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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, June 11
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This Week at NASA…


More than 250 students joined with astronaut Leland Melvin and Administrator Charles Bolden at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help kickoff NASA’s Summer of Innovation.

Charles Bolden: “What we want to do this summer through the Summer of Innovation is take young men and women like Malik and we want to help them understand, ‘yeah, science and math may be difficult, but you can learn it."

The education initiative will use the excitement and inspiration of NASA missions to engage thousands of middle school students and teachers nationwide in stimulating math- and science-based programs during the summer months, a time when learning skills often decline.

Erin Gilbert: “So, in the summertime, we really have to think about how are we being active with our brains and our bodies?” We have to keep moving and keep learning.”

These youngsters, many of them from minority and low-income households, rubbed elbows with other astronauts, engineers and scientists.

Stephanie Wilson: “We did study hard. We stayed in school. And I encourage you to find something that you love and to pursue it with all of your hearts.”

They also participated in interactive and educational activities, including a visit with the next Mars rover, “Curiosity,” scheduled to launch 2011.

Julie Townsend: “How many girls here think robotics is cool? How many of you girls think you can do robotics just as well as any of the boys in this room? Oh, that’s what I like to see.Getting that robot down off that lander? I did that. I told that robot how to get up there and I told it how to get back down.” (applause) “Why thank you.”

The Summer of Innovation includes summer learning programs managed by each of NASA’s ten centers, the incorporation of NASA materials into existing non-NASA summer school curricula, and partnering with other Federal agencies to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math.

Tracy Caldwell Dyson: “You don’t have to be an astronaut to do cool things for NASA. If you’re good at computers or building things, you’ve got the right stuff.”


The launch nears for Expedition 24’s three new members. Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, and NASA astronauts Dough Wheelock and Shannon Walker are slated to liftoff on a Soyuz rocket for the International Space Station on Tuesday, June 15. Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. Eastern.

Walker holds the distinction of not only being among a handful of astronauts married to another astronaut – her spouse is Andy Thomas – but also that she’s the first native of Houston, home of the Johnson Space Center and its storied Mission Control, to ever be tapped to become an astronaut.

Shannon Walker: “I was surprised. I thought for sure with it being such a large city and having such good universities here that more people would have been selected from Houston, but apparently I am the first native Houstonian.”

Walker, Wheelock and Yurchikhin will meet up with Expedition 24 Commander Alexander Skvortsov and flight engineers Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko, all of whom have been on the ISS since April.


The Langley Research Center has broken ground on a new facility dedicated to bringing astronauts home safely from space.

Rep. Bobby Scott: “I look forward to many other groundbreakings in the future as Langley continues to lead the United States in advanced aeronautics research.”

The center’s new Hydro Impact Basin will certify future space vehicles for safe water landings. Scheduled for completion later this year, the 115-foot-long, 90-foot-wide and 20-foot-deep basin will host a series of water impact tests for the Orion crew vehicle next spring. The results will help validate and improve Orion’s design and engineering. The new Hydro Impact Basin will be situated next to Langley's historic Landing Impact Research Facility, also known as the Gantry, where Neil Armstrong learned to walk on the moon.


The Marshall Space Flight Center honored the “best of the best” during its Honor Awards ceremony. The awards acknowledge exceptional contributions by both civil servant and contractor employees. Among the 156 individuals and teams honored were:

Jonathan Pettus, Office of the Chief Information Officer,”

…recipient of the Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive award; Todd A. May, special assistant to Marshall’s Center director, and Ann R. McNair, director of the Office of Center Operations, both of whom were awarded the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive.


NASA's second Global Hawk Earth sciences aircraft has completed its first checkout flight. The autonomously-operated aircraft, built by Northrop Grumman, was transferred to the Dryden Flight Research Center in late 2007 after completing its service to the Air Force. It will team with another Global Hawk on environmental science missions and long-endurance and high-altitude test flights for Northrop Grumman.


The California School for the Blind is among six schools in the San Francisco Bay Area that’ve hosted “Space Day” activities including a Traveling Space Museum from the Ames Research Center.

California School for the Blind: “This is a glorious experience for our students because for them, most museum experiences are pretty meaningless. In this instance, they are hearing things, touching things, they’re hands on and they are operating equipment like a flight simulator. That’s a very unusual experience for them and it gives them a much more meaningful sense of how things work and what they do and how it all fits together.”

An International Space Station module mock-up is among the 14 activity stations at which students could talk with NASA experts and aerospace enthusiasts about the “space experience.” This Traveling Space Museum hopes to move and inspire the next generation of space explorers.


The Ames Research Center turned the spotlight on NASA’s collaborative “Smart Skies” project by showcasing the curriculum’s software at a kick-off media event. Smart Skies is an online air traffic control simulator that offers multiple modes of problem solving for fifth through ninth grade students. Students then apply their solutions to air traffic management problems.

A team effort of NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and local education foundations, “Smart Skies” promotes science, technology, engineering and math among underprivileged kids from the San Francisco Bay area.

And that's This Week at NASA!

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