NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending November 28

NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending November 28
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This Week At NASA…

Gear down and locked - Touch Down!

The successful home improvement mission of STS-126 concluded Sunday with the safe landing of space shuttle Endeavour at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Weather concerns prevented the crew from returning to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., the primary end-of-mission landing site.

The 16-day mission that included four spacewalks made important repairs to the International Space Station, and prepared the orbiting complex to double its crew from three to six next spring. Endeavour also brought up new ISS crew member Sandy Magnus, and returned Greg Chamitoff to Earth.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is gliding towards a February flyby of Mars. Dawn recently shut down its ion propulsion system after gaining the thrust needed to use the Red Planet’s gravity to guide the spacecraft toward its ultimate destination: the asteroid belt. That’s where Dawn’s expected to begin its exploration of the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015.

Marc Rayman: "We’ve only used about 168 pounds of propellant, and yet that’s enough to celebrate the spacecraft by more than 4,000 miles per hour. We just finished thrusting November 20, and that put us on course so the spacecraft is headed for exactly where it needs to go in order to flyby Mars to get the gravity assist that will then help send it on to Vesta."

Astronomers and scientists hope Dawn’s orbits of Vesta and Ceres will help them better understand the origins of the universe. For more about Dawn’s 8-year, 3-billion-mile mission, visit

The finalists for the landing site of NASA’s next mission to Mars have been selected. Four locations for the Mars Science Laboratory that’ll set down on the Red Planet have been chosen by project leaders following input from international Mars experts and engineers. The sites are Eberswalde, where an ancient river deposited a delta in a possible lake; Holden, a crater containing alluvial fans, flood deposits, possible lake beds and clay-rich deposits; Mawrth, with exposed layers containing at least two types of clay; and Gale, with a mountain of stacked layers including clays and sulfates.

Mike Meyer: "This is the first time where we have wonderful spectroscopy at high enough resolution that we can match it with the terrain, so we can point to layers and say this is where we want the rover to go and make its measurements."

The rover’s landing site will be chosen next summer. The Mars Science Laboratory is scheduled to launch in fall 2009 on its mission to help determine whether Mars could ever have supported life.

Six Headquarters employees are among those around the agency being honored for their contributions to the safety of STS-126. NASA’s Space Flight Awareness program honors some 250 employees each shuttle mission for contributing significantly to the safety of human space flight.

Lynn Cline: "It’s one of the highest honors that NASA presents to its employees and its contractors for excellence in quality and safety in support of human spaceflight."

Carl Walz: "The work of our NASA family to insure safety and mission success is evident because we are successful, we are safe in what we do, and it’s because of the contributions of folks like you."

Space Flight Awareness awards include a trip to see a space shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center.

Hundreds of people turned out to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Moffett Field, home to the Ames Research Center. Highlighting the event was the historic return of the airship, or lighter-than-air dirigible.

Sunnyvale Naval Air Station, later renamed Moffett Field, was commissioned in 1933 by the government to serve as a home base for the dirigible USS Macon as part of the Navy's lighter-than-air aviation program. Later, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NACA, established what would eventually become the NASA Ames Research Center adjacent to the naval air station. "Eureka," a 246-foot-long Zeppelin airship, will live in Moffett’s Hangar 2 when not being used for aerial tours and scientific research in the Bay Area. Three of the 12 remaining airship hangars in the U.S. are located at Moffett Field.

NASA 50th ANNIVERSARY - HQ December 4, 1965: GEMINI 7
Forty-three years ago in NASA history, Commander Frank Borman and pilot Jim Lovell began their almost two-week-long mission to demonstrate manned orbital flight and investigate the physiological effects of long-duration flight on the crew. Gemini 7 also provided a rendezvous target for the Gemini VI-A spacecraft. Gemini 7 set a human spaceflight endurance record that would last for five years.

Fifteen years ago, the first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope launched from the Kennedy Space Center. Among other accomplishments, space shuttle Endeavour’s seven-member STS-61 crew commanded by Dick Covey delivered and installed what amounted to a new pair of glasses for Hubble. The Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement unit, COSTAR, overcame a manufacturing flaw in the telescope’s primary mirror, enabling HST to clearly capture hundreds of thousand of never-before seen images of the cosmos.

And ten years ago, space shuttle Endeavour headed to space again delivering the crew of astronauts who would begin assembly of the International Space Station. STS-88 Commander Bob Cabana’s six-member crew rendezvoused with the Zarya Control Module and successfully attached the Unity Node to provide the foundation for future station components.

And that's This Week At NASA!

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