Science and Technology News

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bowen, Drew Conducting First STS-133 Spacewalk


Alvin Drew is the 200th human to perform a spacewalk, his first. This is Steve Bowen’s sixth spacewalk. The first STS-133 spacewalk began at

Bowen, EV-1, is the lead spacewalker and is wearing a suit with red stripes, while Drew, EV-2, wears an all-white spacesuit. Bowen’s helmet camera displays the number 19 and Drew’s the number 20.

Bowen and Drew will install the J612 power extension cable in preparation for Tuesday’s attachment of the Permanent Multipurpose Module to the Unity node. Next, they will move an 800 pound failed pump module to External Stowage Platform 2 on the outside of the Quest airlock, where it will remain until it can be returned to Earth at a future time. They will install a camera wedge on the right hand truss segment to give the camera added clearance now that Express Logistics Carrier-4 is attached to the station. After that, they will move further down the right hand truss to the solar alpha rotary joint where they will affix two extensions to the station’s mobile transporter track, which will allow the transporter to travel the entire track length with the Crew Equipment Translation Aid cart and still reach all of the many worksites. They also will open and fill a metal cylinder with the vacuum of space, part of a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency activity called “Message in a Bottle.” The bottle will be returned to Earth for public display.

Discovery Mission Specialist Nicole Stott is inside the International Space Station, choreographing the activities and coordinating communications between the spacewalkers and Mission Control in Houston. Station Commander Scott Kelly and Discovery Mission Specialist Mike Barratt will operate the station’s 58-foot long robotic arm to maneuver the pump module and other hardware during the spacewalk.

This is the 154th spacewalk supporting assembly and maintenance of the space station and the 234th excursion conducted by U.S. astronauts.

On Approach

The Expedition 26 crew photographed the aft portion of Discovery's main engines, part of the cargo bay, vertical stabilizer and orbital maneuvering system pods during a survey of the vehicle's approach prior to its docking with the International Space Station. As part of the survey and part of every mission's activities, Discovery performed a back-flip for the rendezvous pitch maneuver. The image was photographed with a digital still camera, using a 400mm lens at a distance of about 600 feet (180 meters).

Image Credit: NASA

Sunlight

Backdropped by a cloud-covered part of Earth, space shuttle Discovery is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 26 crew member as the shuttle approaches the International Space Station during STS-133 rendezvous and docking operations. Docking occurred at on Feb. 26, 2011.

Image Credit: NASA

ONR's TechSolutions To Provide New, Improved Eyewear to SEALs

By Geoff Fein, ONR Corporate Strategic Communications

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Office of Naval Research's (ONR) TechSolutions department is set to deliver new protective eyewear to Navy Special Warfare Command personnel this year.

The new eyewear will eliminate the need for warfighters to stop to change out colored lenses to accommodate differences in light levels.

Fast-tint protective eyewear (FTPE) changes color quicker than transitional lenses commonly found at an optometrist's office. "Transition time is less than 0.5 seconds," said Stephanie Everett, ONR's TechSolutions program manager.

"Currently, warfighters are using a set of interchangeable lenses that require them to stop and manually switch lenses to adjust the goggles to a particular light environment," Everett said. "But they can't take the time to stop and remove and replace the lenses."

Instead, they often simply remove their sunglasses when moving inside, leaving their eyes unprotected. The FTPE was designed to enable them to maintain ballistic protection under all lighting conditions, without interrupting their operational tempo.

Liquid crystal solutions within the lenses contain customized dyes that transition to amber, blue, dark gray or clear when an electric charge is applied. Lenses can change color automatically as wearers move in and out of varying environments, or lens colors can be altered manually by pushing a small button on the side of the glasses. Additionally, the lenses meet the American National Standards Institute's ballistic impact safety requirements.

The request for new eyewear came to TechSolutions from warfighters in July 2009 and the project is nearly complete. The initial delivery was for 30 pairs of the new eyewear, which have already gone out for evaluation with warfighters who will use them in training.

"They will provide structured feedback on the glasses," said ONR's Command Master Chief Petty Officer Charles Ziervogel, who oversees the TechSolutions department.

After an evaluation is completed, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is expected to take delivery of the FTPE glasses. "SOCOM is buying 100 units based on the initial assessment and seeing the results from the current evaluation," Ziervogel said.

Last August, an earlier prototype was assessed, which led to design changes, which are incorporated in the current eyewear. "The user feedback made this prototype even better," Everett said.

Results from this round of assessments are expected in April, and the feedback will be forwarded to Ohio-based AlphaMicron. The company, along with Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, Ind., was selected to develop FTPE.

"We expect additional minor design changes based on the results of the current assessment," Everett said.

AlphaMicron will incorporate any changes into what will be close to a final product.

TechSolutions accepts recommendations and suggestions from Navy and Marine Corps personnel working at the ground level on ways to improve mission effectiveness through the application of technology. It is solely focused on delivering needed technology and moving the sea services toward more effective and efficient use of personnel. TechSolutions uses rapid prototyping of technologies to meet specific requirements.

