Friday, November 26, 2010

American astronaut shares stunning pictures of the Earth on Twitter

NASA Expedition 25 Commander Douglas H "Wheels" Wheelock has been entertaining his Twitter followers for months now with dozens of breath-taking pics tweeted from space.

Aurora Borealis as I will forever paint it in my dreams
One of his latest batch shows the green lights of the aurora borealis snaking over the northern hemisphere.

Others tweets include a picture of Britain at night - the extent of light pollution crystal clear - and following a request from a Twitter follower, he shared a picture of Ireland at night.

France and Britain (above) by night

Mr. Wheelock tweeted: "Earth at night, when viewed from space, is a beautiful mosaic of light that stirs the imagination.". He has delighted his Twitter fans with the photos.

Great Barrier Reef off the eastern coast of Australia.
Hurricane ‘Igor the Terrible’
At the southern end of South America lies the jewel of Patagonia

Morning breaking over the majestic Andes in South America
Lake Titicaca: the highest lake of the world
The Isle of Juan de Nova off the African coast
The Southern Lights.
And while remembering his childhood, he said: "On this sacred night, when the aurora looked like rain, I reflected back on my childhood dreams of flying a spaceship through the infinite expanse of space... to be among the mosaic of billions of stars, and visit other worlds. Now as I look from space at our planet I realize that had I been born and spent my childhood here in space... how much greater and more vivid my dreams would have been to visit this blue planet."

On November 18, the astronaut and father-of-one said he had mixed feelings about returning to Earth after almost six months in space.

"Almost time to return home... no regrets... but mixed emotions. Leonardo da Vinci was right ... 'For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been... and there you will long to return'." he said.

Sixteen sunsets each day

Another breathtaking sunset…we get 16 of these each day in Earth orbit, each one a treasured moment. That beautiful thin blue line is what makes our home so special in the cosmos. Space is cool…but, the Earth is a raging explosion of life in a vast sea of darkness.

From the ISS Cupola reflecting on a life challenge

From the ISS Cupola reflecting on a life challenge I heard long ago – 'Be strong enough to know when you are weak... brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid... never substitute words for actions. Learn to stand up in the storm, but have compassion for those who fall. Always have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high... learn to laugh but never forget how to weep.' - Until we meet again...

Douglas Wheelock 

Source: All Pictures by Douglas Wheelock

Expedition 25 arrives back home safely from space station

Expedition 25 Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft on the Kazakhstan steppe, wrapping up a five-month stay aboard the International Space Station.

Russian cosmonaut Yurchikhin was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at 01:23 GMT from the station's Rassvet module. The trio landed at 04:46 (11:46 on Nov. 26 local time) at a site northeast of the town of Arkalyk.

First to exit the capsule was Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, commander of the Soyuz spacecraft during launch and landing. He has returned from his third trip to the International Space Station, having flown on a space shuttle construction flight in 2002 and the long-duration Expedition 15 mission in 2007. And now with this latest voyage completed, Yurchikhin has logged 371 days in space.

The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 15. As members of the Expedition 24 and 25 crews, they spent 163 days in space, 161 of them aboard the station, and celebrated the 10th anniversary of continuous human life, work and research by international crews aboard the station on November 2.

During their mission, the Expedition 24 and 25 crew members worked on more than 120 microgravity experiments in human research; biology and biotechnology; physical and materials sciences; technology development; and Earth and space sciences.

The astronauts also responded to an emergency shutdown of half of the station's external cooling system and supported three unplanned spacewalks by Wheelock and Expedition 24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson to replace the faulty pump module that caused the shutdown. Their efforts restored the station's critical cooling system to full function.

As alraedy mentioned Yurchikhin has logged 371 days in space, Wheelock 178 days and Walker 163 days.

With Expedition 25 back on the planet safe and sound, the International Space Station continues to circle Earth with the new Expedition 26 crew of commander Scott Kelly and Russians Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka. Their increment officially began when the Soyuz TMA-19 undocked.

Juan Martín Canales Romero
ISS Columbus Operations Coordinator

ISS crew members on his way home

Hot news from the Space Station:

01:23 GMT - UNDOCKING occurred!
The Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft has separated from the space station after 161 days there, setting the stage for tonight's return to Earth with two NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut. The undocking occurred 225 miles over the Russian-Mongolian border.

Doug Wheelock, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Shannon Walker

Some minutes before at 01:19 the International Space Station was placed into a "free drift" mode in preparation for the Soyuz departure. The complex was maneuvered into the proper orientation for undocking. 

Command of the International Space Station now belongs to the new Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly and Russians Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka. They will be joined by another American, a Russian and an Italian when the next Soyuz arrives on December 17.

The deorbit burn is coming up at 03:55:12 GMT, a braking maneuver lasting 4 minutes and 21 minutes, based on the latest timeline from Mission Control. Separation of the Soyuz modules is now expected at 04:20:30 and entry interface at 04:23:29. The parachutes deploy at 04:32:13, leading to touchdown around 04:46:34 GMT.

It was for the moment from Mission Control Center.

