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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, April 17
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This Week At NASA…

After workers in the Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building mated the orbiter its external fuel tank and twin solid rocked boosters, space shuttle Endeavour was rolled out to Launch Pad 39B. There it'll stay on standby in the unlikely event a rescue mission is needed for the STS-125 crew on the Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.

Mike Massimino: "They wanted to have another space shuttle ready to go on the launch pad with some friends of ours who say they’ll come get us -- you want to make sure you get the right guys and gals to come get you -- they promise they’ll come get us if we have trouble. If we have a damaged space shuttle that we can’t return with and we can’t fix, then we’ll have a rescue crew come and get us."

Space shuttle Atlantis is already on Launch Pad 39A, from where Commander Scott Altman and the rest of the STS-125 crew are scheduled to leave for the telescope May 12. Following Atlantis's safe return, Endeavour will begin its STS-127 mission to the International Space Station in June.

The Dryden Flight Research Center held a special dedication ceremony for its new Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif.

David McBride, Dryden’s Acting Director: "The facility is more than aircraft; it’s about the people, as it has been mentioned. Science campaigns by earth scientists and astrophysicists will gather the facts and increase our understanding of the planet and about our universe."

Several hundred guests, including regional, state, and federal officials were on hand to celebrate the world-class facility. It will eventually be home to five specialized NASA Earth and space science aircraft, including SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. Consolidation of these aircraft at one facility will lower costs for fleet maintenance and operations.

Steve Volz, HQ ESMD: "If it takes a billion dollars to launch a satellite, you want to make very certain that your instrument works properly. A few hundred thousand dollars on an airplane test can save tens of millions dollars on satellite development activity and that message, that integrated message of airborne, is support for flight; it really is the bridge to orbit for all of our satellites."

Missions launched from the facility, with its cavernous hangar and office building, will cover a variety of science disciplines, including astronomy, tropical storm development, intercontinental pollution, and earthquake and volcanic activity.

The Ames Research Center hosted this year’s Pete Conrad ‘Spirit of Innovation Awards’ and Innovation Generation Summit. The program challenges students to create and develop business concepts in lunar exploration; products for personal spaceflight; or use of carbon-free renewable energy.

Twenty-one finalists from more than 60 U.S. teams and one from China competed for more than $120,000 in grants, and the chance to hook up with expert professionals who might help move their ideas off the drawing board and into production.

Nancy Conrad: "I think it’s giving these kids an opportunity to create, to innovate, to get their juices going, to get excited about education and to understand that what they learn is also a product that can be, ‘oh, in the marketplace, could be made, wow, how cool is that."

The 'Spirit of Innovation Awards' and Innovation Generation Summit is a tribute to decorated aviator and astronaut Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad. The third person to walk on the moon, Conrad was commander of Apollo XII and Skylab II missions.

Russell Schweikert: "The whole idea of this is to stimulate kids to realize that ideas ultimately convert into businesses and become whole systems by which people make livings and create new capabilities, and it’s, at least for me, from my point of view, it’s seeing the kids light up as they recognize that they can make a contribution to that process."

Workers at the Stennis Space Center completed structural steel construction on the facility's new A-3 Test Stand. Approximately four million pounds of fabricated steel were used in erecting the 260-foot tall structure. When it’s complete with its on-stand fuel tanks, the new stand will allow engineers to test engines at simulated altitudes of up to 100,000 feet. This new A-3 test stand will be used to demonstrate the J-2X engine now in development. A direct descendant of the Apollo-era J-2 engine, the J-2X will power the upper stages of the Ares rockets that’ll propel astronauts to the International Space Station and the moon.

The Glenn Visitor’s Center is offering a series of one-hour tours of Research Center test facilities. Each free guided tour will acquaint visitors with a different Glenn testing venue. The first was held at the Ares I-X Manufacturing Facility. That’s where Glenn engineers and technicians designed and built the upper stage simulator for the Ares I-X test rocket. The free tours are scheduled for one Saturday each month through October.

Twelve Headquarters employees were presented with the Spaceflight Awareness award for their work on mission STS-119. The honorees were acknowledged for contributions above and beyond their normal work requirements that made a significant impact on the human space flight program. Their collective achievements included development of operational improvements; significant cost savings; and making modifications to hardware, software, or materials resulting in increased reliability, efficiency, or performance.

Patricia Currier: "Recognition is always great. It’s great when it comes from your management, but, actually for me, it means more coming from my peers because they’re in the trenches with you, and they know what it’s like to be there, and they recognize that you’ve gone that extra mile so, for me, it means a lot more than anything else."

Each recipient was presented with a certificate and an invitation to see a shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center.

The International Space Station’s new treadmill will sport a new NASA acronym named for TV comedian Stephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert: "The Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistive Treadmill, the COLBERT."

Suni Williams: "The COLBERT."

In a poll, the Comedy Central character’s dedicated legion of viewers made “Colbert” the most suggested name for the station’s new Node 3 module.

(Applause and Laughter)

Stephen Colbert: "Will that actual patch be in the space station now?"

Suni Williams: "We will have it in the space station, on the COLBERT."

The agency chose "Tranquility" in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility. But the station’s new treadmill slated for an August delivery aboard space shuttle Discovery will officially and forever be known as the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistive Treadmill or, the COLBERT.

(Applause and Laughter)

Stephen Colbert SOT: "Wow!"

The announcement was made on "The Colbert Report" by Suni Williams, the NASA astronaut who simulated the 26-point-2 mile Boston marathon on a station treadmill in 2007.

Stephen Colbert: "I understand by running on the treadmill, that’s what actually powers the entire space station." (Laughter)

Suni Williams SOT: "Well, not exactly."

And that's This Week @ NASA.

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