The Office of Naval Research provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Crew to Talk With Reporters

At 2:43 p.m. EST Discovery’s crew will be joined by station Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Cady Coleman to talk with reporters from The Weather Channel, WBZ Radio in Boston, WSB-TV in Atlanta and WTVT-TV in Tampa, Fla. At Mission Management Team (MMT) chairman and Space Shuttle Program Deputy Manager LeRoy Cain will hold a post-MMT news conference.

Discovery's Final Flip

This view of the nose, the forward underside and crew cabin of the space shuttle Discovery was provided by an Expedition 26 crew member during a survey of the approaching STS-133 vehicle prior to docking with the International Space Station. As part of the survey and part of every mission's activities, Discovery performed a back-flip for the rendezvous pitch maneuver (RPM). The image was photographed with a digital still camera, using a 400mm lens at a distance of about 600 feet.

Credit: NASA

Orbiter Boom Sensor System Moved

Discovery Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Mike Barratt and Nicole Stott used the space station robotic arm to lift the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) from the right hand edge of the shuttle’s cargo bay and hand it to the shuttle robotic arm.

The OBSS will be available to perform a focused inspection of Discovery’s heat shield if required. Earlier this morning, Capcom Steve Robinson told Lindsey the Debris Assessment Team (DAT) believes the focused inspection will not be necessary. The space shuttle Mission Management Team will meet at to evaluate the DAT findings and make the final decision.

Clearing the OBSS from Discovery clears a pathway to transfer the Permanent Multipurpose Module from the shuttle cargo bay to the space station on Tuesday.

At , NASA Television will air today’s Mission Status Briefing with International Space Station Orbit 1 Flight Director David Korth.

Cargo Transfers and Spacewalk Preps for Shuttle Crew

The combined crews of space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station awoke at to the song “Java Jive” by Manhattan Transfer, played for shuttle Commander Steve Lindsey.

The crew will spend much of the day transferring supplies from Discovery to the space station and preparing for Monday’s spacewalk. They also will move the Orbiter Boom Sensor System from the side of Discovery’s cargo bay to the end of the shuttle robotic arm, clearing a pathway to transport the Permanent Multipurpose Module from Discovery to the station later in the mission.

Cargo Carrier Attached to Starboard Truss

A complex robotics operation involving multiple handoffs between the station and shuttle robotics arms successfully moved Express Logistics Carrier-4 (ELC-4) from space shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay to the Earth-facing side of the station’s right hand truss, or backbone. ELC-4 was attached to its permanent location on the starboard 3 truss Saturday at . There it will store spare parts, including a heat rejecting radiator it carried to space for possible future use to cool the station.

Because the work kept the crew members awake later than scheduled, Mission Control advised them they can sleep in 30 minutes late on Sunday, awakening at

Shuttle and Station Crews Go to Work

Space shuttle Discovery docked to the International Space Station at Saturday with its cargo of a new station module, equipment and supplies for the orbiting laboratory.

After a delay to let the relative motion between the two spacecraft, with a combined mass of 1.2 million pounds, dampen out, hatches separating crews were opened at Shuttle astronauts, Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott moved into the station.

Following handshakes, hugs and a welcoming ceremony by the station crew, Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka, Alexander Kaleri, Dmitry Kondratyev, Paolo Nespoli and Catherine Coleman, Discovery astronauts received the standard station safety briefing.

The crews promptly went to work, with Barratt and Stott preparing to use the station’s robotic arm to pluck Express Logistic Carrier 4 from the shuttle cargo bay and hand it off to the shuttle’s arm, operated by Drew and Boe. After moving the base of Canadarm2, the shuttle arm was to hand ELC4 back for installation on the Earth-facing side of the station’s starboard truss. There it will be used for stowage of spare parts, including a spare radiator launched aboard Discovery.

Hatches Between Station and Discovery Opened

The shuttle and station crews opened the hatches between space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station at , Saturday 26 February.

After the ceremony and a safety briefing, the crews will begin transferring cargo from Discovery to the station.

Shuttle and Station Hard Mate Accomplished

A hard mate between space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station was delayed until , Saturday 26 February, while the relative motions between the two spacecraft dampened out. The station mass, now approximately 1.2 million pounds, with spacecraft, laboratories and robotic components from all the international partners attached at the same time, contributed to an alignment issue between the shuttle and station docking rings. The hard mate between Discovery and station could not be accomplished until the motion stopped and Discovery’s docking ring could be retracted.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Discovery Begins Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver

At , space shuttle Discovery began the nine-minute Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, or "backflip." With Commander Steve Lindsey at the helm, Discovery is rotating 360 degrees backward to enable space station astronauts to take high resolution pictures of the shuttle's heat shield. Lindsey then will fly the shuttle through a quarter circle to a position about 310 feet directly in front of the station, allowing the station to catch up with it for docking at

On mission STS-114, Discovery was the first shuttle to perform this "backflip" maneuver, one of the safety procedures instituted following the Columbia accident.