Juan Martín Canales Romero
ISS Columbus Operations Coordinator

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Space station trio coming back to Earth later tonight

Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut will depart the International Space Station tonight and return to Earth in a parachute-equipped Soyuz descent capsule after a half-year in orbit. Undocking comes at 01:22 a.m. Nov. 26, and touchdown in Kazakhstan is expected at 04:46 GMT.

Commander Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin are heading home after their tour-of-duty as part of Expeditions 24 and 25.

The trio will say their farewells to the station's other residents - the new Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka - then float into the Soyuz TMA-19 craft currently docked to the station's Rassvet module and close the hatchway around 22:40 GMT.

Wheelock, Walker and Yurchikhin have been living on the station since June 17. Their departure begins the next rotation of crews and change of Expedition mission number.

Once the undocking happens, the station will be staffed by just Kelly, Kaleri and Skripochka until another Russian Soyuz spacecraft launches December 15 and docks two days later, boosting the crew back to the full size of six members with the addition of Catherine Coleman, Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli.

For me it will be another very interesting night shift at Columbus Control Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
Juan Martín Canales Romero
ISS Columbus Operations Coordinator

Change of Command Ceremony on the Space Station

Today November 24 at 21:13 UTC the Change of Command Ceremony aboard the International Space Station was completed. The American astronaut Doug Wheels who until today was Commander of the Expedition 25 changed the post with his countryman Scott Kelly who assumed the command of the International space station.

Previously at 13:00 UTC Wheelock handed over command of the station to Kelly as Commander of Expedition 26. Kelly will be the first astronaut to have commanded both a space shuttle mission and the station.

Wheels gave a short overview on his experience on the ISS and also mentioned that around 130 experiments are currently on going onboard the outpost. Moreover he thanked the ground teams for their constant support starting with the European Flight Control team in Oberpfaffenhofen, near Munich, Germany; contining with the Japanese colleagues at SSIPC in Tsukuba; and finalizing with the Russian and American controllers in Moscow, Houston and Huntsville respectively.

Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, NASA Expedition 25 Commander Doug Wheelock and NASA Flight Engineer Shannon Walker are scheduled to land in the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft on the northern steppe of Kazakhstan on Nov. 25 (Nov. 26 European and Western time).

In Spanish
Noticias abordo de la Estacion Espacial:
A bordo de la Estacion Espacial se llevo a cabo la ceremonia del cambio de Commandante. El astronauta Norteamericano Doug Wheels quien hasta hoy era Commandante del Incremento 25 le cedio el puesto a su compatriota Scott Kelly quien desde este momento asumió el mando de la Estación Espacial Internacional.

Juan Martín Canales Romero
ISS Columbus Operations Coordinator
Columbus Control Center
Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

Friday, November 19, 2010

STS-133 Shuttle Discovery's launch delayed

Work to repair the shuttle Discovery's external tank is going well, but more time is needed to complete an engineering review and to develop the necessary flight rationale, the justification for launching with a repaired tank after unexpected damage. As a result, NASA announced Thursday, the flight will remain on hold until at least Dec. 3, four days after the opening of a short end-of-year launch window.

If Discovery is eventually cleared for launch, countdown clocks would begin ticking around 06:00 GMT on November 30, setting up a launch attempt at 07:51:59 GMT on December 3. But officials cautioned that's a "no-earlier-than" launch target and if additional tests are needed, or if unexpected problems develop, the 133rd shuttle mission will remain on hold.

STS-133 Discovery's 39th and final mission
The next shuttle launch window closes December 6. If mission managers give up the possibility of an additional day in orbit, a launch on December 7 would be possible. The next confirmed shuttle launch window opens at the end of February.

Trying to get off on its 39th and final mission, Discovery was grounded November 5 when sensors detected a major gaseous hydrogen leak near a 7-inch vent line quick-disconnect fitting on the side of the ship's external tank. After the countdown was called off, engineers discovered a large crack in the tank's foam insulation near the top of the ribbed intertank section that separates the hydrogen and oxygen tanks.

At that time, launch was put on hold, delayed until at least November 30, the opening of the next available launch window.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) - Friday, Nov 19. Launch!‏

This Friday night / Saturday morning (0124 UTC), the Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) CubeSat will launch from Kodiak, Alaska onboard a Minotaur IV rocket. RAX was built by the University of Michigan and SRI International to complete a new space weather mission to characterize certain effects that disturb our atmosphere
and cause the northern lights.

It will be the first student-built satellite from the University of Michigan, and the
first National Science Foundation sponsored CubeSat.

You are invited to follow along with the launch with live streaming video at:

or read on FaceBook page at:

or follow on Twitter at:

Source: Victoria Alonsopérez, SGAC Uruguay

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Universidad Alas Peruanas anuncia el desarrollo de un Nanosatélite

UAP-Sat, son las siglas del primer nanosatélite de la Universidad Alas Peruanas, que será controlado en banda de radioaficionados (UHF-VHF), y cuyo diseño es realizado exclusivamente por los estudiantes, supervisados por los catedráticos de esta Universidad.

El UAP-Sat se basa en los estandares de un CubeSat, tiene forma cúbica, mide 10x10x10cm por lado y pesa alrededor de 1kg.

