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This Week @ NASA, October 12, 2012
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This Week at NASA…


“Our view of Dragon, becoming even clearer as the spacecraft closes in on the orbiting complex.” With its arrival to the International Space Station on CRS-1, the first commercial resupply mission to the orbiting laboratory, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft delivers critical supplies and materials – but equally as important, it becomes the first U.S. spacecraft in the post-space shuttle era capable of transporting significant amounts of supplies between Earth and the station. “The Dragon is in free drift it is not steering itself any longer.”

Once Dragon was within reach, the crew aboard the International Space Station used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the cargo craft ….

“Capture complete … looks like we’ve tamed the Dragon. We’re happy she’s on board with us.”

Within hours after the grapple Dragon was installed to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module where it is scheduled to remain berthed until its scheduled departure October 28, for the trip back to Earth and parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California.

Sunita Williams, Expedition 33 Commander: “SpaceX starts a whole generation of commercial spacecraft coming up here for resupply and one of the most interesting and unique aspects of this vehicle and its follow on will be that it can bring stuff back to Earth and that’s really important for the advancement of spaceflight.”

CRS-1 is the first of twelve SpaceX missions to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.


When Dragon returns to Earth it will bring back more than 850 pounds of scientific supplies, including samples from human health, biotechnology and materials research. Though resupplying the ISS is important, the timely return of significant numbers of science samples for analysis enhances the amount of scientific research that can be done on the ISS.


NASA joined with ATK Space Systems at the company’s Promontory, Utah headquarters to highlight new cost-saving measures used in the manufacturing of the largest and most powerful solid rocket booster ever built for flight. Qualification Motor-1 is being assembled by ATK in Promontory for NASA's Space Launch System. The company’s Value Stream Mapping system has helped ATK identify inefficient processes and procedures, thereby reducing assembly time and saving millions of dollars in manufacturing costs for the SLS. The four-segment motor will be fired on its test stand next spring. The SLS will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and other payloads beyond low Earth orbit, and provide an entirely new capability for human exploration.


Traning continues for Expedition 33/34 Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy, NASA Flight Engineer Kevin Ford and Russian Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin as the International Space Station’s next crew prepares for its mission. The trio familiarized themselves with equipment and procedures for their mid-October launch to the International Space Station in a Soyuz spacecraft. Upon their arrival there they’ll join Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams of NASA, Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Russian Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko aboard the world’s only science lab in microgravity.


Life onboard the station highlighted a recent ham radio question-and-answer session between Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide and future explorers from the Goddard Space Flight Center’s Child Development Center and several nearby schools.

Aidan Brennan, Future Explorer: “Hi my name is Aiden. How would you describe the view from the International Space Station? Over.”

Hoshide (response): “I can describe it in one word and it is cool!”

Nicole Balay, Future Explorer: “My name is Nicole. Have you always wanted to be an astronaut? Over.”

Hoshide (response): “Yes I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut since I was – let’s see – about eight years old. Over.”

The event was made possible through Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, a cooperative venture between NASA and other space agencies to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and math.


Noah Warner, MSL Tactical Uplink Lead: Hi I’m Noah Warner, tactical uplink lead for the Mars Science Laboratory mission and this is your Curiosity rover update.

Curiosity is currently at the Rocknest location inside Gale Crater. When we first arrived at Rocknest, we performed a wheel scuff maneuver. This is our rover’s version of kicking up dirt with your hiking boot to determine if the Rocknest area was indeed a good first scoop target.

The first scoop was successfully performed on Sol 61 and the entire teams was excited to see the Mastcam images showing the scoop full of dirt, as well as, the video of the vibration activities performed with the turret mounted tools.

This vibration allows the team to level out and remove any excess sample before closing the scoop and it also provides some insight into the makeup of the soil.

Any large particles would tend to float up to the top as the entire sample is vibrating much the same way you would shake out the marshmallows in your box of Lucky Charms.

Looking carefully at images, the team noticed a bright object lying on the ground just in front of the rover. We typically call something like this FOD, Foreign Object Debris.

The ChemCam remote micro-imager captured high resolution images of the object showing that it’s most likely a benign piece of plastic or shrink tube left over from a terminated wire.

This could’ve possibly come from the rover or from the descent stage separation event during landing.

Curiosity processed the scoop sample through CHIMRA, our labyrinth of passageways at the end of the arm that we use to sieve and portion the soil sample.

