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This Week @ NASA, March 23, 2012
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This Week at NASA…

The European Space Agency has successfully launched its third Automated Transfer Vehicle. The cargo ferry, named Edoardo Amaldi for the Italian physicist and spaceflight pioneer, was sent on its way to the International Space Station atop an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

The ATV brings essential supplies and propellant to the ISS, as well as a re-boost to the station's altitude. ATV Edoardo Amaldi follows the two highly successful supply missions carried out by ATV: Jules Verne in March 2008 and ATV Johannes Kepler in February of last year.

“Thanks to everyone who se hear for the press conference and everybody out there in TV land. “

Members of the International Space Station’s Expedition 32 crew aboard discussed their upcoming mission aboard the orbiting laboratory with the media.

Sunita Williams, Expedition 32 Flight Engineer: “When we get there will be ATV, probably the European space craft, shortly thereafter, we arrive there will be be HTV , Japanese spacecraft, hopefully thereafter, there will be SpaceX or Orbital, another American spacecraft, we will probably be doing a Russian EVA, hopefully be doing a US EVA, so it a really International time when we will be up there it will be pretty exciting.”

NASA astronaut Suni Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide continue to train ahead of their scheduled July 15 launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide will replace Expedition 31 crewmembers – NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers; they’re scheduled to return to Earth on July 1st.

Remaining on the station to round out the Expedition 32 crew will be NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, who are scheduled to launch to the station in mid-May.

Engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center test fired a scaled down solid rocket booster for NASA's Space Launch System, or SLS. The 20-second firing tested new insulation materials on the 109-inch-long, 24-inch-in-diameter motor. Testing of this low-cost replica will help engineers develop and evaluate full-scale SLS solid rocket motor tests. The SLS is the new heavy-lift launch vehicle that will propel the Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system. Marshall is leading the design and development of the SLS on behalf of the agency.

Another season of science activity is underway for NASA's Operation IceBridge. From mid-March through mid-May, Wallops Flight Facility researchers aboard a modified P-3 aircraft will study changes in the polar ice as they fly over the Arctic. Since NASA's Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) stopped its annual measurement of ice elevations in 2009, Operation IceBridge has been collecting the data until a new satellite, ICESat-2, is launched in 2016. Operation IceBridge also conducts an annual campaign over the Antarctic in the fall.

The highly-anticipated Angry Birds Space is out. Produced by Rovio in cooperation with NASA, the game is not only charming and challenging, but also informing players worldwide about the physics of microgravity. In the course of play, gamers are treated to a glimpse of the NASA “meatball” atop the International Space Station!

SCORING WITH S.T.E.M. – LARC (CP) Amy Johnson Reporting
“1-2, 1-2-kick it.”

It was a field trip like no other. Thousands of middle school students packed the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina recently for NASA’s Education Day. The event aimed to inspire and motivate students to think about their future.

Area step teams and a University band and cheerleaders wowed the students before motivational speaker Calvin Mackie took the stage.

Mackie implored the students to begin thinking of how science, technology, engineering, math and maybe NASA might a role in their future.

Calvin Mackie, Motivational Speaker: “And we’re here today to let you that science, technology, engineering and math … eighty percent of the jobs in the future are going to be in those areas.”

Students also heard from NASCAR driver Ryan Gifford who shared his story of perseverance. He encouraged students to take their education seriously.

Ryan Gifford, NASCAR Driver: “Just really hope that you guys stick with whatever y’all decide to do – stick with it—keep your head there, and don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t do it because if you really want, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

NASA continued its reach into the Charlotte area by having a presence at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association or CIAA basketball tournament and by hosting a series of STEM workshops for area teachers.

Teachers spent the week at Cochrane Collegiate Academy learning fun and exciting ways to incorporate NASA educational resources into their curriculums.

Melissa Masters, S.C. Elementary School Teacher: “Lots of hands-on engaging activities, things that we can do and we can bring right back to our classrooms and explore with our kids right away to get them excited about STEM activities.”

Whether through hoops, workshops or special events, people of all ages in Charlotte NC got to know NASA a little bit better.

NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has received the top group honor from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum – the prestigious Trophy for Current Achievement.

