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This Week @ NASA, February 24, 2012
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This Week at NASA…

The Kennedy Space Center hosted several events to celebrate 50 years of Americans in orbit.

“Roger the clock is operating we’re on the way – I hear you loud and clear. Roger we’re programming and the roll is OK.”

John Glenn, the first to achieve the goal, made his three-orbit flight in Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962.

John Glenn, NASA Mercury/Shuttle Astronaut: “It’s been 50 years, it’s hard for me to believe that. It seems like just a couple of week s ago to me.”

Three months later, fellow Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter followed Glenn with his flight aboard Aurora 7 on May 24, 1962. Glenn and Carpenter spoke to employees and met with the media sharing stories about their adventures.

The pair also participated in "On the Shoulders of Giants," a ceremony honoring all who made NASA's Project Mercury possible. Senator Glenn also took advantage of an opportunity to sit inside orbiter Discovery with Center Director Bob Cabana. Glenn flew on Discovery when he returned to space in October 1998 as a payload specialist aboard Discovery's STS-95 mission.

“And liftoff of Discovery with a crew of six astronaut heroes and one American legend.”

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.”

An in-flight call during the NASA Future Forum at the Ohio State University provided an opportunity for The International Space Station crew to congratulate Glenn on the Anniversary of his historic flight and for the Senator, a big proponent of the ISS, to hear first-hand about life onboard the orbiting outpost.

John Glenn, NASA Mercury/Shuttle Astronaut: “I don’t know whether you know the exact number of research experiments you have on board right now, do you have any idea of how many are on board?”

Don Pettit, ISS Flight Engineer: “We have well over one hundred and they all come with an acronym that you either have no vowels in it, so it makes it hard to pronounce.”

“We’ve got a whole ensemble of life science experiments that basically probe the gravity knob for life since it evolved on Earth under constant gravity, and now all of a sudden we can change the magnitude of gravity by a factor of a million.”

And for what may be the first question Glenn has been asked from space, the crew wanted to know …

Don Pettit, ISS Flight Engineer: “Did you ever really find out what the fireflies were on your first orbit?

John Glenn, NASA Mercury/Shuttle Astronaut: “Yeah we did, I think you know Scott Carpenter on the second flight was able to hit the side of the spacecraft, the capsule and send the whole shower of them out and scientists working on this, they could relate them to the water dripping out through the heat exchanger. And then they just collected in a large cloud around the spacecraft.”

With the 2013 budget rollout complete, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver are making the rounds to NASA field centers. Following an All-Hands meeting to discuss the budget with employees at The Goddard Space Flight Center, Bolden received a progress update on the James Webb Space Telescope. He also met with employees at The Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Garver spoke with employees at several other centers about the 20-13 budget. At Stennis Space Center she was joined by Stennis Deputy Director Rick Gilbrech and by Center Director Mike Coats at the Johnson Space Center. She also toured several facilities at Langley Research Center with Director Lesa Roe. NASA’s budget request supports an ambitious program of space exploration that will build on new technologies and proven capabilities to expand America’s reach into the solar system.

Researchers from Cal-Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California recently tested a future aircraft concept model called AMELIA – the Advanced Model for Extreme Lift and Improved Aeroacoustics. The 1/11th scale model with a 10-foot wingspan was tested in the National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex at the Ames Research Center. AMELIA is designed as an efficient, 150-passenger airliner capable of short takeoffs and landings.

Michael Rogers, Efficient Aerodynamics Technical Lead, Ames Research Center: “We’re hoping, targeting ‘N plus 2’, so maybe 2020 or something like that we can have the technologies needed at the readiness level so that industry can pick it up and maybe put a vehicle like this on the market.”

Testing of AMELIA was conducted for NASA’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program,

Educators from across the nation visited the Johnson Space Center to fly experiments in microgravity. During the flights, a modified aircraft flew parabolic arcs that simulate weightlessness. The opportunity was provided by three NASA education initiatives designed to spark interest in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Veronica Seyl, Acting Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program Manager: “The uniqueness of it is this environment provides an amazing journey for the teachers. They’re taking these students on this journey with them for the past four to five months and then it culminates with the flight. They go back and share everything that they’ve learned and experienced with their students and their communities.”

