NASA Podcasts

This Week @ NASA, February 22, 2013
› Listen Now
› View Now
This Week at NASA…



NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences successfully conducted an engine test of its Antares rocket at the Wallops Flight Facility. The rocket’s dual AJ26 engines were fired for 29 seconds while the rocket was bolted down on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Pad-0A. The test demonstrated the readiness of the rocket's first stage and launch pad fueling systems to support upcoming test flights.

Orbital is building and testing Antares and its Cygnus cargo spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, program. Antares and Cygnus are scheduled for a test flight to the International Space Station later this year.



This Friday, March first, is the targeted launch date for the next cargo resupply flight to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft’s second resupply mission to the ISS is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. Eastern from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Dragon will be loaded with about six tons of crew supplies and materials for science research. Upon the unpiloted craft’s arrival at the orbiting laboratory, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA will use the station’s robotic arm to grapple Dragon and attach it to the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module.

When it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean off Baja California later next month, Dragon will be carrying more than 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment.



Final assembly and inspection of the Seedling Growth-1 Experiment took place at NASA Ames Research Center in preparation for transport aboard SpaceX-2 Dragon to the International Space Station.

Payload Integration and Engineering Managers working with the European Space Agency or ESA came to Ames to perform the final steps of the process before the experiment containers are sent for launch.

Designed and built at NASA Ames, the enclosures are completely self-contained, providing air, water, temperature control and light for the seeds.

Once on the Space Station, the enclosures are mounted in a centrifuge to test the effects of micro- and low-gravity environments on the growth of the seeds.

Seedling Growth-1 is one of several experiments being conducted by NASA and ESA to determine if specific plants can grow well enough in microgravity to provide astronauts with a complete and sustainable solution for long duration space missions.

CURIOSITY ROVER REPORT– JPL (CP) Louise Jandura Reporting


Louise Jandura, MSL Sample System Chief Engineer:
Hi, I’m Louise Jandura, Sample System chief engineer and I’m here with your Curiosity rover report.

This was a great week for Curiosity. We got to see something we’ve been waiting for quite some time: sample in the scoop confirming that our first drill on Mars collected as we had expected.

This was an important event as this is the first time the drill has been used on Mars to collect sample for analysis by instruments on the rover.

We use these computer-generated images in different volumes to help us visually identify how much we’ve collected. We were able to estimate that we collected about 14 cubic centimeters of sample, or about a tablespoon, and this matched our expectation of what we would see in the scoop when we got to this point.

Our drilling capability gives us the ability to get inside this rock. The first thing you notice about the material is that it’s a different color. Gray not the reddish orange color all around us. That reddish orange color is a sign of an iron oxidation. A kind of rusting process that’s occurred all around Mars.

Since we’ve been at Yellowknife Bay, Curiosity has done more than a 100 MAHLI images and more than 12,000 laser shots. You can see the telltale laser grid patterns from the Chem-Cam in this image. Additionally, you can see a fine grain structure of this rock indicating either a mudstone or a siltstone.

The next steps for the team are to finish processing the sample with Chimera and then put small portions into the SAM and Chemin instruments for analysis of chemistry and mineralogy.

This has been your Curiosity rover report check back soon for more updates.



Ray Richman, NASA Social Media Follower:
“Hi, my name is Ray. This is really cool. (laughter).”

Ray Richman from southern Maine was one of about 150 guests of NASA, most of them users of Twitter, Facebook, Google-Plus and other social media, who gathered at Headquarters for a Social about the ground-breaking research taking place daily on the International Space Station. Hundreds of experiments are being conducted in the station’s unique microgravity environment that can benefit humanity while increasing our understanding of how humans can safely work and live in space for long periods.

Bill Gerstenmaier, associate adminstrator for human exploration and operations, was one of several featured NASA speakers …

Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Adminstrator for Human Exploration and Operations:
“We’re in the process of starting to think about how much we can extend station, the physical hardware is probably good till 2028 or so. So we’re trying to figure out when the right time to start talking about that is and start moving forward.”

