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This Week @ NASA, December 12, 2011
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This Week @NASA...

NASA has officially transferred title of the Space Shuttle Enterprise to New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. The contract was signed by Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator, and Susan Marenoff-Zausner, the museum's president, in a public ceremony hosted by the museum. The Enterprise is set to be moved from its current location outside Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, to Intrepid next summer.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: "We are very pleased that as the space shuttle program draws to a close, we are able to continue to share the excitement of f the program with the public, the students around the world and then right here at the intrepid."

The Enterprise was the first shuttle built and, while it never flew in space, its series of approach and landing tests in 1977 proved the orbiter could fly in the atmosphere and land like an airplane, except without power -- like a glider.

Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, will launch its Dragon spacecraft on its second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services demonstration flight on Feb. 7, 2012. Pending completion of final safety reviews, testing and verification, SpaceX might also send Dragon to rendezvous with the International Space Station. The announcement was made by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: "So it is the opening of that new commercial cargo delivery era for ISS and it's great news for nasa and spacex together."

"3-2-1 ... we have liftoff ..."

On its first demonstration flight a year ago, Dragon was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, then splashed down in the Pacific after successfully completing two orbits of Earth.

Garver made the SpaceX announcement during her opening remarks to NASA's Future Forum at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. Since 2008, Future Forums have brought together technologists, scientists, and engineers with local business, science, technology, and education leaders to discuss the importance of innovation, discovery, commercial partnerships and Education to the success of America's space program - and the nation, as a whole.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: "Together we're truly developing an industry that until recently had been largely science fiction but now it stands poised to open the new frontier - that next chapter in human space development."

At a press conference held at NASA Ames Research Center, the Kepler team announced the discovery of its first confirmed planet in the "habitable zone" or the region around a star where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Named Kepler-22b, the planet is about 2.4 times the radius of the Earth and orbits a sun-like star about 600 light years away between the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra.

William Borucki, Kepler Principal Investigator, NASA Ames Research Center: "Well, certainly the thing that's most exciting to me is the fact, that finally after looking at all these candidates, spending all this effort, that we can confirm a planet, in the habitable zone that's nearly Earth size."

Scientists don't know yet if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

Natalie Batalha, Kepler Deputy Science Lead, San Jose State University: "The Kepler team announced today 1,084 new planet candidates, bring the total roster up to 2,326. Of those, 207 are Earth-size So, it's an exciting milestone because we're really honing in on truly Earth-sized habitable planets."

The announcement helped to kick off the beginning of the first-ever Kepler Science Conference. Just days earlier, the Kepler mission celebrated 1,000 days of conducting science operations in space. Famed astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson also came to the event to help the team celebrate the milestone.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History: "It's great to see the energy and enthusiasm of the workforce for Kepler matching the magnitude of the science that is coming out from the telescope itself."

"Kepler is NASA¹s three-and-a-half year mission to search for Earth-size, potentially habitable planets in our galaxy."

Just up the highway from Ames, in San Francisco - the announcement of another exciting scientific finding at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting. Researchers from NASA and The Ohio State University confirmed that the major tsunami caused by the March 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake in Japan was, in fact, a "merging tsunami" caused by two wave fronts. The forming of a single, double-high wave increased its intensity and ability to travel long distances without losing power. The odds against the NASA and European radar satellites observing and capturing the data they did of this "merging tsunami" are said to be "10 million to one."

More than 34 years after its launch, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space. Data it's obtained over the last year suggest this new region is a kind of cosmic purgatory, where the solar wind is calm, our solar system's magnetic field piles up, and higher-energy particles appear to leak from our solar system into interstellar space.

Although Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles from the sun, it has yet to cross one major, space-faring threshold.

Ed Stone, Voyager Project Scientist/California Institute of Technology: "We're very close to the edge of interstellar space now. Unfortunately, our models are not accurate enough to tell us how close. So, it could be a few more months or it could be a few more years. But Voyager One is moving out a billion miles every three years, so we shouldn't have too long to wait to find out what's outside."

Expedition 30 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers, have left the Gagarin Training Center in Star City Russia for the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where they'll complete training for their launch to the International Space Station later this month. Liftoff is slated for Dec.21.

Astronaut Chris Ferguson, the last person to serve as commander of a space shuttle mission, has retired from NASA. He plans to take a new job in the private sector.

"And liftoff. The final liftoff of Atlantis. On the shoulders of the space shuttle, America will continue the dream."

On STS-135 - in July 2011, the retired U.S. Navy captain, was the commander for the final flight of space shuttle Atlantis -- the 135th and final mission of America's 30-year Space Shuttle Program.

A milestone for engineers in the J2X program at The Stennis Space Center. They recently installed the upgraded J-2X powerpack on the A-1 Test Stand and are a step closer to starting new tests. The powerpack is a critical component of the J-2X, the engine that'll produce the 294,000 pounds of thrust needed for NASA's new Space Launch System to carry astronauts to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.

10,000 HOURS - MSFC (CP)
The Microgravity Science Glovebox team has reason to celebrate. Their science facility onboard the International Space Station has passed 10,000 hours of operation.

The glovebox, developed by the European Space Agency and managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center, launched to the station during Expedition 5 in 2002.

Over the past nine years, the glovebox has been used to conduct a wide range of microgravity research, including fluid physics, combustion science, materials science, biotechnology, fundamental physics, and other investigations seeking to understand the role of gravity in basic physical and chemical interactions.

Dave Argenti, Microgravity Science Glovebox Controller, Marshall Space Flight Center: "The big thing about MSG is containment, so it allows us to do all of these types of experiments that may have some impact to crew safety or to crew health or whatever. And they're able to do it in a confined enivironment."

"So that gives the experimenters on Earth a chance to do something in space and use the microgravity environment to do it to get results that they couldn't get on Earth."

The Hubble Space Telescope has passed another milestone in its 21 years of exploration: the 10,000th refereed science paper based on data captured by Hubble has been published. This makes the telescope one of the most prolific astronomical endeavors in history.For the past 21 years thousands of astronomers around the world in over 35 countries have been engaged in Hubble research.

TEDxYouth@NASA - LaRC (CP: Amy Johnson Reporting)
300 teenagers spent their Saturday evening getting connected during TEDxYouth@NASA. The event, sponsored by NASA Langley, the National Institute of Aerospace and Virginia Air and Space Center, offered 13 to 18-year-olds and evening of motivating speakers, interactive exhibits and messages about creativity, risk-taking and becoming a leader.

Bonnie St. John, Olympic Medalist/Motivational Speaker: "It's not about who never makes mistakes. It's not about who never falls down. It's about who builds the skill of getting up faster in today's world to really be a superstar."

At TEDxYouth@NASA, the goal was to get liberal-arts minded students thinking about how they can play a role in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Jennifer Barber, Tabb High School Student: "I really liked the speakers. They are very inspirational. I liked Simon Nance - I believe his name was. He kind of put calculus into life and kind of explained a couple things that like didn't really occur to me, so that was interesting."

Rich Antcliff, NASA Langley Chief Technologist: "We've got some really tough problems in this world that we need use to solve and they require an understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And that's what this conference is about. Getting you excited, getting you motivated about those subjects."

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver were on hand at the 2011 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Carnival and Silent Auction at NASA Headquarters. CFC, the world's largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, raises millions of dollars every year to support community organizations and provide aid to survivors of natural disasters.

Natalie Simms, NASA HQ Exec. Chief of Staff: "The Combined Federal Campaign is here to support families and folks in need and we here at NASA headquarters are hoping to raise 300-thousand dollars toward that goal."

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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