Apply Now for STS-131 In-flight Education Downlink Opportunity – Deadline Jan 6, 2010

Call for Proposals
NASA is seeking formal and informal education institutions and organizations, individually or working together, to host a live, in-flight education downlink during STS-131, the flight of educator and Mission Specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. To maximize these downlink opportunities, NASA is looking for organizations that will draw large numbers of participants and make a large-scale impact on education. Educational themes for the STS-131 mission include robotics and attracting and retaining girls in STEM disciplines.

Opportunity
During the STS-131 mission, Metcalf-Lindenburger and selected crew members will participate in downlinks. Downlinks are approximately 20 minutes in length and allow students and educators to interact with the crew aboard the space shuttle through a question and answer session. A downlink is a modified video conference in which participants see and hear the crew members live from space, but the crew does not see the audience. Downlinks afford education audiences the opportunity to learn first-hand from astronauts what it is like to live and work in space. Downlinks are broadcast live on NASA TV. Downlinks can happen any day during the mission and are not always scheduled during normal business hours. Because of the nature of human spaceflight, hosts must have maximum flexibility to accommodate changes in downlink dates and times.

Background
No earlier than March 18, 2010, the STS-131 crew will launch into space aboard space shuttle Discovery. The shuttle will deliver a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module filled with science racks to be transferred to the laboratories of the International Space Station. U.S. Navy Captain Alan Poindexter will command the seven-person crew of STS-131. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James Dutton Jr. will serve as Discovery’s pilot. Mission specialists are NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. Dutton, Metcalf-Lindenburger and Yamazaki will be making their first trip to space.

Who Can Host a Downlink?
Members of the U.S. formal and informal education communities are eligible to host a downlink. Examples include museums and science centers, local school districts, national and regional education organizations, and local, state and U.S. government agencies. NASA provides this opportunity at no cost to the host organization. Downlinks support national education standards and initiatives.

What You Need to Host a Downlink
To host a downlink, you need to receive NASA TV and have two dedicated telephone lines. The audio for the downlink is received through a telephone line. The second telephone line is needed so that NASA audio technicians have direct access to the host organization’s technical point of contact. The video is received through NASA TV. A LIMO channel is the preferred way to receive the video feed; however, receiving the feed through satellite or cable channels is also acceptable.

Review of Submitted Material
NASA is committed to inspiring the next generation of explorers. Proposals will be reviewed for relevance to the education community, education content, diversity of participants, continuity, and community involvement. Successful proposals will articulate how the host organization will maximize this opportunity.

Process and Deadline
The deadline to submit a proposal for an STS-131 downlink is Jan. 6, 2010 . Proposals must be submitted electronically to Teaching From Space, or TFS, a NASA Education office. A committee will review all proposals and notify organizations of their status. TFS personnel will work with the host to plan the downlink.

Interested parties should contact TFS to obtain information related to program expectations, content, format, audience, application guidelines and forms by sending an e-mail to JSC-TFS-STS-131@mail.nasa.gov

Opportunities Surrounding the Flight
Numerous opportunities will be available for formal and informal education communities to be actively engaged in the STS-131 mission. Information on the mission and related education activities can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/education/robotics

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