Monday, August 15, 2011

417 Metric Tons of Awesome

Image: NASA

Three football fields in span, with wings like a giant robot dragonfly, the International Space Station falls always towards the horizon. When in sunlight it shines as bright as Venus.

If you know when to look, you can see it in broad daylight. It is the biggest structure built by man that never rests on land or water.

Currently, four different spacecraft can dock or berth there, from Russia, Japan and ESA, the European consortium. If all goes well, by early 2012 there will be two more, both from the United States. SpaceX plans to send their Dragon to visit the station in December of 2011, and Orbital hopes to send their Cygnus in February of 2012.

That's impressive redundancy, although only the Russian Soyuz carries human passengers. We need to correct that.

It is still the premier venue for flute-playing astronauts.

No comments: