NASA Podcasts

NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending January 16
› Listen Now
› View Now

Preparations continue for February 12's targeted launch of STS-119. Space shuttle Discovery is now at the Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A following its rollout from the Vehicle Assembly Building. The seven-member STS-119 crew headed by Lee Archambault will deliver to the International Space Station a pair of power-generating solar array wings and a truss element, the final components needed to expand the station's crew to six. They'll also bring to the orbiting complex Koichi Wakata, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's first resident station crew member, and return with astronaut Sandy Magnus after her three-month stay in space. Two members of the 119 crew are former teachers. Both Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold taught middle and high school science; both are making their first space flight; and both will perform spacewalks on this mission.

Joe Acaba: "Teachers have to think on their feet. They have to adjust all the time. I think that's part of what we do. We train for specific things but you never really know exactly what's going to happen and I think bringing that skill as a teacher is really beneficial. When we come back and we're up on orbit we may see things that these guys might not notice as an educator that we might want to make note of and when we come back we'll try to share that with teachers to help them inspire students."

Ricky Arnold: "Schools are big teams and this is a big team that's going to pull off the mission. We have folks here, you have folks on the ground, we have our training team back here and you need to be able to work well together and all the folks here have really great people skills and that’s something you really need in school as well."

Discovery is targeted to liftoff on Feb. 12 at 7:32 am EST.


President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joseph Biden looked on as a contingent from NASA joined representatives from across the country and the nation's armed forces in the 56th Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington January 20th. The group was led by the STS-126 crew who flew on space shuttle Endeavour's mission to the International Space Station last November - and got a "thumbs up" from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Also featured was NASA's Lunar Electric Rover, a next-generation concept vehicle that astronauts will use for future exploration of the moon. A brief demonstration of the rover's capabilities in front of the Presidential Reviewing Stand included an egress through the vehicle's suitport by astronaut Rex Walheim, who then acknowledged the President with a salute.


Two members of the 126 crew visited the Stennis Space Center to report on their mission to the International Space Station. Commander Chris Ferguson and and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper shared mission highlights with Stennis employees and reporters in the StenniSphere Auditorium.

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper: "The main engines worked as advertised. We had no anomalies. And that just goes to show that you guys did a great job, provided us with great product."

Traveling aboard space shuttle Endeavour, they delivered a reusable logistics module, equipment and supplies that'll help the ISS support a crew of six. They also brought astronaut Sandy Magnus to the station, and returned Expedition 17/18 Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff to Earth.


A compact fiber-optic probe developed for the space program is helping doctors detect cataracts. The new device, based on a laser light technique called dynamic light scattering, or DLS, was initially developed to analyze the growth of protein crystals in zero-gravity space. It simply and safely measures a protein linked to cataract formation. It's the first noninvasive early detection device for cataracts, which is the leading cause of vision loss worldwide. Dr. Rafat Ansari, senior scientist at the Glenn Research Center, brought the technology's potential to the attention of National Eye Institute researchers after learning that his father's cataracts were caused by changes in lens proteins.

Dr.Rafat Ansari: "Potential applications are amazing, and very huge. So this, and some related technologies that we have developed here at NASA, are now helping us to study, not just the lens of the eye for the cataract, but also to look at the diseases of the brain like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. And we can study that through the lens of the eye as well because the beta amyloid proteins, which are the culprits for Alzheimer's disease, are somehow, I do not know the biochemistry of it, but somehow are expressed in the eye tissues as well."

People with these changing lens proteins may be able to reduce their risk of cataracts by modifying their lifestyle, such as by decreasing sun exposure or quitting smoking.


Regional kickoffs are underway for this year’s "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology", or FIRST, Robotics Competition. The Stennis Space Center hosted its region’s event for the fifth straight year. Each of 27 participating high school teams from Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi were presented a game problem and a parts kits with which to build a robot for FIRST competitions this spring. Regional winners will compete in the FIRST finals in April in Atlanta. FIRST is designed to encourage students to pursue careers in engineering and technology.


Forty years ago in NASA history, the Apollo 5 mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center. This unmanned flight conducted basic systems tests of the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM. Designed to carry a crew of two, the LEM would take astronauts from orbit to the lunar surface and back on six Apollo missions, the first time on July 20, 1969…

Neil Armstrong: "Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

And that's This Week At NASA!

For more on these and other stories log on to:
› Listen Now
› View Now