Jamestown spirit guides man's quest for moon: Sunita Williams
May 14, 2007 - 11:52:47 AM
Washington, May 14 - Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams has likened the drive to establish the first human outpost on the Moon to the pioneering spirit that guided American colonists 400 years ago.
Flying high overhead, she and two other modern-day explorers - the International Space Station Expedition 15 crew - delivered a special message as President George W. Bush visited Jamestown, Virginia, Sunday to honour the courageous settlers who braved the Atlantic Ocean to establish the first sustained English settlement.
Sunita Williams, speaking on behalf of Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov, saluted the Jamestown settlers saying, 'The same courage and conviction that brought Jamestown settlers to America in 1607 continues to drive today's explorers to establish the first human outpost on the Moon.'
NASA said three years ago Bush unveiled a comprehensive plan for space exploration that set the US space agency on a course to 'gain a new foothold on the moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own.'
NASA is partnering with Jamestown on a nearly 18-month series of events to promote this celebration of the spirit of exploration.
In 2006 NASA hitched a ride with the Godspeed Sail - a series of port calls to six US east coast cities made by a replica of the Godspeed sailing ship. The original Godspeed was one of three ships that brought the first English settlers to the New World.
Meanwhile, with repairs on the external tank on Space Shuttle Atlantis completed, Williams may return home next month after a six-month tour of duty. The shuttle is targeted for launch June 8. She will be replaced by Clay Anderson, one of the seven members of the newly expanded Atlantis crew.
A little piece of history too will hitch a ride on Atlantis which will be carrying a new set of solar power-producing wings for the space station, a $100 billion project of 16 international partners.
A lead cargo tag, dating back to the 1600s, is tucked inside a box in the shuttle's middeck. The tag is the only thing found in 13 years by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities archaeological digs at Jamestown Island that contains the word 'Yames Towne' on it. The tag's trip celebrates the link between explorers past and present.
Atlantis is scheduled to roll out to the launch pad May 16. There will be a flight readiness review May 30, NASA officials announced after the repairs were completed Friday.
'The teams have done a phenomenal job of repairing this tank,' said Bill Gerstenmaier, space operations associate administrator. 'We've done a lot of extra reviews to make sure we didn't miss anything-a lot of testing...to make sure things were done right and they've done a great job.'
John Chapman, manager of the external tank project pointed out that the tank will have a speckled appearance but it will not affect performance or safety.
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