NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Jan. 4

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Jan. 4
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This Week at NASA …

NASA engineers are making progress on correcting the engine cutoff sensor system problem that forced two launch scrubs of space shuttle Atlantis. Technicians have removed the external parts of the system's feed through connector from Atlantis' external fuel tank. They'll be replaced with others modified to insure a continuous electrical flow from the tank's internal sensors to the shuttle's computers. Space shuttle program managers aren't sure just how long it'll take to complete the repairs and certify the redesigned configuration. A new launch date has not been set.

Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are monitoring an asteroid that could strike Mars later this month. The 164 foot-wide asteroid, named 2207 WD5, is expected to cross through the Red Planet's orbit path on the morning of Jan. 30. Scientists from JPL's Near-Earth Object Office say the asteroid could impact Mars's southern hemisphere.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for a $40 million, five-story Research and Development Administration Building. The 120,000-square-foot facility will help Michoud support major projects for the Constellation Program, NASA's next generation of spacecraft. Michoud will manufacture and assemble the upper stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle, the core stage and Earth departure stage of the Ares V cargo launch vehicle and the Orion crew exploration vehicle -- the spacecraft that will carry a new generation of explorers to the International Space Station, the moon and beyond.

Explorer 1, the spacecraft that put America into space 50 years ago this year, was the theme of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory float in the 2008 Tournament of Roses Parade. Historic JPL robotic explorers and various planetary destinations were also featured on the 25-foot-tall float. In addition to the traditional roses, the float was also covered with an exotic plant mix that included black seaweed, eucalyptus leaves, and daisies. The JPL float was one of 46 in this year's Rose Parade, held annually in Pasadena, Calif.

Former astronaut and long-time research pilot C. Gordon Fullerton has retired after 38 years with NASA. Fullerton, who began his flying career with the Air Force in 1958, made his final flight in a NASA F/A-18 at the Dryden Flight Research Center. Fullerton, and fellow research pilot Jim Smolka, flew a formation aerobatics flight with two other jets before concluding his career with two low-level formation flyovers.

Fullerton served on the support crews of four Apollo lunar missions, helped test the space shuttle prototype and was part of the crew of two shuttle missions -- STS-3 in 1982 and STS-51F in 1985. Since leaving the astronaut corps in 1986, Fullerton has been with Dryden's flight crew branch, where he served as project pilot on many high-profile research programs.

Fullerton, 71, was honored with a water-cannon spray by the Edwards Air Force Base fire department as he taxied the F/A-18 up to the Dryden ramp. During his long career, Fullerton logged more than 16,000 flight hours.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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