Good views of International Space Station...

Created on Tuesday, 15 September 2009

 

Discovery_take_offIn the air again, the Space Shuttle Discovery took off last week for a mission to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS).

The Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 7:54 p.m. 30th august 2009 delivering more than seven tons of cargo and a new crew member to the International Space Station and its Expedition 20 crew.

Both were clearly visible from the UK and almost now in completion, the ISS looked brighter than ever with the Space Shuttle Discovery a little further behind as it approached for docking. The passes on Saturday night were also good although the second not lasting too long here in Northern England.

At 2.26pm Tuesday 8th and after delivering 7.5 tons of scientific equipment, food and other supplies for use by the station crew, the shuttle was returning home with 2.5 tons of specimens, K800_ISS_High_Resused equipment and trash. The Leonardo multi-purpose logistics module contains 2,412 pounds of return cargo, and the used ammonia tank assembly and European Technology Exposure Facility account for another 1,950 pounds in the unpressurized cargo bay. Discovery’s middeck also is carrying 861 pounds of cargo home to Earth. Space shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven astronauts ended a 14-day journey of more than 5.7 million miles with an 5:53 p.m. PDT landing Friday at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The mission, designated STS-128, delivered two refrigerator-sized science racks to the International Space Station. One rack will be used to conduct experiments on materials such as metals, glasses and ceramics. The results from these experiments could lead to the development of better materials on Earth. The other rack will be used for fluid physics research. Understanding how fluids react in microgravity could lead to improved designs for fuel tanks, water systems and other fluid-based systems.

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STS-128 Commander Rick Sturckow was joined on the mission by Pilot Kevin Ford, Mission Specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang. NASA astronaut Nicole Stott flew to the complex aboard Discovery to begin a nearly three-month mission as a station resident, replacing Tim Kopra, who returned home on Discovery.

Shuttle_JumboWeather concerns prevented the crew from returning to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the primary end-of-mission landing site. In 7-10 days, Discovery will be transported approximately 2,500 miles from California to Florida on the back of a modified 747 jumbo jet. Once at Kennedy, Discovery will be separated from the aircraft to begin processing for its next flight, targeted for March 2010.

A welcome ceremony for the crew's return to Houston was held yesterday at Ellington Field's NASA Hangar.

In addition to carrying a new station crew member, Discovery and the crew also delivered a new sleeping compartment, an air purification system and a treadmill named after comedian Stephen Colbert. The mission included three spacewalks that replaced experiments outside the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory and an empty ammonia storage tank. Ammonia is needed to move excess heat from inside the station to the radiators located outside.

Disney's toy astronaut Buzz Lightyear also returned from the space station aboard Discovery. He flew to the station in May 2008 on shuttle Discovery's STS-124 mission Buzz_Lightyearand served as the longest tenured "crew member" in space. While on the station, Buzz supported NASA's education outreach by creating a series of online educational outreach programs.

Advances in the fight against food poisoning, new methods for delivering medicine to cancer cells, and better materials for future spacecraft are among the results just published in a NASA report detailing scientific research accomplishments made aboard the International Space Station during its first eight years. The results include more than 100 science experiments, ranging from bone studies to materials research

NASA's research activities on the space station span several scientific areas, including exploration technology development; microgravity research in the physical and biological sciences; human physiology research; Earth science; and education. The report details 22 different technology demonstrations; 33 physical science experiments; 27 biological experiments; 32 experiments focused on the human body; Earth observations and educational activities. In addition to science important to long-duration human spaceflights, most findings also offer new understanding of methods or applications relevant to life on Earth.

Keep your eye out for the ISS now we approach Winter. Early darkness means we will see more of the Station than through the summer although since the ISS nears completion, reports are common of it being visible during daylight (approaching dusk) in recent months. This final photo shows a view of Heathrow Airport, London, taken by the ISS Crew in a recent pass over the Capital.

Heathrow

73 de Charles

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