Stories tagged International Space Station

STS-117 solar panels
STS-117 solar panels
Atlantis' crew installed a new set of solar arrays on the starboard side of the International Space Station. More photos can be seen in the STS-117 mission photo gallery.

An unmanned Russian cargo ship carrying 5000 pounds of supplies, equipment and gifts blasted off Saturday en route to the international space station. The cargo included oxygen, water, food, books, movies, gifts and other personal items for the crew, and snails intended for biological experiments.

Apr
18
2007

Fast in space: NASA astronaut Suni Williams ran a marathon Monday on a treadmill in the Intenrational Space Station concurrently with Earth-bound runners doing the Boston Marathon. Due to the weightless conditions in space, she had to be bungee-corded to the treadmill. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Fast in space: NASA astronaut Suni Williams ran a marathon Monday on a treadmill in the Intenrational Space Station concurrently with Earth-bound runners doing the Boston Marathon. Due to the weightless conditions in space, she had to be bungee-corded to the treadmill. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
In real time and space, NASA astronaut Suni Williams completed Monday’s Boston Marathon in about five seconds. That’s impossible, you say?

Actually, Williams ran the marathon while on a treadmill in the International Space Station. She started her 26-plus mile effort at the same time that runners in Boston began the Earth-based marathon. It actually took her 4 hours, 24 minutes to cover the marathon’s distance on the treadmill. She was running in an orbit 210 miles above the surface of the Earth.

But when you factor in that the space station is orbited Earth at 17,500 miles per hour, Williams’ body passed over the actual length of a marathon in just five seconds.

Running a marathon in space required some other special accommodations as well. Bungee cords were used to keep Williams connected to the treadmill because of the weightless conditions of space. And she followed the progress of the actual marathon going on in Boston with a laptop computer.

Two of her friends were running in the actual marathon on Earth, as well. Williams is an experienced marathoner and ran a three-hour-29-minute marathon in Houston last year.

Mar
16
2007

Retiring too soon?: Proposed budget cuts will likely leave NASA without any replacement spacecraft until 2015 for the space shuttle fleet that is to be retired in 2010.
Retiring too soon?: Proposed budget cuts will likely leave NASA without any replacement spacecraft until 2015 for the space shuttle fleet that is to be retired in 2010.
The United States will be in a space transportation pinch in the coming years if current proposed budgets for NASA don’t get an increase.

The three current space shuttles are targeted for mothballing in 2010 and new revised budgets for the replacement crafts won’t have anything available for American astronauts to fly in by 2015 at the earliest. More budget delays could push things back even further.

What that means is that U.S. space programs, including getting people and equipment to the International Space Station, will depend on the help of foreign or commercial space programs. Russia, who used to be our fierce foe in the race to space, could suddenly become a key ally in U.S. space endeavors.

Some experts say the budget problems could knock the U.S. out of its leadership position in space efforts. What do you think? What government programs would you be willing to see reduced in order for the U.S. to continue to have a strong fleet of space craft? Or do you think it’s too expensive to keep heading out to space anyway? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Dec
19
2006

Robert Curbeam: Astronaut and master mechanic.
Robert Curbeam: Astronaut and master mechanic.

Christer Fuglesang: Astronaut and master mechanic.
Christer Fuglesang: Astronaut and master mechanic.

Astronauts, Robert Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang, were able to fix a stuck solar panel on the International Space Station this Tuesday after a super long fourth space walk. I love this story because of the description of their work on a six and a half hour walk in space.

...spacewalkers spent about five hours poking the partly retracted panel with insulated tools and shaking the storage box to free the stuck sections.

Poking and shaking? So technical. I mean this reminds me of trying to remove the alternator from my old car. I just had to hit it with a hammer and shake it a bunch to get it unstuck. Its good to remember how pedestrian an astronauts' task can really be at times. Now, when I'm poking and prodding at my car I am not in a frigid vacuum. But doing work outside in a Minnesota winter can make you feel that way sometimes.

Aug
14
2006

Space station: NASA graphic
Space station: NASA graphic

Space station construction to resume.

After a three and a half year hiatus, construction of the International Space Station (ISS) is finally going to continue. One of the largest pieces, a power generating structure, will be attatched to the ISS. Weighing 17.5 tons, the 240 foot solar arrays on the P3P4 truss segment will generate 20 kilowatts. The 11 day mission could begin as early as August 27. Atlantis' crew members have been training for this mission for four and a half years, since before the Columbia tragedy.WMV video link

The ISS is about half finished

The station is nearly halfway through assembly. The next four flights will bring new truss segments, massive structural support beams, to the complex. The new segments will increase the mass of the station by almost 40 tons, the maximum weight of an 18-wheeled semi-truck.
Two of the trusses include huge sets of solar array wings, totaling more than 17,000 square feet. With a wingspan area the size of a national standard hockey rink, the panels will carry 130,000 solar cells. The new segments include giant rotary joints to allow the tips of the station "backbone" to move as the massive panels track the sun. NASA

To construct the station, more than 100 international space flights will have been conducted on five different types of vehicles launched from four different countries. If all goes well the ISS will be completed in 2010.

Read more about the ISS at Wikipedia.

Have you ever dreamed of walking in space? Get ready, it is now a reality (an expensive reality!) Space Adventures Ltd. Based in Vienna, Va. is sending wealthy customers up into space to scope out the International Space Station. The price: $15 Million plus a $20 Million airfare.