Dale Anderson, Jamestown, PA Area School District: “We did three experiments all examining the aspects of gravity and how gravity affects motion and so on. And we did these experiments in the classroom first. And then we did the experiments up on the plane and examined the effects in zero gravity. I teach juniors and seniors and we’re talking about careers after high school. This opens another door for them and that’s what it’s all about for us.”

JSC’s Education Office will host college students on similar reduced-gravity flights later this year.

New images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft show the moon's crust is being stretched, forming minute valleys in a few small areas of the lunar surface. Scientists propose this geologic activity occurred less than 50 million years ago – that’s recent, considering the moon is more than 4-point-5 billion years old.

The high-resolution images show small, narrow trenches – typically much longer than they are wide. This indicates the lunar crust is being pulled apart at these locations. LRO is managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH: Alvin Drew: “Rockets to Race Cars” – LARC (CP) – Katherine Barnstorff Reporting
In February of 2011, NASA astronaut Al Drew was floating in space, having just finished his first spacewalk.

Drew floats inside space station: “That was awesome. Oh man that was great, the views were outstanding."

Flash forward a year – Drew was back on the ground at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia helping the Langley Research Center and the community celebrate Black History Month.

Drew: "What's your name, young lady?"

Drew flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery’s last mission. But, just because NASA is moving forward from the Shuttle Program doesn’t mean astronauts' jobs are over.

Alvin Drew, NASA Astronaut: "Astronauts are busier than ever right now. Although the shuttle program wound down last July we continue as we have been for years flying to the International Space Station, although strictly on the Russian Soyuz rockets. We’re engaged heavily with the commercial space operators, right now, all these prospective folks who want to be taxis and rental cars for us to help them to design their cockpits, design their operations plans."

The Hampton event highlighted Cockpits and other parts of two kinds vehicles – rockets to racecars and NASA's contributions to both. Visitors participated in hands-on activities that explored some of the similarities – like aerodynamics and propulsion.


Kids and adults also had the chance to chat with an original member of the country's first all-black aerial combat unit, the Tuskegee Airmen.

CM Sgt. Grant Williams, Tuskegee Airman: "It was sort of a test. They thought that and intended for it to fail. But our commander, he insisted that we learn the job and do it well."

That was one message the astronaut and aviators passed along to youngsters get the education to do the job well and they may someday rocket into history.

“Wow … is that cool or what?”

Blacks In Government - Black Women in American History – HQ
“You can windsurf …”

The NASA Headquarters Chapter of Blacks In Government celebrated the achievements of Black Women in American History with a program reflective of the official 20-12 theme for African-American History Month, “Black Women in American Culture and History”. For the entire month of February, NASA has proudly recognized the contributions of African-Americans to the advancement of Space Exploration.

Women’s History Month - Women @ NASA website – HQ
And in March, which is Women’s History Month, the Women @ NASA website is a great place to learn about the outstanding contributions being made to the space program by women who work at NASA. You can also learn about Women’s History Month festivities being planned at NASA Centers. The official theme for this year is “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment”. To visit the Women@ NASA website, log on to

“3-2-1 and liftoff of Space Shuttle Columbia to broaden our view of the universe through the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Ten years ago, on March first, 2002, space shuttle Columbia launched on the fourth Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

“Roger, roll Columbia.”

Commander Scott Altman, pilot Duane Carey, Payload Commander John Grunsfeld, and Mission Specialists Nancy Currie, James Newman, Richard Linnehan, and Mike Massimino flew on the 11-day mission, during which five spacewalks were made to outfit Hubble with new equipment – including the Advanced Camera for Surveys, new Solar Arrays, a new Power Control Unit and an experimental cooling system for NICMOS – the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer.

And that’s This Week @ NASA!

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