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VIDEO: House Hearing on NASA FY 2011 Budget

House Science and Technology Committee Hearing on NASA’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request.

Date: February 25, 2010
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm EST
Witness: Charles Bolden

SPACE ART: Early Space Shuttle Design

(Above) This painting depicts North American Rockwells’ 1969 (Phase A) design for the Space Shuttle.

NASA Breaks Ground on New Deep Space Network Antennas

Deep Space Network
(Above) This image of the Canberra complex shows four Deep Space Network antennas.

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA officials broke ground near Canberra, Australia on Wednesday, Feb. 24, beginning a new antenna-building campaign to improve Deep Space Network communications.

Following the recommendations of an independent study, NASA embarked on an ambitious project to replace its aging fleet of 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) dishes with a new generation of 34-meter (112-foot) antennas by 2025.

The three 70-meter antennas, located at the NASA Deep Space Network complexes at Goldstone, Calif., Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, are more than 40 years old and show wear and tear from constant use.

The new antennas, known as “beam wave guide” antennas, can be used more flexibly, allowing the network to operate on several different frequency bands within the same antenna. Their electronic equipment is more accessible, making maintenance easier and less costly. The new antennas also can receive higher-frequency, wider-bandwidth signals known as the “Ka band.” This band, required for new NASA missions approved after 2009, allows the newer antennas to carry more data than the older ones.

Deep Space Network Ground Breaking Ceremony

In the first phase of the project near Canberra, NASA expects to complete the building of up to three 34-meter antennas by 2018. The decision to begin construction came on the 50th anniversary of U.S. and Australian cooperation in space tracking operations.

“There is no better way to celebrate our 50 years of collaboration and partnership in exploring the heavens with the government of Australia than our renewed commitment and investment in new capabilities required for the next five decades,” said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Space Communications and Navigation is responsible for managing all NASA space communications and navigation resources and their operations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the agency’s Deep Space Network, an important component of the agency’s space communications resources.

NASA’s goal is to integrate all NASA communications resources into a unified, far more capable network. Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization manages the communication complex near Canberra for NASA.

Image credits: NASA/JPL/CDSCC

Video: Senate Commerce Hearing on NASA FY 2011 Budget

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Science and Space Subcommittee held this hearing on the Challenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal.

Witness Panel 1:

  1. Charles Bolden , NASA

Witness Panel 2:

  1. Robert “Hoot” Gibson, Astronaut (Retired)
  2. Michael J. Snyder, Aerospace Engineer
  3. Miles O’Brien, Journalist and host “This Week in Space”
  4. A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Retired)

Shuttle Endeavour Lands Safely in Florida

STS-130 Shuttle Night landing

HOUSTON – Space shuttle Endeavour is home after two weeks in space, having delivered the final U.S. module and a “room with a view” to the International Space Station. STS-130 Commander George Zamka guided Endeavour to a landing at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility at 9:20 p.m. CST, to wrap up a 5.7 million mile mission.

“Houston it’s great to be home. It was a great adventure,” Zamka radioed to Mission Control after wheels stop.

It was the 24th flight for Endeavour, the 32nd shuttle mission devoted to ISS assembly and maintenance, and the 130th shuttle mission to date. It was also the 23rd night landing in shuttle history and the 17th at the Florida spaceport. Endeavour now will be towed into its processing hangar to be prepared for its next mission, currently scheduled for July.

STS-130 Mission Specialists Robert Behnken, left, and Nicholas Patrick check the temperature of space shuttle Endeavour's nosecone following its successful landing

(Above) STS-130 Mission Specialists Robert Behnken, left, and Nicholas Patrick check the temperature of space shuttle Endeavour’s nosecone following its successful landing.

Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts and Mission Specialists Kathryn Hire, Stephen Robinson, Nicholas Patrick and Robert Behnken left behind more than 36,000 pounds of hardware that included the Tranquility Node 3 and the unique cupola providing a 360-degree view through seven windows.

