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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, December 4
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This Week At NASA...


Launch: "And now you’re seeing the landing."

The three crew members of Expedition 21 made a safe landing in a Soyuz spacecraft after departing the International Space Station several hours earlier. Commander Roman Romanenko, the European Space Agency’s Frank De Winne, and Bob Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency were met on the barren steppes of Kazakhstan by members of the Russian Search and Recovery Forces and a contingent of NASA, ESA and CSA support personnel.

They were reunited with their families and dignitaries near Star City, Russia. Romanenko, De Winne and Thirsk spent 186 days aboard the station.


Charlie Bolden: "It is my honor and pleasure to give this Ambassador of Exploration Award to Fred W. Haise, Jr."

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden presented Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise, Jr. with NASA’s Ambassador of Exploration Award during a special ceremony in Biloxi, Mississippi, Haise’s hometown. The award, a moon rock encased in Lucite, is part of the 842 pounds of lunar samples collected during six Apollo expeditions from 1969 to 1972.

Charlie Bolden: "It is his service as lunar module pilot for the Apollo 13 mission that most of us know Fred. Made famous by movies and books, the historic Apollo 13 mission was as dramatic as any Hollywood production."

Haise said the award symbolizes the work of thousands.

Fred Haise: "When you see this rock, you see it as a symbol of the effort made by a lot of people. In fact, at the peak of the program, there were over 400 thousand people on the NASA team that enabled us to enjoy the successes we had."

Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 Commander: "Okay Houston, we have a problem here."

Haise was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 13. An explosion forced him and crewmates Jim Lovell and Jack Swigert to convert their lunar module Aquarius into an effective lifeboat. A dedicated support team at the Johnson Space Center in Houston helped “find” enough electrical power on board to ensure their survival and safe return to Earth.

Haise went on to command approach and landing test flights critical to the development of the space shuttle. He’s entrusting the safekeeping of the award to his old grade school, Gorenflo Elementary, where it’ll remain on public display.


Thirty-seven years ago the Apollo 17 mission began with this early morning launch from the Kennedy Space Center. The trio of Commander Gene Cernan, Jack Schmitt and Ron Evans made up the crew of what would be the final Apollo mission to the moon.

(from moonwalk)
Jack Schmitt: "There is orange soil."
Gene Cernan: "Well, don’t move it til I see it."
Jack Schmitt: "I can see it from here. It’s orange."
As Evans orbited above in the command module, Cernan and Schmitt made three moonwalks. Schmitt was the first trained scientist to set foot on the lunar surface. Cernan is the last human to have done so.

NASA’S revolutionary Kepler space telescope has been honored by two leading magazines. Popular Science Magazine dubbed the planet-hunting telescope the 2009 Best of What's New Grand Award, and Popular Mechanics lauded its achievement with a 2009 Breakthrough Award.

Kepler will detect Earth-like planets circling sun-like stars outside our solar system with the potential to sustain life. The telescope will observe some 100,000 stars in our region of the Milky Way.

Popular Science also honored NASA's new moon mapping mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Orion Launch Abort System with Best of What's New awards in the category of "aviation and space."


NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer is on track to begin its mission this week. WISE is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a Delta II rocket. WISE will map the universe with its hyper-sensitive infrared cameras to reveal new objects big and small.

Ned Wright is WISE’s principal investigator.

Ned Wright: "We’ll be taking a picture every 11 seconds and so that means that in 6 mos. It takes to cover the sky we’ll be taking about 1.5 million images. We’ll stitch them together to make an image atlas of the entire sky, figure out what objects are on there, and make a catalogue."

For the latest information on the WISE launch, visit

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