Anousheh Ansari Space Blog

September 20, 2006

Docking Successful

Filed under: Personal Spaceflight — by X PRIZE @ 5:26 am

Vostok’s smooth and uneventful docking confirmed.

New residents have arrived at the International Space Station.

Vostok is now just one kilometer away from the International Space Station (ISS) and closing at a rate of 2 meters/second. Then it does a “fly around” and positions itself to dock to the Svesda Service Module on ISS. This docking port was occupied yesterday by the Progress 21 cargo craft.

It’s relatively busy in orbit around the Earth right now… with a crew on ISS, a crew on Soyuz TMA-9 and a crew on the Space Shuttle on the way home, there are 12 people on orbit. I look forward to the day when there are hundreds of human carrying spaceships in orbit, not just three.

Friends at Star City send reports that Anousheh is doing well, but recovering from an initial bout of space motion sickness. Space Motion Sickness hits about 40 percent of the astronauts who enter space. A quick injection of intramuscular phenergan can usually help. I’ve had the pleasure of flying Anousheh on two different occasions in parabolic flight with Zero-Gravity Corporation. She did amazingly well without any problems.

I bet Anousheh is looking out the window and can’t wait to open the hatch to visit her new home! The docking is being carried by NASA TV and the hatch opening ceremonies should take place at about 1:10am PDT / 4:10am EDT.

The NASA TV channel is now showing a beautiful view of the ISS with the Earth in the background. The view is coming from the Soyuz camera. In the middle of the image is a set of cross-hairs. The Soyuz is now at 10 meters and closing. Flight controllers are standing by for contact and capture of the ISS.

We have contact! Docking confirmed at 12:21 am CT, 9:21 am Moscow time! I bet Anousheh is happy!

The next step is the retraction of the docking probe, and a hard docking between the two vehicles to provide a tight seal.

Now we’ll have to wait for 3 hours of leak checks and system checks before the hatch is opened… then Anousheh will get nine days onboard the ISS to float around and share with us her adventures in orbit!

Peter H. Diamandis (at home in LA)

NASA TV schedule change

Filed under: space-blog — by X PRIZE @ 3:27 am

Live coverage of Soyuz docking to ISS will begin 15 minutes later than scheduled, one hour and 20 minutes from now, on NASA TV.

September 19, 2006

Soyuz TMA-9 Launch

Filed under: space-launch — by X PRIZE @ 7:49 pm

Docking Tomorrow

Filed under: Personal Spaceflight — by Peter @ 3:23 am

Mission Elapsed Time is now 23 hours and the crew of Soyuz TMA-9 reports all is well in orbit.

Progress undocked from the station so that Soyuz can dock there tomorrow, at 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

I’m definitely planning to stay up late until 1:10 am PT to watch Anousheh enter ISS for the first time — the hatch opening and welcoming ceremony will be carried live on NASA TV.

There has been an overwhelming response to this blog. So many great people and friends leaving greetings and great questions that will be read by Anousheh in space. I even saw my good friend Granger Whitelaw, CEO of Rocket Racing League, cheering Anousheh on here today.

So many kindred spirits never met before this conversation began — thanks for joining in!

— Peter

September 18, 2006

Launch + Orbit Achieved!

Filed under: Orbit,space-launch — by Peter @ 4:37 am

It’s a gorgeous day in Baikonur. The Soyuz TMA-9 spaceship and the Soyuz booster look beautiful, silhouetted against a clear blue sky.

Mike Lopez-Alegria (Mike LA), Mikhail Tyurin (Soyuz Commander of Expedition 14), and Anousheh are now suited and onboard. Anousheh is seated in the right seat of the 3-person capsule

This pad is the same used 45 years ago to launch Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961. One hundred years from now, this may be a historic shrine celebrating the earliest days of humanity’s first evolutionary steps toward the stars.

This mission’s call-sign is “Vostok” which means “east.” It is also the name of the vehicle that carried Gagarin into orbit.

The onboard TV cameras have just gone live with in-cabin video. I can see Soyuz Commander Tyurin in the center seat, and NASA Astronaut Mike LA in the left seat.

Now the camera angle has just changed and I can see Anousheh in the right seat. I think she has a permanent smile on her face! She’s running through the check list. Her glass bubble helmet is half-open. In the foreground of the image you can see a little stuffed bear dangling from the control panel… almost like you would put on the rear-view mirror of your car. This is just one of the many Russian traditions. When the bear floats, you know you are in Zero-G.

I remember in 1983 when I traveled down to Florida to watch the flight of Sally Ride, the first US woman to fly into space. One of the billboards said, “Ride Sally Ride, and all you guys can go along too.” For too long spaceflight has been a male-dominated occupation. One of Anousheh’s goals, through this flight, is to help excite young girls worldwide to follow in her footsteps and reach for the stars.

I just had two friends call me to make sure I’m watching the flight. Jack Bader, X PRIZE Trustee in St. Louis, and good friend Dr. Kyle Sprecher in Houston. I hope many more are also glued to the TV or internet.

The voice of mission control has just announced that we’re at L-10 minutes and all systems are go.

I just received a call from Eric Anderson, CEO of Space Adventures. He and his entire staff are up late in the office, watching the launch on a large-screen TV. Eric tells me not to get too excited until after L+8.5 minutes, when the staging has completed and vehicle is in orbit.

At L-30 seconds… I can feel my breathing change… the control arms have just pulled away from the vehicle… the cosmonauts are shaking hands.

L-0… Ignition, launch… the vehicle looks perfect climbing into the sky… the plume is now looking like a star rising into the sky.

L+5 minutes. I can see Anousheh from the onboard cameras. Amazingly the TV signal is clear and strong. Anousheh still has her permanent grin. She is following along on the check list. Mission control is saying that all is operating nominal, g-forces are normal, vibration is minimal. Stage 2 has just completed its burn and Stage 3 is now operating nominal. At 7 minutes into the flight the speed is now 13,000 miles per hour, on the way to orbital velocity of 17,500 miles per hour.

The magic moment has arrived — 8.5 minutes into the flight. The third stage has completed its task — Soyz TMA-9, Expedition-14 is now safe in orbit.

Congratulations Anousheh, your dream has come true. You are in orbit! You have made it to space. You are one of only 500 humans who have ever traveled to space.

I can’t wait to go too. Keep my seat warm 🙂



Filed under: Orbit,space-launch — by X PRIZE @ 4:20 am

Soyuz is safely into orbit! Hooray!

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