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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, April 3
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This Week At NASA…


The rollout of space shuttle Atlantis from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center helps set the stage for STS-125. The servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope is targeted for the early afternoon of May 12. Commanding Atlantis' crew of seven will be Scott Altman.

Scott Altman: "We've made observations using the telescope that have reformed the way we understand how our universe is built -- the fact that things instead of slowing down as they get farther out, are actually accelerating. It’s kind of foreign to what I learned growing up in science class. And Hubble has done the science that made those observations, that analysis, possible. Yet at the same time, it’s an incredible platform that takes those pictures that take the average person out 13½ billion light-years away from where we sitting to give you those views."

Over 11 days and five spacewalks, Atlantis' crew will make repairs and upgrades to Hubble, leaving it ready for another five years, or more, of ground-breaking research.


A full-scale model of Orion, the next generation space vehicle that’ll return humans to the moon, was on display at the National Mall in Washington, DC. The mockup was making a one-day pit stop between water tests at the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock Division in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Kennedy Space Center. The operation, dubbed the Post-landing Orion Recovery Test, or PORT, will determine the kind of motions an Orion crew could expect after a landing, as well as the water conditions the recovery team could face.

Alan Rhodes: "We came up with a plan to build a vehicle, and then test it in the different sea states, so that we could then have the Department of Defense via the human spaceflight support wing; they're based out of Patrick Airforce Base, come back to the program and say, 'in these sea conditions, we will go rescue you'."

Orion is targeted to begin carrying humans to the International Space Station in 2015 and to the moon in 2020.


The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore hosted its annual Women’s Science Forum. More than three dozen female high school students from Maryland, the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and Pennsylvania took part in real-life, hands-on problem-solving drills. They shared their career dreams with forum panelists. The Women’s Science Forum is part of the institute's Youth for Astronomy and Engineering program that supports diversity and seeks to stimulate student interest in the fields of astronomy and engineering BAYOU REGIONALS - SSC

New Orleans hosted the FIRST Bayou Regionals. Teams from thirty-one high schools in nine states each built a working robot in six weeks from a standardized kit in the competition named "For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology."

The Stennis Space Center provided monetary and manpower support with judges, volunteers and team mentors. Three Mississippi teams, from high schools in Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Biloxi, are headed for the FIRST Finals this month in Atlanta.


(nat) NASA astronaut Eric Boe went to the ends of the Earth to visit an old classmate.

Eric Boe SOT: "Awesome, Study hard, it’ll take you a lot of places."

The STS-126 space shuttle pilot and his wife traveled to Hamilton, New Zealand on an invitation from Ree Varcoe, a city council worker who knew Colonel Boe from school in Atlanta.

Eric Boe SOT: "What's really neat is to see a country that you've seen on orbit first and then to come down and actually see it in person and actually get to meet the people."

New Zealand Morning Anchor: "A NASA astronaut is in Hamilton this week…":

Boe also made a number of public appearances during his week-long stay.

Eric Boe SOT: "Hey, Good Morning Paul."



NASA honored astronaut Jim Lovell with an Ambassador of Exploration Award for his contributions to America's space program. Lovell accepted the award at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park, Md.

(Lovell: "I thought that perhaps having this lunar sample here for the young boys and girls coming through the museum and to see what we are trying to accomplish here at Patuxent River would give them the inspiration, perhaps, to follow a career in the Navy or as naval aviators or, perhaps, as test pilots and perhaps even going into space as I did way back in those days."

Lovell spent four years at Patuxent River Naval Air Station as a test pilot. The moon rock encased in Lucite will remain on display at the museum. A native of Cleveland, Lovell piloted the Gemini 7 mission and was command pilot for Gemini 12. He and fellow Apollo 8 crewmen, Frank Borman and Bill Anders were the first humans to leave the Earth's gravitational influence and travel to the moon in 1968.

(Lovell: "My thoughts are very similar to the vast loneliness up here on the moon, is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize what you have there on Earth.)

On Lovell's fourth mission, he was Apollo 13 commander when the crew's service module was crippled by an oxygen tank explosion. With the help of Houston ground controllers, Lovell and astronauts Jack Swigert and Fred Haise scrambled to turn their lunar module into a virtual lifeboat and scrape together enough electrical power and water to make it back to Earth. Apollo 13 is considered a 'successful failure.'


Fifty years ago in NASA history, America's first astronauts were introduced to an eager nation at a Washington, DC news conference.

Scott Carpenter: "And so my wife called Washington and volunteered for me…(laughter)"

The Mercury 7 with the "right stuff" were the cream of the U.S. military’s crop of test pilots: from the Navy, Walter M. "Wally" Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard, Jr., and Scott Carpenter; Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom and L. Gordon Cooper were Air Force men; Ohioan John H. Glenn Jr. was the lone Marine.

John Glenn: "I look at it if I use the talents and capabilities I happen to have been given, to the best of my ability, I think there is a power greater than I am that will certainly see that I'm taken care of if I do my part of the bargain."

The men were dubbed "astronauts," from ballooning "aeronauts," and "Argonauts," the mythic Greeks who sailed Jason's ship, the Argo, in search of the Golden Fleece. These new explorers would bravely lead the country into the uncharted vastness of space – and, ultimately, on its race to the moon.

Wally Schirra: "All of us probably have read comic strips such as Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Jules Verne routines, and if we had interest in reading things like this, obviously, we had intentions of following something like this our lifetimes. I will readily admit I didn't think it was coming this soon."

And that's This Week @ NASA.

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