Category Archives: ISS

Soyuz Launched

This video of the Expedition Launch 40/41 launch yesterday (29 May Kazakh time) comes to us from NASA.

A beautiful night time launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan sending Soyuz Commander Max Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman and Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency to the International Space Station for a five and a half month mission.

There is video from inside the spacecraft of the crew. I was kind of daydreaming about how the ride was bumpy. Then the third stage cutoff occurred, gave the passengers quite a jolt and I have to admit it made me jump too.

The Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft docked with the ISS and the hatch between them was opened at 11:52 EDT (03:52 UTC) just about eight hours after launch. Everyone made it safe and sound.


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Blue Dot Launch Day!

The Expedition 40 crew from left are Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov, Commander Steve Swanson, and Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev, Alexander Gerst, Maxim Suraev and Reid Wiseman. Credit: NASA
The Expedition 40 crew from left are Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov, Commander Steve Swanson, and Flight Engineers Oleg Artemyev, Alexander Gerst, Maxim Suraev and Reid Wiseman. Credit: NASA

The second half of the Expedition 40 crew is set to lift off today at 19:57 UTC (15:57 EDT). The first half of the Expedition 40 crew arrived at the station in March.

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and Roscosmos commander Maxim Suarev will spend just six hours traveling to the International Space Station after launching in the Soyuz 39 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

This is also the start of Alexander’s so-called Blue Dot mission. Very cool stuff the Blue Dot includes dozens of experiments in physics, biology, human physiology and radiation.

One of the experiments is the installation of the German-built Electromagnetic Levitator. IT is a that furnace can melt and solidify metal alloys away from the container’s walls, helping scientists to understand the solidification and physical properties of molten alloys.

Another and possibly sketchy (just kidding) experiment is rodent research hardware to provide a platform for long-duration rodent experiments in space. Plus Rodent Research-1 testing the operational capabilities of the new hardware system, including the transporter, rodent habitat and access unit.

If we find out mouse traps are being taken to the ISS on a cargo ship or the Expedition flight (41) in September we will know not everything went to plan.

You should be able to get a live look at the launch at the NASA TV link in the banner above.

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Live ISS Video

Live streaming video by Ustream

Here’s the ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment. The experiment was activated on 30 April 2014 and has worked quite well.

The UStream page tells more of the experiment and answers like: who do I see a black or gray screen.

NASA and JSC have a nice page with the video, a plot of the ISS location and a Google map of what’s under the ISS. Have a look.

When we had the shuttle missions NASA would often show television video of the Earth as the shuttle orbited. Frequently it was the best programming on TV. I need to watch as the ISS passes over thunderstorms in the dark areas to see if the HD camera picks up the lightning flashes.

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Spacewalk Success

NASA Astronauts Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio completed a spacewalk today to replace a failed Multiplexer/Demultiplexer (MDM) back up computer, think of it as kind of a relay computer used to run some of the robotics on the spacecraft.

The problem was discovered during a routine check by Mission Control. This was a backup system and there was no problem with the primary system so there was never a danger to either the crew or the station. Still the back up is kind of an urgent need. The failed computer has been in place since April 2002 when is was delivered already installed on a station truss.

Hopefully we will hear of any forensic results concerning the failure; 12 years could be just old age. Still I’m curious.


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Indian Ocean Storm

A pre-winter storm off the Australian coast on 29 march 2014. Click for larger. Image: International Space Station.

This was a “pre-winter” storm off the coast of southwestern Australia was photographed from the International Space Station while over the southeastern Indian Ocean (at about 45.6 deg south and 108.9 deg west) on March 29th. The clockwise cloud pattern is opposite for storms in the north. I don’t know what the scale of the image is but the strom looks pretty large.

You should go to the NASA page featuring this image and grab a copy for your desktop it looks AMAZING!

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Cygnus Leaves the ISS

The Cygnus cargo ship just after being released from the ISS robotic arm. Click for larger. Credit: NASA TV

Orbital Sciences Corporation is putting the final touches on the first its first operational resupply of the International Space Station with the Cygnus cargo ship.

Cygnus left the the ISS this morning at 11:41 UTC when it was released the robot arm 260 miles above the South Atlantic east of Argentina. Once released Cygnus “set sail” so to speak by firing thrusters for a minute and a half to get it out of a safety zone maintained around the ISS.

On Wednesday (19 February) a couple of braking manuvers will slow the Cygnus enough to cause it to fall out of orbit in a controlled fashion.

Cygnus was launched a little over a month ago and on 12 January after a three day journey from Wallops Island Virginia, it arrived at the ISS with almost 2,800 pounds of supplies.

After the supplies were removed from Cygnus it was refilled with trash from the station. No recycling here, the Cygnus and its contents will burn up during the re-entry interface with the atmosphere. The re-entry if we can call it that, will occur at around 18:20 UTC tomorrow, Wednesday 19 February over the Atlantic between South America and New Zealand.

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Spacewalk Ahead

A beautiful image of the Soyuz in the foreground and Cuba in the background taken by an unnamed member of Expedition 38.

There will be a spacewalk by Expedition 38 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy tomorrow (27 January).

The spacewalk will be to reinstall a pair of cameras after a 27 December attempt to install them were not completely successful. In that EVA, the longest Russian spacewalk ever, the cameras would not deliver a signal to flight controllers. Troubleshooting on several cable connectors was performed by the crew and hopefully the issue has been solved.

Coverage from NASA TV will begin tomorrow at 13:30 UTC / 08:30 EST and the hatch opening at 14:10 UTC / 09:10 EST. You should be able to watch from the link in the banner and certainally from the NASA TV link.


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Supercritical Water

Fire and water do mix? Crew members aboard the ISS are conducting experiments that use water to help start a fire. I never would have guessed, but my water knowledge is more in the super-saturated dissolved gas realm.

There is an application too: “this fundamental physics investigation could have down-to-Earth benefits such as clean-burning municipal waste disposal and improved saltwater purification.”


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