Tuesday, April 20, 2010

American Cultural Observation 216: Space Travel

One of my many favourite TV channels is the obscure NASA TV channel on Direct TV just between ID TV and the Science Channel. For the last two weeks I have been following STS-131 which was a Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This is the fourth final mission for the Shuttle program. A bit sad as the shuttles have been such a part of my/our lives.

Watch the launch below. Make sure you listen to the running stats the reporter give as to the shuttle's speed etc. Fascinating!

Space shuttle Discovery launched on 5 April 2010 from Kennedy Space Center and landed this morning - 20 April 2010 at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. The mission marked the longest flight for the space shuttle Discovery.

The primary payload was a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module loaded with supplies and equipment for the International Space Station.

Image above: Seated are Commander Alan Poindexter (right) and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. From the left (standing) are Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Naoko Yamazaki and Clayton Anderson. Image credit: NASA

Discovery delivered a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks to be transferred to laboratories on the International Space Station. Mastracchio and Anderson conducted three spacewalks to replace an ammonia tank assembly, retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior and switch out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 element of the station’s truss.

STS-131 was the 33rd shuttle mission to the station.

The landing was postponed a few times due to poor weather conditions. Discovery brought 7 astronauts back to Earth. They spent almost two weeks at the International Space Station, carrying out space walks and maintenance work. Three more shuttle flights are planned by NASA before the programme is suspended later this year.

Below is the landing, 30 seconds before landing the shuttle was still steaming along at 370 mph!

Sources: Wikipedia, NASA and Russian TV

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