Transcript: THIS WEEK @ NASA – SPECIAL EDITION – JULY 17, 2006
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Space Shuttle Discovery is back, safe and sound. Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Mark Kelly, Mission Specialists Piers Sellers, Mike Fossum, Stephanie Wilson and Lisa Nowak were welcomed home at Kennedy Space Center following their 13-day mission to re-supply and service the International Space Station...

COMMANDER LINDSEY SOT: “…We had two major objectives on this flight. The first one was to complete the Return To Flight test objectives that 114 started. And, the second was to get us ready back to Space Station Assembly and I think we accomplished both of those objectives and we’re ready to go assemble station and we’re ready to start flying shuttles on a more regular basis.”

LAUNCH ANNOUNCER SOT: “…2-1 Booster Ignition and lift off of the Space Shuttle Discovery.”

After two weather-related scrubs, Discovery rocketed into the Florida afternoon sky on the Fourth of July, returning the shuttle fleet to space after almost a year. Newly-placed cameras on the shuttle's solid rocket boosters provided unprecedented images of the shuttle as it became the first human spacecraft to launch on Independence Day.

LAUNCH ANNOUNCER SOT: “Solid rocket booster separation confirmed.”

Some 44 hours later, Discovery linked up to the International Space Station, but not before doing a back flip that allowed the station crew of Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA Flight Engineer and Science Officer Jeff Williams to take more than 350 digital photos of the orbiter's belly in search of thermal protection tile damage. None of any significance was found. With the shuttle's docking, Vinogradov and Williams added a third member to their crew: European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter joins Expedition 13 for the remainder of its six-month mission.

The STS-121 mission featured three spacewalks by Sellers and Fossum: During the first, lasting more than seven hours, the pair tested various space shuttle repair techniques, including the use of the boom extension as a work platform. Their second E.V.A., more than six-and-a-half hours long, featured the installation of a spare pump to the outside of an airlock, and fixing a mobile transporter to help future crews continue assembly of the International Space Station. The final spacewalk saw Sellers and Fossum test techniques under development for repair of the reinforced carbon-carbon that makes up the heat shield on the shuttle wing edges.

Following their goodbyes to the Expedition 13 crew, the Discovery crew headed home.

And thirteen days after launch, the orbiter glided smoothly onto Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility to end the STS-121 mission, by all accounts a tremendous success.


This week in NASA history: July 15th marked 31 years since the launch of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project. In 1975, an Apollo spacecraft carrying three U.S. astronauts, and a Soyuz spacecraft with two cosmonauts from the former Soviet Union docked in orbit to begin a new era of international cooperation in space. ASTP was the first human spaceflight mission managed jointly by two nations.

And, 37 years ago July 16th, the Apollo XI crew of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins launched aboard a Saturn 5 rocket from Cape Kennedy on their historic journey to the Moon. The first steps by humans on another planetary body were taken by Armstrong and Aldrin four days later, July 20, 1969.


(Music est. and under)

Scores of stunning NASA images of space were featured in "To Boldly Go…," a program of music performed by the National Symphony Orchestra at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia.

LEONARD NIMOY 'NARRATION' SOT: "We begin our cosmic journey with Mars…"

Guest narrator for this special event was actor Leonard Nimoy, best known to fans of space exploration as Mr. Spock of 'Star Trek' fame.

LEONARD NIMOY SOT: "…We've had a wonderful relationship for a long time. I've had contact with various people at NASA, various astronauts. I visited the shuttle in Florida a coupla years ago. I'm always excited about a NASA experience."

Conducted by Emil de Cou, the N.S.O. performed music from Star Trek, Star Wars, and other science fiction films. But the evening's highlight was a performance of Holst's "The Planets," with scores of NASA images projected behind the orchestra.

LEONARD NIMOY SOT: "…These images in this presentation are quite extraordinary, really extraordinary. I mean, I can't imagine the cameras involved and operating them and getting this kind of footage is a wonderful, major accomplishment. And, for people being able to see this, I think, is just absolutely exhilarating. It's wonderful stuff.”

The presentation of images, obtained by numerous NASA projects and missions, including the Mars Exploration Rovers and the Hubble Space Telescope, was produced by NASA Television.

The event also featured a special appearance by NASA astronaut Carl Walz, co-holder of America's record for space endurance with 196 days aboard the International Space Station in 2002.

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