Monday, July 13, 2009

Endeavour Launch Tonight

I was wondering what I should write about as I was sitting on my porch yesterday night at around 11:40PM. I looked up and fairly low in the horizon I saw a bright star like object that was moving quickly across the sky. I sort of laughed and said, “If God actually existed this sure as shit must be a sign from him”. Sure enough I checked out NASA’s website and at 11:39PM for 2 minutes the International Space Station was visible from Ottawa.

It is hard to believe that 1 700 000 kg of high explosives being detonated over the course of eight minutes to lift seven people into space has become routine. I thought I would briefly delve into the current shuttle mission that is attempting to launch and take a look into what it is trying to accomplish. The previous launch was the final servicing mission to the fabled Hubble Space Telescope. Arguable the most successful satellite ever launched it has revolutionized our view of the universe and brought astonishing pictures back that truly belong to every human being on the planet.I would highly recommend sometime when you are bored to check out some pictures that Hubble has sent back, they are truly breathtaking.

Endeavour will be attempting its launch for the fifth time this evening after a fuel leak and bad weather have caused the previous four attempts to be scrubbed. Currently there is only a 40% chance of launch tonight due to the weather but lets see what happens.

This launch will be part of the ongoing construction efforts of the International Space Station. It will be delivering the final piece of the Japanese experiment “Kibo”. It is being called the “Space Porch” because the experiments will be fully exposed to the vacuum of space. It is also bringing spare parts, food and other necessities for the station with the shuttle is due to retire in 2010. It will take five space walks or EVA’s to install the new module as well as replace some batteries on the older solar panels.

Thirteen people will be onboard the space station during the shuttle docking, the highest number of people ever in a single spacecraft. These people will be living in a volume roughly equivalent to a 1500ft2 house. Compared to the original Mercury or even Apollo modules it is rather roomy. I have stayed on a living room floor with that many people.

I hope everything goes well tonight and look forward to seeing Endeavour safely make it to orbit.


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