Thursday, February 14, 2008
I Love ISS Too
There's a nice post today over at Universe Today, I Heart the ISS: Ten Reasons to Love the International Space Station, written by Nancy Atkinson. While it gets little respect or attention from the public at large, the ISS is one of the most incredible engineering projects in history and an impressive demonstration of international cooperation. And that's just two reasons to love it (my Orbiter shot is from STS-120 and doesn't include the new European Columbus module that was successfully installed this week).
Thanks to Orbiter, I have virtually flown to and docked with the ISS many times. Even in the simulation it's exciting to see it grow from a small dot to a giant satellite as you rendezvous and dock in your space shuttle (or in some futuristic space vehicle). If you have Orbiter (it's free), you can watch a flight recorder replay of rendezvous (called "sync" in Orbiter) and docking using the standard "Deltaglider" (DG) spacecraft rather than the shuttle. The DG's docking port is in the nose rather than on top as in the shuttle, which makes docking a little easier to master. The annotated replay is in the Tutorials folder and is called "DG-ISS Sync Dock." I recorded and annotated this replay to include with the 2006 release of Orbiter. There are detailed instructions to go with this tutorial replay in chapter 5 ("Dancing in the Dark") of my ebook Go Play In Space if you want to learn what's involved in getting to the ISS. You can also learn about Orbiter docking in videos, here and here (this shows how to dock the shuttle with the 1999 version of the ISS - it's grown a lot since then).
If you prefer your ISS information in traditional book form, I highly recommend the 2004 edition of Marianne Dyson's book Space Station Science. Like Orbiter and the ISS itself, it's not just for kids.