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This Week @ NASA, June 1, 2011
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This Week @NASA…

Space shuttle Endeavour and its six-astronaut crew sailed home for the final time, ending a 16-day journey of more than 6.5 million miles with a landing at 2:35 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Mark Kelly: "I love the space shuttle. I'd fly it as much as I possibly if I could,I'd go out there every couple of months if I could have the opportunity to fly on the space shuttle. But, its 30 years old and we've got to grow, and adapt, and build knew things and its going to be probably five or six years, maybe seven before we have a new U.S. spacecraft to take crew members first, to and from the ISS, and then hopefully outside lower Earth orbit, but we'll get there."

STS-134 was the last mission for the youngest of NASA's space shuttle fleet, delivering to the International Space Station the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a cosmic ray detector that will search the universe for evidence of dark matter, strange matter and antimatter. Since 1992, Endeavour flew 25 missions, spent 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times and traveled almost 123 million miles.

Pope Benedict XVI – "This extraordinary opportunity to converse with you during your mission and especially grateful to be able to speak to so many of you as both crews are present on the Space Station at this time."

In a history making event from the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI spoke with the Expedition 27 and STS-134 crews working on-orbit aboard the International Space Station.

Pope Benedict XVI -"From your excellent observation point, how do you see the situation on Earth, do you see science phenomena to which we need to be more attentive."

Ron Garan – "Well your holiness, it's a great honor to speak with you, and you are right it really is an extraordinary advantage point we have up here, on the one hand we can see how indescribably beautiful the planet that we have been given is, but on the other hand, we can really clearly so how fragile it is."

The pope chatted in particular with the two European Space Agency astronauts from Italy, Roberto Vittori, and Paolo Nespoli, whose mother died during his mission.

Paolo Nespoli – "Holy Father I felt your prayers and everyone's prayers arriving up here, we are the outside world we orbit, outside the Earth, and we have a vantage point to look at the Earth and we feel everything around us."

Pope Benedict's call was the first by a pontiff to explorers in space.

Less than three days later, the Soyuz capsule carrying the last three members of the Expedition 27 team made a picture-perfect landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan. Dmitry Kondratyev, Cady Coleman and Nespoli returned to Earth – and sunny skies and 70-degree temperatures after more than five months aboard the ISS.

Having arrived at the complex last Dec. 17, the trio worked on more than 100 experiments involving researchers from around the globe, as well as "juggled" space for supplies and equipment uploaded on the final shuttle missions.

With their departure, the three remaining station residents, Andrei Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan, became members of Expedition 28. They're scheduled to be joined by three new crewmates on June 9: Cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, NASA astronaut Mike Fossum and JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa.

Meanwhile, the six crew members of space shuttle Endeavour continued with their 16-day mission.

Mike Fincke - And good work yourself today, congratulations on your second EVA

Greg Chamitoff – "Thanks Man!"

Mission specialists Mike Fincke and Greg Chamitoff successfully completed the last of four spacewalks planned for STS-134.

The mission's primary payload, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, has been installed outside the station and is collecting and returning data. The AMS, a cosmic particles detector, may help scientists better understand unusual phenomena in the universe.

Miami-Dade Police Department director, James Loftus presented Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana with the U.S. Honor Flag at a special ceremony at the KSC Visitor Complex. The flag will be prepared to fly aboard shuttle Atlantis on its final mission, in July.

Cabana - "I think it is a real privilege for us to be able to take it aboard Atlantis and bring it home safe, it says a lot."

The U.S. Honor Flag has traveled throughout the world honoring police officers, firefighters, members of the Armed Forces, astronauts and other heroes who lost their lives while serving their communities and country.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden welcomed to NASA Headquarters in Washington the 85 winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award recognizes teachers at the Kindergarten to 6th grade level.

Admin. Bolden -"I want to congratulate all of you, on the exceptional achievement and your recognition on the part of the President."

President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign aims to strengthen the nation's teaching of science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM disciplines, by preparing 10-thousand effective science and mathematics teachers over the next decade.

The Administrator delivered the keynote speech at Southern University's spring commencement. Speaking to an audience of thousands, Bolden told graduates that challenges in their future will "present big opportunities" for them to do great things. He congratulated Southern University as one of the top 10 producers of African-Americans with undergraduate degrees in engineering and nursing, and encouraged graduates to consider careers with NASA.

Admin. Bolden - "I hope you are optimistic about the future because I am. It's been my observation that students who are just starting their college careers, or wrapping them up right now are excited about the future. I am hoping I am right about all of you, that's a question, are you excited about the future?'

Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Southern University and A&M College is a historically black institution created in 1890. Its goal is to provide students with a "high- quality, global educational experience, to engage in scholarly, research and creative activities, and to give meaningful public service to the community, the state, the nation, and the world."


Reporter - "The Gates have just opened people are filing in"

The JPL Open House is a time-honored tradition. Once a year, one weekend in May, the lab throws open its gates and people come…..

And come…and come…

Engineer – "We have tried lots of mobility systems, we have tried 4 wheels, 6 wheels, 8 wheels."

More than 38-thousand people stopped by over the two days, not including an additional 27-thousand who viewed the Open House remotely via Ustream TV

"I am Gay Yee Hill next to me hear is Christopher Harris."

…and had their chat questions answered by a real NASA scientist or engineer.

"ATHLETE has rubber wheel because it's just a prototype."

Folks got to see a real Mars rover, Curiosity, before it's packed up and headed for Mars in November.

Reporter - Is it bigger than you thought?

Kid – "I thought it would be like 6.8."

Reporter – "Feet?"

Kid – "A Hah."

They felt what it's like to be run over by a rover… And drive a robot with their own hands… For two days, people shared the "Excitement of Exploration."

As some folks put it, JPL's Open House is a lot like Disneyland…Only this isn't Fantasyland, it's more like Tomorrowland. And, this place is REAL.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington hosted a special concert honoring its namesake and American achievements in space exploration.

"Human Spaceflight: the Kennedy Legacy" featured a series of selections performed by the Space Philharmonic under the direction of Emil de Cou.

The musical celebration came on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy's speech to Congress in which he challenged the United States…

President JFK -"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

Jean Kennedy Smith - Since those words were spoken, NASA has taken my brother's charge and created a future that even he probably could not have dreamed.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was joined on-stage by Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, astronauts and other special guests that included former "Star Trek" star Nichelle Nichols, June Lockhart of "Lost in Space," and Grammy-winning recording artist, Herbie Hancock, who performed a piece about witnessing February's launch of Discovery on STS-133.

Also performing were several local high school musical groups and the Soldier's Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band.

To conclude, the orchestra was led by Teddy Kennedy the third (3rd) in "Stars & Stripes Forever".

Forty years ago, on May 30, 1971, Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Mariner reached Mars in November of that same year becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, and sending back clear pictures of the Martian surface. The images revealed river beds, craters, volcanoes, evidence of wind and water erosion, weather fronts, fogs, and more. Mars' tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos, were also photographed. The findings from the Mariner 9 missions served as a foundation for the later Viking program.

Twelve years ago, on May 29, 1999, Discovery made the first space shuttle docking to the International Space Station during mission STS-96, the second flight to the complex. STS-96 launched to the ISS on May 27, carrying crew members, Commander Kent Rominger, Pilot Rick Husband, and Mission Specialists Ellen Ochoa, Tamara Jernigan, Daniel Barry, Julie Payette and Valery Tokarev, and 3,567 pounds of material – including clothing, sleeping bags, spare parts, medical equipment, supplies, hardware and about 84 gallons of water.

And that's This Week @ NASA.

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