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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, November 20
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This Week At NASA...


NASA Engineer: "This is the smallest bolt we use on the space shuttle."

More than a hundred followers of NASA Twitter participated in a special two-day Tweetup at the Kennedy Space Center that culminated with a live viewing of space shuttle Atlantis’s launch on STS-129. A TweetUp is an informal gathering of people united by their use of the social network Twitter who provide their followers with real-time updates about what they’re doing. In this case, the guests, known as Tweeps, met behind-the-scenes with veteran astronauts and shuttle technicians, engineers, and managers who were preparing for the launch.

Wayne Hale: "the earth falls away from you as fast as you are falling toward the earth. That’s how you stay in orbit; it’s called freefall."

Adriana from Atlanta: "I mean it really has been amazing. The speakers yesterday, and obviously we got as close as we could to the shuttle, beyond what the typical tourist does."

The Tweetup also included a "mix and mingle" which allowed participants to connect with fellow Tweeps and the NASA staff behind the tweets on @NASA.

With this fifth Tweetup, the agency hoped to share the excitement of a shuttle launch with a new audience.

Stewart from London: "I was one of the lucky 100 that got selected when I entered the competition. So, I thought it doesn’t matter how much it costs, within reason, but I’m going to pay the money and make the flight across the pond, and I’m going to come and see a shuttle launch."

Two pieces of hardware returned from the Hubble Space Telescope can now be seen by the general public. The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement were returned to Earth by the STS-125 crew following a successful mission to service and update the iconic telescope.

Ed Weiler: "I hope the parents point out to the kids, especially the ones in grade school who have seen Hubble pictures in every astronomy textbook that ‘s now printed, can point to this camera and say that’s actually the camera that took those pictures of the universe that you studied about."

John Trauger: "It’s been an extraordinary scientific instrument. So, having it back in good shape is just a wonderful end to the story."

The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 is often referred to as “the camera that saved Hubble”, not once, but twice. After Hubble’s optics was discovered to be seriously flawed, WFPC 2 and COSTAR helped correct the problem with their placement on the telescope during the first Hubble servicing mission in late 1993. The oldest and longest-working Hubble instrument, WFPC 2 went on to capture more than 135-thousand images. The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and COSTAR are now on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

A special awards ceremony highlighted NASA’s second annual Small Business Symposium in Washington. Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson and Glenn Delgado of the agency’s Office of Small Business Programs presented awards to those who’ve helped NASA achieve its small business goals.

Beth Robinson: "We're serious about you and you have come through for us. I know what it means to hustle and make your own opportunities and then have the satisfaction of bringing a big project to conclusion, and I know the value of a great team."

The two-day conference familiarized members of the business and academic communities with NASA’s future missions and initiatives, and the skills, resources and technologies needed for their success. NASA representatives also outlined how small businesses can conduct business with the agency and its prime contractors.

Two retired Langley research pilots with more than 16,000 flight hours between them are the latest inductees to the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame in Richmond.

James Patton, a former naval aviator, worked at the Langley Research Center from 1966 to 1987, often doing what most pilots try to avoid – putting his aircraft into a spin. As Langley’s chief research pilot and head of flight operations, Patton was instrumental in making Langley a leader in stall, spin and spin resistance research for small general aviation aircraft.

Former Navy pilot, Phil Brown flew spin research planes with Patton in a career spanning 27 years. Not only did he put aircraft into spins … he intentionally flew a fighter jet into thunderstorms looking for lightning. That jet was struck more than 700 times. Brown’s work helped improve storm hazards detection and avoidance, and established lightning protection standards still in effect today.


The Marshall Center held its annual American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month Festival.

Little Big Mountain, a member of the Comanche/Mohawk nation, provided the music and ceremonial dance to help celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Native people.

Cindy Spidel: "My Native American heritage is a part of me. You don’t necessarily see it in me outside, so it’s nice for us to be able to have our day to show where we came from, and to let the others here at Marshall know that yes, no matter what your background is, you can have a place and a heart here at Marshall."

Visitors sampled fry bread, explored an authentic Native American lodge and ti-pi, and watched a demonstration on how a campfire is built using friction.


Bobby Satcher: "What's for breakfast Butch?"

Charlie Hobaugh: "Can’t you see it floating around?"

Butch Wilmore: "Eggs."

Two members of the STS-129 crew now in space have more in common than just this mission. It's football.

Veteran astronaut Leland Melvin, a graduate of the University of Richmond, had his sights set on playing pro ball after his selection in the 1986 NFL draft. But an injury had him hedging his bets and, while awaiting his shot with the Dallas Cowboys, Melvin pursued a master’s degree from the University of Virginia.

Leland Melvin: "That was the toughest time of my life 'cause you're trying to make the team but you're also taking courses. And then, one day I went out with Danny White. We were getting ready to throw and I was stretching coming off this hamstring injury and, he says, "Well, let's just throw a half speed out" and I said, "Okay" and then I see Tom Landry walking on the field and this half speed out now translates to a "go to the house" bomb and that's when I reinjured my leg. That was pretty much the end of my professional football career."

First-time flyer, pilot Butch Wilmore was content just to play football while getting his college degree - as a walk-on engineering student at Tennessee Tech.

Butch Wilmore: "I was not blessed with size or speed or strength. Matter of fact, I was small and slow and weak (laugh), those were the hardest years of my life because the good Lord didn't give me a brain that could grasp things immediately, I had to study and I had to study hard. As I look back, I was either studying or I was on the football field."

Wilmore and Melvin's teammates on STS-129 are Commander Charlie Hobaugh, and Mission Specialists Mike Foreman, Randy Bresnik and Bobby Satcher.

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