NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending November 7

NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending November 7
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This Week At NASA…

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is now in a four-story thermal vacuum chamber used for environmental testing that mimics the harsh rigors of space. The spacecraft will undergo a series of tests that simulate the space environment it will encounter when it orbits the moon. During testing Goddard Space Flight Center engineers will operate the spacecraft to ensure its performing as planned. Mission simulations to further train and develop the team that will operate the spacecraft also will be conducted. The tests are expected to last about five weeks.

NASA and Air Force personnel participated in a contingency training exercise at the Dryden Flight Research Center focused on quickly removing a space shuttle crew from the orbiter's crew compartment, in the event of an off-runway landing mishap. Rescue crews used a new type of flexible ladder that can be deployed from a helicopter to reach the shuttle's overhead crew hatch. The Kennedy Space Center is the primary landing site for the space shuttle with Dryden as the first alternate landing site.

Members of the media witnessed the final mass properties tests on the boilerplate Orion crew module in preparation for the Launch Abort System flight test scheduled for next spring at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The tests conducted at the Dryden Flight Research Center included a series of weight and balance measurements to determine the module’s weight distribution and resistance to rotation. The results confirmed that the crew modules mass properties measurements meet the necessary requirements for the upcoming Launch Abort System test. With these measurements, NASA engineers hope to be able to accurately predict how the module will behave when its launched. The boilerplate crew module was built at the Langley Research Center.

Aerospace historian and author Dennis Jenkins recently discussed his book, “X-15: Extending the Frontiers of Flight,” during a unique conference at the Dryden Flight Research Center. Jenkins detailed the illustrious, yet challenging, history of the X-15 rocket plane hypersonic research program of the 1960s during an X-15 colloquium held on the 40th anniversary of the last X-15 flight.

Dennis Jenkins: "It is unquestionably the most successful of the high speed X-planes – 199 flights, even today 40 years later it still represents the only real decent flight database on hypersonics."

The author focused on the fact that the decade-long program was a balancing act of safety and risk in order to meet research objectives. He also said in spite of some setbacks, including several crashes, the X-15 project was a testament to the can do, fix-the-problem and fly again attitude of savvy engineers and technicians.

NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC paid tribute to the contributions of employees at the 35th annual 2008 Headquarters Honor awards. Awards are presented to employees whose contributions to the agency’s goals have been exceptional. Honorees were acknowledged for their efforts in the areas of Cooperative External Achievement, Civil Service/Contractor Team, Creative Management, Special Service and Exceptional Performance.

Marshall Space Flight Center employees celebrated NASA’s 50th Anniversary with a special panel discussion that highlighted the Apollo Program and Skylab. The panel also discussed numerous NASA programs and initiatives that have integrated science and exploration to accelerate scientific discovery. The celebration also included exhibits, photographs, videos and a live musical performance by center employees.

NASA 50th ANNIVERSARY: November 11, 1966 – The Launch of Gemini XII - HQ
This week in NASA history, Gemini XII launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida on November 11, 1966, with Command Pilot James Lovell and Pilot Buzz Aldrin. Gemini XII was the tenth manned mission and the sixth rendezvous mission of the Gemini Program. Its primary objectives were to rendezvous and dock, and to evaluate extravehicular activities. Secondary objectives included demonstrating automatic reentry, system testing, and parking the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle. The Gemini XII crew successfully achieved the mission’s goals and returned to Earth on November 15.

And that's This Week At NASA!

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