kottke.org posts about ISS
Could you imagine floating out in the vastness of space, even the relatively tiny vastness of space in low Earth orbit, in a tiny space capsule waiting to hook up to a slightly larger space station and if something goes wrong, you might die? But on the other hand, look at that incredible view! This HD video of a Soyuz capsule docking with the International Space Station gives you a small sense of how that might feel.
The docking itself takes place starting at around 17:00. The whole thing takes a bit longer than I remember from that Gravity movie. (via @badastronomer)
On Friday, astronauts Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko will be launched into space, where they will spend an entire year on the International Space Station. Time is doing a documentary series on Kelly's stay in space.
On March 27, the veteran of three previous space flights will take off for the International Space Station (ISS) and, along with cosmonaut Misha Kornienko, remain aloft for a full year. Meantime, Scott's twin brother Mark, a veteran of four space flights, will remain on the ground. The two men with their matching backgrounds, similar health and identical genomes, will serve as the perfect controlled experiment to learn more about how the human body handles weightlessness-and what can be done to minimize the damage during long-term trips to Mars and elsewhere.
The trailer is available here. Kelly and Kornienko will be the fifth and sixth people to spend at least a year in space...cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov spent 437 straight days in space in 1994-5.
RadioISS plays streams of the radio stations that the International Space Station passes over on its continual orbit of Earth. As I'm writing this, the ISS just floated over the southern tip of South American and RadioISS is playing Radio 3 Cadena Patagonia AM 789 from Patagonia, Argentina. Ah, it just switched to Alpha 101.7 FM out of Sao Paulo, Brazil. They're playing One by U2.
Romanian photographer Maximilian Teodorescu recently caught the International Space Station in transit across the Sun.
Teodorescu has also taken photos of the ISS in transit across the Moon.
These photos make the ISS seem tiny and huge all at the same time. And be sure to click through on the links to see the full-sized photos.
NASA is testing something they call SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) on the International Space Station...they are spherical robots that can fly around the station and perform simple tasks. They were inspired by the floating droid remote that Luke trains with in Star Wars. The most recent test was in December.
The Smart SPHERES, located in the Kibo laboratory module, were remotely operated from the International Space Station's Mission Control Center at Johnson to demonstrate how a free-flying robot can perform surveys for environmental monitoring, inspection and other routine housekeeping tasks.
In the future, small robots could regularly perform routine maintenance tasks allowing astronauts to spend more time working on science experiments. In the long run, free-flying robots like Smart SPHERES also could be used to inspect the exterior of the space station or future deep-space vehicles.
They are outfitting the Smart SPHERES with Android phones for data collection:
Each SPHERE Satellite is self-contained with power, propulsion, computing and navigation equipment. When Miller's team first designed the SPHERES, all of their potential uses couldn't be imagined up front. So, the team built an "expansion port" into each satellite where additional sensors and appendages, such as cameras and wireless power transfer systems, could be added. This is how the Nexus S handset -- the SPHERES' first smartphone upgrade -- is going to be attached.
"Because the SPHERES were originally designed for a different purpose, they need some upgrades to become remotely operated robots," said DW Wheeler, lead engineer in the Intelligent Robotics Group at Ames. "By connecting a smartphone, we can immediately make SPHERES more intelligent. With the smartphone, the SPHERES will have a built-in camera to take pictures and video, sensors to help conduct inspections, a powerful computing unit to make calculations, and a Wi-Fi connection that we will use to transfer data in real-time to the space station and mission control."
Here's some video from a past test:
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who has spent almost a year in space, gives us a 25-minute tour of the International Space Station. AKA the nerdiest episode of MTV Cribs.
Perhaps you've seen the recent videos of the Earth at night taken from the ISS...they were a bit rough. This? This is five minutes of gorgeous HD:
You can watch it embedded here but what you'll really want to do is head over to Vimeo so that you can watch it in fullscreen HD. (via colossal)
Time lapse movie composed of photographs taken from the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth at night.
This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars of our galaxy.
For one thing, sleeping is more troublesome than you'd think, considering the remote location:
The onslaught of apparent days and nights would play havoc with astronauts' body clocks, so a shutters-down and bedtime schedule is imposed by mission controllers. Each of the crew has a closet-like cabin where they can hook a sleeping bag to the wall and settle down for the night. Some strap pillows to their heads to make it feel more like lying down. The lights don't go out completely, though. People dozing in orbit see streaks and bursts of bright colour caused by high-energy cosmic rays painlessly slamming into their retinas. Fans and air filters add to the distractions, so some astronauts wear ear plugs to block out the constant hum.
Unsurprisingly, falling asleep can take some getting used to. Just as you are nodding off, you can feel as though you've fallen off a 10-storey building. People who look half asleep will suddenly throw their heads back with a start and fling out their arms. It gets easier with time. One Russian crew member is renowned for doing without a sleeping bag and falling asleep wherever he ends the day. Anyone still awake after bedtime would see his snoozing form drift by, slowly bouncing off the walls, his course set by the air currents that gently pushed and pulled him.
Whoa! The whole thing is worth a read.
The Expedition One crew, consisting of one American and two Russian astronauts, spent 136 days in space aboard the International Space Station. Their logs include a record of the movies they watched while on their mission.
6 Feb 2001: We ate some dinner and watched the last part of "City of Angels". Shep did his best to explain to Yuri and Sergei what the phrase "chick flick" means.
24 Feb 2001 We put some chow and the DVD player in the Soyuz and close the hatch about 0530. It takes 2 orbits to get the first set of hooks off and the docking tunnel pressure checked. We get the "Austin Powers" sequel in while all this is taking place. (Maybe a Soyuz first here).
Update: The Expedition One crew also documented their many computer problems.
Sergei notices that the Russian PCS laptop has locked up. He tries to reboot, but the Sun application software won't load. Lots of messages on the screen noting data errors. Sergei thinks that it may be the hard drive. He boots up windows to see if the windows partition runs OK--it does. So at least some of the hardware is functional.
Maybe they need Macs?
When you're a Muslim in orbit, how do you determine which way Mecca is and how often you need to pray? "The ISS is more than 200 miles from the Earth's surface and orbits the earth every ninety-two minutes, or roughly sixteen times a day. Do we have to worship eighty times a day (sixteen orbits a day multiplied by five prayer times)?"
Russia plans to drive a golf ball off of the ISS with a gold-plated, scandium alloy six-iron into a four-year, low-earth orbit....which may actually damage the space station if the ball is not "hit out of the station's orbital plane". I understand this event will be debuting at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.