NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Dec. 21

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Dec. 21
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This Week at NASA …

Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Dan Tani conducted the 23rd spacewalk of the year from the International Space Station. They inspected but found no obvious causes for problems associated with two pieces of equipment, a Beta Gimbal Assembly and a Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, or SARJ. Both these hardware elements, which help the complex's solar arrays track the sun, have been locked in place while still drawing power. During the EVA, Whitson set a new spacewalking record for women exceeding the aggregate time set earlier this year by Suni Williams.

Mission Control: "… Congratulations. There is no pressure now because you are the queen of the EVA. You are the world record holder in EVA time."

Peggy Whitson: "It's just been in the right place at the right time."

Mission Control: "You know, that's the same thing Suni said."

NASA's Super Guppy aircraft flew into the Redstone Army Airfield in Huntsville, Alabama where its crew collected a Solar Alpha Rotary Joint test article from the Marshall Space Flight Center. The article was transported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Engineers used it to troubleshoot the SARJ problem on the International Space Station. SHUTTLE UPDATE - KSC
A tanking test at the Kennedy Space Center may lead to a "go" decision for a January launch of space shuttle Atlantis. Shuttle program engineers hope they've collected enough data from the test to solve a problem with an engine cutoff sensor circuit system. The ECO sensors on Atlantis's external tank failed during two December launch attempts. The STS-122 mission to the International Space Station is now planned for Jan. 10.

Astronomers say they've discovered a first-of-its-kind phenomenon involving a black hole and a nearby galaxy. A supermassive black hole is shooting a powerful jet of particles at the galaxy in the system known as 3C321. This newly-discovered phenomenon could cause the destruction of any planets in the jet's path, and trigger a burst of star formation. Researchers made their discovery using combined data from ground-based observations and NASA's space-based telescopes.

Legendary flight director Gene Kranz was honored by NASA with the Ambassador of Exploration Award. Kranz worked on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. He was lead flight director during the Apollo 13 mission,

Apollo 13 crew member: "Houston we've had a problem."

…when an explosion aboard the spacecraft threatened the lives of its crew. Spurred by Kranz's warning, "Failure is not an option," the Mission Control team in Houston resolved the crisis and safely returned the astronauts to Earth. Kranz accepted the award, a moon rock encased in Lucite, during a special ceremony at his alma mater, Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio. It will remain on display there.

NASA Aeronautics Engineer Dick Whitcomb, whose research made supersonic flight possible, was inducted into the First Flight Shrine at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Whitcomb's work over three decades at the Langley Research Center resulted in breakthrough designs that enabled supersonic jets to fly faster without the need of bigger engines. His portrait will hang alongside other aviation pioneers, including the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.

Six members of the STS-120 crew visited the Stennis Space Center. The astronauts answered questions from employees about their mission: to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Discovery: the delivery and installation of the Harmony module.9 Joining STS-120 Commander Pam Melroy was pilot George Zamka, and mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Doug Wheelock, Stephanie Wilson and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.

A police air support hangar at the Ames Research Center was transformed into the "North Pole" for a Children's Fantasy Night. The Cops Care Cancer Foundation hosted the annual event for children with life-threatening illnesses. Local police and firefighters treated the guests of honor and their families to a day of food, fun activities, music and gift-giving. Santa Claus made a rare, pre-Christmas appearance. More than a hundred volunteers helped make each child feel special this holiday season.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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