NASA Sets Media Credential Deadlines For Next Space Shuttle Flight

Joshua Buck
Headquarters, Washington     

WASHINGTON -- NASA has set media accreditation deadlines for the April space shuttle flight to the International Space Station. Six astronauts, including Commander Mark Kelly, are targeted to launch aboard shuttle Endeavour on April 19 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The 14-day mission will be the 36th flight to the space station, and the 25th and final scheduled flight for Endeavour. The STS-134 mission will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a particle physics detector designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays. The STS-134 crew also will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier 3, a platform that carries spare parts that will sustain station operations once the shuttles are retired later this year.

Reporters must apply for credentials to attend the launch or cover the mission from other NASA centers. To be accredited, reporters must work for verifiable news-gathering organizations. No substitutions of credentials are allowed at any NASA facility.

All journalists who are lawful permanent residents, have dual or multiple U.S. citizenship or are U.S. citizens representing international media outlets will have their credential applications processed in the same manner as U.S. citizens who represent domestic media.

Additional time may be required to process accreditation requests by journalists from certain designated countries. Designated countries include those with which the United States has no diplomatic relations, countries on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, those under U.S. sanction or embargo and countries associated with proliferation concerns. Please contact the accrediting NASA center for details. Journalists should confirm they have been accredited before traveling.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

Reporters applying for credentials at Kennedy should submit requests via the Web at https://media.ksc.nasa.gov.

Reporters must use work e-mail addresses, not personal accounts, when applying. After accreditation is approved, applicants will receive confirmation via e-mail.

Accredited media representatives with mission badges will have access to Kennedy from launch through the end of the mission. The application deadline for mission badges is April 7 for all reporters requesting credentials.

Endeavour is expected to move from Kennedy's Orbiter Processing Facility-2 to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Feb. 28. The shuttle's move to Launch Pad 39A is planned for March 9. To attend rollout, international journalists must apply by March 2 to allow time for processing, and U.S. media representatives must apply by March 7.

The practice launch countdown, known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, and related training are scheduled for March 29 through April 1. To cover the activities, international journalists must apply by March 22, and U.S. media representatives must apply by March 25. Reporters with special requests for Kennedy, such as space for satellite trucks, trailers, electrical connections or workspace, must contact Laurel Lichtenberger by April 7 at: laurel.a.lichtenberger@nasa.gov.

Wireless Internet access is available at Kennedy's news center. However, access may be limited at times due to volume. Reporters should have alternate wireless resources. Workspace in the news center and the news center annex is provided on a first-come basis, limited to one space per organization. To set up temporary telephone, fax, ISDN or network lines, media representatives must arrange with BellSouth at 800-213-4988. Reporters must have an assigned seat in the Kennedy newsroom prior to setting up lines. To obtain an assigned seat, contact Patricia Christian at: patricia.christian-1@nasa.gov.

Journalists must have a public affairs escort to all other areas of Kennedy except the Launch Complex 39 cafeteria.

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER

Reporters may obtain credentials for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston by calling the center's newsroom at 281-483-5111 or by presenting STS-134 mission credentials from Kennedy. Media representatives planning to cover the mission only from Johnson need to apply for credentials only at the center.

The application deadline for mission badges is April 7. International journalists should contact Johnson before April 7 to ensure all necessary paperwork and identification are submitted by the deadline.

Journalists covering the mission from Houston using Kennedy credentials must also contact Johnson's newsroom by April 7 to arrange workspace, phone lines and other logistics. Johnson is responsible for credentialing media if the shuttle lands at NASA's White Sands Space Harbor, N.M. If a landing is imminent at White Sands, Johnson will arrange credentials.

DRYDEN FLIGHT RESEARCH CENTER

Notice for a shuttle landing at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards Air Force Base in California could be short. Media outlets should consider accrediting Los Angeles-based personnel who could travel quickly to Dryden.

Deadlines for submitting Dryden accreditation requests are March 24 for international journalists and April 27 for U.S. citizens or journalists who have permanent residency status, regardless of their media affiliation.

For Dryden media credentials, U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens representing bona fide media outlets must provide their full name, date of birth, place of birth, media organization, driver's license number with the name of the issuing state and the last six digits of their social security number.

In addition, international journalists must provide either their passport or visa number, country of issue and expiration date.
Journalists should e-mail requests to: DrydenPAO@nasa.gov.

Requests must include a phone number and business e-mail address for follow-up contact.

NASA PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACTS:

Kennedy Space Center: Allard Beutel, 321-867-2468, allard.beutel@nasa.gov

Johnson Space Center: Kylie Clem, 281-483-5111, kylie.s.clem@nasa.gov

Dryden Flight Research Center: Leslie Williams, 661-276-3893, leslie.a.williams@nasa.gov

For information about the International Space Station, visit http://www.nasa.gov/station.

For information about the STS-134 mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.

