Posts Tagged ‘Space Shuttle’

It’s getting cold

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

It’s only just past the middle of July and it’s getting really cold in the evenings. When I go outside to watch the ISS go over, I have to put my coat on. It was clear again tonight. The current phase of visible passes is coming to an end soon, so I’m glad I’ve been able to see it while it’s had the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked to it.

It should be hot and summery in July, but it’s been cold and very wet. A heatwave had been predicted for the summer, but although we had a bit of a heatwave in June, it’s gone completely now. I wonder if it will come back for August. I find that I need some good sunny summer weather, preferably some of it spent by the sea, to get me through the cold and dark of the winter.

That’s one small step for man…….

Monday, July 20th, 2009

It’s 40 years ago today that man first stepped onto another world. While Michael Collins orbited the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended the last 60 miles in the Lunar Excursion Module for the first Moon landing. The world watched and held it’s breath while Neil descended the ladder of the LEM. He paused to check how far the ladder had gone into the surface of the Moon which was only a couple of inches and not the several feet that one scientist had predicted.

Then he stepped down onto the surface of the Moon and uttered those now immortal words “That’s one small step for man….one giant leap for mankind.” Buzz Aldrin followed him as the second man to walk on the Moon, one of only 12 men to do so.

On the September 12th 1962 at Rice University, John F. Kennedy made what’s become known as his “We choose to go to the moon” speech.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win……..
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.”

This day 40 years ago on the 20th July 1969 that dream came true, and the world has never been the same since. This other world exploration gave people hope and let them feel that anything was possible. Over the years since then that hope seems to have melted away as the harsh realities of life and war and economics took hold.

But now there’s talk of new Moon landings. Space exploration hasn’t been forgotten. At this moment the International Space Station is orbitting the Earth with the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked to it. There are a record 13 astonauts above us. They are continuing to enlarge and build the space station where astronauts from different countries work together to experiment and push the boundaries of science.

This photo is my tribute to today’s historic events and is also on my Flickr photostream. I created it using a Vintage Lego Space Crater Moon Base Plate No. 305.

That's one small step.....

Clear skies

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

This evening when I went out to watch the International Space Station go over, it wasn’t dark yet. The sky looked blue. It didn’t look as if it was cloudly but I couldn’t see any stars so I wasn’t quite sure. Then a few stars started to pop out, so I knew it would be good visibility.

Right on cue over the tree at the end of the road came the ISS with the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked to it. It was coming from the West which is my favourite trajectory because it goes right overhead as I stand in my front garden and travels parallel with the road I live in. It was lovely and bright and as it was clear I could see it for the whole of the pass. It always amazes when I see it to know that it is over 200 miles high.

I’d like to imagine that it looked different and bigger with the Shuttle docked to it, but it really didn’t look any different from usual. It was exciting watching it knowing that, although I may never go to the USA and see the Space Shuttle, it had come to me, right along my road and that there were 13 astronauts gliding above me – a new record set by this mission.

Exactly 40 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had just enterd the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) ready for their Moon landing the following day.

Cloudy skies and Endeavour

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

At the moment where I live we are in a phase of visible passes of the International Space Station. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I love to watch the ISS glide gracefully overhead around 240 miles up and that it fascitates me to know that there are people living and working on it.

I went outside earlier this evening when the first of tonight’s visible passes was due but I was disappointed to find that there was thick cloud above me. I knew that I wouldn’t see anything, and I usually go back inside, but tonight I decided to stay outside while it was gliding overhead even though I couldn’t see it. Tonight was special because the Space Shuttle Endeavour is docked to it. I would have loved to have seen them both go over together. When I went back inside I knew that it would only take them just over an hour and a half to travel all the way round the earth and be back again so that I would have a second chance.

This time it was dark, too dark to tell if there were clouds above me, but I couldn’t see any stars which isn’t a good sign. I waited, hoping that there would at least be some gaps in the clouds, and then I saw it. It wasn’t big and bright and right overhead as it had been a couple of nights ago, it was further south and not very clear because of the cloud, but I could see it for at least part of it’s journey overhead. It looked bigger than usual and a different shape, so I thought I could see the Space Shuttle, but it could have just been my imagination!

Endeavour was launched on it’s sixth attempt. It had been held up for over a month by gas leaks and bad thunderstorms storms over the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Eventually it began it’s journey to the ISS the day before the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 on it’s way to the Moon and man’s first Moon landing, using the same launchpad that had been used to launch Apollo 11 on 16 July 1969.

With the addition of the seven astronauts on the shuttle, a new record has been set as it’s the first time that 13 people have been in space together, breaking the previous record of 10. I hope that during the 16 days of the shuttle’s mission, there will be some clear skies for me to have a good view of the ISS and Endeavour docked together.

ISS and the Space Shuttle Discovery

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I went outside this evening hoping to see the ISS going over with the Space Shuttle Discovery docked to it. The sky looked a dark velvety blue and I couldn’t see any stars, which wasn’t a good sign. As I looked up, rain fell into my face. That meant no ISS tonight as it would be too cloudy. I was disappointed. I always find it exciting to watch the International Space Station gliding across the sky, but when it has a Space Shuttle docked to it, it’s even more exciting. I’m never likely to go to America to see the Space Shuttle, but when it’s docked to the ISS, it can come to me!

But I did see them both yesterday. They were visible a bit earlier in the evening while the sky was still light blue. I’d just done some shopping and had arrived back at my car in the supermarket car park when it was time to look for them. I was in the perfect position. In a large car park high up, with an open sky and no trees or other obstacles in the way. I didn’t have long to wait. Soon this lovely bright object was moving smoothly across the sky. It looked much bigger than usual as it always does when a Space Shuttle is attached to it. I could even see a rectangular shape jutting out from it. I wonder if that was the solar wings that Discovery had taken up and that had just been fitted, the last ones after more than a decade of construction of the International Space Station.

I’d love to see them again tomorrow, my last chance just before Discovery undocks and begins it’s journey back to Earth, but I’ll be working at the Theatre and will miss it. So I’m glad I saw them yesterday. To me it’s history in the making, an amazing acheivement. But no-one takes any notice. As the two amazing pieces of technology travelled overhead together, people were walking across the car park with their trollies full of shopping, not even looking up and seeing what was above them. What a strange world we live in.