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This Week @ NASA, July 8, 2011
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This Week @NASA...


Launch Announcer: "All three engines up and burning… 2-1- 0 and liftoff, the final liftoff of Atlantis. On the shoulders of the space shuttle, America will continue the dream."

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on July 8 to begin STS-135, the final mission of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

Bill Gerstenmaier: "We got to witness, something really, really, special and something really amazing."

Bob Cabana: "The shuttle program has been truly phenomenal, and I take great pride and esteem, and thank them for all they’ve done. We still got a lot to do before it’s over, and they’re going to be doing a lot of work on orbit, and then we’re going to bring them home safe, and I’m looking forward to that landing back here at the cape."

The Atlantis crew of Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim is delivering cargo and supplies to the International Space Station that are crucial for its post-shuttle operation.

Chris Ferguson: "The MPLM will have about 15,000 pounds of cargo inside it. We have the middeck and the middeck will hold about another 8000 pounds of cargo. We have a lot of clothing, a lot of food—to the tune of about 4000 pounds—and of course we want to put the space station in a good position to be self-sustaining for up to a year."

Officially designated OV, or Orbital Vehicle-104, Atlantis began its maiden voyage on October 3rd, 1985. STS-51J was a four-day mission that took into space a classified Department of Defense payload. When this flight is in the history books, Atlantis will have flown 33 of the Space Shuttle Program’s 135 missions.

Scientists analyzing data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft now have the first-ever, up-close details of a Saturn storm that’s eight times the surface area of Earth. The storm that’s been raging since Cassini first detected it on Dec. 5, 2010 wraps around the entire planet, covering approximately 1.5 billion square miles. The storm is about 500 times larger than the biggest storm previously seen by Cassini, and its rate of lightning flashes is ten times more frequent than any other storm monitored since Cassini's arrival at Saturn in 2004.

NASA's largest supercomputer, Pleiades, has been ranked seventh fastest in the world. Named for the prominent Pleiades star cluster in the night sky, the supercomputer can theoretically perform approximately 1.32 quadrillion calculations per second yet has a simple interface compatible with standard desktop engineering workstations and NASA desktop computers. Located at the Ames Research Center, more than a thousand active users around the country rely on Pleiades to help advance our knowledge of the Earth, solar system and the universe. The ranking was announced at the 26th International Supercomputing Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

And now, Centerpieces…


Launch Announcer: "3-2-1, ignition --stations we have lift off…"

NASA launched a U.S. Air Force Minotaur 1 rocket carrying the Department of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space office’s ORS-1 satellite June 29th from the Launch Range at the Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia.

COL Laura Berry: "The ORS-1 Satellite is significant because it’s the first completely DoD, Department of Defense owned satellite."

Rapidly developing and fielding ORS-1 is an important step to demonstrate the capability to meet emerging and persistent war-fighter needs on operationally relevant timelines.

Peter Wegner: "You can imagine that if you were deployed out in some very remote part of the world not knowing what’s over the next ridgeline would be a big concern. A satellite like ORS-1will actually allow them to understand what is over that ridgeline both good and bad."

The Minotaur 1 rocket is a four-stage vehicle, that stands is about 70 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

Peter Wegner: "The launch vehicle tonight is provided by Orbital Sciences Corporation, this is a Minotaur 1 Launch Vehicle. The first and second stages are leftover and retrofitted ICBM motors, the upper two stages are commercial motors."

The Operationally Responsive Space Office and the Department of Defense dedicated this launch to the MEDAL of HONOR winners from the US Central Command Area of Operation.

Nearly 90 students from minority-serving institutions and community colleges around the country visited Johnson Space Center to participate in the Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. Participants were selected to design, build and fly experiments on board an aircraft that flies parabolic arcs to simulate microgravity.

Doug Goforth: "This program ties right into NASA’S goal of preparing students for jobs in STEM careers by allowing them to take their own research all the way from the proposal, design, Construction and testing phase in a Parabolic flight. We treat them just Like NASA researchers."

The flight week for minority and community college students was designed to inspire students from underrepresented and underserved populations to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Carl Person: "the flight really provides them an opportunity to realize that yeah, I can do this. I see other people who look like me and talk like me are doing this. It’s exhausting but it’s also extraordinarily intellectually stimulating."

Ian Jones: "I think that when you can feel, see and touch something it makes it that much more real rather than just reading about it in a book In addition to science, engineering and research skills, the students also honed other abilities."

Eduardo Nicolau: "The most important thing I’ve learned from this experience is about teamwork and leadership skills."

JSC’s education office will host student and teacher groups during several other reduced gravity flight weeks this summer

Nicole Guglielmo: "It was awesome. It was the best experience of my life and I don’t think anything could top what I was able to experience."

The astronomical science and education programs of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, were the focus of a media day at the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.

Numerous speakers detailed the SOFIA program, its science missions and educational-outreach activities to members of both the professional news media and followers of the Twitter social media website. In addition, two of the first six teachers who flew aboard the SOFIA as part of the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program during a recent mission shared their experiences with reporters and other attendees.

Kathleen Fredette: "This has been a huge privilege; it’s been a huge gift; it’s been way up there with one of the most important events of my life."

Astronaut Butch Wilmore appeared at NASA Night at the Gladiators, Cleveland’s Arena Football League team. Wilmore participated in on-field activities at Quicken Loans Arena that included the game’s official coin toss, a halftime demonstration by the Great Lakes Science Center, and a post-game autograph session.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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And that's This Week @NASA.

For more on these and other stories, log onto:
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