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This Week @ NASA, March 9, 2012
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This Week at NASA…

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver helped announce a new series of Women@NASA during a Women’s History Month event at George Washington University in Washington.

The Women, Aerospace, and Innovation event showcased new videos from the Women@NASA website highlighting the role of women in science, technology, engineering and math at the agency.

Inspiring and engaging young females in the STEM fields was detailed in data presented by the Girl Scouts Research Institute.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: “We can be proud of the fact that NASA is the largest employer of women in S.T.E.M. fields, with over 6-thousand women who hold jobs at NASA of our 18-thousand.”

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “I am proud of the contributions women have made and continue to make at NASA at every level. And we are determined to keep that pipeline flowing through recruitment, support and promotions, as well as our investments in STEM. America needs you. Aerospace needs you. NASA needs you.”

Check out the Women@NASA website, at

In Yuma, Arizona, NASA successfully conducted another drop test of the Orion crew vehicle's entry, descent and landing parachutes in preparation for its orbital flight test in 2014.

After the vehicle’s drop from an Air Force C-17 at 25-thousand feet, researchers gauged how its choppy wake affected the ‘chute system’s performance. Choppy air can reduce how much a parachute inflates.

Orion will carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before.

(nat) Engineers at the Stennis Space Center have moved a J-2X engine to the A-2 Test Stand in preparation for another round of testing. Both the developmental engine and the stand have been modified for simulated altitude testing scheduled to begin in the coming months. An initial round of J-2X testing was completed last year.

SpaceX has reached a milestone in preparing for its upcoming Falcon 9 demonstration flight to the International Space Station. During a “Wet Dress Rehearsal”, the rocket was hoisted into position on the launch pad and loaded with propellants. Other tests were also performed successfully.

SpaceX will provide cargo resupply services to the ISS. Falcon 9, with its Dragon capsule, is targeted to launch to the station in late April.

Ground controllers at Goddard Space Flight Center have conducted the first on-orbit operations of NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission. The RRM is an external experiment on the International Space Station designed to demonstrate and test the tools, technologies, and techniques needed to robotically refuel satellites in space – especially satellites not designed for on-orbit servicing.

A joint effort between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, RRM uses the Dextre robotic “handyman” for the delicate task of refueling.

Brian Roberts, Robotic Demonstration and Test Manager: “We’ll be following along with the robot, so if there are issues on the Space Station our robot here could demonstrate ways to solve the problem that they’ve run into in space.”

Also aboard the ISS, NASA flight engineer Don Pettit completed his third session for the Integrated Resistance and Aerobic Training Study. Known as SPRINT, this investigation evaluates how well high-intensity, low volume exercise minimizes loss of muscle, bone and cardiovascular function in station crew members on long-duration missions. Data from the study could also prove helpful in promoting muscle, bone and cardiovascular health in those of us back on the ground.

“Angry Birds Space” is coming! And to help introduce the new version of the hit game, Pettit worked aboard the Station to create a video explaining how physics works in space. He demonstrated trajectories in microgravity by catapulting an Angry Bird through the space station. NASA worked in cooperation with Finland-based Rovio Entertainment, creator of the Angry Birds franchise, to produce "Angry Birds Space." The game becomes available on March 22.

A new generation of space vehicles capable of safely and economically delivering payloads and researchers to suborbital space was the focus of a NASA co-sponsored event in Palo Alto, California. The agency’s Flight Opportunities Program co-hosted the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, where researchers and educators were encouraged to participate in, learn about and contribute to the new era of commercial suborbital spaceflight.

During a presentation about the storied, suborbital X-15 aircraft, Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong talked about that experimental vehicle’s groundbreaking contribution to spaceflight.

Neil Armstrong, NASA Apollo Astronaut: “Based on our experience up to that time, flight to Mach 7 was audacious by any standard. An enormous manufacturing challenge, but the Air Force, NASA and the Navy were certain that was the aircraft they needed.”

A new fuel cell that will allow NASA rovers to go farther and explore longer on the surface of other planets and moons was demonstrated for media at the Glenn Research Center.

A conventional fuel cell needs a pump to remove water produced inside the device. This new, non-flow-through fuel cell uses capillary action to wick away the water, making it simpler, lighter, and more reliable. The demo was done inside Glenn's Simulated Lunar Operations facility.

NASA Aeronautics chief Jaiwon Shin visited the Langley Research Center, where he talked with employees about the agency’s ongoing efforts to design safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient aircraft. Shin also toured the center’s 14-by-22-foot wind tunnel, which is being upgraded to advance research for environmentally-responsible aviation.

LANGLEY CAREER DAY – LARC (CP) Amy Johnson Reporting
Hundreds of teens interested in jobs in science technology engineering and math, or STEM, came to NASA Langley Research in Hampton Virginia for Career Day.

Sponsored by NASA Langley, the Peninsula Engineering Council and Newport News Shipbuilding, the event offered students the opportunity to speak with STEM professionals in round table discussions.

Similar to speed dating, groups of students would move from table to table to speak with engineers and researchers from NASA Langley and Newport News Shipbuilding

The morning culminated with two design challenges that had students working together to either build a boat out of duct tape or build a shock-absorbing system out of marshmallows, cups and straws.

The event, held during National Engineers Week, was designed to broaden and reinforce students’ interests in STEM and increase awareness and appreciation of engineering.

Ralph McQuarrie, whose sci-fi artwork was featured in major motion pictures and hit TV series, has died. He was 82. McQuarrie’s creations included Star Wars characters Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2D2 and C-3PO, and the Mother Ship of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Near and dear to NASA is the animation McQuarrie produced for CBS News of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon in 1969.

And that’s This Week @NASA!

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