Thursday, March 17, 2011

Missed Chances, Pretty Pictures

Well, the STS-133 flyabout I (and many others) were looking forward to didn't happen. From what I understand, the concept was handed to the Russians for their analysis too close to the mission, and since this was the first flight of a new Soyuz variant, they didn't feel comfortable going forward with the flyabout. It's regrettable that we missed out on the images, but I think the Russians made the right call.

Still, this was a truly historic occasion, even if there were no images. The station had spacecraft on-orbit at the same time from every one of the station partners: NASA's Shuttle, Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles, the European ATV, and the Japanese HTV. Thus, several people have taken it upon themselves to make sure this station configuration will be remembered. There's so far been one or two great composited images, adding Discovery digitally to the images Discovery took of the station in her own fly-around, but I'm perhaps most impressed by the series of images posted in this thread on NSF. I'm reposting them here only so more people might see them. They are not my work, I'm simply so blown away by the work Keith did I that I want more people to see them. More of Keith's work can be found on his website.

If you recall a post last year when I talked about how long the ISS has taken to finish? Well, the US orbital section (which is a strange name, since it's majority European-built by volume and also includes significant Japanese portions with the Kibo lab) is finally done, leaving the station with only Russian components still left to go up. Even with that left to do, it's pretty impressive:

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