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


Onboard the International Space Station NASA’s Kevin Ford continues to settle into his role as Commander of the orbiting laboratory. Ford and Expedition 34 crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency are continuing work with the multitude of research being conducted on the station – including investigations on human research, biological and physical sciences, technology development and Earth observation.

Kevin Ford, talking about Thanksgiving Food or Thanksgiving Message: And in the spirit of the Season, a message of Thanks from the Commander who spent the Thanksgiving Holiday enjoying a traditional meal with his crewmates. The arrival on December 21 of the other three members of Expedition 34, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, NASA’s Tom Marshburn and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency will restore a six-person presence on the ISS.


NASA Astronaut Joe Acaba, who recently returned from a four month stay on the International Space Station stopped by the Payload Operations Center at Marshall Space Flight Center.

The Expedition 31/32 flight engineer worked with the POC team on a daily basis while onboard the ISS and wanted them to know how valuable their work is to the station’s mission.

Joe Acaba, Expedition 31/32 Flight Engineer: “The reason we’re on the Space Station is to do science and these guys make sure it happens. So I wanted to come back here and thank them first hand and I’m really happy to be here this is a cool place and a lot of neat things happen here.”


Acaba is scheduled to share highlights of his mission during upcoming trips to other NASA Centers as well – including a NASA Social at Headquarters from 9-11:30am Eastern on December 4. To register go to

NEW CENTER DIRECTOR – JSC (CP) Beth Weissinger Reporting

Former astronaut Ellen Ochoa has been chosen to lead NASA’s Johnson Space Center into the next era of exploration, following current Center Director Mike Coats’ announcement that, after guiding Johnson through a dynamic transition, he has decided to retire at the end of the year.

Mike Coats, Director, Johnson Space Center: “So for the last seven years I’ve been privileged to be part of an amazing team here at the Johnson Space Center. All of you make our nation’s human space flight program possible. You flew out the space shuttle program safely and successfully. You built the International Space Station and operated around the clock.”

Coats’ seven years as Johnson Space Center director cap a 44-year career that includes three space shuttle missions, two of which he commanded. He came to NASA in 1978 as part of the first astronaut class specifically selected to fly the space shuttle.

Ochoa flew the first of her four missions – STS-56 – in 1993, making her the first Hispanic woman to go to space. Since STS-110, her final mission in 2002, she has held several management positions at Johnson, including director of flight crew operations and Deputy Center Director.

Ellen Ochoa, Deputy Director, Johnson Space Center: “I know how talented the people are here at this agency and so to be able to be the one to represent you within NASA and everywhere outside is an amazing feeling.”

Ochoa becomes JSC's first Hispanic Director.


Engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center finished a circumferential weld of the "pathfinder" version of an adapter that will eventually connect the Orion spacecraft to NASA’s Space Launch System, but will first be used on Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014, when it will connect Orion to a Delta IV heavy-lift rocket. A ‘pathfinder’ designation is used to describe a sample build of a design, to develop the processes and techniques that will eventually be used to build flight hardware. The SLS will launch the Orion spacecraft and other payloads beyond low Earth orbit, providing an entirely new capability for human exploration.


The SLS Program has wrapped up testing of its buffet model in the Langley Research Center’s Transonic Dynamics Tunnel. The model, tested at low supersonic speeds, reached Mach 1.2. The generated data will help scientists refine the vehicle’s design before the full-size rocket is built. The first mission of the SLS, America’s next heavy-lift rocket, is scheduled for 2017. Exploration Mission-1 will carry an un-crewed Orion spacecraft in a demonstration flight around the moon.

PHONESAT WINS AWARD – ARC (CP) Jesse Carpenter Reporting

Popular Science Magazine has named NASA's PhoneSat project as a winner in the Aerospace category of its 2012 Best of What's New Awards.

The awards, now in their 25th year, highlight innovations that once seemed impossible, yet today really exist.

Based at NASA Ames Research Center, the goal of the PhoneSat project is to lower the cost of building a space satellite to the point that almost anyone can do so.

About the size of a coffee mug and weighing less than 3 pounds, the total cost of the components for each PhoneSat satellite is about only $3500.

