Sunday, 19 July 2009

ISS and Space Shuttle

On Wednesday evening, I watched on NASA TV the launch of shuttle Endeavour on her mission to the International Space Station. I am always impressed by rocket launches, although sadly I have never seen one in the flesh, and it's even more impressive when you log into a tracking page to see that the shuttle is directly above your home twenty minutes later! I did dash outside to try and see the moving space shuttle dot, but it was still cloudy. Pity, as there would have been two dots - one dot being the shuttle orbiter itself, the other the jettisoned external fuel tank.

On Friday night, I watched the ISS (with shuttle attached) come over. It orbits the earth from west to east and is now very bright as all the relevant bits and pieces are now attached.

On a related note, I read in the paper that Britain is - finally!!! - going to allow its citizens to fly on manned space missions. Up until now any Briton in space had to go as a 'space tourist' (Helen Sharman) or change their nationality (Michael Foale, Piers Sellers and Nicholas Patrick) because that old bag Thatcher vetoed the UK funding manned space exploration thus effectively barring UK citizens becoming astronauts. Up until now the UK had always said that the £180 million it pays into ESA should not be used for funding manned space exploration. How short sighted and stupid is that? Fortunately Lord Drayson, the current science minister, has reversed that stupid policy and before long, we should see British astronauts in their own right. This country has deteriorated a lot in the past couple of decades and it would be nice to have something to be proud of again.

Pity I am too old - 40 in January - and too unfit (dodgy ears and mild asthma)... :-(