Behnken and Patrick conducted three spacewalks during the mission totaling 18 hours, 14 minutes. That brings the totals for station assembly to 140 spacewalks and more than 873 hours.

The crew now plans to spend the night in crew quarters at Kennedy before returning to Houston for a welcome ceremony at about 4 p.m. Monday at Ellington Field’s Hangar 990, near the Johnson Space Center.

Next up is the flight of Discovery on the STS-131 mission, targeted for launch April 5 with a crew of seven to deliver several tons of supplies to the space station and conduct other assembly and maintenance work.

VIDEO: NASA Administrator Bolden on CNN

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden appears on CNN to discuss the STS-130 mission, his career, and African American History Month.

VIDEO: President Obama Talks to the Crew of the International Space Station

The President congratulated NASA and the Crew of the ISS/Endeavour on the success of their ongoing mission.

He was joined by Congressional leaders and middle school students from Michigan, Florida, and Nebraska.

CSI: MIAMI “We Have a Problem”

CSI: MIAMI solves the murder of a man who was killed in outer space.

Watch the full episode at

Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 Relocated to Tranquility


Above: Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 is relocated from the Harmony module to the open port on the end of the Tranquility node.

The pressurized mating adapter was moved early in the crew’s day from its temporary position atop the Harmony node to the outboard end of Tranquility, where the cupola had been launched. Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Nicholas Patrick operated the station’s Canadarm2 for the move, while station Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi dealt with latches and bolts, connecting the port to its new home at 9:28 p.m. EST.

Patrick and Behnken will hook up heater and data cables between the relocated adapter and Tranquility during the spacewalk that begins Tuesday evening. Today, the spacewalkers reviewed plans for the final planned spacewalk with Mission Specialist Stephen Robinson, the intravehicular officer, along with Endeavour Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts and station Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer.

The 6.5-hour spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 9:09 p.m. The spacewalkers will open the second of two ammonia loops to allow its coolant to flow through Tranquility and disconnect temporary power cables. They’ll remove insulation from the cupola’s seven windows and then release bolts that held the covers in place during launch, enabling astronauts to open the shutters from inside.

Cupola Relocation Provides Panoramic View of Earth

Cupola Relocation

The International Space Station’s new viewport is facing the Earth now, ready to provide a panoramic view of the planet below and approaching cargo ships. Relocation of the cupola from Tranquility’s forward port to its new location was completed at 12:31 a.m. CST.

Space shuttle Endeavour Mission Specialist Kathryn Hire and Pilot Terry Virts moved the cupola, operating the station’s Canadarm2 from controls in the U.S. laboratory, Destiny. Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams operated the latches and bolts that released the cupola from its launch location and then secured it to its new home.

There was a minor delay in releasing the cupola. The bolts attaching it to its launch position on Tranquility had been torqued in Earth’s gravity and were a little tighter than expected. Flight controllers slightly increased the torque to release the bolts, resolving the problem. The cupola’s attachment to the Earth-facing port went smoothly.

Outfitting of the cupola, including preparations for filling water lines and for installation of a robotics workstation there, continued. Crew members are expected to get their first look out the cupola windows after Tuesday’s third and final scheduled spacewalk of Endeavour’s stay at the station.

Endeavour’s spacewalkers, Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Nicholas Patrick, spent about an hour and a half early in their day preparing for that excursion. Part of those preparations involved resizing another spacesuit for Behnken. The suit he wore on the first two spacewalks had some communications dropouts.

The station’s refurbished Urine Processing Assembly continued to work as expected. Flight controllers said it processed more than 2.5 gallons of urine during the day.

During the morning of their work day, Virts and Hire answered questions from students at NASA Explorer Schools. Just before the end of their day, Virts and Behnken will talk with reporters from WOR Radio New York and television stations KTVI-TV in St. Louis and WREG-TV in Memphis.

The shuttle crew’s bedtime is set for 7:14 a.m. The next shuttle status report will be issued after the crew wakeup call, scheduled for 3:14 p.m. The Johnson Space Center newsroom will close at 6 a.m. and reopen at 4 p.m.


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