NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending April 11

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending April 11
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This Week At NASA…


Commentator: "2-1-0 And Lift Off."

A Soyuz spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan delivered Expedition 17 and Soyuz Commander Sergei Volkov, Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko and South Korean Spaceflight Participant So-yeon Yi to the International Space Station.

Commentator: "Docking confirmed."

Volkov and Kononenko will spend six months working in space. Yi will return to Earth on April 19, after a nine day stay aboard the ISS, with Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko.

NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Rick Gilbrech participated in a panel discussion at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. The session focused on the challenges NASA faces in bridging the gap between shuttle retirement in 2010 and the introduction of the new Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2015.

Rick Gilbrech: "It's a great opportunity for us to have six month stays with the astronauts and it’s a great analog to the Mars journey. A lot of our missions right now look at a six month transit time to get to Mars and we're looking at the typical risks that we believe astronauts will have to overcome in those types of duration space journeys."

William Parsons, Director of the Kennedy Space Center, Chris Scolese, NASA Associate Administrator and former astronaut Eileen Collins also participated. The National Space Symposium is an annual industry conference that brings together senior leaders of all sectors of the space community.

STS-122 Commander Steve Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter, and Mission Specialists Rex Walheim, Stan Love and Leland Melvin visited the Stennis Space Center. The astronauts met with Stennis employees and gave a presentation about their recent mission to the International Space Station.

Student: "Did you see all the planets?"

Melvin also spoke with children from the Girls and Boys Club of Biloxi, Miss. and the Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Brighton School, an educational institution for bright and talented students with learning differences.

High school students from Erie, Kansas braved pouring rain and fierce competition from around the world on their way to winning the high school division of NASA's 15th annual Great Moonbuggy Race at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville. The winning team completed the simulated lunar race course in 3 minutes and 17 seconds; besting 21 other teams from across the United States and as far away as Germany. A team from the University of Evansville, Indiana took the college division with a wining time of 4 minutes and 25 seconds. The Great Moonbuggy Race is inspired by the original lunar rover that was used to carry the Apollo 15 crew over the moon’s surface in 1971.

NASA’s Gamma Ray Burst Operations Center is up and running. The center will be the focal point for observing gamma ray bursts -- the most powerful explosions in the universe. Engineers will operate the GLAST Burst Monitor, one of two instruments on the Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope -- GLAST, spacecraft.

Dr. Charles "Chip" Meegan: "When GLAST gets into orbit and the data starts coming down it will sent here to NSSTC and this is the room where the scientists will be analyzing the data, looking it over to make the sure the instrument is functioning properly, building the command loads to send back up to the instrument, and this will be the focal point for the science that goes on for the GBM team."

The GLAST Burst Monitor, along with the spacecraft’s Large Area Telescope, will study gamma ray bursts in the largest range of coverage ever available on a single spacecraft. The GLAST is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on May 16.

The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flew into the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility to promote their participation in the center’s second annual Space & Air Show.

McShane: "It's really an honor to be asked to come to the 50th annivesary to help celebrate. It's going to be an amazing time."

Also, Pilots Lt. Frank Weisser and Lt. Dan McShane gave media an up-close look at their F-18 Hornet aircraft. The Blue Angels will participate in the Space & Air Show at Kennedy Space Center on November 8 and 9.

April 11th, marks the 38th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission to the moon. The crew -- James Lovell, Fred Haise, and John Swigert -- aborted the lunar landing after an oxygen tank aboard the Apollo spacecraft exploded. Working with Mission Control Houston, the Crew displayed NASA’s famous “Can-Do” spirit and came up with a solution that allowed them to return safely to Earth on April 17, 1970.

On April 12, 1981, the Space Shuttle Program was thrust into full gear with the STS-1 and the launch of Space Shuttle Columbia. The primary objectives of STS-1 Commander John Young and Pilot Bob Crippen were to check out the orbiter’s systems, ascend into orbit and safely return to Earth. Columbia touched down on April 14, at the Dryden Flight Research Center, California.

The maiden voyage of STS-1 shares an anniversary with a premier event in space history. Twenty years earlier, on the same day, April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space, making a 108-minute Earth orbital flight in his Vostok 1 spacecraft. Less than one month later, on May 5, 1961, Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Shepard rode the Freedom 7 capsule from Cape Canaveral, Florida to a landing 303 miles away in the Atlantic Ocean. Shepard’s historic flight lasted 15 minutes and 38 seconds.

And on April 16, 1972, Apollo 16 launched from the Kennedy Space Center. During the mission, the crew of Commander John Young, command module pilot Thomas (Ken) Mattingly II, and Lunar Module pilot Charles Duke worked on a number of projects including examining whether light flashes seen by astronauts on previous missions were caused by cosmic rays. They also studied, for the first time, the moon's Descartes Highlands. Apollo 16 was the first lunar mission to use the ultraviolet camera/spectrograph. The success of Apollo 16 added significantly to our scientific understanding of the moon.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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