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Lunar And Planetary Conference Highlights Solar System Evolution

Trent Perrotto
Headquarters, Washington                              
 
William Jeffs                                   
Johnson Space Center, Houston
 
Julie Tygielski
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston

HOUSTON -- NASA researchers and other scientists will present findings that provide new insights into the evolution of the solar system during the 42nd annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

The conference will run March 7-11 at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center,
1601 Lake Robbins Drive
, The Woodlands, Texas.

Key events include the unveiling of future planetary science strategy; early science results from a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission, called Hayabusa, that returned the first particle samples from an asteroid; presentations about the recent comet Hartley 2 flyby; and the upcoming MESSENGER mission, the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

The conference also will include a briefing about the Planetary Decadal Survey at on March 7. The survey is a strategy released by the National Research Council in Washington to prioritize missions, research areas and observations ten or more years into the future. The briefing's featured speaker will be Steve Squyres of Cornell University. He is the survey's chair and principal investigator for NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers.

News media representatives interested in registering or obtaining more information should visit http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2011/.

The conference is hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. The institute is managed by the Universities Space Research Association, a national, nonprofit consortium of universities chartered in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences at NASA's request.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit http://www.nasa.gov.

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Crew Completes Inspection of Thermal Protection System

Discovery’s astronauts performed an inspection of the orbiter’s thermal protection system. They also checked out spacesuits and rendezvous tools in preparation for Saturday’s docking with the International Space Station, scheduled for

The crew configured shuttle systems for orbital operations and will install the centerline camera that will be used during alignment and rendezvous with the station. All of Discovery’s systems are performing well.

At , Discovery’s crew goes to sleep. Beginning at , NASA TV will play Flight Day 2 highlights hourly until the crew awakens at

Lunar And Planetary Conference Highlights Solar System Evolution

Trent Perrotto
Headquarters, Washington                              
 
William Jeffs                                   
Johnson Space Center, Houston
 
Julie Tygielski
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston
 
HOUSTON -- NASA researchers and other scientists will present findings that provide new insights into the evolution of the solar system during the 42nd annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

The conference will run March 7-11 at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center,
1601 Lake Robbins Drive
, The Woodlands, Texas.

Key events include the unveiling of future planetary science strategy; early science results from a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission, called Hayabusa, that returned the first particle samples from an asteroid; presentations about the recent comet Hartley 2 flyby; and the upcoming MESSENGER mission, the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.

The conference also will include a briefing about the Planetary Decadal Survey at on March 7. The survey is a strategy released by the National Research Council in Washington to prioritize missions, research areas and observations ten or more years into the future. The briefing's featured speaker will be Steve Squyres of Cornell University. He is the survey's chair and principal investigator for NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers.

News media representatives interested in registering or obtaining more information should visit http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2011/.

The conference is hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. The institute is managed by the Universities Space Research Association, a national, nonprofit consortium of universities chartered in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences at NASA's request.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit http://www.nasa.gov.

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Energy Innovation In California

By Tarak Shah, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy

Last week, President Obama released his 2012 budget proposal. In it, the President proposed doubling funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy innovation. While the budget was being sent up to Capitol Hill, I was in California, learning how energy innovations will help the Department of Defense more strategically use energy today and in the future.

For the nation, accelerating energy innovation means new technologies for energy efficiency and new supplies of energy. Both are critical if we are to transition to a clean energy future. For the Department of Defense, the challenge is even more direct. As the single largest consumer of fossil fuels in the Nation, the Department spent almost $13.5 billion last year to purchase energy. While secure access to this energy enables us to protect the Nation, our dependence on fossil fuels comes at a cost in mission effectiveness and dollars. And unfortunately, we’ve seen with attacks on fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan, it can also cost U.S. military lives.

The good news is that a huge range of scientists and entrepreneurs have mobilized to transform the way we use energy. At Stanford University, Former Secretary of State George Shultz and Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, and a team of military fellows, representing every service, have clearly articulated the connection between our national security and our energy security and are finding effective ways government can respond.

At Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, teams are working on everything from securing the electric grid and designing energy efficient buildings to nanomaterials for the next generation of solar cells.

And in the private sector, the possibilities are exciting. From tomorrow’s energy efficient combat vehicles, equipped with hybrid-electric engines, to small businesses creating cutting edge technologies, and venture capitalists providing the expertise and resources, American companies aren’t waiting to innovate.

For the Department of Defense, our priority is to provide U.S. forces the tools they need to execute their missions, which increasingly means “lightening the load” when it comes to energy. I’m confident that we can partner with both the public and private sector to do that and make our war fighters more capable and effective.

DOD Photo: Jay Keasling, CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute, discusses feedstocks for advanced biofuels with Assistant Secretary of Defense Sharon Burke.