Marshall Porterfield is director of space life and physical sciences research and applications; Tara Ruttley is an ISS scientist.

Tara Ruttley, ISS Program Scientist:
“There is nothing like it even on Earth. There’s no where that you would find any kind of laboratory that would share material sciences facilities with life science facilities with plants and humans.”

Don Pettit, NASA Astronaut:
“I tell students that in order to do what I do for a living you need to know math, you need to know science, you need to know engineering, because you have to take care of the machines that allows you to live in the environment that you’re in and this frontier happens to be space.”

Also addressing the attentive group was physicist and former ISS resident Don Pettit, who was outdone only by three CURRENT space station crew members. From left, Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn and Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford of NASA, and Canada’s Chris Hadfield.

Chris Hadfield, Expedition 34 Flight Engineer:
“The whole purpose of this if figuring out how to safely get to space and back again. We haven’t invented everything we need to invent yet. But hopefully soon, everyone will be able to get this incredible experience that we’re lucky enough to be part of.”



Back aboard the station, Ford, Marshburn and Hadfield hosted their own social media event: the first live Hangout in space! John Yembrick:
“And what is that on Chris Hadfield’s forehead?” “Well, what he has on his forehead is actually a temperature probe.”

The three astronauts took questions from the online community via Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Viewers worldwide could also upload their video questions – and watch the space-breaking event live on NASA Television’s YouTube channel.

J-2X: IT’S ON! – SSC


Engineers at the Stennis Space Center have begun a new round of tests on NASA’s next-generation J-2X rocket engine. This next test series will continue to provide performance data critical to the engine’s development. The J-2X will provide upper-stage power for NASA’s new Space Launch System that’ll send humans farther into space than ever before.



NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has received the Candle in Military Service and Aeronautical Science Award from Morehouse College in Atlanta. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in a field by an African-American man. The Candle award is part of Founder's Day celebrations held each year at the alma mater of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



The Marshal Space Flight Center co-hosted an exhibition at the Davidson Center in Huntsville, Alabama called "Robots to Rocket City”.

The event gave area student teams from the area who will compete in the upcoming FIRST Robotics Ultimate Ascent Challenge, a chance to test their tenacious technologies before regional competition begins in late February.

The students have built robots designed to score points by tossing discs through targets and by climbing pyramids.

Katherine Hetrick, High School Sophomore:
“When we received our kit of parts six weeks ago we were very excited to start making our robot. We had been anticipating this and before we started our build we made a robot beforehand – a preseason build – and we learned a lot about robotics that way.”

Dr. Susan Currie, Education Program Specialist, Marshall Space Flight Center:
“NASA is especially interested in this type of activity because we are always looking for the best and the brightest and these teams provide us that opportunity to seek students who are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

FIRST -- For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology inspires young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills.

FLYING HIGH WITH S.T.E.M. – DFRC (CP) Alan Brown Reporting


Associate Administrator for Education, Leland Melvin recently visited the AERO Institute in Palmdale, Calif., where he was updated on education outreach efforts at the Dryden Flight Research Center. The Dryden education team earned Melvin’s praise, as did the Institute for its recent founding of the Palmdale Aerospace Academy, a school devoted to excellence in science, technology, engineering and math. Both the AERO Institute and its academy are operated by a consortium that includes NASA, the city of Palmdale, and its local school district.

Leland Melvin, NASA Associate Administrator for Education:
"The school, the aero academy that we just talked about is a perfect example of a partnership that is helping get these kids motivated and inspired. We have to make sure that the things that we're doing, the interventions that we're building, have relevance to the goals, or why are we doing it?"

Melvin was also briefed on Dryden's on-line, classroom outreach program, the Digital Learning Network.

David Alexander, Dryden Digital Learning Network Coordinator:
“We provide very unique learning opportunities for students across the board, whether it's connecting subject matter experts, astronauts or even education specialists.”

Melvin also toured the nearby Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility, home to the center’s science-gathering aircraft aboard which students can fly.



