NASA Podcasts

This Week @ NASA, August 6, 2012
› Listen Now
› View Now
This Week at NASA…

Control room chatter: “Touchdown confirmed … we’re safe on Mars … applause.”

Following a daring plunge through the Martian Atmosphere – billed as 7-minutes of Terror, The Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover made a successful, on-target landing on the Red Planet in Gale Crater. Confirmation of the newest resident rover’s safe touchdown reached the MSL flight team courtesy of the Mars Odyssey spacecraft which, from its vantage point orbiting Mars, was able to directly communicate with Curiosity.

In addition to NASA TV and, coverage of Curiosity’s landing was available for public viewing at various locations – including Times Square in New York City.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “It’s a huge day for the nation, it’s a huge day for all of our partners that have something on Curiosity and it’s a huge day for the American people. As I told people as we went around earlier tonight, everybody in the morning should be sticking their chests out, saying, ‘that’s my rover on Mars’ because it belongs to all of us.”

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: “For us being able to land something in larger and larger measures with this capability will come the ability to land humans.”

John Holdren, White House Science and Technology Advisor: “Many new technologies had to work in perfect succession and perfect synchronization for this to happen. It was an incredible performance by the Jet Propulsion Lab, by NASA, by the teams around the country that had contributed to this and indeed partners from around the world.”

Curiosity is scheduled to conduct a two-year mission to investigate the most intriguing places on Mars in an effort to determine if microbial life is possible on the planet. We’ll have more on Curiosity’s landing with public reaction from NASA Centers on the next edition of This Week At NASA.

Engineers at the Johnson Space Center have conducted a successful 70-second test firing of the Project Morpheus Lander. Morpheus is a vertical test bed vehicle demonstrating new green propellant propulsion systems and ALHAT - Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology This final test at JSC had the vehicle tethered to a crane and included a 60-second hover test, with a 4-second ascent and a 6-second descent.

The lander was later shipped to the Kennedy Space Center, where it’s to undergo its first free-flight testing.

An unpiloted Russian resupply ship, loaded with almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies, linked up to the International Space Station just six hours after its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Additional engine firings early in its mission were a test to expedite the Progress’ journey to the orbiting laboratory, which normally takes about two days. After analysis by Russian engineers and managers, the technique could be used to similarly shorten a Soyuz vehicle’s route to the station, thereby improving crew comfort as well as extending the life of the return vehicle while docked to the ISS.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: “You are Olympians – you’re the best of the best. You are the ones who help us reach for new heights.”

Deputy Administrator Lori Garver led the 2012 NASA Honor Awards recognizing those in the agency whose outstanding efforts in the past year have helped NASA reach new milestones.

A new video spotlighting NASA’s Curiosity Rover was featured during a performance of the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, outside Washington, D.C. The video, from director Duncan Copp, was accompanied by a musical selection from the late French composer Georges Bizet. The NSO was under the direction of conductor Emil de Cou. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was on hand for the performance.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “This mission will not only help unlock the mysteries of Mars, it’s a precursor to achieving President Obama’s goal of sending humans to the Red Planet by the 2030’s.”

The Curiosity visuals were a portion of NASA imagery featured as part of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”, the evening’s main program.

The 2012 NASA headquarters Take Your Children to Work Day gave younger NASA family members a peek inside the agency and its diversity of people and professions.

Hands-on activities also represented tasks performed in some of the varied and exciting careers at NASA.

This summer has also been a learning experience at Headquarters for a group of high school students. Administrator Charlie Bolden spoke to participants of the 2012 NASA Engineering Apprenticeship Program. NEAP targets high school sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in science, technology, engineering and math, the STEM careers. Under the eight-week program, students work on a project under the guidance of a volunteer mentor. NASA has hosted more than 200 students since the program began in 1995. Many NEAP students have gone on to top colleges and positions within NASA and other industry organizations.

MARKING HISTORY – KSC (CP) George Diller Reporting
Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis came home from space for the last time in 2011, touching down at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center.

Chris Ferguson/STS-135 Commander: "Mission complete, Houston. After serving the world for over 30 years, the space shuttle's earned its place in history, and it's come to a final stop."

After each final landing, Kennedy's Landing Operations Team used a temporary spray paint to note where the wheels stopped.

But NASA wanted a long-lasting way to preserve this part of shuttle history.

Local artist Chad Stout, of C Spray Glass Blasting, designed, manufactured and installed the markers.

Wearing safety gear, he etched the final design in "Absolute Black" granite, an extremely durable stone.

The pavers are extra thick and weigh at least 100 pounds each, but he installed them by hand.

All three pavers are aligned with the etchings on the runway centerline... and, like the shuttles' legacy, will stand the test of time.

NASA has donated a piece of space shuttle history to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center at Columbus State University in Georgia. The science center has taken possession of main engine nozzle number 5002 (5-thousand-two) from the Marshall Space Flight Center’s Propulsion Research Development Lab. This particular nozzle has flown to space numerous times on four different shuttles – including the STS-60 mission in February 1994. Commanding space shuttle Discovery for that flight – then-astronaut Charlie Bolden – who is now, of course, NASA administrator.

The NASA artifact will be displayed at the Coca-Cola Science Center to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of STS-85, August 7, 1997
Fifteen years ago on August 7, 1997, Space Shuttle Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center on STS-85. Her crew, Commander Curtis Brown, Pilot Kent Rominger, Mission Specialists Jan Davis, Bob Curbeam and Steve Robinson, and Payload Specialist Bjarni Tryggvason (Bee-YARN’-knee TRIG’-vuh-son) of the Canadian Space Agency, worked with a complement of payloads focused on “Mission to Planet Earth” objectives as well as the then-upcoming assembly of the International Space Station.

Among them, the Japanese Manipulator Flight Development, MFD, to evaluate the robotic Small Fine Arm that later became part of the Japanese Kibo Laboratory on the ISS.

Discovery and crew returned to Earth 11 days later– landing safely at KSC on August 19.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of STS-118, August 8, 2007
Five years ago on August 8, 2007, Space Shuttle Endeavour launched from KSC on STS-118 – the twenty-second shuttle flight to the International Space Station. Commander Scott Kelly, Pilot Charlie Hobaugh, and Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dave Williams of the Canadian Space Agency, Barbara Morgan, Tracy Caldwell and Al Drew continued construction of the ISS by delivering S-5, the station’s third starboard truss segment. The crew also replaced a defective gyroscope, and installed an external storage platform. They closed out the mission 12 days later when Endeavour touched down on the runway at KSC.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of Juno spacecraft, August 5, 2011
And August 5th marks the one year anniversary of the launch of the Juno spacecraft atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch marked the start of Juno’s five-year journey to Jupiter to study the planet’s structure and decipher its history.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

For more on these and other stories, or to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, log on to
› Listen Now
› View Now