Science & Astronomy
13. May 2014

Tonight, another mission to the International Space Station comes to an end and a new one with the round number 40 starts when Rick MastracchioKoichi Wakata and Mikhail Tyurin return to Earth and temporarily reduce the crew to only three people instead of the usual six. NASA Television will as usual broadcast everything with the undocking happening at 00:15 CEST.

The astronauts are already strapped in and the hatch to the Soyuz capsule has been closed now for a while. Mastracchio and Wakata have already sent goodbye tweets, but the American astronaut has already promised “post-flight fun” and handed the Twitter baton over to Alexander Gerst and Reid Wiseman, who are already reporting a lot about the preparations for their May 28th launch together with their Roscosmos colleague Maksim Surayev – no Twitter link here, since the Russian astronauts are sadly not doing any social media. Scratch that! I’ve since found out that Surayev does in fact regularly tweet as @Msuraev, but he writes in Russian, which is thanks to online translators not a big problem.

[Update: The astronauts are safely back on earth, everything went as smooth as a bumpy, rattling Soyuz re-entry can be. The NASA TV Youtube Channel has a long video from the landing site operations – the capsule actually landed upright and the astronauts had to be pulled out through the top with the help of a mobile gantry. This hasn’t happened for a long time, usually the capsules land on the side.]

With the departure of Mastraccio and Wakata, there is a sort of social media outage on the ISS at the moment, because the only American astronaut Steven Swanson does not have a Twitter account, but there is at least the official Instagram ISS stream, where occasionally photos from orbit get posted. But that will only last until the next three astronauts go up.

Meanwhile, the future of the ISS seems once again in limbo – originally, the Space Station was supposed to stay at least another decade, but now Russian officials are rattling their sabers and saying that they want to give up the cooperation in 2020. As a rule, I won’t comment on the political reasons, but as this comes not from Roscosmos, but Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, this is nothing more than playing politics with spaceflight and science, which is a really sad and stupid situation.

Write a Comment