iss crew

Can you identify a familiar area in the northeast USA just from nighttime lights? It might be possible because many major cities are visible, including (right to left) New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond and Norfolk – Boston of the USA’s Northeast megalopolis is not pictured. The featured image was taken in 2012 from the International Space Station. In the foreground are two Russian cargo ships with prominent solar panels. This Northeast megalopolis of the USA contains almost 20 percent of the people of the USA but only about 2 percent of the land area. Also known also as the Northeast Corridor and part of the Eastern Seaboard, about 10 percent of the world’s largest companies are headquartered here. The near continuity of the lights seem to add credence to the 1960s-era prediction that the entire stretch is evolving into one continuous city.

Object Names: Earth

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit:  NASA, ISS Crew

Time And Space

KAZAKHSTAN, BAIKONUR : A helicopter flies over a launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on March 25, 2015. Russia’s Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko is scheduled to blast off to the ISS from Baikonur early on March 28, Kazakh time. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV                        

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There are few feelings more gratifying than returning home after a long journey. For most of us, this means a plane trip or a car ride and then a final struggle with unfamiliar keys on the front door. However, if you’re coming home from space, things are a little more … scenic.

The amazing pictures above shows a Soyuz space capsule containing two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut. They’re returning to Earth after a six-month stint onboard the International Space Station (ISS). The capsule is seen floating above the clouds of Kazakhstan at around 5am local time. It landed safely in an upright position and the three travelers — the crew of ISS Expedition 42 — were safely retrieved.

youtube

Why, yes, I do spend my self-assigned lunch break watching YouTube videos.

New ISS Crew Takes The EXPRESS Route to The Station

MOSCOW: A new Russian-American crew arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) Friday after a fast-track trip from Earth of under six hours, the swiftest ever manned journey to the orbiting laboratory.

A NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts opened the hatches of their Soyuz-TMA spaceship and floated into the ISS to a warm welcome from the three incumbent crew, live pictures broadcast on Russian television showed. 

Russia’s Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin and American Chris Cassidy are now expected to spend the next five months aboard the station after their hitch-free launch and docking.

Their record-breaking trip from blast-off at Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to docking with the ISS lasted less than six hours, slashing the usual travel time by some 45 hours.

Previously, trips to the ISS had taken over two full days as spaceships orbited the Earth 30 times before docking with the space station. 

However, under a new technique now employed by the Russian space agency with the help of new technology, the Soyuz capsule this time only orbited Earth four times before docking.

After blast-off at 2043 GMT Thursday, the Soyuz capsule docked with the ISS at 0228 GMT with the hatches opening just over two hours later.

The quick journey – dubbed by NASA’s official television commentator as a “chase into space” – has been made possible by launching the Soyuz just after the ISS passes overhead in orbit.

After reaching orbit, the Soyuz capsule then had just over 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) to make up to catch up with the ISS, which the Soyuz achieved with newly-improved thrusters and maneuvering.

The manned “express” flight comes after Russia successfully sent three unmanned Progress supply capsules in August, October and February to the station via the short six hour route rather than two days.

The successful fast-track voyage is a huge boost for the embattled Russian space programme, whose reputation has been battered by several failed satellite launches in the last year.

However, there have been no problems to date with the manned spaceflight program.

After the retirement of the US space shuttle, Russia is now the sole nation capable of transporting humans to the ISS.

Ahead of the launch, the crew expressed satisfaction with the new fast-track schedule, including Vinogradov who at 59 is one of Russia’s most experienced cosmonauts.

Vinogradov, who spent 197 days on board Russia’s now defunct Mir space station in 1997-1998 and also flew to the ISS in 2006, said the shortened flight time has several advantages for the crew.

Firstly, as the crew only start to experience the tough effects of weightlessness after 4-5 hours of flight they will be in better shape when they arrive at the station for the docking procedure. 

“During the initial time the crew feels completely normal and works normally,” he said at the pre-flight news conference at Baikonur in televised remarks.

Also, the reduced time means that the Soyuz capsule will be able to deliver biological materials for experiments aboard the ISS in time before they spoil, something that would not have been possible with a two-day trip.

“With such a short time the crew could even take an ice cream – it would not be able to melt,” said Vinogradov.

On board the three spacemen are joining incumbent crew of station commander Chris Hadfield of Canada, Tom Marshburn of NASA and Russia’s Roman Romanenko.

Hadfield has over the last months built up a huge following online with spectacular photographs on Twitter and managed to photograph from space the fiery moment of ignition of the Soyuz-FG rocket at the nighttime launch in Kazakhstan.

3"Good morning, Earth! We’ve been up all night, getting the Soyuz safed and crew settled in. A long, great day. Six of us now here, together,“ he said on Twitter.

Cassidy is a veteran of US special forces who has served in Afghanistan and recorded a 15-day mission to the ISS aboard the shuttle in 2009. Misurkin is making his first space flight. (AFP)

Space Station Moonset

We’ve shared plenty of sunrise and sunset images taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Today, we have something a little different, as we see a series of images showing the Moon sinking behind the Earth’s atmosphere.

These images come to us from astronaut Terry Virts, who caught the scene last week and shared them via Twitter on 22 December. NASA astronauts have used hand-held cameras to take photos from space for over four decades, beginning with the Mercury missions. All told, they have captured more than 700,000 images of Earth from above, and ISS crews continue to add to that total.

In his autobiography, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins commented on the differences of looking down at the Earth and Moon: “The Earth from orbit is a delight—offering visual variety and an emotional feeling of belonging ‘down there.’ Not so with this withered, sun-seared peach pit out of my window. There is no comfort to it; it is too stark and barren.”

-JF

Image and source: NASA