NASA News: NASA Contract Modification for Support at Michoud Assembly Facility

WASHINGTON -- NASA has signed a one-year contract option with Jacobs
Technology, Inc., of New Orleans to continue manufacturing support
and facilities operations at the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans.

The one-year contract option begins on May 1, 2012. The performance
based, cost- plus-award-fee, mission services contract with an
indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity portion has a potential
mission services value of $37 million and a potential maximum order
quantity value of $137 million, with the exercise of this first
option period. The contract was originally awarded in May 2009.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:



NASA Glenn Event to Celebrate John Glenn's Legacy on March 2

CLEVELAND -- NASA's Glenn Research Center will host an event on March
2 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's orbital flight,
the first by an American.

"Celebrating John Glenn's Legacy: 50 Years of Americans in Orbit" will
be held at 1 p.m. EST at Cleveland State University's Wolstein
Center, 2000 Prospect Ave., in Cleveland. More than 800 complimentary
tickets are being distributed to the general public for this event
through a lottery by Cleveland State University in partnership with NASA Glenn.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Glenn Director Ramon "Ray" Lugo
will provide remarks during the one-hour program, which will include
a welcome from Cleveland State University President Dr. Ronald
Berkman. Space shuttle mission STS-95 pilot Steve Lindsey will pay
tribute from the astronaut corps to Glenn. The program will culminate
with a keynote address by the guest of honor Sen. John H. Glenn Jr.

Musical performances will be provided by the Cleveland Institute of
Music, The Singing Angels and a soloist from Cleveland State
University's music program. Doors open at noon and a special
pre-program musical performance by the Cleveland Institute of Music
will begin at 12:15 p.m., followed by a video tribute to Glenn.

"This is a great opportunity for our community to come together and
celebrate the achievements of John Glenn," Lugo said. "We are
delighted to combine the 50th anniversary celebration with the
anniversary of the center renaming. The inspiration that John Glenn
gives to millions of people along with the pioneering spirit that
lives in the hearts of all who work at the center will continue to
keep our nation on the path of exploration and discovery."

On March 1, 1999, the Lewis Research Center was officially renamed the
NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in recognition of
Glenn's contributions to science, space and the state of Ohio. As one
of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Glenn trained in 1960 at
Lewis in the Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility.

Others attending the tribute event include agency officials, Ohio
astronauts, NASA employees and contractors, elected officials,
several hundred high school students throughout northeast Ohio, and
100 Twitter followers selected to participate in a day-long Tweetup
event that includes tours of NASA Glenn and its visitor center at the
Great Lakes Science Center.

Following the program, Glenn, Bolden and Lugo will participate in a
news media opportunity and question and answer session with the
Tweetup participants. Reporters interested in covering the program
and media availability should contact Lori Rachul at 216-433-8806 by
noon on Thursday, March 1.

The program and media opportunity will be carried live on NASA
Television and streamed online at:


An interactive online feature about the Mercury program and Glenn's
flight is available at:


For more information about NASA Glenn, visit:



NASA Official Announces Chair of New Mars Program Planning Group

WASHINGTON -- NASA' s associate administrator for the Science Mission
Directorate, John Grunsfeld, has named former veteran NASA program
manager Orlando Figueroa to lead a newly established Mars Program
Planning Group (MPPG) tasked to reformulate the agency's Mars
Exploration Program. Figueroa's first assignment is to develop a
draft framework for review by March 15.

Grunsfeld made the announcement at an annual gathering of Mars
scientists and engineers in Dulles, Va. Figueroa, a consultant with
more than 30 years of aerospace experience, will lead the scientific
and technical team to develop an integrated strategy for NASA's Mars
Exploration Program in light of current funding constraints. The
team's initial focus will be on a possible 2018-2020 robotic mission.
The program's official framework will be developed in consultation
with the science community and international partners and is expected
to be released for full review as early as this summer.

"The team will develop a plan that advances the priorities in the
National Research Council's Decadal Survey, which puts sample return
as the top scientific goal, and leverages NASA's research in enabling
technology," Grunsfeld said. "Our investments in the new Mars program
will incorporate elements of advanced research and technologies in
support of a logical sequence of missions to answer fundamental
scientific questions and ultimately support the goal of sending
people to Mars."

The MPPG will report to Grunsfeld, a physicist and five-time flown
space shuttle astronaut. Grunsfeld is chairing the overall,
agency-wide reformulation strategy along with William Gerstenmaier,
associate administrator for the human exploration and operations
directorate, NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and NASA Chief
Technologist Mason Peck. The MPPG will ensure that America maintains
the critical technical skills developed over decades needed to
achieve the highest priority science and exploration objectives.

NASA has a recognized track record of successful Mars missions. The
rover Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004, is still operating
despite an official mission timeline of 90 days. There are also two
NASA satellites orbiting the Red Planet; the Mars Reconnaissance
Orbiter and Mars Odyssey. The duo continue to return unprecedented
science data and images. This August, NASA will land the Mars Science
Laboratory, "Curiosity," on the planet's surface. This roving science
laboratory will assess whether Mars was or is today an environment
able to support life. In 2013, NASA will launch the Mars Atmosphere
and Volatile Evolution orbiter, the first mission devoted to
understanding the Martian upper atmosphere.

NASA will continue to gather critical information to help scientists
understand the Red Planet. These data will be used in future years to
meet President Obama's challenge to send humans to Mars in the mid-2030s.

"We'll look at all of the assets NASA is developing to reach, explore
and study Mars, as well as spacecraft at or on its way to Mars," Figueroa said.

NASA already has been developing technology that will improve
precision in landing, the ability to conduct scientific analysis
remotely, handle and collect samples, and transmit larger volumes of
data back to Earth.

"The science and engineering communities have worked continuously over
a decade to define our knowledge gaps for Mars exploration, so we
have a solid starting point," Grunsfeld said.

Mars exploration is a top priority for NASA. America's investment in
exploring Mars during the past decade totals $6.1 billion. NASA
Administrator Charlie Bolden directed Grunsfeld to lead the
agency-wide team in order to optimize a coordinated strategy of Mars
exploration and continue America's leadership role in the exploration
of the Red Planet within available future budgets.

For more information about NASA's Mars programs, visit:



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