NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending May 30

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending May 30
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This Week At NASA…

STS-124 – KSC
The launch of space shuttle Discovery is drawing nearer. Both the STS-124 crew and the shuttle launch team are reviewing procedures and checklists at the Kennedy Space Center before the orbiter’s scheduled liftoff at 5:02 p.m. eastern on Saturday. Commander Mark Kelly and pilot Ken Ham have been practicing shuttle landings in a training aircraft at the Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility. Joining Kelly and Ham on the STS-124 crew are mission specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and Greg Chamitoff.

STS-124 is a 14-day mission to the International Space Station. The crew will deliver and install the second of three components of Japan’s Kibo laboratory. That, and Kibo’s robotic arm system, will make up the largest payload flown so far to the ISS. Chamitoff will stay on the ISS as Flight Engineer. He’ll replace astronaut Garrett Reisman, who recently explained one of the benefits of space flight to a television audience.

Garrett Reisman : "When you go to space, the spine elongates because you’re not being pushed down by gravity and you grow. Sweet! So, check it out! I grew about an inch!"

Reisman will return home with the STS-124 crew on Discovery after three months in space.

Scheduled for launch after Discovery’s liftoff, is the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope. GLAST will look at out some of the cosmos’s most highly energized phenomena. From supermassive black holes and pulsars to merging neutron stars, GLAST will examine their gamma-ray radiation. Astronomers will use GLAST to explore this high-energy world and answer questions about these exotic phenomena.

John Morse: "Every time you push the boundaries and do something in order of magnitude better than you’ve done before, you always wind up with new discoveries, many of which you never anticipate."

Developed by NASA in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, the GLAST mission is an international partnership involving academic institutions from around the world.

The Phoenix Lander mission on Mars is underway. Phoenix is now exploring Mars’ northern polar region for signs of water and to determine whether there has ever been microbial life on the red planet. Using its robotic arm, Phoenix will gather samples of the icy terrain and break them down for analysis using its on-board laboratory. It will then transmit data back to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where the Principal Investigator for the mission -- Peter Smith, and a team of scientists will conduct further studies.

Peter Smith: "There’s just a wonderful kind of buffet of opportunities here in front of us and we’re just anxious to get more data and make our determination."

Phoenix will send back detailed photos of its work area and the Martian landscape, as well as weather reports from the polar region during the course of its mission.

The second round of flight tests for the X-48B blended wing body is being conducted at the Dryden Flight Research Center. The 520-pound, remotely-piloted research aircraft, shown here during its first phase of testing last summer, is now being tested at higher speeds without its slats deployed. Slats are devices on the leading edge of an airplane’s wing that allow it to takeoff, fly and land at slower speeds. The 21-foot wing span X-48B research craft will undergo a total of six flight test phases, with each one progressively increasing the level of risk to the aircraft. Aeronautics engineers believe the blended wing body design could increase an aircraft’s carrying capacity and fuel efficiency while reducing the noise it generates.

Three employees at the Marshall Space Flight Center will receive NASA awards for their work in procurement. Bryan Williford, procurement chief in Marshall’s Solid Propulsion Support Office, is the NASA Procurement Supervisor of the Year. Kellie Craig, contract specialist in the Solid Propulsion Support Office is the NASA Contract Specialist of the Year. And Eunice Rose, contract specialist intern in the Engineering Systems Support Office at Marshall, is honored as NASA Contracting Intern of the Year. The annual awards spotlight outstanding accomplishments by civil service employees working to procure contracts and partnerships between NASA, industry, academia and other government agencies.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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