10th Anniversary of the International Space Station

If everything goes according to plan, the Space Shuttle Endeavour – STS-126 will be launced on 14 November with a comprehensive 15 day schedule to upgrade the International Space Station.

The station currently houses 3 crew members and that is all that is possible at the moment. The Endeavour crew will prepare the station for the 6 person crew it was meant to have from the outset. Also, a repair of the solar arrays is in the program.

The solar array on one side of the station is using more power than anticipated for rotating the array to maximise the efficiency. It turns out that two bearings lack lubrication, and this will be repaired during three space walks.

Back inside, the crew will spend a lot of time unpacking new crew quarters, a new toilet, a new kitchen, a new refrigerator and new exercise equipment, not to mention the science experiments.

In addition to this a new water recycling system will be added, in order to reduce the station’s dependency of Shuttle missions. After all the Shuttle fleet is planned to be retired in 2010.

On top of this, it is good to see the station becoming fully operational at its 10th anniversary. The first module was launched on November 20th 1998, beginning the construction of the station.

If I can find the time, I will listen for the shuttle just after the launch to see if I can catch a few seconds of radio communication, and I will listen for ISS communication during the whole mission – time permitting.

Also, when all this goes on, and if you have a clear sky I recommend all you scifi geeks to go out and see a *real life* space station. Info about visibility can be found at


Seeing a real life space station or space ship beats the fictional one, no matter how good the story is.

50 years of the Space Age

October 4th, 1957 saw the first successful launch of a satellite into space.

The (then) USSR lauched “Sputnik 1” becoming the first country entering the Space Age. Its characteristic “beep-beep” sound was heard by radio enthusiasts all over the world on approx. 20 MHz and 40 MHz. MOre information and a recording of the beeps can be found at the Wikipedia page concerning Sputnik 1 . (link at the bottom of the page)

One month later, on November 3rd, a second launch of Sputnik 2 with the first living being put in orbit. The dog Laika, unfortunately, had no way of returning alive to earth.

The first satellite launched by the US was Explorer 1 , on January 31st, 1958.

This marks the beginning of the “Space Race”, which continued through the 1960’s and 70’s.

The Space Age has had a lot of “ups and downs” , and I will come up with some highlights in later posts.