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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, March 13
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This Week At NASA…

A full-scale mockup of a key component of NASA’s newest spacecraft hit the road at the Langley Research Center in Virginia bound for the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Along the way, the LAS pathfinder made stops at several museums for public display, including the Adventure Science Center in Nashville. The LAS pathfinder is a mock-up of the launch abort system for the Orion crew exploration vehicle that’ll return astronauts to the moon.

Jeremy Rousseau: "There’s a lot of enthusiasm here today. The kids were excited to see this Pathfinder and what’s leading to future space hardware. And they're of the age group that they're the ones that are going to be going to the moon, and mars and beyond. Pathfinder will be used at White Sands to support the first flight test of the Orion’s launch abort system. The launch, called Pad Abort 1, is scheduled for later this year."

Four members of the STS-126 crew paid visits to two NASA centers. Commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Eric Boe and astronauts Don Pettit and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper first spoke with employees at the Glenn Research Center, where they showed highlights of their 16-day journey to the International Space Station last November.

Chris Ferguson: "This is where the Soyuz and sometimes Progress vehicles will dock."

Marshall Space Flight Center employees also were treated to the presentation. At both events, the STS-126 crew answered questions and signed autographs for employees' children.

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, two Glenn Research Center employees were honored during a special Women’s Advisory Group program. Robyn Gordon and Lori Manthey received Federal Women’s Program Awards for their outstanding achievements and contributions. Gordon, the Deputy Director of Center Operations, plays a principal role in institutional functions, and has served as Chief of Glenn’s Offices of Diversity and Human Resources and Workforce Planning. Manthey, Liaison Officer in the Director’s Office, assists senior management in various functions and mentors culturally-diverse employees.

Lori Manthey: "One of my favorite females who worked at NASA who is a great inspiration to me was the first female SESer. Her name was Peggy Yohner and she was the head of the Computer Services Division. She was also a neighbor of my family and we would spend time talking and she inspired me to do well at NASA"

Robyn Gordon: "Don’t think I can’t do that, think how can I do that. And the second thing I would want people to remember is that offer opportunities to others. Don’t be afraid to pull somebody along behind you or push somebody forward. You know, they might come back to help you one day."

This dedication ceremony marked the grand opening of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire. The new 45,000 square-foot center will house 21st century, interactive exhibits on aviation, astronomy, and Earth and space sciences; and a variety of science and engineering programs.

Joyce Winterton: "We’ve accomplished a great deal in exploration and in science because of those people who were willing to be first -- the first person in space; thank you Alan Shepard -- the first teacher in space; thank you Christa McAuliffe. This Discovery Center will inspire that next first person."

McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is named for two New Hampshire heroes. Christa McAuliffe became NASA's first Teacher in Space, selected from 11-thousand applicants. The Concord High School teacher perished along with her crewmates aboard space shuttle Challenger. The Discovery Center features the newly-transformed and expanded, state-of-the-art Christa McAuliffe Planetarium.

The Mercury-Redstone rocket at the center’s front entry honors the legacy of the first American in space, East Derry, New Hampshire native, Alan B. Shepard. One of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Shepard, as commander of Apollo 14, also was the first golfer on the moon.

Alan Shepard: "Miles and miles and miles." U.S.N.S. WALLY SCHIRRA – JPL
The U.S. Navy honored one of its own when it christened the U.S.N.S. Wally Schirra at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

Walter “Wally” Schirra Jr. was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and former Navy test pilot who served in both World War II and the Korean War. Schirra was an original seven Mercury astronaut; on Oct. 3, 1962, he became the fifth American in space. He holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs.

Announcer: "Push!"

The actual launch of this newest of the Navy’s underway replenishment ships was delayed by a few minutes when cold temperatures hardened the grease used to slide the vessel into the water. Veteran NASA astronauts in attendance who remember Schirra fondly say the notorious practical joker would have been tickled by the glitch.

Bill Anders: "I think Wally's hand was there at the back of the ship keeping it from going when everybody thought it was going to start sliding away, but eventually, he let it go and I thought I heard a 'gotcha' up there in the clouds."

The naming of the U.S.N.S. Wally Schirra continues a long-held Navy tradition for honoring pioneers and explorers.

And that's This Week At NASA!

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