Thursday, February 18, 2010

President Obama Speaks to Orbiting Astronauts

Aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition 22 crew, dressed in blue shirts, and the STS-130 crew talk with President Barack Obama.

All 11 astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station and space shuttle Endeavour received a congratulatory phone call from President Barack Obama Wednesday. The president was accompanied at the White House by congressional leaders and a dozen middle school students from across the country who are in Washington, D.C. for a national engineering competition.

Joining the president were 12 students from Birney Middle School of Detroit, Elkhorn Middle School of Omaha, Neb., St. Thomas the Apostle of Miami and Davidson IB Middle School of Davidson, N.C. These students are in Washington as leaders of four of 39 teams participating in the "Future City" engineering competition hosted by National Engineers Week.

Building on the president's "Educate to Innovate" campaign and his emphasis on inspiring young adults to pursue excellence in science, technology, engineering and math, the students are all leaders of teams that are finalists. The competition included 34,000 seventh and eighth graders from across the nation who produced innovative ideas and designs for a city of tomorrow. The Davidson IB Middle School team was the overall winner of the national competition.

After the call, internal outfitting of the new station modules filled up most of the timeline for Wednesday, an extra day on orbit which was added specifically to support this activity. Crew members relocated the remaining system racks of the regenerative environmental control and life support system—both Water Recovery System racks, the Waste Hygiene Compartment, and the Oxygen Generation System—into empty rack spaces in Tranquility, and finished setting up hardware in the new cupola module.

The STS-130 mission included three spacewalks and the delivery of a connecting module that increases the station’s interior space. Node 3, known as Tranquility, provides additional room for crew members and many of the station's life support and environmental control systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, which is a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center that will provide a panoramic view of Earth, celestial objects and visiting spacecraft. The space station is now about 90 percent complete.