NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending May 4

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending May 4
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WALTER M. "WALLY" SCHIRRA, 1923 - 2007 - HQ
NASA was saddened by the passing of former astronaut Wally Schirra. One of the original seven Mercury Astronauts named by NASA in April 1959, Schirra became the fifth American in space on October 3, 1962.

Launch SOT: "I have lift-off. Clock has started."

That's when Schirra piloted his Sigma 7 spacecraft to six orbits of the Earth. Schirra also commanded the Gemini 6A mission that performed the first successful rendezvous in space, with Gemini 7. And, to bring him the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of America's first three space programs, Schirra was Command Pilot on Apollo VII, the first manned flight test of the three direction United States spacecraft. In all, this son of a civil engineer, born in Hackensack, New Jersey, logged 295 hours and 15 minutes in space.

Wally Schirra SOT: "It's a pioneering urge and we humans like that. You go for walk on a national Park. These events kind of accumulate. You feel very uplifted by exploration."

Wally Schirra died May 2nd of natural causes. He was 84 years old.

On its way to Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft has provided revealing new pictures of Jupiter and its moons. Launched in January of 2006, New Horizons flew by Jupiter for a gravity assist in February of this year and, while there, trained its science instruments on the giant planet and its moons. The images produced are exciting project scientists.

Alan Stern SOT: "If you haven't been to Jupiter yet you have now, and New Horizon has taken you there."

Jeff Moore SOT: "We really are going to do a killer Pluto system encounter. I think we are ready to rock and roll."

As it flew by Jupiter, New Horizons picked up speed for its long voyage to the outer solar system. New Horizons is expected to reach Pluto in July of 2015.

Dr. John Mather, NASA's Chief Scientist, was among a group of Nobel Laureates that visited Capitol Hill to promote the importance of science, technology and math education. Mather, a co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the Big Bang, spoke with members of Congress in a series of roundtable meetings. Mather also testified before a Senate subcommittee about the role education played in his eventual success.

John Mather SOT: “Astronomy has brought forward a possibility of knowing the history of the universe from the beginning until the formation of planets like ours. I think it's a very exciting thing for students that want to get excited about science to see this is the amazing intellectual challenge that we now have."

Suni Williams, working aboard the International Space Station since December, will come home soon. Williams, the Expedition 15 flight engineer, will return with the STS-117 crew aboard space shuttle Atlantis. She was originally scheduled to return with the STS-118 crew, but that mission was pushed back until August after STS-117 was delayed by a hailstorm that damaged space shuttle Atlantis’ external tank. Working aboard the station, Williams accumulated more time on orbit than any other woman. She also set a record for spacewalks by a female astronaut, completing four excursions totaling 29 hours and 17 minutes. First- time space flier, Clayton Anderson will replace Williams. SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION - MSFC
Engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center have completed tests important to the development of the RS-68 engine. The RS-68 engine will power the core stage of NASA’s Ares V rocket, the cargo launch vehicle that will deliver large-scale hardware and systems into space for exploration missions to the moon and destinations beyond. Multiple hot-fire tests were successfully completed on subscale main injector hardware, a major component that helps produce the engine's thrust. The tests looked at different injector designs to maximize performance of the RS-68 engine.

(nat of Launch)

A new generation of rocket scientists launched their vehicles to the skies as part of the NASA Student Launch Initiative at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Fifteen middle and high school teams from 12 states spent a school year designing and building innovative rockets. Students also prepared a scientific payload to ride on board each rocket; posted a Web site of their own design that showcased their work; and presented formal project reviews to a panel of NASA engineers. The launch was the high point, literally, of three days of events that included tours of various facilities at Marshall.

In recognition of Asian/Pacific American Heritage month, NASA remembers the contributions of astronaut Ellison Onizuka. A distinguished aerospace flight test engineer and instructor, Onizuka was selected as an astronaut in 1978, working on orbiter test and checkout teams, and launch support crews at the Kennedy Space Center for STS-1 and STS-2. Onizuka became the first Asian/Pacific American in space when he flew as a mission specialist on STS 51-C, launched on January 24, 1985 where he was responsible for primary payload activities. Onizuka later was assigned to mission STS 51-L. He and his six crewmembers--Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe--died January 28, 1986, in an explosion aboard Space Shuttle Challenger that occurred 73 seconds into flight. Onizuka and his crew mates were posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in July 2004.

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