Aloft

Rising on twin columns of fire and creating rolling clouds of smoke and steam, space shuttle Discovery lifted off Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a picturesque, warm, late February afternoon. Launch of the STS-133 mission was at on Feb. 24. Discovery and its six-member crew are on a mission to deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, packed with supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, to the International Space Station. Discovery is making its 39th mission and is scheduled to be retired following STS-133. This is the 133rd Space Shuttle Program mission and the 35th shuttle voyage to the space station.

Image Credit: NASA

Ask the Chairman About Science and Technology!

By Julie Weckerlein

This is your chance to ask the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff anything you ever wanted about science and technology.

Admiral Mike Mullen is collecting questions on any topic to answer during an upcoming virtual town hall meeting. The conversation is not limited to servicemembers and their families. Anyone can participate.

As he said, “I hope to hear from family members, other concerned Americans and citizens of the world as well, because in these critical times, there are challenges across the globe which demand our attention and our steady focus.”

Specifically, this is your chance to ask any science and techonology-related questions you have for this military leader. Your questions could be featured here on Armed with Science!

And if you can submit your question via video, even better! Just click on “leave a video response” in the comment section just below the video.

To participate, just send your question via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or any other medium from now until the end of the month. Admiral Mullen will answer those questions in the next and future segments of “Ask the Chairman”. Send your questions today.

DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer Chad J. McNeeley

STS-133: Discovery Launches Into History

Mike Curie/STS-133 Launch Commentator: Go for main engine start. We have main engine start. 2 . . . 1 . . . booster ignition.

And the final liftoff of Discovery! A tribute to the dedication, hard work and pride of America's space shuttle team.

The shuttle has cleared the tower.

Josh Byerly/STS-133 Ascent Commentator: Discovery now making one last reach for the stars.

Discovery's engines are now throttling down as the orbiter passes through the area of maximum pressure reducing the stress on the shuttle as it goes supersonic.

Charlie Hobaugh/STS-133 CAPCOM: Discovery, Houston, you are go at throttle up.

Steve Lindsey/STS-133 Commander: (Inaudible)

Josh Byerly/STS-133 Ascent Commentator: Commander Steve Lindsey acknowledging the call from CAPCOM Charlie Hobaugh as Discovery's three main engines throttle back up.

Lindsey is joined on the flight deck by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialist Al Drew and Nicole Stott. Mission Specialist Mike Barratt and Steve Bowen.

Discovery's three main engines are burning fuel at a rate that would drain an average swimming pool in about 25 seconds. The engines, combined with the solid rocket boosters, produce more than 7 million pounds of thrust.

One minute, 50 seconds into the flight, we're standing by for separation of the twin solid rocket boosters. Discovery now traveling 2,695 miles an hour. It's altitude 24 miles. Downrange from the Kennedy Space Center 29 miles.

Booster separation confirmed. Discovery's guidance is now converging as the shuttle's onboard computers fine tune the flight.

Discovery Lifts Off!

Space shuttle Discovery's liftoff from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a picturesque, warm, late February afternoon was witnessed by news media representatives near the countdown clock at the Press Site. Launch of the STS-133 mission was at on Feb. 24.

Discovery and its six-member crew are on a mission to deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module, packed with supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, to the International Space Station. Discovery is making its 39th mission and is scheduled to be retired following STS-133. This is the 133rd Space Shuttle Program mission and the 35th shuttle voyage to the International Space Station.

Image Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ready for Launch

The space shuttle Discovery is seen shortly after the Rotating Service Structure was rolled back at launch pad 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. Discovery, on its 39th and final flight, will carry the Italian-built Permanent Multipurpose Module, Express Logistics Carrier 4 and Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, to the International Space Station.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
This snippet was sponsored by Police Technology.

Launch Day Dawns on Discovery

Discovery is shimmering in the xenon lights out at Launch Pad 39A this morning as the sun is just emerging over the horizon at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle and its six-astronaut crew are to lift off today at 4:50 p.m. EST on a mission to the International Space Station. This will be the last mission of Discovery, which has made 38 trips into space before, including the STS-31 mission in April 1990, to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope.

The rotating service structure, or RSS, was moved back to its launch position last night. Teams are not working any issues that would delay today's liftoff. Fueling of Discovery's external fuel tank with more than 535,000 gallons of super cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen is expected to begin at about 7:25 a.m. NASA TV coverage begins at 7:15 a.m.

This article was sponsored by Forensic Science Books.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rotating Service Structure Opens For Launch

The rotating service structure (RSS) on NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A moved away from space shuttle Discovery in preparation for tomorrow's launch attempt. The move began at 8:02 p.m. EST and was completed at 8:37 p.m. Moving the structure, which is used for weather protection and provides access to the shuttle at the pad, took about 30 minutes.

Teams are not working any issues that would delay liftoff at 4:50 p.m.

Fueling of Discovery's external fuel tank with more than 535,000 gallons of super cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen is expected to begin at approximately 7:25 a.m. NASA TV coverage begins at 7:15 a.m.