The Cassini-Huygens mission, a collaboration of NASA, and the European and Italian space agencies, was launched in 1997. Since it began its orbit of Saturn in 2004, Cassini has made many significant discoveries, among them: plumes of water ice and organic particles spraying from Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus; signs of seasonal change in the planet’s northern hemisphere; two new Saturnian rings; and, four new moons orbiting the planet. The trophies for current and lifetime achievement are the National Air and Space Museum's most prestigious awards in recognition of advances in aerospace science and technology.

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH PROFILE: Lakeesha Flowers, Human Resources Specialist, Kennedy Space Center – (KSC) (CP)
In honor of Women’s History Month 20-12 – a celebration of Empowerment and Education, NASA recognizes Lakeesha Flowers, of The Kennedy Space Center and other women for their contributions to the cause of space exploration.

Lakeesha Flowers, Human Resources Specialist, Kennedy Space Center: “My name is Lakeesha Flowers and I’m a Human Resources Specialist here and as a Human Resources Specialist, I share the responsibility of implementing an effective strategy for our workforce.

And I play the part in bringing the right people to the right positions to make sure that we can get accomplished the work that makes us successful in our mission.

What I really love about my job is the people. We have incredibly talented and passionate people. And just to be a part of that and seeing how we all come together and are successful in completing our missions continuously is remarkable and it’s inspiring to the people.

Because we’re in such a dynamic environment, I think it’s so important that we have a diverse workforce because with diversity comes a variety of ideas, backgrounds, perspectives and problems solving and when you have a variety of mindsets approaching an issue then you’re more productive in reaching the right solution and mitigating any risks.

NASA has such a dynamic mission and we as a Human Resources Office want to ensure that we’re providing and supporting the Center in getting the right mix of skill sets at the right time and do as much as we can to cultivate a workforce that’s going to be effective and able to respond to any of the demands that may come with a changing mission.”

The past four decades has seen the city of Las Vegas grow enormously. Just how much is illustrated in this special time-lapse imagery released by the Landsat program to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the launch of the Landsat 5 satellite. The Landsat-collected data is shown as a false-color time lapse -- the large red areas are actually green space, mostly golf courses and city parks. The images become a lot sharper around 1984, when new instrument designs improved the ability to resolve smaller parcels of land. Although the earliest images pre-date Landsat-5, that satellite has been the workhorse of the program, providing vast amounts of data about the land surfaces of our planet.

“With this vehicle, the flight to the moon will be accomplished.”

March 23rd marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of space pioneer, Wernher von Braun, chief architect of the Saturn V Moon rocket, and first Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Speaking at a Space Transportation Association reception on Capitol Hill to celebrate the milestone, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden cited the importance of von Braun to America’s space program.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “We owe von Braun a great debt of gratitude for helping usher us into the Space Age. And I’m really happy to be here tonight as we chart our course toward even better milestones in the future. Thanks in large part to his pioneering work.”

NASA Historian Bill Barry says that in the 19-50’s, prior even to NASA’s establishment, von Braun played a major role in shaping public opinion about sending humans into space.

Bill Barry, NASA Historian: “von Braun was really important in terms of catalyzing in the public imagination of the United States the expectation that, in fact the opportunity to fly in space was not far away and was achievable in our lifetime.”

Jesco Von Puttkamer, Manager, International Space Station Program: “We built that rocket – we put it together in six years.”

As a recent German university graduate in the mid-60’s, Jesco von Puttkamer was recruited by von Braun to come to Huntsville and join the U.S. effort to go to the moon.

Jesco Von Puttkamer, Manager, International Space Station Program: “Today, when you talk to engineers, they look at you and say, ‘how the heck did you do that?’”

Von Puttkamer, who remains at NASA to this day, says it was the strong presence of von Braun and his will to meet the challenge set forth for the nation by President Kennedy that made it possible.

Jesco Von Puttkamer, Manager, International Space Station Program: “It was just the spirit, the enthusiasm and the leadership of someone who made you convinced that he knew what he was talking about.”

Jesco Von Puttkamer, Manager, International Space Station Program: “NASA would not be where we are without him. We would not have had this preeminence in space, this prestige that we have today with the ISS if it wouldn’t have been for von Braun and his firm belief that a huge rocket could be built to bring people to the moon and back safely within a decade.”

And that’s This Week @ NASA!

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