Tag Archives: ISS

Space Oddity

A guest post from Kate Campbell-Payne, Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Chris Hadfield is part of a very exclusive group – he is one of only 194 people in the history of our planet to have walked in the space around it. He’s spent 166 days outside our atmosphere and even recorded an album at 431km above the Earth.

On 9 December 2014, he’s landing at the Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester for an on-air chat with BBC Radio 5Live’s Afternoon Edition to discuss his unique career and his stunning new book of photographs, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.

The title refers to the time it takes for the International Space Station to orbit the earth, 16 circumnavigations a day taking around an hour and a half each, offering a different perspective to its small band of inhabitants every time. As he writes in the introduction ‘…I never tired of looking out of the window. I don’t think any astronaut ever has, or will. Every chance we have, we float over to see what’s changed since we last went around the Earth.’ In the process he took around 45,000 photographs, capturing the surface of where most we live from a place hardly any of us will ever see.

Hadfield began posting his images on Twitter and soon garnered over 1 million followers. His desire to share his experiences in space with others has meant that he’s become a bit of a social media celebrity with a popular Tumblr blog and YouTube channel (over 24 million people have watched his rendition of Space Oddity performed while floating in space). During a period where space travel has dropped off most people’s radar, Hadfield has reignited the ‘every man’ sense of wonder about space. Rather than focussing on the technology, he has, once again, shown us just how cool being an astronaut really is.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield. Credit: NASA/VICTOR ZELENTSOV

Astronaut Chris Hadfield. Credit: NASA/VICTOR ZELENTSOV

Hadfield’s interview with Dan Walker and Sarah Brett on Afternoon Edition will take place in MOSI’s historic 1830 Warehouse, part of a complex built around the terminus of a very different type of transport, the first passenger railway. He’ll be chatting in front of 50 year 10 students from local schools and answering their questions on life in space. Though retired, Hadfield remains a popular figure with a unique perspective on life.

In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, he revealed one of his philosophies: ‘… if someone is willing to teach you something for free, take them up on it. Do it. Every single time. All it does is make you more likely to be able to succeed. And it’s kind of a nice way to go through life.’ This is great advice, especially with so many fantastic museums nearby. Just like seeing one of Hadfield’s tweets, visiting museums can be a discovery point, a place to see something you’ve never seen before. Who knows where that might lead? Maybe even outer space.

If you love Chris Hadfield’s incredible photos from space, you can send a postcard of one for free (for a limited time via Facebook) by clicking here http://bit.ly/1CZk8IC.

One small step away from our own planet – Chris Hadfield visits the Science Museum

Astronaut Chris Hadfield visited the Science Museum to share stories, sign books and explore our space technologies collections with Curator Doug Millard. Press Officer Will Stanley describes the afternoon with Commander Hadfield. 

Safely back on Earth after living aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield visited the Science Museum just before Christmas to share some of the extraordinary stories from his new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

First selected as an astronaut in 1992, Chris has since served as CAPCOM for 25 Shuttle launches, Director of NASA Operations in Star City, Russia and as Chief of ISS Operations. Chris first flew into space in 1995, before returning in 2001 to help install Canadarm2 on the ISS. His final mission as an astronaut began in December 2012, culminating with his role as Commander of ISS Expedition 35.

During a tour of the Exploring Space gallery with Curator Doug Millard I asked what it felt like being an astronaut on board the ISS, ‘You are a representative of so many people’s hopes and dreams,’ Chris told me. ‘To be on board the ISS for five months is a gift of time.’

Commander Hadfield tours the Space gallery with curator Doug Millard (r)

Commander Hadfield tours the Space gallery with curator Doug Millard (r)

After pausing for photographs in front of the original Apollo 10 Command Module – which carried Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan back from the Moon in 1969 – the conversation turned to the future of space exploration. ‘The International Space Station currently is an extension of our self-awareness beyond Earth. One small step away from our own planet. The next logical step is to go the Moon. I am really hoping that within my lifetime we will start living on the Moon,’ explained Hadfield.

Commander Hadfield on his visit to the Science Museum.

Commander Hadfield on his visit to the Science Museum.

Arriving at the IMAX theatre, Chris shared stories from his new book and answered questions from the 400-strong audience about life as an astronaut, ‘My son sent me an email saying Mount Etna was erupting, so just like a dad on vacation I took a picture of Mount Etna.’

Some questions needed only a short answer, ‘Did I have a party when I can back to earth? Yes, several’ joked Chris. But others, such as describing a space walk, needed more explanation.

‘There’s a textured depth of darkness like you’ve never seen.  You are assaulted by the visual onslaught of this new place. I was stunned by the unexpected power of what was pouring in through my eyeballs’ explained Chris. ‘It would have been rude not to stop and look.’

Chris went on to describe how it felt with such a huge visual impact but no sound, ‘It’s like standing next to a waterfall and it being deadly silent.’

‘A spacewalk is one of the most powerful reminders of how alone you are. You are truly alone in the universe.’

Questions turned to what you do on the ISS in your spare time, ‘I wrote a whole album while up in space,’ answered Chris. He went on to discuss the human need to understand life through art, – from cave paintings in France to his own experiences recording the now famous Space Oddity video.

Many questions focused on our fascination with space and exploration. Chris said, ‘Space travel is nothing new. It’s a pattern we have been following for the last 70,000 years. There is a human necessity to leave home. That’s how we have spread across the whole planet. Each generation wants to see what’s beyond the horizon.’

The afternoon ended with questions about life as an astronaut. ‘Most of my time as an astronaut has been living on earth,’ explained Chris. ‘What you do in space may be entertaining, but it’s really not what matters. It’s life on earth that’s important.’

