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First STS-128 spacewalk is completed

Houston -- NASA says astronauts Danny Olivas and Nicole Stott have completed the first spacewalk of space shuttle Discovery's mission to the International Space Station.

The astronauts, who began the STS-128 spacewalk at 5:49 p.m. EDT Tuesday, completed their tasks at 12:24 a.m. Wednesday

"During the spacewalk, shuttle Commander Rick Sturckow and Mission Specialist Pat Forrester guided the spacewalkers through the procedures," NASA said, noting astronauts Kevin Ford and Bob Thirsk operated the station's robotic arm during the event.

Also Tuesday, crew members inside the ISS entered the newly installed Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and unloaded a air revitalization system, a new crew quarters compartment and the Colbert treadmill.

Orion spacecraft passes design milestone

Houston -- The U.S. space agency says it has completed the preliminary design review of its next crew exploration vehicle -- the Orion spacecraft.

The space agency said Orion is being designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and other destinations and the preliminary design review is one of a series of procedures that occur before hardware manufacturing can begin.

Officials said the review assessed the overall system is safe and reliable for flight and meets all NASA mission requirements to support three types of missions -- flights to the International Space Station, week-long missions to the moon and missions to the moon for up to 210 days.

Astronauts begin transferring supplies

Houston -- NASA says the crews of space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station have started moving eight tons of supplies from the shuttle to the station.

European Space Agency astronauts Christer Fuglesang and Frank DeWinne became the first crew members to enter the newly installed Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module early Tuesday. NASA said the module is loaded with equipment that includes two research racks, a new station crew quarters, a freezer, an air revitalization system and the Colbert treadmill.

NASA center awards contract

Washington -- The U.S. space agency has awarded a one-year contract option to the Arctic Slope Regional Corp. of Greenbelt, Md., for engineering and scientific services.

The contract, with a total value of $200 million, provides engineering and scientific services for NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and its Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, in the areas of aeronautics, microgravity science, space exploration, space power and propulsion and related activities,
officials said.

The extension is the second of three one-year options provided in the original contract that was awarded in August 2006.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International.

NASA: Astronauts busy aboard the ISS

Houston -- Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have begun a week's work of joint operations that will include three spacewalks, NASA said.

Space shuttle Discovery docked with the space station at 8:54 p.m. EDT Saturday, delivering more than seven tons of cargo and a new crew member for the station and its Expedition 20 crew.

The space agency said the astronauts will, among other things, transfer 15,000 pounds of supplies to sustain the six-person crew on the station.

NASA said the astronauts Monday were to transfer the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module from Discovery's payload bay to the station's Harmony node.

Astronauts Nicole Stott and Tom Kopra swapped duties after the docking, with

NASA selects small-business projects

Washington -- NASA says it has selected 16 small-business projects as part of its small-business research and technology transfer programs.

Officials of NASA's Small Business Innovation Research program selected 12 proposals with a total value of approximately $7.2 million. The awards went to 12 small, high-technology firms in nine states.

The Small Business Technology Transfer Program selected four proposals with a total value of approximately $2.4 million. NASA said the awards went to four small high-technology firms in four states, partnered with three research institutions in three states.

Shuttle prepares for night launch

Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- The rotating support structure was rolled away from the shuttle Discovery Friday in preparation for a night launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA said.

The shuttle was targeted for liftoff at 11:59 EDT with no issues reported that could affect the launch, NASA officials said.

A launch Tuesday was delayed by storms and a launch Wednesday was scrapped after a problem with a fuel valve.

Discovery's external fuel tanks were to be loaded as astronauts prepared to ferry supplies to the International Space Station, NASA officials said.

Discovery, commanded by astronaut Rick Sturckow, is to deliver refrigerator-sized racks of equipment, including the COLBERT treadmill, an exercise device named after comedian Stephen Colbert.

NASA again delays space shuttle launch

Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- U.S. space agency managers have, for the fourth time, postponed the launch of space shuttle Discovery's STS-128 mission.

The NASA managers said they canceled Friday's 12:22 a.m. EDT scheduled liftoff to allow engineers more time to resolve an issue with a valve in the shuttle's main propulsion system.

The launch now is set for 11:59 p.m. Friday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"During loading of the shuttle's external fuel tank for Wednesday's launch attempt, a liquid hydrogen fill and drain valve located in Discovery's aft compartment failed to provide the proper indication when it was commanded to close," NASA said in a statement. "Engineers cycled the valve five times

NASA accepting scholarship applications

Washington -- The U.S. space agency says it will begin accepting aeronautics scholarship applications Sept. 1, for the 2010 academic year.

"These scholarships are a fantastic way to support our brightest students and encourage them to finish their education, expose them to NASA's research programs and inspire them to pursue a career in aeronautics," said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
The space agency said it expects to award 20 undergraduate and five graduate scholarships to students in aeronautics or related fields.

NASA awards four Ohio contracts

Cleveland -- The U.S. space agency says it's selected four Ohio companies to provide electrical, mechanical and structural construction-related work.

The contracts, for work at the Glenn Research Center's Lewis Field in Cleveland and NASA's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, were awarded to EdArch-Erie J.V. of Shaker Heights; R.J. Runge of Port Clinton; KBJ Inc. of Oakwood Village; and Pinnacle Construction and Development Group Inc. of Willoughby.

The one-year contracts begin in early October with four one-year options. The selected companies will compete for the tasks, NASA said. Each contract has a maximum value of $20 million.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International.