NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending May 23

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending May 23
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This Week At NASA…

Sunday’s the day for the arrival of the Phoenix Mars Lander at the Red Planet. In order to make a soft touchdown on the Martian surface, Phoenix will have seven minutes from the time it enters Mars’ atmosphere at 7:46 p.m. eastern to slow itself down: from a blistering 12-thousand miles per hour – to a gentle, final-stage descent of five miles per hour.

Erik Bailey: "All that energy we put into a spacecraft to heave it off of earth and take it somewhere else, we then have to take all that back out very quickly in order to gently set this thing down on the surface of another planet."

A successful landing at 7:53 p.m. eastern will allow Phoenix to begin its mission of searching Mars’ ice-rich polar soil for signs of past microbial life.

The STS-124 crew will begin its mission aboard space shuttle Discovery with a May 31st launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The official launch date was set by shuttle program managers following their flight readiness review of the vehicle.

John Shannon: "STS-124 is gonna be something of a milestone for the space shuttle program. Since the Columbia accident and our subsequent return to flight efforts, this will be the tenth flight we have flown since Columbia. After 124 is complete, we will have ten more to go, so we’re really hitting the half-way point here."

The STS-124 crew commanded by Mark Kelly will deliver several key components of the Japanese Experiment Module, or Kibo, to the International Space Station. The Japanese Pressurized Module is Kibo’s centerpiece. The size of a bus, the JEM will be the largest laboratory on the station. And a world-class one, too. Some believe the JEM will make significant contributions in chemistry, physics, and material and life sciences.

Mark Kelly: "It certainly has that potential. And, I hope that one day, to be able to look at something, some new invention, or new discovery, that came from the laboratory that I installed, or my crew installed on space station."

Also going up on Discovery: Kibo’s two robotic arms. Launch is scheduled for 5:02 p.m. eastern on the 31st.

NASA engineers at the Ames Research Center and the Marshall Space Flight Center recently conducted wind tunnel tests for the Constellation program’s Crew Launch Vehicle. A 25-to-1 scale model of the CLV was fitted with 150 miniature pressure-sensitive microphones and tested in the Ames Unitary and Transonic wind tunnels. They simulated the low to supersonic speeds a rocket is subjected to at launch. Ames researchers measured the surface pressures on the model to help define what structural requirements are needed for the CLV to survive the severe stresses of launch. The CLV will power the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle that’ll bring astronauts back to the moon.

The Ames Research Center played host to Bay Area veterans and support personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan by honoring them at “Welcome Home 2008.” The special event provided the vets and their families with a day filled with enjoyable activities -- live entertainment, food and refreshments, door prizes, and a car show. Ames sponsored the event along with federal, state and local veterans’ health care and employment agencies, as well as local vendors.

The Glenn Research Center held an open house in celebration of NASA’s 50th anniversary. Cleveland-area visitors toured research facilities at Lewis Field, including wind tunnels used to develop and test cutting-edge technologies for aeronautics, aerospace and space. NASA research aircraft also were on display. Glenn engineers, scientists and technical personnel answered questions and hosted educational activities for children. The open house highlighted NASA’s half-century of scientific and technological excellence, and the promise of the next 50 years.

The Stennis Space Center held its annual Old Timers’ Day. Center retirees and guests were joined by current employees at a casual cookout and reminisced about “the good old days” at Stennis. Many of the retirees helped build the Stennis Space Center in the 19-60s. The event held at the center’s Cypress House pavilion was sponsored by the Stennis Recreational Association.

Expedition 15 astronaut Clay Anderson was recently honored by the Kansas City Royals baseball team.

Anderson was at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium to throw out the first pitch of a game between the Royals and the visiting Detroit Tigers. The astronaut also signed autographs for fans, including some of the 18-thousand students and teachers attending the Royals’ 10th Annual School Day. In 2007 Anderson spent 152 days aboard the International Space Station, serving as Flight Engineer and Science Officer for the Expedition 15 crew. During his six-month stint on the station, he also completed three spacewalks.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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