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Happy Birthday, ISS!


It’s been 15 years since the first piece of what we now know as the International Space Station left the surface of our planet. It was Russia’s Zarya module, launched aboard a Proton rocket on Nov. 20, 1998, and the U.S. followed suit two weeks later with the Unity module sent aboard the shuttle Endeavour. Since then, in what is truly an international effort, the Station was assembled piece by piece until its ultimate ‘official’ completion in 2011 (more research instruments and upgrades have been added since then, of course.)

iss027e036656Orbiting the planet 16 times every day and consistently occupied since 2000, the ISS is not only an invaluable space research lab but also a testament to what we humans can do when we cooperate successfully and focus our energies and abilities toward a common goal, overcoming the challenges of national politics, economic difficulties, and even the barriers of language and culture. It is a lofty achievement, but the work that is done there each day is for the benefit of everyone.

And don’t forget about the view! Our planet is quite beautiful from 260 miles up — and the video above, assembled from time-lapse photos taken from the ISS and edited by David Peterson, shows that wonderfully. See a collection of photos taken from the Space Station here.

“Station is truly an engineering marvel and a testament to what we can accomplish when we all work together. I think one of the most enduring legacies will be the international cooperation we have achieved in building and operating it. It has provided us the framework for how we will move forward as we explore beyond our home planet, not as explorers from any one country, but as explorers from planet Earth.”

– Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana

Read more about the 15th anniversary of ISS here, and check out a cool infographic of Station facts and figures below:

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A Historic Observatory’s Connection to the Space Station

Ladd Observatory in Providence, RI, seen today and after its opening in 1891 (Brown University)

Ladd Observatory in Providence, RI, seen today and after its opening in 1891 (Brown University)

It’s a wonderful thing for children to look up to their fathers, but some kids have to look a little further than others — especially when dad is in command of the International Space Station!

Around 6 p.m. EST on February 14, the ISS passed over southern New England, and for a few brief moments the Station was directly above Rhode Island, at 37 miles wide the smallest state in the US. 240 miles up and heading northeast at 17,500 mph, the ISS quickly passed out of sight for anyone watching from the ground, but it was enough time for Heidi and Anthony Ford to get a view of the place where their father Kevin Ford has been living and working since the end of October… and thanks to Brown University’s historic Ladd Observatory and astronomer Robert Horton they got to see the Station up close while talking to their dad on the phone.

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Captain Kirk Calls the Space Station (VIDEO)

So what happened this morning? Oh not much… just watched CAPTAIN KIRK TALK WITH AN ASTRONAUT IN ORBIT, THAT’S ALL!

Yes, it’s true. Today, Feb. 7, William Shatner called in to the Space Station as it flew 240 miles over the southern Atlantic Ocean and chatted for a bit with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who graciously answered Bill’s questions on being an astronaut and the challenges of space flight. A recording of the event is above — check it out! After all, busy starship captains and space station commanders don’t get together very often.

Video: CSA/Ustream

Orion Versus the Space Station

ISS pass over western Florida, USA on March 2, 2012.© Jason Major

I captured the Space Station careening toward the Hunter on the night of March 2, 2012, just a little after 7:50 pm. A half-moon illuminated the event… who won? Well, let’s just say Orion’s still up there and the ISS faded away shortly after!

(I’m sure they’ll be back for another go! They’re a plucky bunch.)

Image taken with a Nikon D7000 and 18mm lens. 30s exposure, 1000 ISO, f/9.

Image © Jason Major.

More ISS Awesomeness!

This just in: new time-lapses from the ISS, by way of the Image Science & Analysis Lab at Johnson Space Center and The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Enjoy! (Descriptions from JSC.)

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The Town That Billy Sunday Couldn’t Shut Down

Expedition 30 photo of Chicago on the night of Feb. 2, 2012. (NASA)

Here’s a view from the ISS, looking down at the brightly-lit Chicago metropolitan area on February 2, 2012. Lake Michigan is the dark expanse seen below the clouds — perhaps a dense fog bank — at bottom center.

According to NASA, fog is not common in the Great Lakes area this time of the year as it’s usually too windy (the “Windy City”!) but this has been an exceptionally mild winter. The faint gold line of airglow — caused by ultraviolet radiation from the Sun exciting gas molecules in the upper atmosphere — can be seen just above the horizon. Minor auroral activity is visible in upper right.

And since we’re here, heres some fun facts about Chicago:  Read the rest of this entry

Moonset Over The Atlantic

Awesomeness.

No words necessary.

Via the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.

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