Fly The Flag

Sunday, June 19th, 2016 07:45 pm
tourmaline: (ISS)
So for Tim Peake's landing yesterday, there was no Stargazing Live special as so many of us had hoped. Instead, there was live coverage (mostly the NASA TV feed) on the BBC News channel, which had the usual experts (Libby Jackson from UKSA, Professor Lucie Green from UCL) along with BBC science correspondents who knew what they were talking about, and general studio presenters who didn't. So glad all went so well, there was a BBC guy who was practically interviewing Tim Peake on the Kazakh steppe. Yuri Malenchenko was sitting bolt upright early on like the seasoned space traveller he is, but Tim Kopra looked a bit wobbly for a while but he seemed to be getting his bearings OK eventually.

Having this on the news rather than a dedicated programme meant the news headlines ticker was on screen almost the whole time, so all the stuff about the man who murdered the MP Jo Cox was there. I can't believe what a nightmare that was. I've met a few people through work, my age and younger, and you know immediately they're a future MP for a left-leaning party, and they'll be a very good one, just like Jo Cox.

My friend and I took a little break from the usual work routine on Thursday morning to watch the Aviva Women's Tour go past along the main road near our business park. I had read about this early in the year, and my friend wanted a photo to illustrate a staff newsletter article she was writing about the Cycle To Work scheme. I took my flag and was cheering and yelling as they went past - it was still quite early in the race so they were all in a big bunch. Sadly we didn't get on the TV highlights, they went straight from the start in Atherstone to the part just after us when they went through the University of Warwick campus. But it was so exciting seeing all the build-up, the police motorbikes, the race marshal motorbikes, and the support cars going past, all waving at us, and us waving back. There wasn't many of us along that stretch of road, but there was lots of TV coverage of other stretches of road where there were lots of schoolkids cheering and waving flags. I was only going to watch the highlights once but I'm going to keep them now, as there are lots of sights I recognise, and I'll always remember being out there, even if it was only for a short time.

Brit In Space

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 09:23 pm
tourmaline: (ISS)
It's been a long day, and I've spent most of it sitting on the sofa in front of my laptop. I took the day off so I could follow today's Soyuz launch unencumbered by work. It's been amazing, it was such a perfect-looking launch, then a bit of unwanted drama with the docking having to be done manually, and then a long wait for the hatches to open. Luckily the live BBC coverage overstayed its time so we could see the crew enter the ISS.

There were two Stargazing Live special programmes on TV today, covering the launch and the hatch entry. Chris Hadfield was on both programmes alongside Dara O Briain and Professor Brian Cox, and Helen Sharman was also on the evening programme. Additionally, I listened to Ron Garan on a BBC Radio Five Live programme last night, and on Sunday I heard a BBC World Service documentary about the history of space stations which was narrated by Samantha Cristoforetti. There have been glimpses of other astronauts on the BBC TV coverage - biggest name was Alexei Leonov was on the morning programme with Helen Sharman, there was a clip of Tim Peake's training with his fellow ESA astronauts, and I saw Mike Fossum with the crew's families in Baikonur on the evening programme. The Stargazing Live specials came from the Science Museum which was full of schoolchildren, all waving flags and being fantastically noisy - counting down with the launch countdown, and cheering loudly when Tim Peake waved and gave a thumbs-up during ascent.

As always, I was waiting for this sight:

Expedition 46 Crew 15Dec15

It was very busy on Twitter too, lots of debate over whether Tim is the first British astronaut - he isn't, he's the first British person to go into space as a member of the astronaut corps attached to Britain. Helen Sharman, the first Brit in space, went as part of a privately-funded venture, and in the intervening time there have been three NASA astronauts with joint US/UK citizenship, and two spaceflight participants with joint UK/other nation citizenship. It's a great question to ask on QI.

This crew is scheduled to be onboard until June next year, so there will be lots of opportunity to follow along. It will be so cool.
tourmaline: (ISS)
Yesterday I travelled north to Durham, to attend an event at Durham County Hall - billed as An audience with NASA astronaut Colonel Ron Garan. Ron is one of the astronauts I met in 2008, a few months after their Space Shuttle mission. This time, we would hear about Ron's five-and-a-half months living in space, a time which included his performing an EVA (with Mike Fossum) and the final two space shuttle missions.

The full story, with pic and video )

It has been an eventful two days, meeting Ron Garan again and reading this book have made deep imprints on me. I'm sure the passing scenery from the train would have done so too, if I'd given it a chance and not been too engrossed in reading. But I'd like to revisit Durham sometime, it did look a very interesting place to explore - although not before I've found the walking boots of my (and my knee's) dreams.


Friday, September 16th, 2011 09:18 pm
tourmaline: (ISS)
I was up late last night watching Ron Garan's departure from the ISS, and set my alarm for 5am this morning to watch his landing back on Earth. They showed the farewell speeches live on NASA TV:


There was also this pic of the three crewmembers just before the hatch was closed - everyone had their version that they tweeted it seems:


I woke up at 5am, their expected landing time, and got the HD feed of NASA TV up & running about 1 minute after the Soyuz had landed. It would've been nice to see the actual landing, but the first commentary I heard was them saying all three crewmembers are well. I then watched and saw them being lifted out of the Soyuz and carried to their recliners, it was nice to see when Ron Garan was pulled out he had a big smile on his face, he has such a wonderful smile :)

This pic was shared on Twitter by Elyse David, who's a major person at Fragile Oasis:


It'll probably be a few days before we hear from him again, either on Twitter or his blog, but I'm sure it won't be too long. Apparently he has lots of pics to share online that he took from the ISS, so I'm looking forward to hearing from him again soon.

Nominal Launch

Monday, April 4th, 2011 11:46 pm
tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (Default)
Soyuz TMA-21 - whose crew includes NASA astronaut Ron Garan - has launched and is now in its initial orbit. So thrilling to watch the build-up activities and then the launch itself. Ron Garan is one of the astronauts I met a few years back from STS-124, he's been tweeting about his training and preparations for his ISS residency, and also regularly updates a blog, Fragile Oasis. During the final preparation stages today, his backup, Canadian astronaut Dan Burbank, has been tweeting on his behalf - there was a moment where while waiting to have his Sokol spacesuit checked for leaks, he was explaining something on his iPhone to Dan Burbank.

It's such a thrill to see the crew in orbit after all this time training. They - Ron Garan, Aleksandr Samokutyayev & Andrei Borisenko - have always looked like such an enthusiastic trio, and so proud of the opportunity they have in their mission to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight.

Late Wednesday/early Thursday they're due to dock at the ISS, so after that time, expect to see more posts from me (DDoS attacks on LJ permitting) about the mission, likely to include not a little fangirling from me. When an astronaut has such a wonderful smile and bright bronze-brown eyes like Ron Garan has, I suppose it's only to be expected.

Not Tupperware

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 07:41 pm
tourmaline: total solar eclipse, from a photo by NASA (Default)
Day 280 This is not Tupperware, cos this is not the 1970s. Altho we do have 1970s Tupperware in another cupboard.

Not Tupperware

Blah. That pic took some searching for a subject. Having a bit of a photo block at the moment. Tonight is the Soyuz TMA-01M launch, with Scott Kelly. I've been following him (& Ron Garan, his backup) and their tweeting of photos during the day - you can see them here.