Did you join us for the book signing? Tell us more in the comments below. 

Science Museum launches Britain’s first official astronaut

By Roger Highfield and Doug Millard. Roger Highfield is Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum Group. Doug Millard is Deputy Keeper Technologies & Engineering and is currently leading on content for a major new exhibition of Russian space exploration opening in 2014.

The Science Museum has welcomed many astronauts and cosmonauts over the years and each time our visitors have been spellbound. Today, we witnessed the announcement of Briton Tim Peake’s mission to visit the International Space Station, ISS.

Tim Peake will be the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station.

Tim Peake will be the first British astronaut to visit the International Space Station. Image: BIS

Peake (who tweets as @astro_timpeake), will join Expedition 46 to the ISS, and will be carried aloft by a Soyuz mission in November 2015.

His selection by the European Space Agency was announced to the world’s media in the Science Museum’s IMAX at an event introduced by Director Ian Blatchford.

Ian Blatchford, Science Museum Director (l) welcomes Tim Peake and Science Minister David Willetts (r) to the Museum. Image: Science Museum

Ian Blatchford, Science Museum Director (l) welcomes Tim Peake and Science Minister David Willetts (r) to the Museum. Image: Science Museum

Peake, who is based in the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, said  that he is ”absolutely delighted” and saw the mission as the culmination of everything he had worked for during his  career, though he admitted that he had misgivings about the disruption caused by moving his family – he has two young sons – to Houston.

However, he was not concerned about the risks of the mission, since his future career was ‘probably safer’ than past career as helicopter test pilot.

His tasks once in orbit will include helping to maintain the space station, operating its robotic arm and carrying out science experiments in Esa’s Columbus laboratory module, which is attached to the front of the 400-ton ISS complex.

Backdropped by a colourful Earth, this full view of the International Space Station was photographed from the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Backdropped by a colourful Earth, this full view of the International Space Station was photographed from the Space Shuttle Discovery. Credit: NASA/SSPL

Peake said that he hoped there would be space biomedicine experiments and that the UK scientific community would rise to the opportunities presented by microgravity experiments.

“Major Tim” told the press conference that in preparation for this challenge he had lived in a Sardinian cave for a week, flew on what is popularly known as a ‘vomit comet’, has spent 12 days in Nasa’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations, an underwater base, and he has undergone training with Russian and American spacesuits so he will also be able to perform a spacewalk.

The recently returned ISS commander, Canadian Chris Hadfield, attracted a big following for his tweets, videos and songs from the platform which Peake said built a worldwide audience. However, Peake dashed any hopes of a pop video by admitting: ‘I do play the guitar but very badly.’

Peake hails from Chichester, and is the “first official British astronaut” for the European Space Agency, selected from 8000 candidates. Previous UK-born individuals who have gone into orbit have done so either through the US space agency (Nasa) as American citizens or on independent ventures organised with the assistance of the Russian space agency.

Tim Peake answers questions from the press at the Science Museum.

Tim Peake answers questions from the press at the Science Museum. Image: Science Museum

Thomas Reiter, a former astronaut and Director of ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operations, congratulated Peake ‘It is a remarkable moment for your country. You all can be proud of Timothy.’ And Dr David Parker of the UK Space Agency said nothing inspires like human explorers at the final frontier.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said that this mission is part of effort to rebalance the economy – the UK space industry is worth £9.1 billion to the economy – and pointed out that the space sector is growing by 8 per cent each year.

He added that the mission underlined the inspirational values of space – the ‘Apollo effect’ – and will encourage more young people to take up STEM (science, technology and maths) subjects at schools and universities. ‘I have high hopes it will interest a generation of students in science and technology.’

The minister said that the objects in the Science Museum are a reminder of the UK’s distinguished history in space exploration and that he is now looking into a competition for schools based on the mission to the ISS.

Tim Peake pictured with a space suit from the Exploring Space gallery. Image: Science Museum

Tim Peake pictured with a space suit from the Exploring Space gallery. Image: Science Museum

Prime Minister, David Cameron, commented:  “This is a momentous day, not just for Tim Peake but for Great Britain. Tim was picked for this historic role from over 8,000 applicants from around the world. I am sure he will do us proud.”

Helen Sharman was the first Briton to go into space in 1991 in a joint venture between a number of UK companies and the Soviet government and spent a week at the Mir space station.

Sharman spoke at a recent event at the museum to celebrate International Women’s Day. The museum has her space suit on display and, only a few weeks ago, she stood before her suit as she told leading figures in drama and theatre about her experiences in orbit.

The most experienced UK-born astronaut is Nasa’s Michael Foale, who completed long-duration missions to both the ISS and Mir.

Backdropped by a colourful Earth, this full view of the International Space Station was photographed from the Space Shuttle Discovery.

How to brush your teeth in space?

Have you ever wondered how you clean your teeth in space?

It’s not a problem for most of us, but for the six astronauts orbiting 370km (220 miles) above us in the International Space Station, even simple tasks can be challenging in microgravity.

The International Space Station photographed from the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The International Space Station photographed from the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Credit © National Aeronautics & Space Administration / Science & Society Picture Library

Luckily, our favourite tweeting astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield – who shares incredible daily images of the Earth including the stunning image of London at night below – has the answer.

Chris took time out of commanding the International Space station to share how he manages to brush his teeth while travelling at 8 km/sec.

Back on earth, you can discover how we are able to live in space – to breathe, to eat, to drink and… to go to the toilet – in our Exploring Space gallery, or watch ISS astronauts in action in our Space Station 3D IMAX film.