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March 15, 2008

Japanese On Board

The station has a new room, and the world has a new moon (view, at least). The crews of STS-123 and Expedition 16 and 17 delivered and attached the Japanese pressurized logistics module this week. Japanese astronaut Takao Doi and ISS Commander Peggy Whitson opened the hatch on Friday night, March 14.

Meanwhile, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference this week in Houston, Japanese scientists unveiled absolutely stunning high definition flybys of the moon taken by their Kaguya orbiter. As the glistening white rim of Aristarchus appeared on the black horizon, I imagined those mountains as towers of a bright city reaching for the heavens, with life-sustaining modules tucked into their bases, and roads of lunar glass heading out like rays of the sun to welcome people from all over the world to respectfully enjoy the majesty of this ancient place.

JAXA posted the low-res versions of these movies online at

You don't have to wait for high definition views of Earth, though. These are available live during spacewalks and at other times via NASA TV. The second of five spacewalks planned for this mission starts tonight (Saturday) at about 7:23 p.m. and runs to about 1:30 a.m. (Central time)

The spacewalkers are Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and Mike Foreman. They will be working on the new Canadian Dextre robotic arm. A problem with the power connection has been solved, and soon this gigantic arm will be waving hello (not literally!) to those of us on the ground.

More spacewalks are planned for Monday night, Thursday night, and next Saturday night (March 22). The launch and landing opportunities being at night dictated this schedule that happens to make watching the show conveniently fall between dinner and bedtime for most Americans. The crew for the third space walk is Linnehan and Robert Behnken. This will be Behnken's first EVA. He is tagged to do the fourth and fifth walks with Fossum. Takao Doi is the primary arm operator for these EVAs.

Fresh views of the moon and Earth from space can't help but inspire a yen (sorry for the pun!) in all of us to personally explore the space frontier. I put a Kaguya still image of Aristarchus next to my computer to remind me why I am a member of National Space Society: I want to go!

Marianne Dyson

NSS member

Posted by m_dyson at March 15, 2008 02:05 PM



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