I is for International Space Station
Ever look up into the dark sky and see a white light ease its way across the galaxy? Chances are, you just saw the International Space Station (ISS).
Humans first started occupying the ISS in 2000 and since then, it’s been visited by 202 individuals. During NASA Tweetup last April, Astronaut Leland Melvin (@Astro_Flow) who logged 565 hours in space with two spaces flights to the ISS compared being on it a Benetton commercial because of the international diversity. (Melvin is now NASA Associate Administrator for Education.)
NASA launched space shuttles to deliver supplies and conduct studies but since the shuttle program retired in 2011, the U.S. space agency has been looking for alternatives to deliver supplies and American astronauts to the International Space Station.
SpaceX: Next Generation of Spacecraft
Sure our Russian friends are still launching spacecraft but something very exciting is scheduled to happen later this month. The first time in history a commercial company will attempt to send spacecraft to the International Space Station. The company SpaceX is a space transport company selected by NASA to resupply the Space Station. This is an unmanned mission.
With an April 30 target lift off at 12:22 p.m. EDT, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Will I attend the launch? Possibly, it’s the week of my birthday and seeing a rocket launch is AH-MAZING. If you haven’t seen one, I highly recommend it, however, be flexible when planning a visit. As I learned from space shuttle launches, and more recently, the Mars Curiosity Rover launch, lift off can be delayed for a variety of reasons.
If you’re planning on seeing the launch, NASA Kennedy has a list of suggested rocket launch viewing sites. I saw the final space shuttle launch from Space View Park and would do it again.
Did you know the width and length of ISS is equivalent to a football field?
If you have a Twitter account, follow @twisst to receive a tweet notifying you when the International Space Station will be visible above your location. I’ve been outside in the dark many a times looking up in awe thinking people are up there conducting research to improve the quality of life on earth.
More than 550 experiments have been or are currently being conducted on ISS ranging in human life sciences, physical and material science and Earth and space science. Read about was accomplished last year in the 2011 NASA Spinoff Report (give it time to download).
Have the slightest interest in space? Then you may enjoy the book Packing for Mars by Mary Roach in which she chronicles history of space exploration and how space agencies are preparing for Mars. I enjoy her matter-of-fact and humorous writing. She’s not writing from a scientist’s perspective but for everyday people like us.
So tell me, have you ever looked up to see the International Space Station and wave? C’mon, admit it. I have. Plenty of times.
This post is part of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!