Bruce Yost, Program Manager, NASA Small Spacecraft Technology Program: “The PhoneSat project is looking at new and unique ways of building small satellites. For instance, the team used commercial, off-the-shelf components which includes a consumer smartphone to host the software as the computing power for the spacecraft.”

Smartphones today have more than 100 times the computing power of the average satellite, with fast processors, high-resolution cameras, GPS receivers and several radios and sensors built in.

NASA's prototype smartphone satellite, known as PhoneSat 1.0, is built around the HTC Nexus One.

The team also built a more advanced version called PhoneSat 2.0 that has improved software, more sensors and is powered by Samsung's Nexus S.

Jasper Wolfe, PhoneSat Technical Lead: “With a whole array of these satellites, which is really cheap, you can now do a swarm of satellites that can take measurement points all over and you can get really accurate models of the atmosphere and of other scientific data.”

Both satellites are scheduled to be sent into space later this year aboard a rocket launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia.

Each satellite will broadcast a signal every 30 seconds on the amateur UHF band at 437.425MHz.

Anyone around the world can listen for this signal and upload what they hear to


Goddard Space Flight Center took delivery of the second shipment of Beryllium mirrors for the James Webb Space Telescope. This shipment, from Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, includes the sole secondary mirror and the third of the 18 primary mirrors that will be integrated into the telescope. Goddard took delivery of the first two mirrors in September. The large infrared telescope will be the most powerful space observatory ever built allowing it to peer back in time to the first galaxies ever formed. It is scheduled to launch in 2018.


NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has completed its first same-day “touch-and-go” inspection, using the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer on its arm to touch a rock named “Rocknest 3” and collect data about the chemical elements in that rock. The rover then stowed its arm and drove 83 feet eastward toward a target called "Point Lake" – a spot from which Curiosity's Mast Camera can be used to examine possible routes and targets to the east -- including rocks for the first use of the rover's hammering drill. That instrument is designed to collect samples of powder from rock interiors.

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH PROFILE – Raquel Redhouse, Mechanical Engineer, Glenn Research Center

Raquel Redhouse, Mechanical Engineer, Glenn Research Center: My name is Raquel Redhouse. I work at Glenn Research Center. I’m an aerospace engineer, and I work on the Orion vehicle.

The work that I do is important within NASA because it directly supports the missions and goals, but outside of NASA it helps all of humanity. It develops technology, new products; it inspires students to look into STEM fields. The list just goes on and on.

It’s a lot of fun. First, I just love that I’m helping to be a part of space history and, then the other, on a daily basis I’m working with technical experts so I’m also learning something each and every day.

I am most inspired by my son. Once he was born, I wanted to be able to be a role model to him—to show him that you know you don’t give up on what you had already started. So he really helped me to get back into school and finish my degree.

The advice I would give to someone who would want to go into systems engineering would be to not only ace your college courses, but on top of that, I would strongly suggest taking some personal development courses, and taking some teamwork and collaboration because it really helps in this because you interface with a lot of people.

I’m inspiring—I hope to be inspiring the youth of today, not only the Native Americans, but all kids that I come in contact—at the ACES programs, in the outreach events, and the national organizations. If I can do it, they can too.

NASA ANNIVERSARY: Launch of Mars Science Laboratory, November 26, 2011

“3-2-1 and liftoff …”

One year ago on November 26th, 2011, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida. MSL reached the Red Planet in early August of this year at a site known as Gale Crater to begin its two-year prime mission. The rover’s ten instruments are investigating whether that area of Mars could ever have sustained microbial life.

NASA ANNIVERSARY: Launch of STS-113, November 23, 2002

Ten years ago on November 23, 2002, space shuttle Endeavour launched from Kennedy Space Center on the STS-113 mission to the International Space Station. Onboard were Commander Jim Weatherbee, Pilot Paul Lockhart, Mission Specialists Michael Lopez-Alegria and John Herrington – the first Native American astronaut in space and the Expedition 6 crew – Commander Ken Bowersox and Flight Engineers Nikolai Budarin and Don Pettit. The station’s P1 truss was installed and activated during the 14-day mission. In addition to supplies and equipment, Endeavour returned to Earth with Valery Korzun, Peggy Whitson and Sergei Treshchov – the crew of Expedition 5.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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