We did some internal sandblasting by vibrating the sample at different orientations on the turret in order to remove any internal contamination.

The team dropped the first scoop off the left side of the rover and in upcoming sols, we will make our first attempt to drop off sample to the observation tray and the CheMin instrument.

We plan to be at Rocknest for the coming week to complete our scoop activities and then we’ll get back on the road to Glenelg where we’ll be looking for our first rock to drill.

That’s your Curiosity rover report, check back often for more updates.

NASA and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) of Pensacola have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton, called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human can put on to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. In space, it could be set to supply resistance for exercising; on the ground, it could help someone walk for the first time.

More than 40 NASA Ames employees contributed their musical talents this summer as volunteer performers with the International Space Orchestra.

The musicians performed in the musical opera, “Ground Control, an Opera In Space” during the Zero One Biennial event in September, a celebration of art and technology held in downtown San Jose, California.

Award-winning artist Nelly Ben Hayoun (Aye-oon) who is a specialist in designing immersive experiences for her audiences created the concept for the orchestra.

Nelly Ben Hayoun, Artist, Director and Designer: “It’s about the experience. The experience of being inside the control room capturing this really intense human emotion through music.”

“Guidance, go. Control, go. Telecom, go.”

The whole idea was to bring together an orchestra made up of NASA and space people to perform an opera about space.

One composition is a tribute to the crew of Apollo Eleven as well as an homage to Neil Armstrong that was co-written by NASA Ames LCROSS Mission Flight Director Rusty Hunt.

The second of the two pieces was a tribute to NASA’s Kepler Mission that is searching for Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of distant stars.

The orchestra rehearsed the opera several times at Ames, including a dress rehearsal in front of the 80 by 120 foot wind tunnel.

To get the best possible recording of the music, an arrangement was made to record the music at Skywalker Sound, in San Rafael California.

The experience was an opportunity for the performers to share stories about NASA’s achievements with the hope that it might inspire people to develop a deeper interest in math, science and the future of space exploration.


Aeronautics engineer Richard T. Whitcomb, whose legendary NASA research made supersonic flight practical, has been inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. Whitcomb, who died in 2009 at age 88, is credited with the area rule, supercritical wing, and winglets -- three of the most significant and practical contributions to aeronautics in the 20th century. With his induction, Dick Whitcomb becomes one of the nation’s 200-plus air and space pioneers in the hall, including the Wright brothers, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh and astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.

NASA Anniversary: Yeager Makes First Supersonic Flight, October 14, 1947
The world's first man-made sonic boom was created in California over Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base 65 years ago on Oct. 14, 1947 when, at an altitude of about 40-thousand feet, Chuck Yeager safely piloted an X-1 test aircraft he called "Glamorous Glennis" to a speed of about 662 mph, faster than the speed of sound at that altitude. The X-1 program helped lay the foundation of America's space program.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of Cassini-Huygens, October 15, 1997

15 years ago, on October 15, 1997, the Cassini-Huygens mission, a joint effort between NASA and the European Space Agency, was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to conduct a detailed study of Saturn’s planetary system. Utilizing the Cassini spacecraft, a robotic orbiter equipped with 12 instruments and Huygens, a probe carrying a suite of 6 science instruments which landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan in January 2005, the mission has collected valuable data about Saturn and its surroundings. Extended twice since its initial four-year campaign ended in June 2008, the mission is now slated to continue through September 2017.

NASA National Hispanic Heritage Month Profile: Azlin Biaggi, Research Electronics Engineer – GRC
Azlin Biaggi, Research Electronics Engineer: My name is Azlin Biaggi, and my title is a research electronics engineer. Well I’m involved in designing chemical sensors which are used basically platforms that we use to detect gases and they’re used for hydrogen and gas leak detections, in for example: engines, fire detection, and things like that. Their future use is to be used in the breath analyzers. The reason for this is that if we can detect low levels, as in parts per billion, we can use it as an asthma prevention technique.

I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and my Ph.D. degree was obtained at the University of Puerto Rico. It was in Chemical Physics. Right now you need an education now only in science but in any type of area to make educated decisions in your life.

If I had an opportunity to tell students to come to work at NASA, my first thing would be do internships not only-NASA not only offers college internships. It offers high school, summer internships, and you can experience what it’s like to work at NASA and if you like it, if you like being at the technology forefront, then NASA is for you.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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