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This Week @ NASA, July 22, 2011
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This Week @NASA...


Rob Navias: "Landing gear down and locked."

After more than 30 years, NASA’s shuttle era has come to a close.

Atlantis made a picture-perfect, pre-dawn landing at the Kennedy Space Center during STS-135’s 200th orbit of Earth.

Chris Ferguson: "Mission complete Houston. After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle which has earned its place in history has come to a final stop."

Brought safely home after 13 days of stocking up the International Space Station for the post-shuttle era was the STS-135 crew: Commander Chris Ferguson… Pilot Doug Hurley… and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus… and Rex Walheim.

Charlie Bolden: "It’s a great day to be here to welcome the STS-135 crew back home. I personally want to salute them and everybody whose been involved in this program."

Chris Ferguson: "Although we got to take the ride, we sure hope that everybody who has ever worked or touched or looked at or envied or admired a space shuttle was able to take just a little part of the journey with us."

In all, Atlantis made 4,848 orbits of its home planet throughout 307 days in space. The orbiter traveled almost 5.3-million miles over 33 flights.

Bill Gerstenmaier: "As I stood out on the runway and stared at it and looked at this winged vehicle, I thought about all the systems, and when they were designed back in the 70s and it was a true marvel."

Mike Moses: "Hearing the sonic booms as Atlantis came home for the last time really drove home to me that this has been a heck of a program."

Mike Leinbach: "Everybody feels good that we got the crew home safely, and we’re looking forward to our next challenges."


After being towed from the runway, Atlantis was parked outside Orbiter Processing Facility-2 for several hours while workers walked around and photographed the shuttle.


Chris Ferguson: "You guys rock."

Doug Hurley: "Thanks for all that you do, all that you’ve done over the last 30-plus years; the astronaut office is indebted to you all."

Rex Walheim: "We’ve seen you first-hand, and how you process this vehicle, and how it is your baby; the space flight business really does run in our blood."

Sandy Magnus: "The pride you take in your work, the care you take in your work, the dedication, the passion; you are what makes it possible for us to have these very challenging missions and succeed."

This was also the setting for an employee appreciation event hosted by two former shuttle astronauts, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Kennedy center director Bob Cabana.

Bob Cabana: "We got a lot to celebrate today; an outstanding mission, a successful program for 30 years. But, you know, in the end the space shuttle is just hardware. What really makes NASA, what makes KSC, is each and every one of you."

Charlie Bolden: "This final shuttle flight makes the end of an era, but also, the start of a remarkable new chapter in our nation’s story of exploration."

With 135 missions flown over 30-plus years, the iconic shuttle, NASA’s space transportation system, has left a legacy worthy of celebration. Lessons learned during these past decades, will serve as stepping stones for the new era of human space exploration to follow.


While shuttle Atlantis is deserviced in OPF-2, orbiter Discovery will reside in Kennedy’s Vehicle Assembly Building, the VAB. It was recently shuttled there from OPF-2. Discovery’s being prepared for public display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Its last mission was STS-133, conducted earlier this year.


Charlie Bolden: "I want you to stick your chest out and say my mom and my dad, my aunt, my uncle, my sister; they work for NASA."

Administrator Charles Bolden’s helped kick off "Take Your Children to Work Day" at Headquarters. Geared toward children ages 7-15, the event featured hands-on activities, presentations and demonstrations to teach children about space, aeronautics, chemistry, and the work we do at NASA.

Charlie Bolden: "So you can go back and say: this is what they do. And if you want to see something about it, go to the NASA website, go to and you can see what my mom or dad do."


Lori Garver: "My first job out of college was working for none other than John H. Glenn."

Deputy Administrator Lori Garver joined Center Director Ray Lugo in officiating at the Glenn Research Center's annual Honor Awards ceremony. The awards were presented to individuals who’ve made significant contributions to the agency.


"I grew up in the cold war."

While at Glenn, Garver also sat down with 25 high school and college interns from three programs that offer support and direction for young men and women to undertake NASA careers after furthering their education in science, technology, engineering and math.



Rising high school seniors from around the commonwealth spent a week of their summer at NASA Langley planning a mission to Mars.

Lesa Roe: "It takes all types of things to make that mission successful

The Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars, aka VASTS, participated in an online program during the school year, and more than 100 students were given an opportunity to attend a weeklong academy to heighten their interest in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Nats: "the TRL is 9..."

VASTS is the result of a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and NASA Langley.

Nats, instructor: "Once it comes time to really start crunching the numbers..."

The students are broken down into four teams that work together to plan the mission to Mars. The teams were Getting There, Living There, Working There, and Mission Integration. During the week students had the opportunity to hear former astronaut Roger Crouch.

Roger Crouch: "I'm a physicist, and when I was working here at Langley I worked on heat shield materials, and then I worked on electronic materials, and then I worked on different kinds of experiments that needed to go into space..."

Between research and team meetings students participated in an activity to simulate communication in space by having a team member act as a rover. The rover must follow instructions from the rest of the team acting as Mission Control from another room. They also worked on their robotic skills having to assemble and program their very own rover.

Nats, student: "For our habitat we decided to use a single joint airlock."

At the end of the week the students presented their final mission to a panel of experts.

Nats, student: "The ISRU systems would be initially used to produce enough fuel for the Mars ascent vehicle..."


The International Space Station Program Office at the Johnson Space Center partnered with the Glenn Research Center to highlight the unique research opportunities offered by the world’s laboratory in microgravity. Held in Cleveland at the Great Lakes Science Center, this "Destination Station" forum noted the accomplishments of the ISS National Laboratory, and promoted future opportunities for commercial, academic and government research and technology development.

NASA Anniversary: APOLLO 15 LAUNCH - July 26, 1971

Mission Control: Lift off, we have lift at 9:34 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Forty years ago, astronauts Dave Scott, Jim Irwin, and Al Worden, took off from the Kennedy Space Center headed into lunar orbit. Apollo 15 was NASA’s fourth mission to land humans on the moon, and featured the first deep space EVA, executed by Worden. The voyage also saw the first flight of the Lunar Roving Vehicle which astronauts used to explore the geology of the Hadley Rille/Apennine region of the moon.

"Whoa the big mountain of Hadley is."

"Yeah it’s beautiful."

The LRV allowed Apollo 15, 16 astronauts to survey the lunar surface farther away from the Lunar Module than ever before.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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