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This Week @ NASA, March 25, 2011
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This Week at NASA…


Melvin: "We have the Promise Academy, oh wow, wow,!!"

The excitement and inspiration of space exploration was the subject of a special forum held in New York to celebrate Women’s History Month. NASA's Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, and Associate Administrator for Education and former astronaut Leland Melvin attended the event at the Stephen Weiss Studio in Greenwich Village and met with 200 young women from middle and high schools in the city.

Garver: NASA is a wonderful, wonderful place that is making a difference in people’s lives every day. Our satellites look back on the planet to help us learn what is happening with our own planet so that we can have a more secure future. And we are looking out into the solar system and beyond.

Melvin: "How many of you dream out here? We got some dreamers? Well, I want you to take those dreams and talk to these trailblazers and figure out how to make the dreams become a reality."

Co-sponsored by fashion designer Donna Karan's Urban Zen Foundation and the Foundation for Advancing Women Now, founded by singer Mary J. Blige, the event encouraged the students to consider careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The students also uplinked their questions to NASA astronaut Cady Coleman orbiting 220 miles above the Earth on the International Space Station.

Student: "What is your normal daily routine while in space?"

Coleman: "I float out of my cabin and I start reading right away on the computer about what we are going to do that day, I would have already seen the plan from the day before and studied the things I need to study for that day, but we always look for last minute updates."

This Earth-to-space exchange was one in a series held in conjunction with educational organizations worldwide and is an integral part of NASA’s Teaching From Space program.

Coleman: "Well, Tony it is some much fun up here!!"

With the date of their scheduled launch to the International Space Station fast approaching, the three Expedition 27 crew members not yet in space were honored as they departed the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. NASA astronaut Ron Garan and Roscosmos cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev will conduct a series of prelaunch activities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan before lifting off in their Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft for the ISS on April 4. Two days later, they’ll join Expedition 27 Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and flight engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli aboard the orbiting complex.

The cargo that space shuttle Endeavour will carry to the International Space Station joined the orbiter at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A. Endeavour’s final mission, STS-134, will be to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 and the Express Logistics Carrier-3 to the ISS. The AMS is a particle physics detector designed to operate from the station and search for various types of unusual matter, while the carrier is a platform filled with spare parts for station operations.

Commanding STS-134 is Mark Kelly; piloting Endeavour will be Greg Johnson. Serving as mission specialists are Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

Roberto Vittori: "The shuttle for me is nothing else than the father of anything that will fly in the future at hypersonic speed and will make our world much smaller."

Mark Kelly: "It’s a bitter sweet privilege to be taking Endeavour on its last flight delivering the last major piece to the ISS."

Endeavour is targeted for launch on April 19 at 7:48 pm Eastern.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was the guest speaker at the Marshall Space Flight Center’s Small Business Alliance meeting. Bolden joined with Marshall Center Director Robert Lightfoot and Glenn Delgado, associate administrator of NASA's Office of Small Business Programs in Washington, to welcome more than 400 local, regional and national business owners and managers to this semi-annual event.

Bolden: "Small Businesses everybody has said so far is not only crucial to NASA, but it’s crucial to the nation, federal procurement opportunities to women owned, minority owned, veteran owned and small business are critical to this economy and to sustaining economic development."

Bolden also met with young space campers at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to promote education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.



Charles Bolden: "So many people on both the government and industry teams worked so very hard to build this wonderful high-tech facility."

Administrator Charles Bolden was joined by Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and other dignitaries for the unveiling of the Wallops Flight Facility’s new Horizontal Rocket Integration Facility, or HIF.

Senator Barbara Mikulski: "The genius of the private sector working with government is going to lead the way in commercial spacecraft to take cargo to the space station so the space station can continue the innovation and discovery, be the national laboratory in the sky."

HIF will support the launch of medium-class missions. The first commercial customer scheduled to utilize this new addition is Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.

David Thompson: "As we look ahead we now anticipate regular cargo launches to the ISS from Wallops, providing a source of high quality jobs for this region and a new draw for visitors here."

Orbital has moved its Taurus II vehicle into the facility this month for its planned launch later this year. The company’s partnership with NASA comes under the agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Service project and Commercial Resupply Services program.

Assembly of the first J-2X, dubbed engine ten thousand one, is in full swing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. The J-2X engine is designed to be a highly efficient and versatile rocket engine and has the ideal performance characteristics to power the upper-stage of a heavy-lift launch vehicle.

Mike Kynard: "J-2X engine assembly, as you can see behind me is in full swing. Parts are rolling in from the De Soto campus where they are being manufactured and final machined. Engine assembly started with the main combustion chamber because basically the rest of the engine hangs on that. The turbo machinery is next the oxidizer and fuel turbo machinery, and those have now been installed…the inlet ducts went on soon after that. That’s kind of the state of where we are now."

Andy Ketchum: "Well with the original design we figured exactly how the engine should go together. But of course this is our first time building the engine and so we’re going to learn things as we go. In addition we’ve used Delmia Simulations where we can actually take the three dimensional model and put a human in there to tell exactly how to assemble the engine and take different parts off and put different parts on. That’s been really helpful."

Gary Benton: "Well, we’ve spent the last ten months working on the A2 Test Stand to convert it from Space Shuttle Main Engine testing to J-2X engine testing. Some of the modifications were on the plumbing systems for the cryogenic propellants and the gases, some structural modifications to accommodate the access requirements and mounting for the engine and also electrical system upgrades involving the control system."

The J-2X is designed and built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Hot fire testing of Engine 10,001 is targeted for later this summer at Stennis.

The Bayou Regional FIRST Robotics competition held in the New Orleans area brought together teams from 38 high schools in seven states for a weekend of competition that immerses students in the world of engineering while teaching them the benefits of teamwork. FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, is one of many programs NASA supports to engage students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Katie Wallace: "You might not know but NASA is the largest single sponsor of FIRST Robotics."

The NASA Education Team and many other Stennis employees served as coaches, mentors, judges, referees, and machine shop volunteers for this exciting competition.

Dave Lavery: "It doesn’t end here at all as a matter of fact for all of you this really has the opportunity just to be a beginning."

The FIRST Championship is scheduled for next month in St. Louis.

And that’s This Week @ NASA!

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