters audience heard from flight engineers Cady Coleman, of Expedition 26/27, Ron Garan of Expedition 27/28, and Mike Fossum, an Expedition 28 Flight Engineer and Commander of Expedition 29.

Mike Fossum, NASA Astronaut: “So we’re really excited to come to Washington today and to NASA Headquarters to say thanks to all of the people here that helped make this possible – that have worked for so many decades on the International Space Station program and to now really see it come into life.”

Cady Coleman, NASA Astronaut: “For me, if I could’ve packed up my whole family and brought them, and I’m actually taking this quote from Don Pettit who is up there, I would’ve brought them. There’s actually no reason for people not to live there just all the time.”

The astronauts participated in several other events later that day, including a Tweet-up at NASA Headquarters with Garan, a presentation by Coleman and Fossum at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and an appearance by all three at The University of Maryland in College Park.

If you enjoyed the “Saturday Morning Science” demonstrations performed by astronaut Don Pettit during his previous space missions – Pettit, now a member of the Expedition 30 crew is back at it again.

Pettit talks about knitting needle and water droplets: “I’m going to take a syringe with a little Teflon cannula. I’m going to squirt drops of water out and look what happens when those drops of water get close to that charged knitting needle.”

NASA and the American Physical Society have partnered to share unique videos of Pettit using everyday objects to demonstrate physics in his new series, “Science Off the Sphere." The videos will be posted on the APS Website, Physics Central. Winners providing answers to challenge questions posed during the series will be recognized by Pettit during a future episode from space.

SCAN MEDIA DAY – GRC (CP) Linda Dukes-Campbell reporting
The Glenn Research Center recently hosted media representatives at its Space Power Facility. There, inside the clean room High Bay facility, a new communications test bed that’ll fly on the International Space Station was going through its checkout. The Space Communications and Navigation, or SCaN test bed will be the first space hardware for exploring the promise of software-defined radio technology.

Diane Cifani Malarik, Project Manager, SCaN: “The interesting part of this SCAN test bed are its three software defined radios. These are radios that can be completely reconfigured on orbit by software. That means new operating environments, new applications that will change the characteristics of how it communicates.”

After crating in a special container provided by the Kennedy Space Center, the SCaN test bed will be sent to Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center for its scheduled launch to the ISS later this year.

In recognition of the contributions by African-Americans to the cause of space exploration, This Week @NASA profiles Karen Harper, IT Workforce Manager for the Office of the Chief Information Officer at NASA Headquarters.

“Good morning this is Karen Harper, how may I help you?”

Karen Harper, IT Workforce Manager, NASA Office of the Chief Information Officer: “The responsibility that I have within the office of the CIO is to look at their IT workforce and make sure that we have the appropriate competencies to do the job within the IT community for the agency.”

“In that is looking at workforce analysis, workforce gaps in terms of the IT community and then being able to make recommendations to the CIO where we perceive to be gaps and how we can plan for the future and the next generation of workers -- the IT workers within NASA.”

“I started out with the Air Force in human resource management, so that prepared me for 13, 14 years -- looking at the workforce”

“Starting in 1995 I started working for Glenn Research Center as the legislative liaison officer for the center director, and in that position I had the opportunity to help advocate the technology, the importance of the NASA Center within and throughout the state of Ohio.”

Karen talks with assistant: “See if you can take a look at the data here and see if it compares to what we were talking about.”

Karen Harper, IT Workforce Manager, NASA Office of the Chief Information Officer: “Mentoring touches my heart and it's because when I was growing up, other than having a very loving family - I did not have any mentoring relationships. I was discouraged by a guidance counselor that told me I was not college material. It went to a deep place for me to prove that I could go to college (that) I was college material. I did graduate -- went on to pursue my masters.”

“I think for a young person to be prepared, they need to get engaged in STEM disciplines and understand the value, of math and science in preparing yourself in whatever career that you choose.”

Thirty-five years ago, on February 18, 19-77, Enterprise – the first space shuttle orbiter, completed its first flight test at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

Constructed without an engine, Enterprise was mounted atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to measure structural integrity, handling qualities and other capabilities prior to atmospheric flight.

Enterprise never flew in space, but it was crucial to the Space Shuttle program. The approach and landing tests it performed that year demonstrated that the orbiter could fly in the atmosphere and land like an airplane, except without power – like a glider. Enterprise was named for the starship on the popular television series, “Star Trek.”

“3-2-1 …”

And February 20th is the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s historic flight aboard Friendship 7. On that flight, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, circling the globe three times. As he passed over Perth, Western Australia, residents there turned on house lights and street lights, earning Perth the nickname, “The City of Light”. There were some tense moments near the end of the 4 hour- 55 minute Mercury mission, as flight controllers could not determine if the capsule’s heat shield was intact during re-entry. But the capsule returned to Earth without incident. Glenn was later celebrated as a national hero during a ticker-tape parade in New York City.

And that’s This Week @ NASA!

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