December 31, 2013
Expedition 38 Astronauts To Help Ring In The New Year At Times Square
[ Watch the Video: Tune In For New Year's Greetings From NASA Astronauts ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Three astronauts currently serving on board the International Space Station (ISS) will help NASA send New Year’s greetings to those attending Tuesday evening’s festivities at Times Square in New York, the US space agency has announced.
NASA's Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, as well as Expedition 38 crewmate Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Expedition 36 flight engineer Karen Nyberg (who returned from the orbiting laboratory in November) and astronaut Mike Massimino are all scheduled to participate in the December 31 countdown to 2014.
Massimino will introduce a video greeting from the other astronauts during the event, which will be shown from 6pm EST to 12:15am EST on the Toshiba Vision screen atop One Times Square, located just below the New Year’s countdown ball. He will be welcomed onstage by senior manager of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Toshiba America Eddie Temistokle at 9:47pm, the space agency said.
“Prominently positioned below the world-famous Times Square New Year's Eve Ball, the dual LED screens will allow revelers in Times Square to see this special greeting from space,” NASA added. “Several NASA events have been broadcast in Times Square, including the Curiosity rover landing on Mars, which drew thousands of viewers, and the launches of two other spacecraft.”
December has been a busy month for Hopkins, Mastracchio and Wakata. With the assistance of their Japanese colleague, the two NASA astronauts completed a pair of spacewalks just days prior to Christmas to remove and replace a degraded pump module on one of the space station’s two external cooling systems.
With Wakata manning the facility’s robotic arm, Mastracchio and Hopkins removed the damaged pump module during a five-hour, 28-minute spacewalk on Saturday, December 22. During this spacewalk, the astronauts were able to set up a work site on the S1 truss, and disconnect and remove the 780-pound degraded pump module.
Two days later, on Tuesday, December 24, during a seven-hour, 30-minute extra-vehicular activity (EVA) procedure, they retrieved a replacement pump from an external storage platform, then installed it in the slot opened up by the removal of the previous unit . Doing so restored full cooling capability for the complex. It was just the second Christmas Eve spacewalk ever conducted, according to NASA.