NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending April 04

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending April 04
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This Week At NASA…

Members of NASA’s Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission Team were among the recipients of the National Air and Space Museum’s 2008 Trophy awards. The Stardust team received the 2008 Current Achievement Trophy for accomplishing the first U.S. robotic sample return mission beyond the moon and securing the first collection of comet and interstellar dust particles for study on earth.

Tom Duxbury: "After we’re done with this mission we’ve left a heritage of these samples that are going to be studied for a hundred years."

The Stardust spacecraft secured its unique specimens during a nearly 3 billion-mile, seven-year odyssey. Scientists believe these precious samples will provide answers to fundamental questions about comets and the origins of the solar system. The awards honor outstanding achievements in aerospace science and technology. Along with the awards, a special case containing Stardust artifacts was unveiled for display at the Air and Space Museum.

A full-scale mock-up of the Orion space capsule is now at the Dryden Flight Research Center for further test preparations, including installation of computers and other electronics. The computers and other instrumentation are designed to help guide the capsule in flight. It was transported there on an Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft from Langley Research Center, where it was fabricated.

David McAllister: "Here at Dryden we have expertise in instrumentation and avionics. We were tasked to install the instrumentation, all the instrumentation sensors and the avionics systems to make this vehicle fly."

Late this year, the full-size structural model will be propelled off a launch pad at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to test the spacecraft's astronaut escape system in case of emergency. Orion will carry astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station - and the moon.

Engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center are getting the 400 foot-high Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand ready for Ares ground vibration testing. The test stand’s massive 100 ton door was opened for the first time since the 19-80’s, allowing work crews access to repair and upgrade key elements of the facility. These include the refurbishment of the 200-ton derrick crane on the roof and installation of a new electrical power system. Marshall’s Dynamic Test Stand was used in the development of the Apollo program’s Saturn V rocket, Skylab and the space shuttle. Ares ground vibration testing is scheduled to begin July 2011 and is expected to take about a year.


(Nat sound - applause)

The STS-122 Crew lead by Commander Steve Frick was at NASA Headquarters to share highlights of their successful February mission. Space shuttle Atlantis delivered the Columbia science laboratory to the International Space Station.

STEVE FRICK: "It was a wonderful opportunity for us to get to fly this mission we’re very proud of NASA and of the European Space Agency and all the folks that worked to bill the hardware and the procedures to make it a success and every time we look at the Space Station now, every successive crew that goes up and takes video, and we see the Columbus module sitting there it warms our heart."

Joining Frick were pilot Alan Poindexter, and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stan Love and European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel.

Engineers at the Ames Research Center have conducted wind tunnel tests of the Mars Science Laboratory parachute decelerator system. The parachute is designed to slow the Mars entry vehicle from Mach 2 to low subsonic speeds as it prepares for a rocket powered descent and landing on the Martian surface. Researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Pioneer Aerospace will study the data gathered when the parachute is opened and first exposed to wind. The parachute which is more than 50 feet in diameter, and 165 feet long can only be tested at Ames’s National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex -- the world's largest wind tunnel. The Mars Science Laboratory is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2009.

Students from 46 high schools competed in the Bayou Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in New Orleans. With help from their mentors, the teams had six weeks to build a robot from a standard kit of parts and a common set of rules. Stennis Space Center supported FIRST by providing 27 Mississippi and Louisiana teams with coaches, mentors and other volunteers, as well as training and the use of a machine shop. NASA is a sponsor of the Bayou Regional FIRST competition.

48 years ago the first successful weather satellite -- TIROS 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. TIROS, which stands for Television InfraRed Observational Satellite, was equipped with two TV cameras and magnetic tape recorders to store photos when the satellite was out of communications range. TIROS 1 was operational for 78 days and demonstrated the feasibility of monitoring Earth’s cloud cover and weather patterns from space. Two years after the TIROS 1 launch, in 1962, more advanced TIROS satellites began continuous coverage of the globe, enabling more accurate worldwide weather forecasts and alerts.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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