Sunday, September 17, 2006

ISS Fly-Around

STS-115 ISS Fly Around
The shuttle Atlantis (STS-115) undocked from the ISS this morning and performed a fly-around inspection which I watched for a while on NASA TV. With the newly installed P3/P4 truss and extended solar panels, the ISS looks really cool, so I decided to have a look at it in Orbiter.

As usual, "David413" has kindly provided the necessary add-ons and scenarios to simulate the current shuttle mission in Orbiter. His STS-121 Shuttle Fleet 3.9.1 expansion pack is the basic package, and he also released an STS-115 expansion pack (and several updates) for the current mission which includes the newly expanded ISS12A configuration. The picture including Atlantis is from Orbiter (I added a screen capture from NASA TV for comparison - see Flickr for a better Orbiter view of the ISS alone).

Even though the newly installed solar panels will not be operational until the next shuttle mission, they are already animated in the Orbiter version, including an automatic sun tracking feature! You can stabilize the ISS in its proper orientation with "prograde," aim at the Sun (easiest at sunrise as in the supplied sample scenario), then turn on the tracking. Accelerate time and watch the panels rotate to track the Sun (read the PDF file installed in the add-on docs folder for the key command for this and other features). Nice work!

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