Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Coming Soon

Reminiscent of a classic Chris Foss cover or an outtake from 2001: A Space Odyssey, this is an artist's impression of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's new uncrewed supply ship, the H-II transfer vehicle, approaching the International Space Station. The HTV is to be the payload of the first of Japan's new heavy-lifting rocket, due to be launched this month. And Japan isn't the only player in the ISS supply business - see New Scientist for more details.

(The ISS really is a big beast - to give you an idea of scale, the HTV is 10 meters long, and the Soyuz spacecraft (the station's lifeboat) docked at bottom left is about the same size. Cost aside, it really seems like a dumb idea to shut it down in 2015-16.)


Blogger George Berger said...

Paul, thanks for posting things about astronomy and astronautics. They are a big help. And BTW, tomorrow I shall finish reading The Quiet War. I'm impressed by its literary elegance, scientific and technological detail, and careful, realistic descriptions of the developing political situation.

September 09, 2009 5:25 am  
Blogger saint said...

For real, B. Spending 100 billion dollars on this big-ass space station only to shut it down, what, 5 years after it's fully activated seems... really effing stupid to say the least. It should be used as an experiment in long-term space habitation, finding out what can go wrong, how to repair in-orbit... the list goes on and on. If we are to become a spacefaring race, we need to not abandon our projects like last years cellphone.

I fear the disposable lifestyle mentality infects us all.

September 09, 2009 8:53 pm  
Anonymous Al R said...

Just saw ISS (and the recently undocked shuttle Discovery) a few minutes ago.

September 09, 2009 9:05 pm  
Blogger PeteY said...

It's up!

September 10, 2009 6:28 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Anyone who wants to spot it here in Britain might find this linkuseful! It's worth checking out Jupiter as well. I managed to spot one of the moons (I think Callisto) a few nights ago with fairly low-power binoculars.

September 10, 2009 8:07 pm  
Anonymous Al R said...

Another ISS pass last night. Looked at it through binoculars (I've heard reports that you can sometimes see structure) but couldn't make out anything other than a bright smudge of silver. The shuttle's also been visible for the last three nights, rising a few minutes ahead of the station, although it's now landed.

September 12, 2009 10:26 am  

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