Stories tagged Space Station

Jun
13
2013

Bang, zoom! Straight to the Moon, Alice!: Actually, not to the Moon. Straight to space, though. This is one of China's Long March rockets, which carried the Taikonauts to Tiangong-1 yesterday.
Bang, zoom! Straight to the Moon, Alice!: Actually, not to the Moon. Straight to space, though. This is one of China's Long March rockets, which carried the Taikonauts to Tiangong-1 yesterday.Courtesy AAxander
The International Space Station, the pride of low Earth orbit, lives up to its name for the most part—work there is the joint effort of a fifteen-nation partnership. So it’s not just NASA up there, there’s also the Russian Federal Space Agency, and, uh … probably some other things too. (JK. The Japanese, European, and Canadian space agencies are all involved.)

When the partnership built this cool orbiting clubhouse, however, they hung a sign above the rope ladder, reading “No guRlz aLoud!!!” Except instead of “gurlz” it said “China,” and presumably the spelling was a little better. Also, there was no sign or rope ladder, because that would be ridiculous. But the sentiment remained: China is not part of the ISS partnership, because Congress has banned NASA from any contact, collaborations or partnerships with China, because of concerns over technology transfer.

In response, China has gone ahead with a space station program of their own. China has plans to build a full size space station in the not too distant future, but for the time being, they already have an orbiting module—sort of a mini space station. The module, “Tiangong-1,” has actually been in service for almost two years already, and China launched a three-person “taikonaut” crew to practice docking with the module yesterday. This will be China’s fifth manned mission to Tiangong-1, and it includes the second woman from China to travel into space.

What do y’all think? Exciting news? Would we be better off collaborating with China in space? Or are you all for a little competition? What’s the coolest name: astronaut, cosmonaut, or taikonaut? Let everyone know in the comments!

Wired just posted a gallery of imagined (or even proposed) space stations over the last hundred years. Kind of cool.

Also, as a little bonus link, here's how the International Space Station compares to some space ships from science fiction. Keep in mind, of course, that most of the ISS's area consists of solar panels, not holodecks or viper bays. Can't have it all, I guess.

Dec
30
2011

A Chinese carrier rocket: Apparently in the process of transforming into or from a giant robot.
A Chinese carrier rocket: Apparently in the process of transforming into or from a giant robot.Courtesy AAxanderr
Of course, by “the skies,” I mean “space.” And by “eyes,” I mean “money.” “China” means “China,” though.

So, by “China sets its money on space,” I mean that China has announced its intentions to court that sweet maiden (or charming lad) we call space. (Also, it turns out that I like space travel/dating analogies quit a bit.)

China, already one of only three countries to send a human to space (after Mother Russia and the United States of Awesmerica), has big plans to expand its space program in coming years. While the US is cutting back its program, China intends to launch manned vessels, freighters, and space stations in just the next five years. (Space stations, plural, seems kind of strange to me, but that’s what the article said.)

China’s space program is run by the country’s military, which freaks some folks out, but China claims that the venture is purely scientific, and, being one of the big boy countries, it’s eager to make its own contributions to space exploration. Also, and this is a rough translation from the original Chinese, it has all this money, and the cool kids all have (or had) sweet space programs, so ….

Despite the impressive goals and Chinas recent rapid progress in space exploration, spokespeople acknowledge that China has a lot of work yet to do to get to the level of Russia’s and the USA’s space programs, seeing as how those institutions have a 50-year head start. So if you’re feeling defensive or jealous, you can keep that in mind.

But are you feeling defensive or jealous? Or are you just excited that more people will be going to space, and more science will be happening up there?

No, it's not the Green Lantern.: It's Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights, as seen from the International Space Station.
No, it's not the Green Lantern.: It's Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights, as seen from the International Space Station.Courtesy NASA

Or possibly ever. An aurora over the Indian Ocean, photographed from the International Space Station.

Apr
15
2009

The COLBERT: Official patch for "COLBERT," the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill.
The COLBERT: Official patch for "COLBERT," the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill.Courtesy NASA
NASA finally figured out what to do about the Space Station node-naming fiasco that mdr wrote about.

Apollo 11 landed on the moon at the Sea of Tranquility 40 years ago this July. We selected 'Tranquility' because it ties it to exploration and the moon, and symbolizes the spirit of international cooperation embodied by the space station. - Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations