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Lord British Visits the International Space Station

by on Oct.26, 2008, under Near Earth, People

sstv1Richard Garriott, the 47-year-old creator of the Ultima series of computer games, has become the world’s sixth space tourist. His 11-day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) cost US$30 million.

Garriott and ISS Expedition 18 members Mike Fincke and Yuri Lonchakov launched to the ISS from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 12, arriving at sstv4the ISS two days later.

Born in Cambridge, England, Garriott now lives in Austin, Texas. He acquired the moniker ‘Lord British’ when he started school in the US, due to his British accent. His father Owen flew aboard Skylab and the Space Shuttle.

Whilst aboard the ISS, Garriott carried out crystal growing experiments, communicated with students and ham (amateur) radio enthusiasts; staged an art show; took photos of the Earth to be compared to ones taken by his father 35 years earlier and tested products for sponsors.

Garriott, who believes that everyone should have the opportunity to go into space, said he found the most rewarding part of his stay was speaking with students. He said, “I took this


opportunity to inspire them with my adventure and let them know they can achieve their wildest dreams as well with hard work and perseverance.”


Garriott also installed a device called SpaceCam1. This slow-scan television system broadcasts on amateur radio frequencies. Anyone with a suitable radio receiver and freely available software can receive and decode pictures from the ISS as it passes overhead. Enthusiast received over 1500 pictures in its first week of operation.


For more details on how to receive these pictures, see this article on MSNBC.

Happy Landing

Garriott and returning Expedition 17 members Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko landed safely in Kazakhstan on Oct 23. After the flight, Garriott said his mission to the ISS had fulfilled, “a lifelong dream to experience spaceflight.”

Earth from Space


How much would you pay to go into space?

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Jules Verne Boosts ISS into Higher Orbit

by on Jun.20, 2008, under Near Earth

Jules Vern ATV


The Jules Verne Automatic Transfer Vehicle (ATV) has successfully boosted the International Space Station (ISS) into a higher orbit. In a record 20-minute burn, the 330-ton ISS was boosted by around 4.5 miles to an altitude of around 215 miles.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) ATV performed a similar manoeuvre on 25-Apr. Speaking at the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse, France, Hervé Côme, ESA’s ATV Mission Director said, “Today, Jules Verne ATV has again successfully demonstrated that it is able to perform this vital function on regular basis.” Another reboost is planned in July, with two more in August.

This is the first mission of the 19-ton unmanned ATV to the ISS. It docked automatically at the beginning of April this year, attaching itself to the end of the Russian Zvezda module. Since then the ISS crew have unloaded the supplies that the ATV brought to the station.

The ATV will remain at the ISS until September. The ISS crew will then fill it with about seven tons of garbage and send it to burn up on re-entry over the Pacific.

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Discovery Home

by on Jun.14, 2008, under Near Earth

The space shuttle Discovery is home. Discovery touched down at 14-June 11:15 a.m. EDT at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, having successfully completed its 14-day visit to the International Space Station (ISS).

Mission STS-124’s primary objective was to deliver and install the second component of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAEA) Kibo laboratory (“Hope”). The US$1 billion, 15-tonne Pressurised Module (JPM) is the size of a bus and is the stations biggest room .Discovery also delivered a new pump for ISS’s toilet.

The re-entry and landing went as planed despite earlier scares when the crew spotted a 30-45cm (1-1.5 feet) long object floating away from the shuttle. Later, NASA identified the object as a non-critical clip used to hold down thermal blankets on back of the rudder and speed brake during launch.


The shuttle crew comprised Commander Mark Kelly; Pilot Ken Ham; Mission Specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, JAEA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and Canadian-born Greg Chamitoff who replaces astronaut Garrett Reisman for six-months stint on the ISS.

Shortly after landing, Commander Kelly said, “It was a really exciting mission and we’re glad to be back here in Florida.”

Later, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator of Space Operations said, “I can’t think of a mission really that’s been better than this one. We’re starting to break that tie to planet Earth and get out and do what exploration is.”

Discovery crew pictured after landing

Nine more shuttle missions are scheduled to the ISS before 2010 when the shuttle fleet will retire.

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