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This Week @ NASA, June 24, 2011
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Chris Ferguson: "Thanks for coming out and greeting the crew for what is the final opportunity to do this, at least in front of a space shuttle and I couldn’t think of a better backdrop."

The final space shuttle crew spoke with reporters at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A as they completed the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test for STS-135. The TCDT gives the crew and support personnel time to familiarize themselves with equipment and procedures surrounding an upcoming launch.

The four veteran astronauts are targeted to lift off aboard Atlantis for the International Space Station on July 8 on what will be the final mission of the space shuttle era.

Rex Walheim: "The space shuttle program has been amazing what it’s done, all the great accomplishments, and you just don’t want to let that momentum down, and so there is a lot of pressure to do your job right."

The International Space Station welcomed the Progress 43 unpiloted cargo ship carrying close to three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the six Expedition 28 crewmembers on board.

That came several days after the unpiloted European Space Agency’s “Johannes Kepler” Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 undocked from the station. ATV-2 had delivered several tons of supplies to the crew in February. A day after its undocking, ATV-2 burned up on reentry over the Pacific Ocean.

NASA experts spoke at the annual Space Weather Enterprise Forum held at the National Press Club in Washington. Space weather refers to conditions and events on the sun and near-Earth that can threaten human safety, and hamper national security by impacting critical systems like electric power grids, communications, and satellite positioning and navigation systems.

John Allen: "Selection of older crew members is a benefit, rather than younger, in terms of how much radiation they can exposed to because of the finite period at which time radiation might express itself."

Dr. John Allen addressed the increased exposure to radiation faced by astronauts during adverse space weather conditions – and what can be done to prepare them for such events.

The Space Weather Enterprise brings together researchers, policymakers, forecasters, and others to share information and raise awareness of space weather and its effects on society. Space weather is predicted to increase as the sun reaches its forecasted peak of activity in 2013.


Moderator: "When you’re training to be astronauts no one had ever had that job description before, so what did astronaut training entail?"

Scott Carpenter: "Everything; every test you could imagine."

Fifty years after the first human spaceflights, NASA’s two surviving Mercury 7 astronauts – John Glenn and Scott Carpenter sat down to talk about their experiences at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

John Glenn: "NASA's predecessor, the national advisory committee for aeronautics, was doing some studies on a computer they had down at Langley that were about orbital flight, and wanted someone to come down there and go through some of that and I volunteered for that and that's when we first when I realized that we really were going into this; I realized anyway."

Scott Carpenter: "The order said: report to Washington at such and such time; do not discuss or speculate with anyone. So, I obeyed, though I did discuss and speculate with my wife, however. I went to a briefing at the Pentagon and that’s how I heard about the NASA project."

On February 20, 1962, John Glenn piloted his Friendship 7 spacecraft on the United States’ first orbital Mercury mission. At age 77, Glenn flew in space a second time in 1998 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-95 after representing his native Ohio in the U.S. Senate. Scott Carpenter flew into space on May 24, 1962, aboard Aurora 7, a three-orbit science mission. The fourth American in space, Carpenter also performed important habitability research on the ocean floor.

The Ames Research Center hosted a tribute to Baruch 'Barry' Blumberg, the former NASA scientist who identified, and developed the vaccine for, the Hepatitis B virus.

Blumberg died after suffering a heart attack earlier this year at the International Lunar Research Park Exploratory Workshop at Ames, where he was a featured speaker.

And now, Centerpieces…

A good idea rarely goes out of style – just ask some of the firms developing next generation spacecraft.

Sierra Nevada, one of four winners of second-round funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program, based its Dream Chaser design on the HL-20 space taxi concept.

That idea was developed by NASA's Langley Research Center in the 80s and 90s.

Company and NASA headquarters officials came to the center in Hampton, Va. to recognize those studies and Langley's 50-year history of lifting body research.

Lori Garver: "We're proud of the work we at NASA did on the HL-20 on the lifting body concept and we’re pleased that it's being utilized today."

Mark Sirangelo: "We would not be here. I would not be at this podium if it wasn't for the great work you did."

Langley engineers devised an entire plan for the HL-20.

They created pilot landing scenarios for flight simulators – some of which are now adapted for newer facilities.

They tested designs in wind tunnels and even built a full-scale model, with the help of universities, to study crew challenges; that model is at Sierra Nevada.

Many of the researchers who gave birth to the HL-20 attended the recognition ceremony.

Bill Piland: "We really appreciate this opportunity to get together again and the recognition you provided us for a job we were excited about. We still are excited about and quite frankly I thought this day would never come."

Also while in Hampton, NASA's Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Chief Technologist Bobby Braun got the chance to see a manufacturing technique, developed at Langley that could revolutionize the way aerospace parts are made.

With a blast of confetti, Center Director Lesa Roe and several elected officials cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the new “green” headquarters facility at the Langley Research Center.

The first new building constructed at Langley in thirty-five years, it covers seventy-nine thousand square feet, and houses more than two hundred and fifty employees from six different center organizations.

Lesa Roe: "Today's ceremony and the building behind me, dramatically signify a new Langley and the completion of the first element in our revitalization plan."

The new structure uses some of the newest technology to reduce its impact on the environment. Its roof deflects heat and reduces storm-water runoff, and geothermal wells assist in heating and cooling, all to achieve the highest rating by the U.S. Green Building Council

Congressman Rob Wittman: "These buildings will stand as an icon in this community for that science, for that technology, for that development, for what NASA does each and every day and for what it stands for going into the future."

The second element in Langley's revitalization plan -- an integrated services building that will house a new cafeteria, conference center and additional office spaces -- will break ground later this year.

The Wallops Flight Facility became Rocket University for seven days in June as more than 120 high school educators and university students and instructors spent a week learning about rocketry and conducting science experiments in space.

SARAH HARDIN: "We've learned a great deal, there's a lot more to rockets than I ever dreamed of. We’ve gotten to actually build rockets, hands on, make our own, we've got to shoot 'em off."

SEAN MCCULLOUGH: "A lot of nice people to talk to and learn how they do things at other schools and what their specialties are."

Flying on this NASA Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital sounding rocket were experiments constructed by the student participants. After launch and payload recovery, the participants conducted preliminary data analysis and discussed their results.

JENNY JEAN: "You get to do this part, I’ll do the next part later. I mean it was a lot of team work that was involved for something that was so little."

CHRIS KOEHLER: "It was a great day for a launch, we had perfect weather, you could see everything clearly, great skies, great winds. Lots of people, lots of excitement, one of the best launches I’ve ever seen."

The annual, week-long workshop is supported by NASA’s Sounding Rocket Program, the Office of Education, and the agency’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program in partnership with the Space Grant Consortia of Colorado and Virginia.

SEAN MICHAEL O’BRADY: "This experience, absolutely incredible!"

JENNY JEAN: "Heck Yeah I’m coming back next year!"

Sixteen years ago, on June 27, 1995, shuttle Atlantis became the 100th U.S. human spaceflight launched from Cape Canaveral, embarking on a mission that would link it with Mir for the first US space shuttle-Russian space station docking. STS-71 would also mark the first on-orbit crew changeout of shuttle crew. Atlantis Commander Hoot Gibson and crew brought with them the members of the new Mir 19 mission, Anatoly Solovyev and Nikolai Budarin, and would return home with the Mir 18 crew of Norm Thagard, Vladimir Dezhurov and Gannady Strekalov. Over a five-day period, astronauts and cosmonauts conducted joint biomedical and scientific investigations. Atlantis undocked on the Fourth of July, and landed back at the Kennedy Space Center on July7th.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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