NASA Schedules Next Glory Mission Launch Attempt

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington                                   

WASHINGTON -- The launch of NASA’s Glory spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is currently planned for no earlier than Friday, Feb. 25 at 5:09 a.m. EST. Engineers from NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. continue to troubleshoot a technical issue that arose during Wednesday's initial launch attempt. The target launch date also will ensure personnel get the required rest before entering another countdown.

The Glory satellite is being launched aboard an Orbital Sciences Taurus XL rocket on a mission to improve our understanding of how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth's climate.

For more information about NASA's Glory mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/glory.

NASA Television will broadcast the launch live. Live coverage is planned to begin at 3:30 a.m. EST. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

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Discovery at the Pad

Dawn broke over the Atlantic Ocean near Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to reveal space shuttle Discovery newly arrived for its upcoming launch in this image taken on Feb. 1, 2011.

Discovery began its 3.4-mile trip from the Vehicle Assembly Building at Jan. 31, and was secured on the pad a little before Feb. 1. Discovery is set to launch to the International Space Station on the STS-133 mission on Thursday, Feb. 24.

Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
This snippet was sponsored by Forensic Science Books.

Keeping America’s Top Fighter Pilots Flying High

This blog post was shared by the Modeling & Simulation Information Analysis Center.

The pilots who man and fly the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft are charged with an important task: keeping America’s top fighter pilots safe from potential enemy aircraft.  But making sure AWACS pilots can keep up with the increasingly rigorous training can be almost as daunting; especially at a time when advancing threats are constantly changing.

So, how does the Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC) handle situations like this?  By leveraging real-world experts in modeling and simulation technologies to design and develop simulated training.

Simulated training is just one of the many modeling and simulation capabilities the Modeling and Simulation Information Analysis Center (MSIAC) maintains.  In fact, MSIAC routinely works with organizations, including the ACC, to employ modeling and simulation technologies to solve some of DoD’s toughest challenges.  In the case of the ACC, MSIAC developed a unique combination of simulation-based training and live-fly training missions to ensure AWACS pilots remained mission ready.  Through this hybrid solution, the ACC was able to cut training costs by 50% and increase the rigor of the overall training.

So, how do our top fighter pilots manage to stay out of harm’s way? Let’s just say, they have a fully trained and highly reliable wingman running radar for them.

The Modeling and Simulation Information Analysis Center (MSIAC) is one of ten Information Analysis Centers (IACs) established by DoD and managed by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC).MSIAC is the DOD Center of Excellence responsible for acquiring, archiving, analyzing, synthesizing, and disseminating scientific and technical information related to Modeling and Simulation

Interested in learning more, or working with MSIAC on an upcoming effort? MSIAC can be reached via the IAC website at http://iac.dtic.mil/.

This article was sponsored by Police Technology.

Mission Management Team Approves Thursday Launch

Today’s Mission Management Team meeting has concluded. The team is unanimous to go forward with space shuttle Discovery’s launch tomorrow at

The prelaunch news conference is scheduled to begin at on NASA Television. The participants will be Mike Moses, Mission Management Team chair, Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director, Scott Higginbotham, STS-133 payload manager, and Kathy Winters, shuttle weather officer.

Watch the news conference live at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

This news byte was sponsored by Police Technology.

Launch Team Preps to Roll RSS Back Tonight

Technicians at NASA Kennedy Space Center will complete preparations at Launch Pad 39A for space shuttle Discovery's launch tomorrow at The rotating service structure will be moved away from the spacecraft tonight at  

‪The Prelaunch News Conference air on NASA TV at

NASA Postpones Launch Of Glory Mission

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington     
 
WASHINGTON -- The launch of NASA's Glory spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has been postponed at least 24 hours.

During the final 15 minutes before Wednesday's scheduled launch of , the vehicle interface control console, a ground interface with Orbital Sciences' Taurus XL rocket, gave an unexpected reading. The cause and potential effect of the reading was not fully understood. With a 48-second available launch window, there was insufficient time to analyze the issue causing the launch to be postponed. Members of the Taurus team are troubleshooting the issue.

The next launch attempt is no earlier than Thursday, Feb. 24, at 5:09 a.m. EST. NASA Television's coverage of the launch will begin at

Data to be collected by Glory will help scientists improve our ability to predict Earth's future environment and to distinguish human-induced climate change from natural climate variability.

The Glory mission is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Launch management is provided by NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy. Orbital Sciences Corp., which provided the Taurus XL rocket, is responsible for Glory's spacecraft design, manufacture, payload integration and testing, as well as spacecraft operations.

For more information about NASA's Glory mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/glory.

For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit  http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

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This article was sponsored by Police Technology.

A Visit to Glory

Just a few hours before the scheduled launch of NASA's Glory research satellite, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori B. Garver visited the mission's launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. With Garver at the Pacific coast launch site on the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 22 is Michael Freilich (far right), director of the Earth Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, and Hal Maring (center), Glory program scientist. Glory will join 13 other NASA missions currently orbiting our home planet that provide scientists with valuable data to study climate change and the entire Earth system. Glory is the first of three NASA Earth science launches scheduled this year from Vandenberg.

