Sunday, June 12, 2011

ISS Reaches new heights, docks Soyuz.

Soyuz TMA-02 on final approach to ISS.

NASA had some great footage of the docking of the Soyuz TMA-02 craft on Friday, June 10th. We could clearly see the thrusters firing as the pilot gently nudged the craft into the correct position to advance slowly and dock.

Soyuz view with data superimposed on tv image.

In fact for the first time I got a greater appreciation of just how many thruster firings are necessary to perfectly align with a docking port. At first I thought the pilot must be as bad as I am with a docking video game.

Yours Truly at Kennedy Space Center, attempting to virtually dock the Orion capsule to the ISS. MUCH MUCH harder than it looked!

Fortunately the Russian pilot was better at docking than I turned out to be. The Soyuz made a successful docking and the crew opened the hatches a couple of hours later after all systems had been set for the stay at the station.

Swallowed by the Earth's shadow, the Soyuz is feet away from the docking port.

The Gang's All Here. Expedition 28 crew is now complete.

View of Endeavour docked with ISS from departing Soyuz with Expedition 27 crew. The Eurpoean ATV "Johannes Kepler" is at the right end of the assembly.

More good news for ISS: It's orbit got boosted! During a series of maneuvers, the ATV cargo module (docked at the opposite end of the station from where the shuttle docked) used its thrusters and fuel surplus to accelerate the station and raise it into a higher orbit. This boosting will keep the station farther away from the thin traces of atmosphere which can actually cause enough drag to lower the station closer to the Earth. This boosting also means less fuel will be required to be transported to the ISS for future boosting, thus giving more room for experiments and supplies on future cargo runs to the station.

No comments: