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This Week @ NASA, November 14, 2011
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This Week@NASA...

SOYUZ LAUNCH SET – JSC (updated Monday 11/14)

At 10:14am Monday -- Kazakhstan time, a Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome – carrying NASA Astronaut Dan Burbank and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivinishin and Anton Shkaplerov (sha-cop-lah-rof). The three are scheduled to hook up with fellow Expedition 29 crew members Mike Fossum, Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa aboard the International Space Station on Nov. 16. Meanwhile, Fossum, Volkov and Furukawa are scheduled to depart the orbiting laboratory on Nov. 21 and land that night on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

Fossum, commander of Expedition 29, had a rapt audience of students at the Department of Education in Washington to celebrate International Education Week. Participating in the in-flight call to the International Space Station were Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller and NASA Associate Administrator for Education, and former astronaut, Leland Melvin.

In another event, students of several Alabama school districts got together in Birmingham to speak with Fossum about his experiences on the Station.

The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover appears ready for its upcoming mission to the Red Planet. It sits atop the Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41. MSL is scheduled to begin its nine-month journey to Mars on Nov. 25, where it'll use its 10 science instruments to search for evidence about whether Mars has had environments favorable for microbial life. The car-sized Curiosity is scheduled to land inside the planet's Gale crater next August.

NASA plans to add an unmanned flight test of the Orion spacecraft in early 2014. This Exploration Flight Test, or EFT-1, will fly two orbits to a high-apogee, with a high-energy re-entry through Earth's atmosphere. The Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle will make a water landing and be recovered using operations planned for future human exploration missions. The test mission will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. In support of NASA's new Space Launch System to take astronauts farther into space than ever before, create U.S. jobs, and provide the cornerstone for America's future human spaceflight efforts.

Meanwhile, Orion's capabilities for water landings continue to be tested at the Langley Research Center. This was the latest in a series of so-called "drop tests" of a 22,000-pound Orion test article at the center's new $1.7 million Hydro Impact Basin facility. Three more Orion drop tests are scheduled through year's end.

Another key component of the Space Launch System was put through its paces at the Stennis Space Center. The J-2X rocket engine, which will help carry the Orion spacecraft and its crew, cargo, equipment and science experiments beyond Earth orbit, was successfully test fired for 500 seconds. Designed for crew or cargo missions, the new heavy-lift rocket will be safe, affordable and sustainable, and help NASA explore deep space.

It may have been relatively close but, fortunately, there was no cigar for asteroid 2005 YU55 as it passed by Earth. These images were captured by NASA's Deep Space Network array at Goldstone, Calif. as the space rock made its approach to our planet, about 202-thousand miles at its closest. Although the asteroid is in an orbit that regularly brings it in the vicinity of Earth, Venus and Mars, this encounter was its closest in 200 years. The last time a space rock this large came as close to Earth was in 1976, although astronomers then were unaware of the flyby. The next known approach of an asteroid this size, that of an aircraft carrier, will be in 2028.

Cornell University Professor Mason Peck has been named as NASA's new chief technologist, effective in January. Peck will serve as the agency's principal advisor and advocate on matters concerning technology policy and programs. He succeeds Bobby Braun, who gas returned to academia.

Former NASA astronaut Bob Crippen helped the Marshall Space Flight Center "Start Safe and Stay Safe" during its 2011 Safety & Wellness Day activities. Crippen spoke to team members about safety in the workplace and his experiences piloting STS-1, the first shuttle flight, and commanding three subsequent shuttle missions. Other Marshall Safety & Wellness Day events included a 5K run, a health walk and a Health & Safety Expo with area businesses. Center organizations also held their own safety- and health-related team activities to mark the annual NASA reminder to commit to safety every day – in the workplace and at home.

The Johnson Space Center helped host an electronic waste (e-waste) recycling and document shredding event in the Space Center Houston parking lot. The free public event allowed for disposal of all electronics in an environmentally friendly manner.

There was no limit to how many items could be brought, from personal computers, monitors and printers, to boxes and containers of documents for shredding.

Narrator: Some of the next generation of scientists and engineers recently attended a special event at NASA Ames Research Center.

The tour was specifically for a group of attendees of the 2011 national conference of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science or SACNAS.

The field trip was an opportunity to visit some of the key facilities at NASA Ames such as the Pleiades supercomputer and the Hyperwall, as well as an opportunity to talk with researchers and ask questions about their work.

Orlando Santos, PhD, Chief, Exobiology Branch, NASA Ames: We want to cultivate our next generation of scientists and engineers here at NASA. We want to ensure our future and in order to do that, we need to educate the next generation and more importantly, motivate them to become scientists and engineers.

Today the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is NASA's major center for robotic exploration of the solar system, but 75 years ago, this was just a brush-choked wash below the towering San Gabriel Mountains. In one of its sandy arroyos on Oct. 31, 1936, a group of Caltech students and rocket enthusiasts, nicknamed the "Suicide Squad," performed their first standup-rocket engine tests. This was the birth of JPL.

On the 75th anniversary of that historic event, JPLer's were treated to private employee screenings of the documentary, "The American Rocketeer."

"Happy Anniversary JPLers!"

JPL's communications and education director, Blaine Baggett, wrote and directed the documentary.

I think a lot of the character of JPL today, it's DNA derived from these early dreamers and schemers

The American Rocketeer tells the story of the Lab's first full-time director Frank Malina. One of the visionaries that lead JPL in its reach for the stars.

I think it's amazing JPL has been around for a long time, so it's kind of cool that they have these documentaries.

I'm very appreciative of the effort and research and development

It's marvelous, it's marvelous

The American Rocketeer is part of a documentary series about JPL called the "Beginnings of the Space Age" that premiered on public television station,

Finally, NASA thanks America's veterans…
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