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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, August 21
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This Week At NASA...


SOT: "2-1."

Final preparations are being made at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch of STS-128. The 13-day mission commanded by Rick Sturckow will deliver a host of equipment to the International Space Station, as well as swap out astronaut Nicole Stott with Tim Kopra of Austin, Texas, who came to the station on STS-127.

Stott is a first time flyer who’ll serve as a Flight Engineer for Expeditions 20 and 21.

The Clearwater, Florida native spent the first eleven years of her NASA career at the Kennedy Space Center helping ready the space shuttle for flight.

Nicole Stott: "It never crossed my mind that being an astronaut was a possibility, and once I started working there and meeting the people that worked there, seeing astronauts come through and seeing what they did when they were there, working with the hardware, or getting their colleagues ready to fly, it became more real to me; and then having people encourage me was, I think, the big step to actually getting here."

Another spaceflight rookie is Kevin Ford, who’ll be in the pilot’s seat. The Indiana native from the Fort Wayne-area town of Montpelier is excited that, nine years after joining NASA’s astronaut corps, he’s finally going into space.

Kevin Ford: "During the flight, I’m really looking forward to the ascent, that acceleration for eight and a half minutes, you know. The takeoff in an airplane is a fascinating thing for me, too, but I think the ascent’s just going to be really awesome. I’m going to, I’ve got real work to do, of course, during the ascent so I’m going to have to pay close attention to my duties but hopefully I’ll just have a chance to really enjoy that ascent. Everybody who does it so far has."

The other members of the STS-128 crew are Mission Specialists Pat Forrester of Springfield, Virginia; Danny Olivas of El Paso; Jose Hernandez of Stockton, California; and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang of Stockholm, Sweden.

Discovery’s launch is scheduled for early Tuesday at 1:36 a.m. EDT.

Samples retrieved from NASA's Stardust spacecraft contain glycine, a fundamental building block of life. The discovery, the first of its kind, was made by NASA researchers examining samples returned to Earth by Stardust after the spacecraft passed through gas and dust around comet Wild 2 in 2004.

Dr. Jamie Elsila: "This is the first time that we’ve detected an amino acid in a comet. We think that this is really important because we know that the early Earth is bombarded by comets and by meteorites that delivered extraterrestrial organic material and helped to seed the early Earth with the materials that life needed to originate."

NASA scientists believe the discovery of glycine in a comet supports the theory that life’s building blocks are prevalent in space, and that life elsewhere in the universe may be common rather than rare.

2000TH SOL - JPL
The Rover Spirit has completed its 2000th sol on Mars. The term sol is used by astronomers for the duration of a solar day the Red Planet: 24 hours, 39 minutes, and 35-plus seconds. Spirit and its twin rover, Opportunity, are now five-and-a-half years into missions designed to last 90 sols. While stuck hub-deep in Martian soil since May, Spirit has continued to gather data about its location, called “Troy,” on the west side of the low plateau named “Home Plate.” Opportunity, mobile and fully-operative on the other side of Mars, will pass its 2000th sol milestone early next month.

The Orion crew module that’ll be used for the first launch abort system flight test is now at the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, following its departure from the Dryden Flight Research Center.

Similar to the Apollo crew module, the Orion capsule has a launch abort system enabling the crew’s escape from the launch rocket should something go wrong on the pad or during ascent to orbit.

At Dryden, engineers and technicians installed instrumentation, electrical wiring, computer systems, avionics, parachutes, and other equipment needed for the first of five planned abort tests now scheduled for early 2010 at White Sands.

NASA eClips, a web-based series of educational videos, has been recognized by Disney Corporation with an iParenting Award for Outstanding Television Product of 2009. Produced by the National Institute of Aerospace, NIA, and NASA, eClips had two of its four programs honored: a NASA’s "Our World" episode called "Fluid Shift," and a NASA’s "Real World Mathematics" segment entitled "Scarab, NASA’s Newest Lunar Exploration Rover."

Bob Lindberg: "We’re grateful for the opportunity to work in partnership with NASA to produce NASA eClips. The web-based educational program provides teacher and parent resources to enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning."

NASA eClips™ are designed to increase literacy and inspire students about science, technology, engineering and mathematics and their applications in the real world. iParenting is a Disney-owned media site focused on helping parents make informed decisions about video programs their families watch.

The Lancaster Jethawks honored the last crew members of the triple-sonic Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird aircraft during the baseball team’s annual Aerospace Appreciation Weekend.

Retired Dryden Flight Research Center research test pilots Eddie Schneider and Rogers Smith, along with flight-test engineers Bob Meyer and his late wife, Marta Bohn-Meyer, were feted at the game and during a video presentation prior to the Jethawks-Bakersfield Blaze, California League contest at Clear Channel Stadium in Lancaster, California.

Two SR-71 Blackbird aircraft were flown at NASA Dryden for high-speed and high-altitude aeronautical research during the 1990s. The final SR-71 flight was flown by Smith and Meyer on Oct. 9, 1999. The SR-71 still holds the record as the world's fastest and highest-flying production aircraft. It could fly more than 22-hundred miles per hour – Mach 3+, or more than three times the speed of sound, and at altitudes of more than 85,000 feet.

Rogers Smith: “When you feel a sense of accomplishment in the airplane, it is how soon you can uncurl your toes after takeoff."

Schneider, Smith and Meyer were on hand to sign autographs during the game. The first 15-hundred fans in attendance received a free replica SR-71, complete with a bobblehead pilot head emerging from its cockpit.

Retired astronaut Vance Brand planted a “moon tree” in the city of Palmdale, California, home of the Dryden Flight Research Center. Assisted by Steve Schmidt, Dryden’s Director of Aircraft Operations Facility and James Ledford, the Mayor of Palmdale, Brand planted the sycamore sapling at the Aero Institute in the Palmdale Civic Center.

The second-generation sapling was germinated from seeds kept in containers aboard the Apollo 14 command module during its1971 mission. Brand flew in space on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission in 1975, and three space shuttle missions: STS-5 in 1982, STS-41b in 1984 and STS-35 in 1990.

Vance Brand: "We’re here to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Apollo. Apollo is a one of the biggest, one of the most successful programs that I’ve viewed in my life."


Kady Coleman: "Okay Houston, what you’re seeing is the actual movement…"

Ten years ago, on Aug. 19, 1999, the Chandra X-ray Observatory captured its first astronomical imagery.

To celebrate Chandra’s tenth anniversary, key project leaders and researchers at the Marshall Space Flight Center gathered at the National Space Science & Technology Center in Huntsville to discuss the observatory's science accomplishments and program status.

Dr. Martin Weisskopf: "Science is so rewarding. It’s been a wonderful ride for all of us and congratulations to all of us for the great job that we’ve done."

Since that "first light" ten years ago, Chandra has enabled scientists from around the world to obtain unprecedented X-ray images of exotic environments to help understand the evolution of the cosmos. The observatory not only helps to probe these mysteries, but also serves as a unique tool to study detailed physics in a laboratory that cannot be replicated on Earth.

And that's This Week At NASA!

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