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This Week @ NASA, October 23, 2012
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This Week at NASA…


Three weeks after its grand arrival at Los Angeles International Airport atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft …

Space Shuttle Endeavour began the final leg of its journey – a 2-day, 12-mile parade through the streets of L.A. to the California Science Center …

Endeavour’s route took it past several well-known landmarks …

... was captured from above by the Goodyear Blimp...

… and was witnessed by thousands upon thousands of Angelinos who came out for a peek at NASA’s youngest space shuttle. In a city where celebrities are everywhere, Endeavour’s roll through the neighborhood was the star attraction.

Marilee Koch, Spectator: “This is the most exciting thing. I missed it when it landed so I’m just so happy I could be here to see it make its journey. It’s unbelievable.”

Linda Ellis, Spectator: “I’m an educator so I’m always looking for history making events and it’s only going to happen once, so I had the time, why not?”

The California Science Center plans to open its Space Shuttle Endeavour display to the public on October 30.


Powering more than a hundred successful flights, NASA's RS-25 engines were the workhorses of the Space Shuttle Program. Now, these engines will help power the core stage of the agency's advanced heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. SLS engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center are working on enhancements to its engine controller unit. The device exchanges data between the engine and the rocket, and monitors engine performance.


United Launch Alliance has reached the final milestone in its development of a commercial spacecraft for transporting astronauts to low-Earth orbit. Technical experts from ULA and NASA completed their assessment of whether ULA's Atlas V rocket launch hardware would keep the crew safe during launch and ascent. Two of three newly-funded NASA commercial crew partners, Boeing and Sierra Nevada, will use the Atlas V as their launch vehicle. All of NASA's industry partners, including ULA, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.


The mock-up of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft was put through water landing tests at Bigelow Aerospace headquarters near Las Vegas. Engineers dropped the capsule-shaped test article from a crane into an outdoor pool to determine if the airbags will stabilize the capsule during landings. The tests are part of Boeing's ongoing work with NASA to develop a vehicle that can ferry astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station.

#ISS, @SpaceX

Meanwhile, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a successful launch towards the International Space Station of the Soyuz spacecraft carrying Expedition 33/34 Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency, NASA Flight Engineer Kevin Ford and Russian Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin.

Novitskiy, Ford and Tarelkin are joining the other members of Expedition 33 already onboard the station -- Commander Suni Williams of NASA, Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Russian Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko – who have been in orbit since mid-July. The crew has plenty on its “to do” list – including the transfer of supplies and materials from the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft that arrived at the orbiting laboratory on October 10. Dragon is scheduled to remain at the station until October 28.


Betina Pavri, MSL Payload Downlink Coordinator: Hello, I’m Betina Pavri, payload downlink coordinator, and this is your Curiosity rover update.

Curiosity continues scooping at Rocknest this week.

The Mastcam and Navcam instruments provided images and video used to assess the success of the scooping and sample processing activities. These images also provided confirmation that the sampling system was successfully cleaned.

Also this week, a soil sample was dropped off to the rovers observation tray for assessment by the science team. This sample was determined to be suitable for drop off to the CheMin instrument.

The CheMin instrument uses X-rays in order to image the sample and determine what minerals make it up. This helps geologists understand how the rock formed and how it’s related to other rocks we’ve studied so far on Mars.

Scientists identified numerous bright grains in the soil. Because of this small piece of plastic from the landing event that had been found earlier in the week, the team proceeded cautiously, dumping the second scoop collected and imaging the bright grains.

These bright grains were later determined to be components of the Martian soil, and therefore, the sample was deemed to be suitable for delivery to the CheMin instrument for analysis.

The science team requested Mastcam and Navcam mosaics of outcrops in the direction of Glenelg, to plan Curiosity's journey to this next science destination.

This has been your Curiosity rover update. Please check back for future reports.


NASA engineers, students and amateur radio enthusiasts around the world are listening for signals from “TechEdSat.” The small, cube-shaped satellite was launched from the International Space Station into low-Earth orbit to evaluate, demonstrate, and validate new technologies for future experiments aboard small space satellites.

TechEdSat was developed by interns from San Jose State University with mentoring help from employees at Ames Research Center.

Aaron Cohen, Spacecraft Manager, TechEd Sat: “It’s just great to get real science out of really small CubeSats. And it’s really – it’s not something that 23 year olds, like myself are often able to do and I think it’s really a great honor and privilege.”

Dr. Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first chief astronomer and the first woman to hold an executive position at the agency, spoke about the origins of NASA’s astronomy program during a recent History office lecture at Headquarters.

Dr. Nancy Grace Roman, Retired NASA Chief Astronomer: “NASA was a great place to work. I started with NASA when it was six months old. It was a great place to work in the early days. In the first place most of the technical staff were the cream of the NCA engineers – a great group of people everybody was enthusiastic.”

Roman was instrumental in the success of several astronomical satellites including “OSO”, the Orbiting Solar Observatory, the Cosmic Background Explorer and the Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of STS-52 – October 22, 1992
“4-3-2-1-we have ignition and liftoff of Columbia on an ambitious 10-day international research flight.”

Twenty years ago on October 22, 1992 space shuttle Columbia began its 9-day mission on STS-52. Onboard – Commander Jim Weatherbee, Pilot Michael Baker, Mission Specialists Charles Veach, Bill Shepherd and Tammy Jernigan and Payload Specialist Steve MacLean of Canada. As well as deploying the Laser Geodynamic Satellite-II and conducting several international experiments, Columbia also carried to space ashes of Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry. NASA ANNIVERSARY: ODYSSEY REACHES MARS, OCTOBER 24, 2001 - JPL/HQ
Eleven years ago, on October 24, 2001, the Odyssey spacecraft reached Mars to study and map the elemental composition of the planet’s surface, and evaluate radiation in the Martian environment. Odyssey also was a communication relay for most of the data sent home by the Phoenix Lander and the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. It also became the middle link for continuous observation of Martian weather by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. In 2010, Odyssey became the longest-serving spacecraft at the Red Planet.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of STS-120 – October 23, 2007
And five years ago, on October 23, Discovery lifted off on STS-120, the 23rd shuttle mission to the International Space Station, Delivering the Italian-built “Harmony” Node-2 module was Commander Pam Melroy, pilot George Zamka, and Mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Doug Wheelock, Stephanie Wilson and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, from Italy. Swapping places with Clay Anderson aboard the ISS was astronaut Dan Tani. Melroy and station commander Peggy Whitson became the first two female mission commanders in space at the same time.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden helped kick off the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign during an event at NASA Headquarters. Last year, NASA Headquarters raised more than $400,000, with federal employees in the National Capitol Area contributing more than $62.7 million.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “The commitment and the generosity of federal workers like us has made the CFC one of the most successful philanthropic programs in history and its impact is wide and deep.”

Among several charitable organizations represented was the Wilson Parrot Foundation, a Maryland group that rescues abused and abandoned pet birds. Here the administrator, a former naval aviator, poses with a few fellow flyers.

“Oh my goodness…”

You can browse the more than 44-hundred CFC charities online at

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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