NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending April 6

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending April 6
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Nobel Prize recipient and NASA astronomer John Mather will lead NASA's newly-created Office of the Chief Scientist. The Chief Scientist office will help set scientific, technological, schedule and budget priorities for NASA's science research programs, and serve as a link to the national and international science communities. Mather and George Smoot of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory received the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics for their collaborative work in understanding the Big Bang.

Mather's appointment was announced by Alan Stern, NASA's new Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator. Stern is a planetary scientist and author with more than 175 technical papers and 40 popular articles to his credit. While serving as chief executive of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Stern will continue as principal investigator of the New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission.

Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, the two-day Space Weather Enterprise Forum held in Washington looked at how space weather impacts our health, technology, communications, aviation and other facets of everyday life. Among the findings announced at the two-day forum: solar radio bursts can have a serious impact on the Global Positioning System, or GPS, and other communication technologies that use radio waves.

NASA astronaut "Cady" Coleman talked about the role of women in the history of space exploration during a special presentation at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Coleman, an Air Force colonel, has logged more than 500 hours in space as a mission specialist on two space shuttle missions. Coleman also encouraged a group of young girls to follow their dreams.

Cady Coleman SOT: "Whether its science, or baseball, or anything, everything can be yours if you work at it."

STS-1 - HQ
This week, NASA remembers the first space shuttle flight, STS-1, on April 12, 19-81. Up until that time, every manned space flight had followed the same basic design: put a capsule on top of a rocket, strap in the crew, fire the engines, and go. After the mission, only the crew capsule, never to be reused, would return.

Launch announcer: "We have main engine start …"

Commanded by John Young and piloted by Bob Crippen, space shuttle Columbia became humankind's first re-usable spacecraft; a vehicle that would launch like a rocket and land like a plane. John Young SOT: "We had practiced a lot of malfunctions and things; and we were checking out the systems and making sure the thing worked and it worked beautifully."

Bob Crippen SOT "It was my first flight; and I tell you from sitting out on the pad to going 17,500 miles an hour in 81/2 minutes; it’s a pretty good ride."

Mission STS-1 demonstrated a host of cutting edge technologies, from the innovative shuttle main engines, to the ceramic tiles designed to prevent overheating, to the advanced digital fly-by-wire control and computer system, adapted by many commercial airplanes. In the 26 years, since STS-1 launched from Kennedy Space Center’s, launch pad 39A, the space shuttle has flown more than a hundred times.
Thirty-seven years ago, on April 11, 1970, Apollo 13, NASA's third manned mission to the moon was launched from the Kennedy Space Center. The crew -- Captain Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise never made it to the lunar surface.

Jim Lovell SOT: "Houston, we've had a problem."

Two days after launch, the Apollo spacecraft was crippled by an explosion that forced the crew to use the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat." The Mission Control support team and 13 crew improvised a plan that successfully returned them to Earth. While it never landed on the moon, the NASA workforce and the world remembers the Apollo 13 mission as a classic demonstration of teamwork, determination and a can-do spirit.

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