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Transcript: This Week at NASA, December 10 - 16

THIS WEEK@ NASA – FRIDAY, December 16, 2005

NASA's Space Shuttle team says progress continues in analyzing and correcting foam-shedding from the vehicles' external tanks. The ET's PAL ramp, a primary source of foam loss during STS-114's Return to Flight mission last summer, is still being closely examined. The PAL ramp is expected to be modified before the next shuttle flight.

International Space Station Expedition 11 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev took time from their busy schedules to wish Happy Holidays to people around the world.

MCARTHUR SOT: “…From on board the International Space Station, Valery and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

They also talked about their special holiday meal, a mixed bag of Russian and American cuisine.

MCARTHUR SOT: “…Valery is a very, very big fan of fish and this is picante pike perch, a white fish in a seasoned tomato-ey sauce.”

McArthur and Tokarev are half-way through their month mission.

Data from NASA satellites made these smoky images after a fuel depot exploded in Hertfordshire, England December 11th, a day without sun for many Londoners 25 miles to the south. Burning oil sent thick clouds of black smoke billowing over much of southern England. These false color images were created using light from the shortwave and near infrared of the electromagnetic spectrum. At the source of the smoke, the intense heat of the fire glows red in the infrared. The fire was reportedly the largest of its kind ever seen in Europe.

Astronomers have found inner light, not through meditation, exercise or therapy, but using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Its heat-seeking infrared eyes helped star-gazers discover some one hundred new clusters, each containing tens to hundreds of stars.

The NASA Explorer School Program held a special Family night event at the Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School, in Arlington, Virginia. Parents and students were invited to climb aboard the Space Traveler, a 53-foot trailer with 20 hands-on, traveling exhibits. They also were treated to a presentation by Astronaut Roger Crouch.

Crouch SOT: “…The quality of your life is determined by the continuation of exploration as you grow older and as you continue your life.”

Created in 2003, the NASA Explorer Schools Program focuses on underserved populations and is designed to bring engaging mathematics, science and technology learning to educators, students and families.


Launch Announcer SOT: “…3-2-2 Ignition!”

Gemini VI-A launched December 15, 1965 from Cape Canaveral’s Pad 19, carrying Command Pilot, Walter M. Schirra Jr. and Pilot, Thomas P. Stafford. Slated as a two-day mission, Gemini VI rendezvoused with Gemini VII, already orbiting the Earth. The two spacecraft flew in formation for five hours. The Gemini program's primary mission was to demonstrate space rendezvous and docking techniques and study astronaut stays of two weeks in space.

And on December 17, 1903, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright flipped a coin to decide who would be the first to pilot a sustained flight in a heavier-than-air craft. Wilbur won on the toss. The flight was only 12 seconds, 120 feet, yet it was one of the great moments in aviation history. The Wright Flyer flew three more times that day, with the final flight carrying Wilbur 852 feet in 59 seconds.

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