SpaceX Grasshopper 744m Test

From the spacexchannel on YouTube: “On Monday, October 7th, Grasshopper completed its highest leap to date, rising to 744m altitude. The view above is taken from a single camera hexacopter, getting closer to the stage than in any previous flight.

Grasshopper is a 10-story Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a rocket back to Earth intact. While most rockets are designed to burn up on atmosphere reentry, SpaceX rockets are being designed not only to withstand reentry, but also to return to the launch pad for a vertical landing. The Grasshopper VTVL vehicle represents a critical step towards this goal.

Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 rocket first stage tank, Merlin 1D engine, four steel and aluminum landing legs with hydraulic dampers, and a steel support structure”

Sunita Williams Gives a Tour of International Space Station

Shimano pedals on the ISS exercise bike
closeup of Shimano pedals on the ISS exercise bike
Nikon cameras and lenses on the ISS

Sunita Williams gave a video tour of the International Space Station a few hours before her return to earth on November 18, 2012. I found it fascinating because her tour gives a great sense of the layout of the interior of the ISS and what it actually looks like. Also, in a weightless environment, the meaning of up and down have different definitions.

There were a couple of things that were especially interesting to me. When the crew uses the exercise bike, they don’t need a seat because they don’t sit down. They use clip-on pedals to hold them to the “bike.” The pedals look very similar to the Shimano road pedals that I use on my De Rosa. The exercise machines need to be isolated from the walls of the space station so they don’t put any forces into the structure of spacecraft and solar arrays.

When Commander Williams entered the Russian segment where Service Module Central Post of the space station is located, there was a nice assortment of Nikon photography equipment on both walls.