Sunday, June 01, 2008

Discovery Shuttle Launch a Success: both the Shuttle and the ISS are easily seen from Earth

'Huge Day' for NASA, Japan
May 31
6:45 p.m. EDT

Commander Mark Kelly promised "the greatest show on Earth," and space shuttle Discovery delivered with a thundering, fiery arc stretching over Florida's East Coast on Saturday. The launch began a 14-day mission for Kelly and his crew of seven astronauts as they install a new Japanese-built laboratory module on the International Space Station.

As the astronauts got used to their new surroundings in space, NASA officials on Earth basked in the satisfaction of a flawless countdown and liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"(It was) obviously a huge day," said NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. "A huge day for the space station partnership, for the Japanese Space Agency, for NASA and, really, for the people who hoped to see the space station do what it was designed to do, to be a place in orbit where we can learn to live and work in space."


Next up for the STS-124 mission is a two-day chase across space to link up with the International Space Station. It will take the crew several hours of robotic arm maneuvers and spacewalks to connect the Pressurized Module of Japan's Kibo laboratory to the station. The 36-foot-long module is the largest habitable section to be launched to the orbiting research post.

Both the International Space Station and the Discovery shuttle are visible to the naked eye. The ISS travels a fast orbit over the earth, and sees as many as 14 sunrises and sunsets in one day! When it passes over where you live, you may have several opportunities to see it in one night. I had published the following link previously, as a way to find out when the ISS is flying over where you live:

Find out when the ISS passes over your city

If you go to the page and type in your country and the city you live in, it will give you a schedule of when the ISS will be visible to you, weather permitting. Well it now also offers you the schedule of the Discovery Shuttle too. And as the two get closer together over the next few days, you might even see them flying together right up until they dock.

When they attach the Kibo lab, I expect the station and docked shuttle will appear larger and brighter than ever. I'll be watching for it.

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