ISS Spacewalk Cancelled Today Due To Helmet Leakage

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issThere’s a big difference between me and astronauts, and it involves the amount of professional training required, not to mention overall space suit photogeneity. That’s an obvious statement, I know, but having familiarity with certain situations is underrated in my book.

Today was supposed to be the second spacewalk of the month for International Space Station (ISS) flight engineers Chris Cassidy of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, but the repair mission was ended early and postponed until a later date. The reason? Just a little helmet leakage is all.

The spacewalk officially started this morning at 7:57 a.m. EDT, but just an hour into it, Parmitano reported there was water floating inside of his helmet, just behind his head. This is where that training comes in handy; if it had happened to me in my current state of non-astronautness, the question wouldn’t be if anyone could hear screaming in space, but if there was any way to make it stop.

The leakage wasn’t an emergency situation, and Parmitano was never in any danger, but Flight Director David Korth decided to halt the mission at that point. Both men went back to the airlock, which depressurized at 9:39 a.m. It was the 171st spacewalk intended for system assembly and maintenance, and its 1 hour and 32 minute duration made it the second shortest of all. Not the coolest silver medal to get, but at least no one got hurt.


Is The International Space Station Wearing An Enterprise Costume?

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iss moon2
In the beginning, art imitated life, with cave paintings and such. At some point, life began imitating art. (Such as that cave paintings improv group that’s all the rage.) Star Trek has for years intrigued both fans and non-fans alike with the technologies created for the franchise, and how these futuristic advancements could help human beings in the present. Not that we’re bitter, scientists!

So I have to ask, “Did somebody turn the International Space Station into the U.S.S. Enterprise and not tell anybody?” The folks over at Scientific AMerican brought to light a picture from Romanian photographer Maximilian Teodorescu earlier this month, taken as the ISS crossed the face of the Moon. Here’s the full picture, to give you a sense of the scale.


Astronaut Chris Hadfield Sings Space Oddity Before Returning Home From The ISS

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If you’re a regular GFR reader, the name Chris Hadfield probably rings a bell or two. During the Canadian astronaut’s five-month mission as the commander of the International Space Station, he’s become a social media sensation thanks to his videos, pictures, and even songs he’s shared with those of us down here on planet Earth. He’s answered questions we didn’t even know we had. What happens if you wring out a washcloth in microgravity? Been there. Can you cry in space? He doesn’t recommend it. Nachos, however, are a-okay.

Well, it’s the end of an era, because earlier this evening Hadfield boarded a Russian Soyuz capsule and began his trip back to the surface, along with American astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian Roman Romanenko. They’re set to touch down in the steppes of Kazakhstan later tonight. But Hadfield had one last treat for us, seen up above: a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”…from space!


This Space Station Time Lapse Video Montage is Awesome

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Have you ever wanted to live inside a video? And even though I’m not talking about that stack of videos at the top of your dad’s closet, it counts as an answer. But in this case, I’m talking about the one seen above.

Photographer Bruce W. Berry, whose website Bruce Wayne Photography doesn’t need any Batman references to be cool, compiled a slew of time-lapse videos taken from the International Space Station and offered to the public. Berry just happened to be the kind of guy who would take the time to spiff them up – he denoised, deflickered, slowed down, stabilized and color graded them – and converted them to 1080 HD for the human eyes’ pleasure.

Perhaps what makes the video so hypnotizing is the complete lack of a human element, even though I greatly enjoy the human aspect of The Cinematic Orchestra, the electronic jazz group who performed the video’s music.

If I saw these sights outside of my window every day for months on end, I would lose my grip on the fact that Earth is a planet that I came from and live on. The ISS isn’t so far away that some of humanity’s details can’t be seen, but it’s far enough out there that the rest of the universe is to be reckoned with, and that’s when the heebie jeebies go down my spine.


Express Flight To International Space Station Takes One-Eighth Of The Time

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The International Space Station

I’m not much of a travel person — and my status as a stay-at-home writer on a science blog does nothing to prove this — but I’d easily drive for two straight days if the International Space Station was my end destination. However, I would probably just run into water if I did that, since my car doesn’t go up. At least, not if I want to still qualify for the warranty.

But a two-day trip to the ISS might be a thing of the past, as the second half of the crew from Expedition 35 took a trip via the Russian Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft and docked with the ISS last night around 10:28 p.m. EDT. But here’s the amazing part: the shuttle only took off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:43 EDT, cutting the trip down to under six hours of travel and just four orbits of Earth, rather than over 50 hours and 30 orbits, as was typical. All it took were some “intricate ballistics maneuvers” to zip their way through space. And if the pizza wasn’t warm by the time they got there, ISS Commander Chris Hadfield didn’t have to pay full price.

Hadfield, NASA’s Tom Marshburn, and Roscosmos’ Roman Romanenko will be joined by Russian cosmonauts Pavel Viogradov and Alexander Misurkin, as well as NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy for the next three months doing “experiments in human research, physical and biological sciences, technology development, Earth observation and education.” The three former astronauts will then head back to Earth to make way for a new half-crew.


How Astronauts Wash Their Hands And Make A Sandwich In Space

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There are a thousand little things that we all take for granted on a daily basis that suddenly become a whole different challenge once you decide to relocate to a microgravity environment. Say, for instance, on the International Space Station. Even if you’re a space junkie like us, I’m betting there are still lots of stories astronauts could share that would make you go, “Well of course that would be tricky in zero-g!” Most of us won’t ever be lucky enough to make it into space, but thankfully we’ve got ISS Commander Chris Hadfield up there for us, answering submitted questions and beaming back one fascinating video after another. For instance, how the hell do you make a sandwich up there?

Well, first thing’s first. You need to wash those filthy hands of yours, you disgusting pig. Didn’t your mother teach you anything? So go over there and flip on that faucet and — Ack! Water everywhere! Things with blinky lights are shorting out! You’re having flashbacks to The Abyss! I hope you’re happy, because now the ISS is filled with runaway water balls and everybody has wet socks. Wet socks are the worst.

Fear not: Commander Hadfield is here to show you how it’s done.

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