Misión y Visión
Dar a los alumnos la oportunidad única para capacitarse y de aplicar una sumatoria de conocimientos avanzados en Electrónica y Sistemas indispensables para preparar y controlar un vehículo en el espacio, experiencia que será un legado de ésta casa de estudios para todo el país, siendo a la vez un desafío para inspirar y entusiasmar a los estudiantes que trabajan al lado de sus profesores en ésta empresa.

El proyecto tiene como meta contribuir al desarrollo de la Ciencia y Tecnología en el Perú, y a la vez impulsar firmemente, el ingreso de nuestro país a la Era Espacial.

Objetivos Generales
El éxito de UAP-Sat no se medirá únicamente por la carga útil y el objetivo de colocarlo en el espacio. Los objetivos generales son:

* Demostrar que un grupo de estudiantes voluntarios pueden participar en los diseños electrónicos y de arquitectura de sistemas de un satélite.
* Demostrar que el Perú está en condiciones de ingresar a la carrera aeroespacial.
* Proporcionar a los alumnos la más altas prestaciones en ingenierías así como experiencia en gestión de proyectos.
* Contribuir con una extensión más al servicio mundial de radio digital de aficionados.

¿Qué podrá realizar el UAP-Sat?
Una vez en órbita será controlado por una estación terrena y puede ser contactado por radioaficionados, lo que significa que la información que recoja y archivos de datos, pueden ser descargados por cualquier operador radioaficionado en el mundo, sobre la que el satélite pase. Estos mismos archivos podrán ser recuperados por otros operadores, sea en tiempo real, en caso que el emisor y el receptor tengan contacto directo con el satélite, o en algún otro momento, en que el satélite se encuentre en una posición diferente en su órbita alrededor de la Tierra.

Los estudiantes de la UAP serán los principales operadores del satélite mientras que esté en órbita, continuando con el enfoque educativo durante todo el ciclo de vida del satélite.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

COLUMBUS European Laboratory - 1000 Days in orbit

Yesterday, November 2, marked a memorable anniversary of ten years of the space station, and today we celebrate again, because 3rd of November 2010 marks 1000 days that Columbus module has been in orbit.

We thank the Expedition 25 crew for taking such great care of the COLUMBUS European Laboratory.

Columbus video - Highlights of the STS-122 mission

A film featuring the highlights of the STS-122 mission: the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on 7 February 2008, the docking with the International Space Station on 9 February, connecting the Columbus laboratory two days later as well as the three EVAs (one featuring German astronaut Hans Schlegel). We can see inside the new European research lab for the first time and then the return of the shuttle on 20 February.

German astronaut Hans Schlegel at the Columbus laboratory (Image: ESA/NASA)  
Juan Martín Canales Romero
ISS Columbus Operations Coordinator

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

10th Anniversary of Crews aboard the International Space Station – Nov. 2, 2010

Today, we celebrate ten years of humans living and working continuously aboard the International Space Station. This global milestone is tremendously significant for all the space agencies and people involved in. It recognizes the success of an amazing feat of engineering and a magnificent leap forward in the story of human achievement. We need to congratulate the station teams and the thousands of engineers, scientists, technicians and all people worldwide who have worked on it reaching this anniversary.

Since Bill Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev first boarded the station as the Expedition 1 crew, more than 196 people have visited the complex, and by the exact time of the anniversary this morning, the station will have completed 57,361 orbits of the Earth, traveling a distance like 8 times from the Earth to the Sun and back (around 1.5 billion miles).

More than 600 different research and technology development experiments have been conducted on the station, many of which are producing advances in medicine, recycling systems and a fundamental understanding of the universe.

On October 25, the station set a record for being the longest continuously inhabited spacecraft. On that day, the space station eclipsed the previous record of 3,644 days set by the Russian MIR Space Station. The station is our toehold in space, and it will be an essential part of our work to send humans on missions beyond low Earth orbit in the future.

Representatives of the five international agencies that built and operate the outpost have agreed to extend the life of the station to at least 2020. Indeed, one of the station's greatest legacies is the international partnerships we have forged to create something awe-inspiring that benefits people all over the world. Partnerships with other nations will be essential to the global exploration enterprise of the future.

On board the station right now are six talented and courageous travelers representing NASA and RKA agencies. This week, the crew of STS-133 is expected to lift off on its way to the International Space Station aboard the last flight of shuttle Discovery. As we enter the station's second decade, our path forward will take us deeper into space and expand humanity's potential farther. The lessons we learn on the station will carry us to Mars and beyond.

NASA administrator gives a heartfelt thank you to the six crew members on orbit and all the operations teams over the years that have helped getting to this milestone day.

To see more about this unprecedent celebration visit following sites:

International Space Station: 10 Years and Counting

Ten Years on the International Space Station

The International Space Station: Together is the Future

International Space Station News

Congratulation to all my Flight Control Team colleagues in Oberpfaffenhofen, Houston, Huntsville, Moscow and Tsukuba!!!
Juan Martín Canales Romero
ISS Columbus Operations Coordinator