Monday, September 18, 2006
This is certainly novel (for me anyway). Ever since I can remember (which is back to the early Gemini launches in the 1960's), we always heard about how the Russian (then Soviet) space program was a big dark secret, in contrast to the American space program which was public and open, with advance notice of launches and live coverage of all flights (at least if there was enough public interest). This was pretty much true, but tonight I stayed up late to watch the launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying the ISS Expedition 14 crew (and space flight participant Anousheh Ansari), live (on NASA TV) from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan! Amazing. As I typed this, the Soyuz spacecraft (called Vostok) safely reached orbit.
The launch occurred right on time at 12:09 am EDT, and while video coverage didn't include the fancy long range optics used to view the Shuttle even at high altitude, they did supply in-cabin video from about two minutes into the launch. Very cool!
It's also good to see and hear Russians and Americans smoothly cooperating in this whole process. Space really does bring people together (sometimes).