Video: A Week In The Life Of The International Space Station

The International Space Station is one of the wonders of modern technology. A series of interconnected orbital modules are home to a rotating crew of astronauts and cosmonauts plus a host of ongoing experiments. While the ISS only gets into the news every now and then, interesting things are happening there daily.

Right now three astronauts – two American and one Canadian – are on duty up there along with three cosmonauts from Russia. This video is a weekly update showing what they did last week. The main work has been preparing for the arrival of the Dragon spacecraft, which will bring supplies and take some completed experiments and waste back to Earth.

Besides that, the crew has been conducting experiments, doing maintenance work on their spacesuits, troubleshooting a partial communications failure, training with the robotic arm, and answering questions from the public back on Earth.

The three astronauts even got a break for Presidents Day. I didn’t know they got days off up there. I wonder what they do? Stare out the window a lot, I bet.

The weekly update gets uploaded every Friday and there are daily updates throughout the week. You can followed them on the ISS website.

For more about this giant orbital laboratory take this video tour of the International Space Station.

Exclusive tour lets you go inside the Russian Space Program

If you missed your chance to sign up for Space Camp or just want a closer look at the Russian approach to space exploration, an exclusive tour inside the Russian Space Program this fall may be for you. Operated by the Mir Corporation (no relation to the former Russian Space Station), Inside the Russian Space Program will give you a near-space experience with opportunities to see a manned Soyuz launch and tour a mock-up of the International Space Station (ISS), among other activities that are far beyond the reach of most travelers.The 10-day, $14,000 tour scheduled for October 9-18, 2012, is led by Dr. Steven Lee of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and provides exclusive access and insight into Roscosmos, Russia’s Space Program. Sandwiched between tours of Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center and Mission Control in Moscow, the tour will include a trip to Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where participants can get behind-the-scene glimpses of the manned Soyuz rocket launch to the International Space Station. For an extra fee, travelers can sign up to attend Cosmonaut training, which includes a familiarization ride on the world’s largest centrifuge, a zero gravity flight, and a chance to wear a Russian Orlan space suit.

Although this is very much a 21st century tour, some of the activities on the itinerary can’t help but hearken back to the days of the Soviet Space Program, thereby making this a fascinating tour for Cold War history buffs. To wit, there are excursions to the Star City Museum, which has a reproduction of Yuri Gagarin’s office among other rockets, satellites, space capsules, and simulators; the Cold War Museum Bunker; the Gagarin Start, the original launchpad from which the Sputnik missions launched; and the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery, where famous Russians, such as Chekhov and Khrushchev, as well as a number of cosmonauts are buried.

Space tourism celebrates tenth anniversary

Space tourism
is ten years old this week. On 28 April 2001 millionaire Dennis Tito became the first person to go into space as a tourist and not an astronaut or scientist.

In an interview with BBC today he talked about how thrilled he was and called his eight days being in orbit “paradise.”

While space tourism is the ultimate in high-cost adventure travel–only seven people have done it so far and Tito is said to have paid $20 million for the privilege–private companies are hoping to make it more widely available. They also want to make it more comfortable. Tito was crammed “elbow to elbow” in a Russian capsule after NASA refused to put him on one of the Space Shuttles. Not that he cared at the time. Check out this video of Dennis Tito’s arrival at the International Space Station. The guy’s euphoric!

A number of private companies are looking into commercial space travel. The most serious contender is Virgin Galactic, which has already built a spaceport and put their spaceship Enterprise through a test flight. The company hopes to push an orbital trip down to $200,000, just one percent of what Tito paid. Who knows? Maybe good old free-market competition will push the price even lower than that.

Even more ambitious is Excalibur Almaz, a company based in the Isle of Man that has bought some Russian space capsules that they’re refurbishing. They boast that they’ll offer trips around the Moon by 2015.

Best of luck folks, but I won’t be looking for a Lonely Planet Outer Space in the bookstores anytime soon.

[Photo courtesy NASA]