Former Teacher To Contact Students In Orbiting Space Shuttle <


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Former Teacher To Contact Students In Orbiting Space Shuttle

Daniel Guevarra

April 6, 2010 - Eighth grade students and children of the military community in California's Monterey Peninsula area will speak with astronauts orbiting 220 miles above Earth on Saturday, April 10. The call with the students and space shuttle Discovery Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot Jim Dutton, and Mission Specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger will take place at 7:36 a.m. PDT at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. 

The Naval Postgraduate School has educated 38 NASA astronauts, including Poindexter and former astronaut Dan Bursch, the school's National Reconnaissance Office Chair, who is leading the downlink event. Discovery and its crew launched Monday, April 5, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the 13-day mission to the International Space Station, the astronauts will deliver science experiments and supplies; take three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station's truss, or backbone; install a spare ammonia storage tank and return a used one; and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior. 

Metcalf-Lindenburger is one of three teachers selected to fly as shuttle mission specialists in the 2004 Educator Astronaut Class. She operates the shuttle's robotic arm. Without robotics, major accomplishments like building the station, repairing satellites in space and exploring other worlds would not be possible. 

To introduce the students to the mission and prepare them for the downlink, the Naval Postgraduate School produced a video using NASA footage of Discovery and the STS-131 crew in training. Astronaut John Phillips and former astronaut Jim Newman, both professors at the school, will join Bursch to provide an overview of the mission. They will answer questions before and after the downlink about how to become an astronaut, pursue a career in space, and train for shuttle missions. Students from the Graduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will host a variety of space artifact displays for the student participants.

NASA astronaut Dorothy M. Metcalf-Lindenburger, mission specialist  

The Naval Postgraduate School is a leader in space systems education and active in space-related outreach and education in the local and regional community; it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2010. 

The event is part of a series with educational organizations in the U.S. and abroad to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The in-orbit call is part of Teaching From Space, a NASA project that uses the unique environment of human spaceflight to promote learning opportunities and build partnerships with the kindergarten through 12th grade education community. NASA Television will air video of the astronauts during the downlink.

Discovery, with a crew of seven, launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center on the 33rd flight to the International Space Station (ISS) for a mission that will include three spacewalks to replace an ammonia coolant tank, change a gyro assembly and retrieve an external Japanese experiment. 

Astronauts will install MARES, a Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, so they can assess the strength of their muscles in space. They will also install a window observational research facility, which will allow crew members to better study global climates, land and sea formations and weather damage with the use of cameras, multispectral and hyperspectral scanners, camcorders and sensors.

"The performance of our three Space Shuttle Main Engines was excellent," said Jim Paulsen, SSME program manager, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. "We're honored to help deliver crew and equipment to the ISS that will allow astronauts to determine how microgravity affects their health, and to take appropriate countermeasures to prevent muscle atrophy while in space." 

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc., a part of Pratt & Whitney, is a preferred provider of high-value propulsion, power, energy and innovative system solutions used in a wide variety of government and commercial applications, including the main engines for the space shuttle, Atlas and Delta launch vehicles, missile defense systems and advanced hypersonic engines.

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