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This Week at NASA | This Week at NASA: Langley Centennial Celebration, More

Uploaded 12/02/2016

This Week at NASA: Langley Centennial Celebration, More

On Dec. 1, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden helped kick off a yearlong centennial celebration for the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia with several events highlighting the work of the African American women of Langley’s West Computing Unit. These mathematicians performed critical calculations for several historic NASA space missions in the early days of America’s space program, and their story is told in the book, “Hidden Figures,” by author Margot Lee Shetterly and the upcoming 20th Century Fox movie of the same name. It was also discussed during a NASA education event at Langley featuring Bolden, the film’s director Ted Melfi, NASA’s Chief Historian Bill Barry, and Langley electro-optics engineer Julie Williams-Byrd – a modern-day NASA figure using science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM — skills to make an impact. Later that evening, a VIP social and screenings of the film took place at nearby Virginia Air & Space Center. The women featured in Hidden Figures – Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan – known as “human computers,” helped put John Glenn in orbit, and helped Neil Armstrong and other astronauts land on the moon. Also, Cassini’s Ring-Grazing Orbit around Saturn, Next Space Station Crew Previews Mission, and Russian Cargo Ship Experiences Anomaly after Launch!

Langley Centennial Celebration Highlights Hidden Figures

On Dec. 1, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden helped kick off a yearlong centennial celebration for the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia with several events highlighting the work of the African American women of Langley’s West Computing Unit. These mathematicians performed critical calculations for several historic NASA space missions in the early days of America’s space program, and their story is told in the book, “Hidden Figures,” by author Margot Lee Shetterly and the upcoming 20th Century Fox movie of the same name. It was also discussed during a NASA education event at Langley featuring Bolden, the film’s director Ted Melfi, NASA’s Chief Historian Bill Barry, and Langley electro-optics engineer Julie Williams-Byrd – a modern-day NASA figure using science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM — skills to make an impact. Later that evening, a VIP social and screenings of the film took place at nearby Virginia Air & Space Center. The women featured in Hidden Figures – Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan – known as “human computers,” helped put John Glenn in orbit, and helped Neil Armstrong and other astronauts land on the moon.

Cassini’s Ring-Grazing Orbit around Saturn

On Nov. 30, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft began its so-called “ring-grazing orbits” around Saturn. The orbital path will take Cassini high over and under the poles of Saturn and through the unexplored region at the outer edge of the planet’s main rings. On many of these passes, Cassini’s instruments will attempt to directly sample particles and molecules of faint gases found close to the rings and collect unprecedented views of some of the small moons that orbit in or near the edges of the rings. In April 2017, Cassini will begin the grand finale phase of its mission — passing as close as 1,012 miles above the clouds as it dives repeatedly through the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings before making its mission-ending plunge into the planet’s atmosphere on Sept. 15.

Next Space Station Crew Previews Mission

During a Nov. 30 news conference at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Expedition 51 – the next crew headed to the International Space Station – previewed its upcoming mission. NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos – are targeted to launch to the station in late March from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to join other members of Expedition 51 already onboard the orbiting laboratory. Fischer and Yurchikhin will take part in approximately 250 research investigations during their planned five-month stay onboard the space station.

Russian Cargo Ship Experiences Anomaly after Launch

A Russian Progress cargo spacecraft launched on time Dec. 1 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, but experienced an anomaly about six and a half minutes into its flight to the International Space Station, and was lost. The Progress was not carrying any supplies critical for the United States Operating Segment (USOS) of the station. The crew aboard the space station, including NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, are safe, and both the Russian and U.S. segments of the station continue to operate normally with onboard supplies at good levels.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA

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