Credit: NASA/Tony Landis
This article was sponsored by Forensic Science Books.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NASA Glenn Research Center has Links to Upcoming Shuttle Mission

Katherine K. Martin
NASA Glenn Research Center

CLEVELAND -- NASA's Glenn Research Center will have several experiments and hardware aboard space shuttle Discovery as it heads to the International Space Station on its final mission.

The following Glenn-related experiments and hardware will travel to station during this 39th flight of NASA's most flown shuttle. The mission is scheduled to launch at on Thursday, Feb. 24.

The Microheater Array Boiling Experiment will obtain data using an array of tiny instrumented heaters to map the role of the position of the liquid and vapor phases during boiling in gravity and microgravity. The research should enable the development of more efficient cooling systems on future spacecraft and on Earth.

The Nucleate Pool Boiling eXperiment will provide an understanding of heat transfer and vapor removal processes that take place during nucleate boiling from a well characterized surface in microgravity. Such an understanding is needed for optimum design and safe operation of heat exchange equipment employing phase change for transfer of heat in microgravity.

Both of these experiments will be conducted later this spring using a new Boiling eXperiment Facility, which also will be aboard and will be installed on space station.

For the Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-6 experiment, the space station crew will photograph colloid samples after they have been mixed to observe the resulting structure and evolution in microgravity. The experiment will measure phase separation rates in microgravity to develop underlying theory for predicting product shelf life.

Data also may lead to improvements in supercritical fluids used in rocket propellants biotechnology applications, and advancements in fiber-optics technology.

The Light Microscopy Module-Biological Technical Demonstration is a continuation of the on-orbit characterization of this remote control space microscope. The data will demonstrate further the module's capabilities and ensure the optimization of its use aboard the station.

The Preliminary Advanced Colloids Experiment-2, or PACE-2, is a continuation of the highly successful Colloids Research and Development Program. Previously on station, imaging of a flat test article was demonstrated. PACE-2 will test the ability to image 3-D particles. This imaging will be done using the Light Microscopy Module and the Fluids Integrated Rack, a large, high-tech science experiment facility designed and fabricated at Glenn. It was transported to station aboard Discovery in August 2009.

The Flame Extinguishment Experiment-2 involves research that can enable the development of computational design tools, that could lead to environmentally responsible and cost-effective combustion systems, providing the U.S. with efficient, domestic power for the future.

The goal of the Structure and Liftoff in Combustion Experiment is to improve the understanding of the physical and chemical processes controlling flame structure. Microgravity research of combustion can enable the development of computational design tools that could lead to minimizing the carbon footprint and pollutant emissions while maximizing fuel efficiency.

The Burning and Suppression of Solids is a combustion experiment that will bridge the gap among material flammability tests conducted in Earth's gravity, ground-based microgravity tests and in microgravity on station. It will involve burning common spaceflight materials to measure the effects of microgravity on the burning and extinguishing of material in space. The goal is to improve the understanding of the effects of microgravity on the flammability of materials to ensure the safety of astronauts and equipment in future spacecraft.

For the latest information on the STS-133 mission and the crew, visit http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.

For information about experiments that Glenn is or will be conducting aboard space station, visit http://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/Advanced/ISSResearch.

For further information about Glenn, visit http://www.nasa.gov/glenn.

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NASA Ames to Host Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Event

Rachel Hoover
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- News media and the public are invited to observe the live televised broadcast of the launch of STS-133 space shuttle Discovery at 1:50 p.m. PST on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 in the Exploration Center at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. STS-133 is Discovery's 39th and final scheduled flight, and the 35th shuttle mission to the station.

The six astronauts for Discovery's 11-day mission will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the International Space Station. The PMM can hold microgravity experiments in areas such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology. Inside the PMM is Robonaut 2 (R2), which will become a permanent resident of the station. R2 will be used to test how dexterous robots behave in space. STS-133 also is carrying critical spare components to the space station and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment. The mission will feature two spacewalks to perform maintenance and install new components on the station.

Commander Steve Lindsey leads the veteran crew, which includes Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Steve Bowen and Nicole Stott. Bowen replaced astronaut Tim Kopra, who was injured in a bicycle accident last month.

WHAT: An opportunity to watch the live televised broadcast of the launch of STS-133 space shuttle Discovery. The launch is scheduled at on Feb. 24 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and will be televised live on NASA TV. In addition to seeing the broadcast, attendees will hear remarks from former NASA astronaut Karol "Bo" Bobko. Matt Deans, computer scientist at Ames, will discuss Ames' role in developing next-generation robotic systems like R2; Sidney Sun, manager of the Ames' International Space Station Research Project, will explain the Mouse Immunology-2 experiment that will launch aboard Discovery. Following the launch, students will have an opportunity to participate in a variety of hands-on educational activities.

WHERE: NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Exploration Center. The Exploration Center is located in the large white dome at the main gate. To reach Ames, take U.S. Highway 101 to the Moffett Field, NASA Parkway exit and drive east on Moffett Boulevard towards the main gate.

