Commute From Earth To Space Station Just Got Shorter

Three astronauts have arrived at the International Space Station after being the first to try out a new “express” shortcut that slashes their launch-to-docking commute from two days to just six hours.

The crew of the Soyuz capsule, Russians Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin and American Chris Cassidy, docked with the ISS late Thursday after blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. En route to the station, they made “only four orbits instead of the usual two-day launch-to-docking mission profile for a Russian spacecraft,” NASA says.

Although the expedited trip has been successful twice before with unmanned cargo-carrying Soyuz capsules known as Progress, the mission that docked on Thursday is the first manned crew to accomplish the feat. (NPR)

NASA photos and screen grabs

A ‘Picture Perfect’ Launch
Looking like a bright star streaking up into a black sky, a rocket took off before dawn today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying an unmanned capsule filled with food, clothes, and other supplies for astronauts on the international space station.
But this robotic cargo ship doesn’t belong to NASA. Instead, it’s owned by a company called SpaceX, which made history by launching the first ever private spacecraft on a mission to the station.
SpaceX has a $1.6 billion cargo-delivery contract with NASA, which is turning routine flights to the station over to industry so that the veteran space agency can start to focus on more ambitious exploration efforts. (NPR)
Photo: Historic @SpaceX #DragonLaunch to ISS. @NASA on Twitpic

A ‘Picture Perfect’ Launch

Looking like a bright star streaking up into a black sky, a rocket took off before dawn today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying an unmanned capsule filled with food, clothes, and other supplies for astronauts on the international space station.

But this robotic cargo ship doesn’t belong to NASA. Instead, it’s owned by a company called SpaceX, which made history by launching the first ever private spacecraft on a mission to the station.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion cargo-delivery contract with NASA, which is turning routine flights to the station over to industry so that the veteran space agency can start to focus on more ambitious exploration efforts. (NPR)

Photo: Historic @SpaceX #DragonLaunch to ISS. @NASA on Twitpic

NASA Switches On Robot Astronaut
The crew of the International Space Station on Tuesday switched on a humanoid robot, “Robonaut 2,” or R2, better known by its Twitter handle “AstroRobonaut.” You can watch the crew booting up the robot right now live via a Ustream. So far, they’ve managed to get it to move its arms, which approach a human’s in terms of dexterity. (TPM)
@AstroRobonaut
Robonaut Twitpic

NASA Switches On Robot Astronaut

The crew of the International Space Station on Tuesday switched on a humanoid robot, “Robonaut 2,” or R2, better known by its Twitter handle “AstroRobonaut.” You can watch the crew booting up the robot right now live via a Ustream. So far, they’ve managed to get it to move its arms, which approach a human’s in terms of dexterity. (TPM)

@AstroRobonaut

Robonaut Twitpic

The Return Of Expedition 29
Russian support personnel work to help get crew members out of the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft shortly after the capsule landed with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum and flight engineers Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa in a remote area outside of the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, at 9:26 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 (8:26 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, Kazakhstan time). NASA astronaut Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Furukawa are returning from more than five months aboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 28 and 29 crews. (NASA)
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Return Of Expedition 29

Russian support personnel work to help get crew members out of the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft shortly after the capsule landed with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum and flight engineers Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa in a remote area outside of the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, at 9:26 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 (8:26 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, Kazakhstan time). NASA astronaut Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Furukawa are returning from more than five months aboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 28 and 29 crews. (NASA)

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

China Launches ‘Heavenly Palace-1’
With a nighttime liftoff from a launch pad on the edge of the Gobi Desert, China today put its unmanned Tiangong-1 (“Heavenly Palace-1”) module into orbit and started a decade-long project aimed at constructing its own space station.
Xinhua, China’s official news agency, says that “Tiangong-1, or ‘Heavenly Palace-1,’ speaks of a dream home from Chinese folklore, long envisioned as a secret place where deities reside.” (NPR)
VIDEO OF THE LAUNCH
Photo: Wang Jianmin/AP/Xinhua

China Launches ‘Heavenly Palace-1’

With a nighttime liftoff from a launch pad on the edge of the Gobi Desert, China today put its unmanned Tiangong-1 (“Heavenly Palace-1”) module into orbit and started a decade-long project aimed at constructing its own space station.

Xinhua, China’s official news agency, says that “Tiangong-1, or ‘Heavenly Palace-1,’ speaks of a dream home from Chinese folklore, long envisioned as a secret place where deities reside.” (NPR)

VIDEO OF THE LAUNCH

Photo: Wang Jianmin/AP/Xinhua

Hangin’ out
While anchored to a foot restraint on the end of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), astronaut Scott Parazynski, STS-120 mission specialist, assesses his repair work as the solar array is fully deployed during the mission’s fourth session of extravehicular activity (EVA) while Space Shuttle Discovery is docked with the International Space Station. (November 2007, NASA via ESA)

Hangin’ out

While anchored to a foot restraint on the end of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), astronaut Scott Parazynski, STS-120 mission specialist, assesses his repair work as the solar array is fully deployed during the mission’s fourth session of extravehicular activity (EVA) while Space Shuttle Discovery is docked with the International Space Station. (November 2007, NASA via ESA)