Soyuz Crew Primed for Launch on This Week @ NASA

Uploaded by NASAtelevision on 13.07.2012

This Week at NASA…
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 32/33 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko,
NASA Flight Engineer Suni Williams and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace
Exploration Agency participated in a variety of activities in preparation for their launch
to the International Space Station this Sunday. The Soyuz spacecraft scheduled to ferry the
crew to the orbiting laboratory is at the launch pad and poised for the trip. Meanwhile,
onboard the ISS, the other three members of Expedition 32, Commander Gennady Padalka,
NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Cosmonaut Sergei Revin – continue their daily activities
as they await the Soyuz crew and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s HTV-3 transfer
vehicle scheduled to arrive there later this month.
When the Curiosity rover sets off from its landing site near Gale Crater to explore the
Martian surface, the mobile science laboratory might encounter some sand dunes. Project engineers
at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have prepared for that possibility by putting a test rover
through the paces here on Earth.
Through careful targeting, we’ve been able to shrink the landing ellipse for Curiosity
and we’ve been able to move it closer to where we want to actually land.
In case we land in dunes that are like this on Mars near the landing site, we want to
be sure the real rover is able to navigate around successfully in those dunes and get
from the point we landed, to the point where we really want to be.
So we come out here today with the Curiosity Scarecrow rover, which is the same weight
on Earth as the real rover is on Mars, to practice driving it around in the nearest
thing to those dunes on Mars that we’re going to find here on Earth.
This is a similar material and similar slopes to the dunes that we’re going to find on
Mars. So being able to test this rover in these dunes gives us a good idea about what
the performance of the real rover is going to be in the dunes that it might land in on
“Still making progress!”
The performance on this rover is actually fairly similar to Spirit and Opportunity.
A little bit better. We can climb in soft sand up to about 15 degrees or so, which is
a little better than what Spirit and Opportunity will do.
We are, in fact, right now, maneuvering it in an area of 15 degrees of tilt to an area
of 25 degrees of tilt to try to explore where that break is in its performance.
Our top speed is very slow, but our acceleration to that top speed is pretty much instantaneous.
So we go from a dead stop to right about as fast as we want to go pretty quickly.
It’s really fun, like to every one and a while, kind of leave the office environment
behind and come out to an environment like this and see what the real rovers are going
to be doing on Mars. It kind of connects you to it and reminds you that the computer models
we’ve been playing are a far cry from reality.
This is that reality.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spotted a concentration of high-altitude haze and a
vortex swirling in the atmosphere high above the south pole of the Saturn moon Titan, hinting
that a change of seasons may be coming on Saturn’s largest moon. Cassini researchers
say the structure inside the vortex is reminiscent of the open cellular convection often seen
over Earth's oceans … but they are at a very high altitude on Titan – which may
be a response of Titan's stratosphere to seasonal cooling as southern winter approaches. The
vortex was imaged during a June 27 flyby.
Deputy Administrator Lori Garver joined Glenn Research Center Director Ray Lugo, Congressional
leaders and White House representatives at Ohio’s Cuyahoga Community College near Cleveland
for a workshop on building the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Garver emphasized
how important the nation’s manufacturing capabilities are for NASA, space exploration
and keeping America’s new technology economy competitive.
“Advanced manufacturing capabilities are essential to turning research discoveries,
inventions and new ideas into better or novel products. Our nation’s ability to innovate
is unmatched.”
Garver also pointed out the important role played by Glenn in creating technologies for
NASA that also benefit American manufacturers. NASA is supporting President Obama’s call
for new Institutes for Advanced Manufacturing and will participate in a pilot institute
later this year.
When rovers land on Mars – they travel all the way to the Red Planet protected by a rigid
aeroshell or heat shield. The size of that structure limits just how much scientists
and engineers can fit inside. “If you look at all the origami that’s
involved in packing a rover like we’re sending to Mars right now into that confined space
and having it deploy in the right sequence during that timeline you’ve only got a certain
amount of time to do it – it’s very complicated.” So Neil Cheatwood and his colleagues at NASA’s
Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia have come up with a different idea … an
inflatable heat shield. The first flight demonstration of the concept is the Inflatable Reentry Vehicle
Experiment or IRVE. The launch of IRVE-3 is currently scheduled for mid-July.
“We will launch IRVE-3 on a sounding rocket out of Wallops Island. It will go up into
space, inflate into reentry shape and perform its reentry experiment and radio the data
back home. When the experiment is over IRVE-3 will land out in the Atlantic.”
IRVE-3 has been tested and re-tested on the ground to make sure it can withstand the heat
and force of atmospheric reentry. The first line of defense against those conditions–
the thermal blanket - is made up of layers of commercially available materials.
“This combination includes Nextel, which is an aircraft engine insulator. We use pyrogel
which is a pipe insulation material and then we use Kapton coated Kevlar. Kevlar is the
same stuff police use in bullet proof vests.” IRVE has already had one successful test.
Assuming the demonstration flight of IRVE-3 also goes well – engineers hope to expand
the concept literally - and test a larger inflatable in the future.
On July 12, the Smithsonian and the Embassy of France marked the 50th anniversary of the
first transatlantic images transmitted by Telstar I, the world’s first commercial
telecommunications satellite, with a live telecast between the National Air & Space
Museum in Washington, and the Cité des Télécoms in Pleumeur-Bodou.
“What a tremendous engineering achievement it was and how it really began a new era that
we now just assume is going to continue into the future, really but it had to begin with
a very small step” Telstar I was launched by NASA. The first
Telstar transmission 50 years ago marked the advent of the exchange of global information
and the commercial use of Space.
“Who can tell me where the International Space Station is? Yes.”
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver spoke to a group of young female students who were
visiting NASA headquarters as part of the Summer Institute in Science, Technology and
Research, or SISTER program.
“I love making a difference. I feel like we were put here to leave the world better
than we found it and I think it’s pretty rare that you get to be in a job where you
feel you do that every day.”
Sponsored by Goddard Space Flight Center, the five day program is designed to introduce
middle school girls to industry professionals like Garver in hopes of increasing their awareness
of the opportunities available in non-traditional career fields such as science, math and engineering.
July 15 marks the 37th anniversary of the first international partnership in space -- the
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. On that date in 1975, an Apollo spacecraft carrying astronauts
Tom Stafford, Vance Brand and Deke Slayton launched from the Kennedy Space Center and,
two days later, docked with a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft and its crew of two – Alexey
Leonov and Valery Kubasov. Designed to test the compatibility of rendezvous
and docking systems and the possibility of an international space rescue, the nine-day
Apollo-Soyuz mission brought together the two former Cold War, spaceflight rivals to
work and perform as a team. The successful Apollo-Soyuz Test Project paved
the way for future international partnerships. And one year ago on July 15, 2011 Pacific
Time -- after nearly four years of travel through the solar system, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft
was pulled into the orbit of Vesta by the giant asteroid’s gravity. Dawn became the
first spacecraft to orbit a main belt asteroid located in the region between Mars and Jupiter,
about 117 million miles from Earth. Images and data collected by the spacecraft of Vesta
and the dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn’s next stop, will help scientists characterize the
early solar system and the processes that dominated its formation. Dawn is expected
to leave Vesta’s orbit late next month and arrive at Ceres in February 2015.
And that’s This Week @NASA! For more on these and other stories, or to
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