Capt. Kirk Wakes Discovery Crew

William Shatner, the actor who played Captain James T. Kirk on the original Star Trek television series, provided a special message to the crew of space shuttle Discovery during the 3:23 a.m. EST wakeup call on Mon., Mar. 7.

As Alexander Courage’s “Star Trek” theme song played underneath, Shatner replaced the original television introduction with, “Space, the final frontier. These have been the voyages of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Her 30 year mission: To seek out new science. To build new outposts. To bring nations together on the final frontier. To boldly go, and do, what no spacecraft has done before.”

The “Theme from Star Trek” received the second most votes in a public contest from a Top 40 list for NASA’s Song Contest. Shatner recorded the custom introduction for Discovery’s final voyage — its 39th flight and 13th to the International Space Station.

Spacesuits Protect STS-133 Astronauts

STS-133 astronaut conducting a spacewalk outside the ISSAstronauts aboard STS-133 are wrapping up a series of scheduled spacewalks, or extravehicular activities. When astronauts venture outside of their spacecraft, they need spacesuits to protect them from the solar radiation, the cold temperatures of space and fast-moving particles called micrometeoroids.

Check out a great activity called Potato Astronaut: Spacesuit. Students investigate the effects of high-speed simulated micrometeoroid impacts and penetration depth. They also learn how layered materials protect astronauts. You will find the activity in the Lunar Nautics: Designing a Mission to Live and Work on the Moon Educator Guide on Page 133.

See additional activities in NEON. Register, log in, join the NASA Explorer Schools group, and find Lunar Nautics: Designing a Mission to Live and Work on the Moon. The activity is available in that forum.

NASA Offers Space Shuttle Tiles to Schools

Photo of a Space Shuttle Tile and ruler, for scale.As the Space Shuttle Program nears retirement, NASA is looking for ways to preserve the program’s history and inspire the next generation of space explorers, scientists and engineers.  NASA is offering 7,000 shuttle heat shield tiles to schools and universities that want to share technology and a piece of space history with their students.

The lightweight tiles protect the shuttles from extreme temperatures when the orbiters re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

Schools can request a tile at

Click on the tile icon to log on to the request page. A login ID and password may be obtained by registering on the link provided. A Department of Education statistics tracking number (NCES for schools or IPEDS for universities) is needed to register. Hyperlinks are available to these sites to find a specific institution’s tracking number. The requests will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Only one tile will be given per institution.

Because the tiles are government property, a transfer protocol is observed. Recipients will be responsible for a shipping and handling fee of $23.40, which is payable to the shipping company through a secure website. For more information about artifacts also available to museums and libraries, visit

For information about the space shuttle, visit

NASA Now — Path of an Astronaut

NASA Now logoDuring this unique episode of NASA Now, astronaut and veteran spacewalker Mike Foreman describes his experiences from liftoff to living and working in space. He was selected to be an astronaut in 1998. He flew on space shuttle Endeavour in March 2008, and he returned to the station on space shuttle Atlantis in November 2009. Foreman has logged over 637 hours in space, with over 32 of those hours in a spacesuit during five spacewalks.

Watch this episode of NASA Now beginning on Nov. 3 by visiting the NES Virtual Campus website.

Follow STS-133 Launch and Mission

STS-133 mission patchDiscovery will carry a crew of six to and from the space station – Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott – as well as what used to be the Leonardo Multipurpose Module on a one-way trip. It’s now called the Permanent Multipurpose Module, and rather than returning, it will stay attached to the station’s Unity node to provide extra storage for the space station. And though the concept of a closet in space may not sound too exciting, it’s becoming more important all the time. 

Following the STS-133 mission, Discovery will be the first of the shuttle fleet to retire. By the end of STS-133, 180 people will also have flown aboard Discovery, including the first female shuttle pilot and the first female shuttle commander (who happen to be the same person – Eileen Collins), the first African American spacewalker (Bernard Harris) and the first sitting member of congress to fly in space (Jake Garn). 

Keep up with STS-133 by visiting the mission website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website.

STS-133 Prelaunch Webcast for Students (date & time update 11-3-10)

Mission Webcast logo shown on TV screen

Date and time to be determined, based on the STS-133 launch schedule: Join hosts Damon Talley and Rachel Power LIVE onthe Web from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the launch of STS-133 and learnabout the mission and crew.

Theshuttle Discovery’s mission will carry Robonaut 2, the Permanent MultipurposeModule, and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 to the International Space Station.STS-133 will be the 35th shuttle mission to the station.

Submitquestions, both leading up to and during the LaunchCast, at Questions will be answered during the live webcast!

Towatch the webcast, go to

To get the latest information about the launch and progress of STS-133, visit the mission website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website.

Last Shuttle External Tank Rollout at Michoud Assembly Facility

External tank departs assembly building at MichoudThe last external tank (designated ET-138) scheduled to fly on a shuttle mission was completed on June 25 at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility near New Orleans. ET-138 will travel on a 900-mile sea journey to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it will support shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 launch.

Taller than a 15-story building and more than 27 feet in diameter, the external tank feeds 145,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and 390,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen to the main engines. The three main components of the external tank include a liquid oxygen tank, liquid hydrogen tank and a collar-like intertank. The intertank connects the two propellant tanks, houses instrumentation and processing equipment, and provides the attachment structure for the solid rocket boosters.

When ET-138 arrives at KSC, it will be mated to shuttle Endeavour and solid rocket boosters for the STS-134 mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than mid-November 2010.

To read more about the mission, visit the NASA website at

You and your students can read about NASA missions and what they do at