This Week @ NASA, April 13, 2012
This Week at NASA…

Escorted by a NASA T-38 jet, Space Shuttle Discovery – atop the NASA 905 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, made its much anticipated arrival in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

It was the thirty-eighth and final time Discovery has traveled piggyback on the modified Boeing 747 – and undoubtedly the most anticipated.

Onlookers gathered on rooftops, along the National Mall – wherever they could … to catch a glimpse of the iconic shuttle as it was flown overhead.

Tim Persons, D.C. Metro Area Resident: “I got goose bumps. I was watching it through my telephoto lens as it went over the Lincoln monument down here and it really impressed me emotionally.”

Brad Elmquist, D.C. Metro Area Resident: “What a defining moment this is for us because this is the end of an incredible space program. There is so much the space shuttle program has done and I wanted to make sure that my kids had that personal appreciation of it.”

After a series of flyovers, The SCA and the most prolific space shuttle in history made a picture-perfect landing at Dulles International Airport in advance of its induction into the Smithsonian – and display at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Northern Virginia

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: "To those who say our best days of space exploration are behind us, I simply must disagree. While it is absolutely wonderful to reminisce about the past, and that is of course what we come to the Smithsonian Museums to do, NASA must continue and does focus on the future. You need only admire this unbelievable space shuttle and their accomplishments to realize that the people, the organization and the nation that created them have only just begun.”

We’ll have more coverage of Discovery’s trip to the Smithsonian on the next episode of This Week At NASA.


“Thank you good morning, this is Mark Carreau for aviation week and space technology…”

Three of the six crew members living aboard the International Space Station fielded questions from reporters during a news conference shown live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website. Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers discussed the multitude of activity taking place onboard the orbiting laboratory.

“Doctor Pettit, you’ll be the one reeling in the Dragon capsule. Talk about the importance of this inaugural commercial cargo run.”

“Andre and I will be doing this task and we’ll be sharing the robotics duties for flying the arm from capture to ultimately berthing it onto the node nadir port.”

Burbank, along with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin wrap up their mission later this month when the Soyuz spacecraft they’re scheduled to return to Earth in lands in Kazakhstan.


In Houston the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine, held the official opening of a new laboratory that examines the health risks associated with spaceflight.

The new facility, opened with support from NASA, brings together scientists from the government, private companies and universities, and allows them to work together to solve the mysteries of the human body and how it reacts to space.

“This partnership is a shining example of the possibilities of dedicated researchers and scientists working with industry, government and academia to achieve significantly more than the sum of their parts.”

These scientists are not only creating experiments that will fly to the international space station, but they are also figuring out ways to bring their findings down to earth and into hospitals and homes. Some of the research that was on display included experiments that look at how the bones in the human body can be strengthened through exercise, diet and medication…how kidney stones can be detected and moved using an ultrasound rather than surgery, and how an MRI machine, which normally takes up an entire hospital room, can be put in the palm of your hand.

“It’s very exciting to work on it, to be honest. You know, a lot of groups that I’ve worked with in the past, and it’s the most fun working with NASA just thinking about this – contributing to the space program in any sort of way. The goal is to develop it for NASA but we see a number of clear spinoffs on Earth here that we’re eager to pursue as well.”

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things …”

The new research center is located directly across the street from Rice Stadium, where President Kennedy delivered his famous moon speech in 1962. On hand for the opening were leadership from Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, the city of Houston and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.


Representatives from Ames Research Center and the National Park Service gave the public an up-close look at how the extreme conditions of California’s Death Valley are helping NASA prepare for surface exploration of Mars.

The first ever Mars and the Mojave Festival featured geology and mini-rover demonstrations, a scale-model of the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity Rover and guided tours of areas whose topography and characteristics make them ideal research sites for equipment testing and evaluation in a Mars-like environment.

Among these sites is Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the continental United States, where specially-adapted microbial life can be found under salt and mineral deposits; Mars Hill, which mimics the boulder-strewn Martian surface first seen up-close by NASA’s Viking landers; and Ubehebe Crater, where scientists can plan crater exploration for missions like MSL.

TJ’s NEW SPOT – MSFC (CP) Lori Meggs Reporting

He traveled more than 65 million miles around the planet while living aboard the International Space Station for 161 days, but a new journey has led astronaut TJ Creamer to the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The former Expedition 22/23 flight engineer and NASA science officer is now learning what things are like from the ground up -- literally. Creamer has been training since last September to become a payload operations director in NASA's Payload Operations Center at Marshall. He's the first astronaut certified to lead the team that coordinates real-time science operations between the crews on orbit, the Johnson Space Center and international partners around the world.

“I thought perhaps with my interests and Marshall's focus, that it might be a nice marriage to bring that operational experience here, share my living on board as well as to be able to be the liaison and help both in the payload management as well as the liaison communications between Houston and Huntsville.”

DROPPING ON A DIME – GRC/JSC (CP) Jeannette Owens Reporting

The NASA DIME competition in microgravity is underway way at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland Ohio. This year, four student teams were selected to develop an experiment for a NASA drop in the control room of the 2.2 Second Drop Tower.

The 79-foot tower gets its name because when an experiment is "dropped" into it …

“2-1-drop …”

The package experiences weightlessness, or microgravity, for 2.2 seconds. Researchers from around the world use this tower to study the effects of microgravity on physical phenomena, such as combustion and fluid dynamics, and to develop new technology for future space missions.

Dropping in a Microgravity Environment or DIME is a national competition for high school students in the ninth through 12th grades and open to student teams from all fifty states.

“Working with NASA’s engineers and scientists is amazing, I mean it is a bit intimidating because these are our heroes – like, this is what we want to do. These are who we want to be when we’re older.”

DIME is part of NASA's education program. The program allows the agency to continue its work around the country to inspire, engage and educate the next generation of engineers and scientists.


Employees at the Michoud Assembly Facility held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its robot repair unit known affectionately as R2. The mobile machine shop is dedicated to helping teams competing in FIRST Robotics events make repairs to their robots. The R2 Unit was rolled out at the recent FIRST Bayou Regionals in Kenner, Louisiana.

Assisted by adult mentors, FIRST Robotics teams of high school students design and build a robot to compete in a specific challenge. NASA partners with FIRST to promote STEM-based careers with the agency.


The Marshall Space Flight Center hosted a NASA Woman-Owned Small Business Industry Day at the Huntsville Museum of Art. More than 300 small companies learned the “how-to’s” of doing business with NASA. Their representatives also got to “pitch” their capabilities to Marshall prime contractors and small business specialists.

“Even though NASA was one of only three federal government agencies that achieved our small business goals, we were unable to achieve our goals in three areas: Women owned small business, Hubzone small business and Service to Disabled veterans small businesses. Administrator Bolden asked me to put together a plan that we can do extensive outreach to these three communities.”

“It is one of three industry days that are planned for fiscal year 2012. This will create some really good networking opportunities and we hope this will pay off for women owned small businesses in attendance today.”


Forty years ago, on April 16, 1972, Apollo 16 launched from the Kennedy Space Center. Crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charlie Duke and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly, it was the tenth manned mission in the Apollo space program, the next to last to land on the Moon and the first to land in the lunar highlands.

With Mattingly making observations from orbit, John Young and Charles Duke spent about 71 hours on the lunar surface.

“Wow what a place, what a view isn’t it John? Absolutely unreal.”

The pair conducted three moonwalks and, most notably, drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle, the LRV, a total of about sixteen miles. The pair collected about 211pounds of lunar samples that returned with them eleven days later when the Apollo 16 capsule splashed down safely in the South Pacific.

And that’s This Week @ NASA!

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