NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Sept. 28

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Sept. 28
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This Week at NASA …

Launch Announcer: "And lift off of the Delta II Rocket…"

NASA's Dawn spacecraft thundered off the launch pad aboard a Delta II rocket on its way to the asteroid belt. There, between Mars and Jupiter, the spacecraft will survey two very different asteroids. The huge rocky body, Vesta; then, the even larger dwarf planet, icy Ceres. Both are believed to hold clues to how planets in our solar system formed billions of years ago. Dawn's journey to the asteroid belt is expected to take eight years.

Space Shuttle Discovery was rolled over to the Kennedy Vehicle Assembly building, where it was mated with an external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters. The orbiter will deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station on STS-120. The cargo is the Italian-built Node 2 module -- Harmony. The module will be the interconnecting port and passageway to future science labs and cargo spacecraft at the station. Harmony also will increase the living and working space on the complex, and will be used outside as a work platform for the station’s robotic arm. Discovery's launch to the International Space Station is targeted for the morning of Oct. 23.

Meanwhile, the Expedition 15 crew took a short spin aboard the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the ISS. Expedition Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov and flight engineer Clay Anderson flew from the docking port on the Zarya module, to one on the Zvezda Service Module. Relocating the Soyuz makes the Zarya port available for the October 12 arrival of the Expedition 16 crew and its Malaysian spaceflight participant.

The Stennis Space Center is ready to begin development testing for the J-2X engine that will power the upper stage of the Constellation program's Ares I crew launch vehicle. A unit that powered the Apollo J-2 engine has been installed at the A-1 test stand and Stennis engineers will test its components to see what improvements can be made to the J-2X's power unit. The Constellation program is developing a new generation of launch vehicles that will replace the space shuttle and carry humans back to the moon.

STS-118 mission specialist Al Drew made a special visit to his alma mater, Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. Drew showed students highlights of his recent flight to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Endeavour. He also answered questions about his time in space.

Alvin Drew: "Much of what you do in life takes team work and it's not just about you. For me, initially the thing was me going out and trying to satisfy my personal ambition to go into space, but as I got closer and closer to the actual launch date, it finally occurred to me, this isn’t about me at all. This is about the people that worked hard to get me here."

Welton Pollard: "It was pretty inspirational the fact that he was a Gonzaga alum and I also got to see before I go off to college. He was inspirational letting us know that we should actually follow our passion, what we really want to do."

Drew is a member of the Gonzaga Class of 1980.
On Oct. 16, 2000, Michael Lopez-Alegria became the first Hispanic-American to walk in space. The milestone was reached during STS-92. During the mission Lopez-Alegria performed two spacewalks, helping install two important pieces of equipment on the ISS. Since then, he’s flown three missions, including commanding Expedition 14 from Sept. 18, 2006 to April 21, 2007. Those 215 days gave Lopez-Alegria the record for the longest space mission of any American astronaut. In all, he's logged more than 257 days in space.

This week, two historic events are being remembered. 50 years ago, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik I satellite. About the size of a basketball that weighed 183 pounds, Sputnik I was the world's first artificial satellite. It orbited the Earth in about 98 minutes. Sputnik's success marked the dawning of the Space Age.

John Glenn: "Some of our people, sort of, went into denial on it, almost, even President Eisenhower at that time made statements about we shouldn’t worry about…something like: 'a beeping little grapefruit going around the world,' or something like that, and later on, sort of changed his view of things because he was the one that really approved the starting of NASA." A little less than a year after Sputnik, on Oct. 1, 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA – was established. NASA's first administrator was T. Keith Glennan.

T. Keith Glennan: "You can justly proud of the fact that your past achievements have made NACA the choice of all governmental agencies out of which to build the new agency.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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