NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Feb. 22

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Feb. 22
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If all goes according to plan, it won't be long before the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's new laboratory module, Kibo, makes it to the International Space Station. It's one of the priority items that space shuttle Endeavour will deliver to the ISS on the STS-123 mission. Endeavour is targeted to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in the early morning hours of March 11. Endeavour's commander is Dom Gorie, a veteran of three spaceflights. This will be his third trip aboard Endeavour, and the second one he'll command.

Facilitator: "We're going for a methane sensor. Nice Job. (applause")

It was a race against the clock for students at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The 2nd Annual Southern California NASA Explorer School Robotics Competition hosted by JPL pitted teams from a dozen local schools. Using LEGO blocks and laptop computers, the students had spent several months designing and building these robots to complete specific tasks and simulations in less than two minutes. These included retrieving rocks, and rescuing a stranded robot from the Martian surface. NASA partners with some 200 Explorer schools nationwide to promote science, technology, engineering and math.

Commander Pam Melroy and five members of the STS-120 crew visited NASA Headquarters.They narrated highlights of their mission last fall to the International Space Station for employees and others watching on NASA Television.

George Zamka: "These were the fighters that were occurring in Southern California at the time of our mission."

Space shuttle Discovery's 14-day journey brought the Harmony Node 2 connecting module to the station. Melroy, a veteran shuttle pilot, was the second woman to command a shuttle. Eileen Collins led the STS-114 return to flight mission in 2005.

Peggy Whitson, leader of Expedition 16 since last October, is the first woman to command an International Space Station mission. This is Whitson's second six-month stint aboard the ISS. In 2002, Whitson was a flight engineer on Expedition 5, when she also served as NASA's first station science officer.

Peggy Whitson: "Discovery arriving!" (cheers)

With Whitson at the helm of the ISS and Pam Melroy commanding STS-120, the duo became the first women to lead space missions at the same time.

Born and raised on a farm in rural Iowa, Whitson knew at an early age she wanted to work for NASA.

Whitson SOT: "I was inspired by the men who walked on the moon; that really was my inspiration as a kid of nine years old. It really didn't become a reality to me, I think, to become a goal until I graduated from high school, which was coincidentally, the same year they picked the first set of female astronauts."

When Whitson returns to Earth in April, she'll have set another historic milestone: spending more time in space than any other woman.

Launch Announcer: "2- 1 and lift-off of space shuttle Columbia to broaden our view of the universe through the Hubble Space Telescope."

Six years ago this week, the seven-member crew of space shuttle Columbia left from the Kennedy Space Center on the 11-day, STS-109 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.

In five spacewalks totaling almost 36 hours, the two-man teams of mission specialists John Grunsfeld and Rick Linnehan, and Mike Massimino and Jim Newman installed new and improved equipment giving the telescope more power, and the ability to see twice as much area with more speed and clarity. The spacewalkers also restored life to the Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer. STS-125, Hubble's fifth and final servicing mission, is scheduled for later this year.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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