Thursday, March 28, 2013

Space Updates

Lots going on in the world of Space this week!  Just moments ago a Soyuz rocket carrying 2 Russian Cosmonauts and 1 US Astronaut took off for the ISS!!!  It was a night launch, and so it was really cool to watch for about the first 10 seconds and then you couldn't see anything anymore, but man are those first 10 seconds beautiful!  The really cool thing about this particular Soyuz launch is that the astronauts onboard are going to reach the ISS in a staggeringly short period of time!  A typical Soyuz will rendezvous and dock with the ISS in 2 days.  After testing out new rendezvous techniques on three unpiloted Russian Progress cargo spacecraft recently, the astronauts will now take only 6 hours and 4 orbits of the earth before they reach the ISS!  Only 6 hours - I'm seriously impressed! During their stay, these new inhabitors of the ISS will perform over 180 investigations and more than 430 investigators from around the world will be involved in the research!
Another exciting event this week was the watery splashdown of the SpaceX Dragon capsule.  This is SpaceX's second successful cargo mission to the ISS, and it was a VERY productive one.  Want to know what work NASA is accomplishing on the ISS and how it benefits humanity?  This capsule alone brought back investigations that could aid in food production during future long-duration space missions and also enhance crop production on Earth, plus ones that will help in the development of more efficient solar cells, detergents, and semiconductor-based electronics.  In addition, Dragon also brought back several research samples that will help scientist continue to examine how the human body reacts to long-term spaceflight and will produce results that can benefit medical studies for us here on Earth. 
And that's not even all for this week!  We also had an Atlas 5 launch on Tuesday which made for an unprecedented fourth Atlas 5 launch in four months!  The Atlas 5 was carrying a surveillance satellite into orbit for the Pentagon. It was a beautiful launch, you can see more pictures here.  

One manned launch, one unmanned launch, and unmanned ISS supply mission landing!  What an exciting week in space!

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