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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, July 12
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This Week at NASA…


Cheered on by hundreds of handkerchief-waving employees to the strains of a traditional New Orleans brass band…

…the last external fuel tank scheduled to fly on a space shuttle mission was rolled away from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans in preparation for its 900-mile sea journey to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The tank, designated ET-138, was completed by Lockheed Martin workers on June 28.

During a special ceremony Michoud employees were honored by VIPs for building the final external tank and were recognized for the successful delivery over 37 years of 134 ETs to the Space Shuttle Program.

At Kennedy, ET-138 will be mated to the orbiter Endeavour and two solid rocket boosters for the STS-134 launch to the International Space Station targeted for November first.


A full house crowd at the Langley Research Center's Pearl Young Theater heard Jaiwon Shin, NASA's Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, laud the quality and depth of work being done at the Center. Shin noted the aeronautics research conducted by and advancements made at Langley, including projects like the X-48 blended-wing body jet, largely developed there.

Later, during a special luncheon, Shin encouraged a group of Langley interns to join the next generation of aeronautical engineers.

Brent Collin Bishop: "I'm learning everything that the researchers are learning. I'm talking to a lot of the managers around the center, and finding out where the technology is, and where they think it’s going in the next fifty years. So, basically, I'm learning every single area that they are focusing on."

Katrina Chapman: "I'm actually studying biomedical engineering, so I get a lot of questions of why I'm here at Langley, but I'm very interested in aviation. I'd like to merge the two fields, so I'm learning a lot more about helicopters cause, understandably, I have not had that in biomed, but I would like to combine those two and work with my biomedical devices and help out pilots and things like that."


A new NASA video game is offering some daunting challenges to virtual space travelers. On Moonbase Alpha, you and your friends can become part of an exploration team in a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement. After a nearby meteor strike cripples your critical life support systems, like oxygen flow, your mission will be to repair and restore those systems to working order.

Moonbase Alpha demonstrates how NASA content combined with cutting-edge game technology can offer an experience that inspires interest in science, technology, engineering and math - skills critical to NASA's exploration goals.

Daniel Laughlin: "Lectures, and writing on a chalk board, and doing homework are amongst the least successful ways to teach people. In games you fail, you do it again; you fail, you do it again, and sometimes you do it a lot of times, but you can keep at it until you get it right. And it doesn’t use up anybody else's time to do that."

For more on this virtual lunar mission, visit:

Daniel Laughlin: "It' is rated "E" for everyone through the Entertainment Software Review Board, so, it's safe for everybody. For those parents who worried about their kids playing games, this is not one they’ll have to worry about."


Launch Announcer: "And lift off of shuttle Endeavour to with NASA's final space station crew compartment that brings a bay window view to our celestial backyard."

A little piece of the world's first national park is home after a lengthy trip into space. A banner with patches featuring various aspects of operations at Yellowstone National Park was aboard space shuttle Endeavour on the STS-130 mission to the International Space Station last February. Yellowstone staff members prepared the banner after 130 crew member Bob Behnken offered to take a small reminder of Yellowstone with him on the flight. Behnken visited the park to return the banner, which circled Earth 217 times, traveling 5.7 million miles.

12,000 DAYS

For nearly 33 years, Voyager 2 has returned data about the giant outer planets, making important discoveries like Neptune's Great Dark Spot and its 1,000-mph winds. On June 28, Voyager 2 reached an operations milestone - 12,000 days.

When Voyager 2 launched on August 20, 1977, Jimmy Carter was president. Its twin, Voyager 1, launched about two weeks later on Sept. 5, 1977; it marks its 12,000th day of operation this week. Built and managed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Voyagers 1 and 2 are the most distant human-made objects, traveling the outer edges of the heliosphere - the bubble the sun creates around the solar system.

Arik Posner: "It's about 100 times the distance of the earth from the sun, which we call, or refer to as an astronomical unit., so that's about the scale where the Voyagers are now. If you imagine communicating with the Voyagers, it takes about 12 to 16 hours one way to communicate. So if you talk to someone who gives you an answer after 32 hours, and you can imagine how hard it is to keep a conversation going, but that's what our scientists and engineers have done for the last 33 years, or so, with increasing time gaps between the answers from the spacecraft, and maintaining that is a major achievement.”

Mission managers expect Voyager 1 to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space in approximately five years, with Voyager 2 following shortly thereafter.

Arik Posner: "It reminds me of a Renaissance-style painting, a woodcut actually. I think it was ordered by some French astronomer in 1888, where a missionary breaks through and what is beyond the astrophysics influence. So the Voyagers actually break through the crystal spheres that have been believed to exist and look beyond. So the Voyagers, through this sphere that exists between the solar influence and what is beyond the astrophysics influence, and give us a first look into what happens beyond." And that's This Week at NASA!

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