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This Week @ NASA, April 20, 2012
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This week at NASA …

Space shuttle Discovery is now at the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C. NASA’s most-flown shuttle was given the red carpet treatment in a special multi-day “Welcome Discovery” celebration at the facility highlighted by a special, one-hour telecast on NASA TV.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “Today we turn Discovery over to the Smithsonian with great expectation that as we have always done, NASA will continue to inspire the young people of today and tomorrow to dream of space, to dream of uncovering the secrets of the universe and take steps to pursue the careers that will make them the exploration leaders of tomorrow.”

Here’s a look at the precise process of getting the orbiter from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to her new and permanent home at Udvar- Hazy …

DISCOVERY’S DEPARTURE – KSC (CP) George Diller Reporting
Nicole Stott, NASA Astronaut: “I'm not going to lie to you; I'm feeling a little sad because I think it's a little bit like watching somebody leave home.”

Space Shuttle Discovery began a new mission as it left NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida destined for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center outside Washington, D.C.

Discovery's fly out from Kennedy on Tuesday April 17, 2012 began several days earlier when the shuttle, equipped with an aerodynamic tail cone over its three main engines, was rolled out of the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building for the last time.

It was towed about two miles to the Shuttle Landing Facility where NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified 747, was already waiting.

Technicians who had prepped shuttles many times before for cross-country ferry flights once again took their stations inside the mate-demate device at Kennedy to carefully hoist the 83-ton Discovery and place it gingerly on the 747.

The combination was pushed away from the steel stacking structure and spent the day as the center of appreciation for employees and NASA officials who came out to see the spacecraft one last time in its operational environment.

Some of the astronauts of Discovery's last mission, STS-133, came back to Kennedy to see the shuttle's departure.

Nicole Stott, NASA Astronaut: “This has been Discovery's home for a long time, but I think the Smithsonian's going to take beautiful care of her as well, so I look forward to taking my family up there sometime and seeing her on display.”

Space shuttles routinely impressed people with their performances, and even flying through the air on a 747 inspires a certain "gee-whiz" notion even among astronauts.

Steve Bowen, NASA Astronaut: “Once you get over the shock of, you know, realizing that it’s going away for the last time, you can't not look at it and say, ‘Wow! How in the world does that combination still work? How does that fly?’”

Jeff Moultrie, SCA Commander/Pilot: “We're doing a series of flyovers starting here at Kennedy and we're doing one in Washington, D.C. and we want to do the best job that we can with a lot of eyes watching us on this delivery.”

And the crew of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft did not disappoint … providing the Nation’s Capital region with inspirational, once-in-a-lifetime views with a series of flyovers – giving young and old one last look at Discovery “in-flight”. The SCA then brought the most prolific space shuttle in history back to Earth – with a picture-perfect landing at Dulles International Airport for its induction into the Smithsonian. For NASA, Discovery on display at Udvar-Hazy is a shining example of past successes that will help the agency continue to build for the future of space exploration.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: “President Obama has set us on a course that will tap into the innovative spirit that has made this nation great. It will allow us to more fully utilize the ISS, and to explore farther than ever before to an asteroid and on to Mars.”

Carrying astronauts to these beyond “Earth orbit” destinations will be the Orion spacecraft. The test vehicle used in the Pad Abort-1 Test in 2010, which saw the successful flight of Orion's launch abort system, was among many NASA items and exhibits displayed at Udvar-Hazy for the Welcome Discovery celebration.

The first space-bound Orion capsule is scheduled for an un-crewed test in 2014 that will see it travel farther into space than any human-rated spacecraft in more than 40 years.

Meanwhile, at the Wallops Flight Facility, Orbital Sciences Corporation is conducting “pathfinder” operations for the critical pre-launch process of rolling out the Antares launch vehicle to the pad. Antares is being developed to provide low-cost access to space as part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Program, or COTS. There are currently ten missions planned between 20-12 and 20-15, including a demonstration flight and eight resupply missions to the International Space Station.

NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck visited the Glenn Research Center and was updated on a wide range of technology efforts. Among the facilities toured was a lab where researchers are investigating ways to revolutionize aerogels for use in space and here on Earth. Engineers and scientists joined Peck for a working lunch to share details of their research and development efforts through Glenn’s “Center Innovative Fund.”

Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator: “What I want to share with you for just a little while is a little bit about who we are and where we are at NASA and hopefully whet your appetite for things to come.”

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver provided remarks at the 28th Annual National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. The event, held at The Broadmoor Hotel has brought together space leaders from around the world to discuss and address the future of space since the inaugural event in 1984. Garver participated in a panel discussion titled "Space Agency Leaders: The Imperative of Global Collaboration".

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: “At NASA in are 52 year history we have had over 4,000 International agreements, with 120 different nations. we have I know throughout the past few years have had concerns that we as an industry, community are not able to change and adapt look no further than this collaborative effort again born of the Cold War this space program is truly a collaborative effort .”

The National Space Symposium has become widely known as the premier U.S. space policy and program forum, and the "must attend" opportunity for information related to space.

MOONBUGGY RACE – MSFC (CP) Lori Meggs Reporting
America's space agency has crowned its vehicular engineering victors for the 19th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. The team from Petra Mercado High School in Humacao, Puerto Rico won first place in the high school division; and racers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville Team 1, claimed the college-division trophy. The winning teams outraced more than 80 teams from 20 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator: “I think there are a number of reasons that I would consider the Great Moonbuggy Race important. Perhaps, foremost for me is just the international competition that it brings. The exposure of our kids, you know, not only here in Huntsville, but kids across the United States who have an opportunity to meet students from other parts of the world.” Organized by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the race challenges students to design, build and race lightweight, human-powered buggies. Traversing the grueling half-mile course, which simulates the cratered lunar surface, race teams face many of the same engineering challenges dealt with by Apollo-era lunar rover developers at the Marshall Center in the late 1960s. The winning teams post the fastest vehicle assembly and race times in their divisions, with the fewest on-course penalties. The race is inspired by the original lunar rover, first piloted across the moon's surface in the early 1970s during the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions.

Connor O'Boyle, Pittsburg State University: “It's wonderful. It's nice being around a bunch of students that are doing the same things we are and been through what we have in the past semester and everything. But just being around engineers doing the same thing we are, being able to relate to them and compete. Competition is always fun.” For more information about the race visit

NASA's newest building is also one of the nation's greenest. The Agency has repurposed its technologies and incorporated them into a new facility called Sustainability Base. Located at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, this highly intelligent and intuitive facility can anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, wind and occupancy. The building can optimize its performance automatically, in real time, in response to internal and external changes. It is designed to achieve, and is presently under consideration for, the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED Platinum status, which is the highest LEED rating.

About fourteen-hundred aliens and earthlings recently celebrated space flight at Yuri’s Night Hampton Roads. The event was held at the Langley Research Center’s official visitor’s facility – the Virginia Air and Space Center. The crowd honored the anniversary of the first space shuttle lift-off as well as that of the first human spaceflight by Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The night featured a mix of NASA innovation and technology, a little star gazing and entertainment, including a DJ and dancing inside the museum and live reggae outdoors on the observation deck. As in past years, there were plenty of familiar characters on hand – including Darth Vader, a Star Trek officer, the crew from Futurama and a number of Men in Black - as participants got into the spirit of the evening.

And that’s This Week @ NASA!

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