A NASA blog will provide countdown updates beginning at Feb. 24. Originating from Kennedy's Launch Control Center, the blog is the definitive Internet source for information leading up to lift off. During the mission, visitors to NASA's shuttle website may read about the crew's progress and watch the mission's two spacewalks live.

For more information about the STS-133 mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.

Mission Specialist Nicole Stott will tweet mission updates to her Twitter account http://www.twitter.com/astro_nicole.

For more information about the space station, visit http://www.nasa.gov/station.

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NASA Ames to Host Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Event

Rachel Hoover
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- News media and the public are invited to observe the live televised broadcast of the launch of STS-133 space shuttle Discovery at 1:50 p.m. PST on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 in the Exploration Center at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. STS-133 is Discovery's 39th and final scheduled flight, and the 35th shuttle mission to the station.

The six astronauts for Discovery's 11-day mission will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the International Space Station. The PMM can hold microgravity experiments in areas such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology. Inside the PMM is Robonaut 2 (R2), which will become a permanent resident of the station. R2 will be used to test how dexterous robots behave in space. STS-133 also is carrying critical spare components to the space station and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, an external platform that holds large equipment. The mission will feature two spacewalks to perform maintenance and install new components on the station.

Commander Steve Lindsey leads the veteran crew, which includes Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Steve Bowen and Nicole Stott. Bowen replaced astronaut Tim Kopra, who was injured in a bicycle accident last month.

WHAT: An opportunity to watch the live televised broadcast of the launch of STS-133 space shuttle Discovery. The launch is scheduled at on Feb. 24 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and will be televised live on NASA TV. In addition to seeing the broadcast, attendees will hear remarks from former NASA astronaut Karol "Bo" Bobko. Matt Deans, computer scientist at Ames, will discuss Ames' role in developing next-generation robotic systems like R2; Sidney Sun, manager of the Ames' International Space Station Research Project, will explain the Mouse Immunology-2 experiment that will launch aboard Discovery. Following the launch, students will have an opportunity to participate in a variety of hands-on educational activities.

WHERE: NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Exploration Center. The Exploration Center is located in the large white dome at the main gate. To reach Ames, take U.S. Highway 101 to the Moffett Field, NASA Parkway exit and drive east on Moffett Boulevard towards the main gate.

A NASA blog will provide countdown updates beginning at Feb. 24. Originating from Kennedy's Launch Control Center, the blog is the definitive Internet source for information leading up to lift off. During the mission, visitors to NASA's shuttle website may read about the crew's progress and watch the mission's two spacewalks live.

For more information about the STS-133 mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.

Mission Specialist Nicole Stott will tweet mission updates to her Twitter account http://www.twitter.com/astro_nicole.

For more information about the space station, visit http://www.nasa.gov/station.

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Kennedy Adds Florida Touch to 9/11 Flag

Narrator: Bravery, grace, spirit and strength . . . the feelings the American flag evoke in its citizens mirror those felt watching a national treasure -- the space shuttle -- launch on missions to explore and discover our universe. The nation admires its flag in times of celebration, competition, war, peace and tragedy.

A few days after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, "The National 9/11 Flag" waved in the breeze attached to the scaffolding of a building directly south of the attacks. Even torn and tattered, it made an impact on the Space Coast community . . . as local heroes stitched a Florida restorative patch to the flag at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Feb. 18.

Jeff Parness/Director, New York Says Thank You Foundation: There's this cathartic element of 'Well, I can finally do something. I can hold this needle and thread and I can finally put a stitch in and try to make this whole, you know, from what was taken away from us.

LeRoy Haynes/Former Fire Marshal and Commander, FDNY: This is awesome, this is awesome. The fact that it's here and that I'm here. We're both survivors.

Narrator: Today, the flag is on a cross-country journey to be restored to its original 13-stripe design using pieces of fabric from American flags destined for retirement in all 50 states. Kennedy's Visitor Complex was the official stop for the state of Florida.

The star-spangled banner, which brings new meaning to national collaboration, has already touched thousands of lives . . . aboard the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, during the home opener for the New York Giants, at Fort Hood, Texas, at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and at Wisconsin's Marian University. And at Kennedy's Visitor Complex as it was raised over the Rocket Garden, where American ingenuity flourishes with rockets and capsules from NASA's Mercury, Gemini and Apollo days.

Joe Dowdy/Special Operations Manager, NASA's Kennedy Space Center: You know, I kind of think of America as this magnificent mosaic that's composed of all these various events, and various places that make us a special country. And, you know, our history is replete with all kinds of examples of sacrifice, 9/11 certainly is very fresh in our memories, but also here at the Kennedy Space Center.

Narrator: Once complete, "The National 9/11 Flag" will become a part of a permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum being built at the World Trade Center site. There, America's flag can evoke a sense of pride, unity and hunger to keep achieving greatness just as the nation's space shuttles have for the past 30 years.