Lesa Roe, Langley Research Center Director, and Bill Wrobel, Director of Wallops Flight Facility, were in Richmond to speak with policy makers at Virginia’s General Assembly about NASA’s contributions to the commonwealth’s aerospace industry. The eighth annual Aerospace Day provided Roe, Wrobel and more than 20 NASA and industry teams the opportunity to outline for legislators the agency’s economic impact on Virginia’s aerospace industry. Also in Richmond, Roe and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine visited the Math Science Innovation Center, where they spoke to 70 teachers from across central Virginia at a NASA Aerospace Educator Workshop.

Lesa Roe, Langley Research Center Director:
“You are the folks that actually reach these students and make these students believe that they can make the impossible possible and that’s what we do at NASA.”

NASA AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH PROFILE – Todd Arnold, Deputy Director of Public Affairs – KSC

Todd Arnold, Deputy Director of Public Affairs – KSC:
My name is Todd Arnold. I'm the deputy director of Public Affairs at John F. Kennedy Space Center.

I hired into NASA in 1989 as part of an accelerated training program for recent college graduates.

As a member of the Kennedy senior management team, I'm responsible to ensure we have a highly skilled contractor and civil service workplace on board to effectively communicate the NASA story -- our past, our present and our exciting future. I also assist in the effort to oversee operations, on a daily basis, for an active Press Site news room. In addition, I provide strategic leadership and vision to a team of individuals who are responsible for an array of public relations tools and techniques, including NASA Television broadcasting, also news and photojournalism, web and social media presence, display management initiatives, as well as internal communications to the KSC workforce to help them remain informed so that they can be wonderful ambassadors for NASA.

Here at NASA, I believe diversity is more than just a word. In fact it is part of our core value system. Which, to me, means it's not just a few people who are concerned about diversity, but every individual makes a difference and actively seeks out an opportunity to value the input of others.

At an individual level, whenever I join a team for the first time, I first seek to learn a little bit about the backgrounds and experiences and education of the individuals I will be working with. As a leader, I make it a priority to initiate efforts that will encourage individuals to partner and work together and leverage the strengths and background of others that are perhaps different from them. I really believe that at the bottom line, in order to get the best product, we must have every idea on the table.



More than 5 thousand visited the Johnson Space Center NASA exhibit in Downtown Houston during the public events and activities held prior to the NBA All-Star game.

It was wall-to wall fun at the four-day event fans had the opportunity to shoot, slam dunk, dribble and learn about NASA’s mission and how the work being done by the agency benefits life on earth. The NASA exhibit included information on the International Space Station, Commercial Space Transportation, and the next generation vehicle being designed for human space exploration: the Orion spacecraft.

NASA ANNIVERSARY: STS-133: Discovery’s Last Ride – February 24, 2011 - HQ


In the late afternoon of Feb. 24, 2011, space shuttle Discovery took off on its final mission into space. STS-133, the 35th shuttle mission to the International Space Station, delivered the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4, and Robonaut 2, the first dexterous humanoid robot in space, and now a permanent station resident.

Discovery was the first orbiter in the shuttle fleet to be retired. Among the 180 people who flew aboard Discovery, the first female shuttle pilot and the first female shuttle commander, Eileen Collins; the first African-American spacewalker ,Bernard Harris; and the first sitting member of Congress to fly in space, then-Senator Jake Garn of Utah.



NASA astronaut and amateur flutist Cady Coleman joined the Irish musical group "The Chieftains" on stage with the Houston Symphony during the band's 50th anniversary concert tour. Also “sitting in” from 240 miles above the Earth was Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield onboard the International Space Station. A long-time fan of the Chieftains, Coleman carried the band’s penny whistle and Irish flute with her during her 2010 station expedition. Joining Coleman for the stage performance were fellow astronaut Dan Burbank and other members of an informal group of players known as Bandella that Coleman and Hadfield perform with on Earth.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

For more on these and other stories, or to follow us on YouTube, UStream and other social media, log on to

› Listen Now
› View Now