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This Week @ NASA, July 6, 2012
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This Week at NASA…

“Well is everybody ready? OK, let’s go.”

In Star City, Russia, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Expedition 32 crewmembers, Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA Astronaut Suni Williams and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency participated in traditional ceremonies in advance of their mid-July launch to the station. Malenchenko, Williams and Hoshide will complete their training at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Upon their arrival to the space station, the trio will join ISS Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Cosmonaut Sergei Revin – the other three members of Expedition 32.

ORION UNVEILED – KSC (CP) Mike Curie Reporting
Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: “Today, NASA and Kennedy Space Center are again lifting our sights and lifting our spirits to new heights.”

The first Orion spacecraft destined for orbit arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin processing for a flight test in 2014. The flight test, called Exploration Flight Test-1 or EFT-1, will not carry any people into space during the mission. Instead, it will be loaded with a wide variety of instruments to evaluate how it behaves during launch, in the vacuum of space and the through the searing heat of reentry.

Later Orion spacecraft will take astronauts far beyond Earth on missions to an asteroid, the moon and perhaps even Mars. Senator Bill Nelson, Florida: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re going to Mars! We know that the Orion capsule is a critical part of the system that is going to take us there. And so, we’re working on it.”

For now, though, all attention is focused on completing the assembly of this Orion. The work will take place in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Refurbished extensively in 2006, the high bay at the O&C has been outfitted with large fixtures and tooling to turn the aluminum shell of Orion into a functioning spacecraft complete with avionics, instrumentation and the heat shield.

A Delta IV Heavy rocket from United Launch Alliance will lift the capsule into an orbit reaching 3,600 miles, about 15 times higher than the International Space Station.

The mission will last only a few hours, long enough to make two orbits before being sent plunging back into the atmosphere and parachuting safely into the ocean.

The EFT-1 exercise in 2014 will also be the first opportunity for the Space Launch System program to checkout a new and versatile piece of flight hardware. The massive, aluminum adapter rings being built by engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center will be used to connect Orion to the Delta IV rocket used to power the EFT-1 flight. But the same design will also be used on Space Launch System flights. The adapter rings are being designed once for both applications, as part of NASA’s aggressive pursuit of affordable solutions for the human exploration of space.

David Beaman, SLS Spacecraft & Payload Integration Manager: “A lot of programs take years and years and for us to have the opportunity to build the first piece of SLS flight hardware and provide it to another program – that’s exciting.”

The first flight test of the full-scale SLS is planned for 2017.

Students and educators from across the country experienced what it is like to be a rocket scientist during "Rocket Week," at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

More than 100 participants received hands-on training in building payloads for spaceflight, learned the basics of rocketry …

… and developed activities for the classroom through the fifth annual RockOn! workshop for university-level participants and the concurrent second annual Wallops Rocket Academy for Teachers and Students or WRATS program.

In addition to nine workshop-built experiments, eight custom-built experiments flew on a NASA Terrier-improved sounding rocket inside a payload canister known as RockSat-C. These experiments were developed at universities that previously participated in a RockOn! workshop.

RockOn! and WRATS provide a unique experience for students, faculty and teachers to understand the importance of a sounding rocket suborbital launch and the value of science that’s collected. Both opportunities demonstrate the practical application of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

With the new NASA online game – Rocket Science 101, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to build a spacecraft. The game, designed for computers and for iPads, lets players select their favorite NASA mission and choose from three skill levels to build a virtual rocket to send into orbit. The technology for the game is used by NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center. LSP provides access to space for the studies of Earth and exploration of our solar system and the universe. Now, LSP is turning over the virtual selection, construction and launch of a mission to players who will decide the best rocket to assemble for launching a spacecraft.

Images captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory show some pre-Fourth of July fireworks in the Sun’s southern hemisphere. SDO spotted an M5.6-class solar flare eruption from Active Region 1515. The solar flare was accompanied by a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) which hurled a cloud of plasma into Space. A portion of the CME, which was not Earth-directed, did not have the velocity needed to escape the Sun’s gravity – and was pulled back to the surface.

It may have been hot, but Goddard employees and their families couldn’t stay away from the Center’s annual “Celebrate Goddard Day.” It was a chance for the Goddard community to celebrate the challenging work and the diverse workforce at the Center. Goddard directorates, advisory committees and clubs provided tours of their facilities and their exhibits in an effort to give employees an opportunity to learn more about the wide range of projects and programs currently being worked on at Goddard as well as upcoming missions and science projects.

Ames Research Center opened its doors to more than one thousand visitors during Family Day. The guests learned about some of the science and technologies being developed at the Center, such as telerobotics, which allows humans and robots to work together in space. They were also introduced to the world’s largest wind tunnel and the Vertical Motion Simulator, which was used to train astronauts to fly the Space Shuttle. Physics and science were also showcased at the Ames Exploration Encounter, a hands-on learning environment located inside a former supersonic wind tunnel building.

“The problem is, is that there’s an eight minute time delay.”

Female engineers from Langley Research Center helped the Girl Scouts celebrate its 100th year during an Engineering Day at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. Langley Center Director Lesa Roe delivered the keynote speech for the event, which was attended by more than 800 Girl Scouts. NASA’s participation in events like this gives the agency an opportunity to engage and introduce students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM-related careers that are critical to the nation and the future of space exploration.

“One, zero and liftoff, the final liftoff of Atlantis …”

One year ago on July 8, 2011, an estimated one million spectators braved the balmy Florida temperatures …

“Fantastic … Go!”

… to watch Space Shuttle Atlantis rise skyward from The Kennedy Space Center to begin STS-135, the final space shuttle mission. The crew of four veteran astronauts onboard Atlantis -- Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- set off to deliver a stockpile of supplies and parts to the space station. On orbit highlights of the mission included a call from President Obama during which he acknowledged the significance of the mission.

President Obama: “There have been thousands who’ve poured their hearts and souls into America’s Space Shuttle Program over the last three decades that are following this journey with special interest and to them and all the men and women of NASA, I want to say thank you.”

And the delivery to the ISS of a U.S. flag flown on STS-1, the very first shuttle mission. 13-days later Atlantis and her crew returned to Earth – bringing to an end the 30-year space shuttle program.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of Telstar I, July 10, 1962
And 50 years ago on July 10, 1962 … NASA launched a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral carrying the Telstar I satellite, the world’s first commercial telecommunications satellite. The AT&T satellite relayed its first non-public television pictures -- a flag outside Andover Earth Station in Maine to France on July 11, 1962. Almost two weeks later it relayed the first publicly available live transatlantic television signal – a broadcast that featured a speech by President John F. Kennedy.

“Telstar communications satellite.”

Telstar 1 also relayed the first telephone call to be transmitted through space. Telstar 1 went out of service in February 1963.

And the NASA family is mourning the loss of retired astronaut Alan Poindexter, who died on July 1 following a jet ski accident. in Little Sabine Bay at Pensacola Beach, Florida.

Selected as a NASA astronaut in June 1998, Poindexter, a Captain in the U.S. Navy flew on two space shuttle missions – he was the pilot of Atlantis on STS-122 in 2008 and in 2010 served as Commander onboard Discovery during STS-131.

He is survived by his wife and two sons. Poindexter was 50 years old.

And that’s This Week @NASA!

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