On September 22, 2010, with the departure of the Expedition 23 crew, Colonel Douglas H. Wheelock assumed command of the International Space Station and the Expedition 25 crew. He has been tweeting pictures to his followers since he arrived at the space station. We thought that we should put some of them together as a tribute to him and the whole ISS crew.
Discovery launch September, 2010.
Soyuz 23S, “Olympus” docked to the nadir side of the Space Station. This will be our ride back home to planet Earth when our work is complete here. Thought I would tweet this view out of the Cupola, as we were passing over the majestic snow-capped Caucuses. The sun rising and reflecting off the Caspian Sea (9-26-2010). Space Photo: NASA, Astronaut Wheelock.
Patagonia, southern tip of South America
Egypt, Israel, Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea.
Our ‘Progress 39P’ unmanned resupply spaceship on final approach for docking this past Sunday. It was laden with food, fuel, spare parts, and much needed supplies for our orbiting outpost. The greatest gift was just inside the hatch…some bags of fresh fruit and vegetables. Such a wonderful treat after 3 months of eating out of tubes and plastic pouches (9-15-2010)! Space Photo: NASA, Astronaut Wheelock.
Ayers Rock, Australia. This beast is 2.2 miles long and 1.4 miles wide.
The ‘Cupola’, attached to the nadir side of the Space Station, gives a panoramic view of our beautiful planet. Cosmonaut Fyodor took this picture from the window of the Russian Docking Compartment (Airlock). Here I am in the Cupola preparing a camera for our late evening Hurricane Earl flyover…trying to capture the moment…(8-31-2010). Space Photo: NASA, Astronaut Wheelock.
SpaceX can add another first to its ever-increasing list: On Thursday, it successfully launched the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B experimental spaceplane for the first time. This makes it the only launch provider to accomplish this besides the United Launch Alliance, and should help ensure SpaceX gets more business from U.S, defense contracts in future.
The launch vehicle used was SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which took off from the company’s LC-39A launch facility at Kennedy Space Center on Thursday morning at 10 AM ET (7 AM PT). The Falcon 9 deployed the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, as the payload is officially called, and then its first stage booster returned to Earth for a planned recovery at Cape Canaveral Air Force base via SpaceX’s LZ-1 landing pad. The goal was to get the launch up before the arrival of Hurricane Irma, and they succeeded.
While the specifics of the X-37B’s mission aren’t available to the public, it will be “conducting experiments” post-launch. Its last mission saw it orbit Earth for two years before returning via a landing in May. The X-37B, built by Boeing, is an uncrewed vehicle, but resembles the Space Shuttle on a smaller scale. It’s also designed to land like the Shuttle, using a landing strip like you’d use for an airliner.
The X-37B is the first uncrewed space plane for the U.S., and is designed for reusability at a reasonable cost. It’s aim is to fly and test new tech, and to return experimental results in a way that protects cargo and makes it suitable for post-operation examination. One of the goals with this launch was basically just to prove SpaceX as a viable launch option, which Boeing says will help ensure the flexibility and continued viability of the X-37B for experimental use.
For SpaceX, this marks the 16th recovery of a Falcon 9 first stage. The next mission to reuse a refurbished recovered booster is EchoStar 105’s SES-11 mission, which is taking place in October and which will reuse a booster first used for the CRS-10 ISS resupply mission.
Always the cows getting abducted by the Space Aliens. What do those sneaky Aliens want with the bovine? They sometimes seem to release the cows, sometimes not.
Some entrepreneur has come up with a really cool idea. An abduction lamp.
Why always dairy cows? This could be more about milk than beef.
Pic below: they beamed up the farmer along with the cow.
Some imaginative fellow was on an airplane flying over Nevada when he was sure he saw a giant UFO below the airplane. It was massive and giving off extremely bright lights. The guy must have thought Earth was under alien attack.
He took some photos below:
The “I want to believe” UFO community was abuzz when they saw the photos. Maybe some real evidence that the little green bastards do exist! But then a skeptic pointed out that the sighting was almost 99.999 percent a solar energy facility in the desert.
The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is a concentrated solar thermal plant in the California Mojave Desert, 64 km (40 miles) southwest of Las Vegas, with a gross capacity of 392 megawatts (MW). It deploys 173,500 heliostats, each with two mirrors, focusing solar energy on boilers located on three centralized solar power towers. Unit 1 of the project was connected to the grid in September 2013 in an initial sync testing. The facility formally opened on February 13, 2014, and it is currently the world’s largest solar thermal power station.
There are ten huge Solar Generating facilities in the Mojave Desert. The airplane passenger should have done some research before he came to a UFO conclusion.
173,500 of these heliostats (mirror reflectors).
US rocket company SpaceX completed back-to-back launches at the weekend.
Late on Friday, it used one of its refurbished Falcon 9 vehicles to put up a Bulgarian satellite from Florida.
Then on Sunday, SpaceX lofted another 10 spacecraft for telecommunications company Iridium. This time, the rocket flew out of California.
Both missions saw the Falcon first-stages come back to Earth under control to drone ships that had been positioned out on the ocean.
It means SpaceX has now had 13 landing successes for those missions it has sought to recover the booster. That said, Friday’s first-stage had a particularly hard landing, and looked bent over on the live video feed.
“Rocket is extra toasty and hit the deck hard (used almost all of the emergency crush core), but otherwise good,” quipped SpaceX chief executive, Elon Musk, on Twitter.
His firm does not expect to recover every booster, because the flight profile required on many satellite launches will lead to re-entry speeds that are simply too fast to curtail with the available propellant.
Friday’s mission was launched from the US East Coast, from the Kennedy Space Center’s famous Apollo and shuttle pad, 39A.
The “second-hand” Falcon 9 lifted off at 15:10 local time (1910 GMT).
Its passenger, BulgariaSat-1, was dropped off in orbit, some 30 minutes later.
The spacecraft will be used to beam TV into homes in Bulgaria and Serbia.
The Falcon booster was last flown in January, to launch 10 satellites for the Iridium sat-phone and data-relay company. And it was another Iridium launch that topped out the weekend’s activities.
This second mission, on a brand new Falcon, occurred on the West Coast, from the Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Iridium is in the midst of replacing its global network of satellites. Another 10 went up on this latest flight.
SpaceX has another six launches on the books for Iridium, whose existing network of more than 60 spacecraft is now well past its design life.
Sunday’s lift-off occurred at 13:25 local time (20:25 GMT). The returning booster on this occasion sported new titanium grid fins to help steer the vehicle back to its waiting drone ship.
The titanium ought to be more robust than the previous aluminium type, said Mr Musk, removing the requirement for repair or replacement. This should speed the turnaround of future boosters for re-use.
“New titanium grid fins worked even better than expected. Should be capable of an indefinite number of flights with no service,” the CEO tweeted.
The new Iridium satellites are replacing a network that is more than 20 years old
Iridium’s business is mobile communications, providing connections to anyone who is not near a fixed line. These customers include the military, oil and gas platforms, ships and broadcasters.
Increasingly, it also includes remote machinery reporting in its status to a central server. This machine-to-machine service has a big future, especially as more and more devices are linked together in the coming, so-called “internet of things”.
The new Iridium satellites also host payloads for two tracking companies. One of is Aireon, which aims to offer a service that reports the positions of aircraft by sensing their ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) transmissions. This would be useful in following planes that are beyond radar coverage, but could also help airlines plan more efficient routing.
The other hosted payload is for ExactEarth, which does something very similar with ships. Large vessels transmit an Automatic Identification System message that can be sensed from orbit.
Again, shipping companies can use the tracking service to keep tabs on vessels and to plot the best available course to a port.