NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending September 26

NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending September 26
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This Week At NASA…

The crew of space shuttle Atlantis continues its final preparations for its upcoming journey to the Hubble Space Telescope. STS-125 will be the fifth and final servicing mission to Hubble, which scientists hope will keep the telescope in operation through 2014 or longer.

Of the seven astronauts on this mission, no one has more experience with Hubble than mission specialist and lead spacewalker, John Grunsfeld. A veteran of more than 37 hours of Extra Vehicular Activity, Grunsfeld is making his third servicing mission to Hubble.

John Grunsfeld: "This is going to be a very complex mission. It’s going to be very hard and if ever there’s a team that can do it, you’re looking at em."

Grunsfeld and partner Drew Feustel, who’s making his first spaceflight, will conduct three spacewalks. The other Hubble servicing veteran, Mike Massimino, will be joined on two EVAs by another first-timer, Mike Good.

"Honoring the past, envisioning the future" was the theme of a gala in celebration of NASA’s first 50 years. Some 2-thousand guests attended the event at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar Hazy center in Chantilly, Virginia. With the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world as their backdrop, invitees heralded NASA’s five-decade-long commitment to scientific discovery, technological innovation and space exploration.

Michael Griffin: "One thing about that’s very enjoyable about our 50th birthday; we’re still young enough to be able to interact with those not only our astronauts but also our flight engineers, those on the ground who helped bring it together, to be able to be mentored and taught by such people has been one of the greatest benefits that I’ve had."

T. Keith Glennan: "NACA is to become part of a new agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency."

It was fifty years ago this week, on October 1, 1958, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established to steward America’s space program, and help humankind’s understanding of the universe, our home planet, and ourselves.

Greg Chamitoff: "As we pause to mark NASA’s first 50 years of inspiration, innovation and discovery, we see a world without borders from our vantage point in space, a world where the sky’s the limit."

The event also featured a congratulatory message from Expedition 17 flight engineer Greg Chamitoff aboard the International Space Station.

The evening's entertainment included performances by music icon Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and the Space Philharmonic conducted by Emil de Cou.

Astronaut Leland Melvin was joined by Quincy Jones and hip hop artist Pharrell Williams for a special presentation to more than 300 Washington, DC students. Melvin showed footage from his STS-122 mission to the International Space Station and spoke with the children about being an astronaut.

Leland Melvin: "One of you in here may one day walk on the Martian surface, may go back to the moon and live on the moon and you can do it if you believe in yourself and you have people that support you."

Jones and Williams gave inspirational talks to the students about preparing for their futures.

Quincy Jones: "The dictionary is the only place where you find success before work, that’s only alphabetical, (laughter) because as they say: the cliché is ten percent inspiration and 90% perspiration."

Pharell Williams: "You design your life. You dream it and then you figure out the distance between you and your dream, and it’s a blueprint. It’s that simple."

During STS-122, Melvin took one of Jones’s songs, a 1969 recording of 'Walking in Space', aboard space shuttle Atlantis. A Pharell song will be among the cargo when Melvin takes flight on his next trip, mission STS-129 scheduled for next year.

The visit by Melvin, Jones and Williams was hosted by TheArc, a unique arts and community center in Washington’s Anacostia neighborhood. The new multi-million dollar complex has partnered with some of DC’s leading arts and music organizations to bring quality cultural programs to its stage and enrich the lives of residents.

Expedition 17 Flight Engineer and Science Officer Greg Chamitoff was featured in a recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation science show about ‘seedbanking.’ Chamitoff, who once taught in Sydney, brought with him to the International Space Station four Australian seed types to see whether they’d be affected by microgravity. A seedbank stores the seeds of food staples and other important flora as a safeguard against global warming and other catastrophic events. Australia is home to 15% of the world’s known plant species – and almost a quarter of those are believed to be threatened with extinction. The experiment is a joint project of Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens and NASA.

The city of Lancaster, California paid special tribute to three former NASA astronauts. Sidewalk plaques honoring Eileen Collins, Michael Collins and the late Gordon Cooper were unveiled on Lancaster’s Aerospace Walk of Honor. Each plaque denoted highlights of the astronauts’ careers, portions of which were spent at nearby Edwards Air Force Base.

Suzan Cooper, widow of Gordon Cooper: "Some of his most favorite stories and remembered times were of Edwards Air force Base and so I know that always was a favorite memory, favorite time, good everything for him, and this would be like coming back home again."

The careers of Cooper, Michael Collins and Eileen Collins span NASA’s human spaceflight program from Mercury through Apollo and the space shuttle.

And that's This Week At NASA!

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