Live coverage of ISS
December 13, 2006 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Live coverage of NASA attempting to retract the ISS solar panels NASA is attempting to retract up the huge solar panels that spread out either side of the ISS. They fold up concertina-like, like venetian blinds; and like venetian blinds they're getting snagged and hung up. Live tv feeds of the ISS, and you can hear NASA problem-solving on the fly. Absolutely fascinating stuff.
posted by carter (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
And all this can be done only in the daylight segments of the ISS's orbit around the earth.
posted by carter at 2:13 PM on December 13, 2006

Have the tried pulling on both cords seperately? That usually works for me :)

(sorry, can't watch this at work, but I'm sure it's interesting)
posted by muddgirl at 2:55 PM on December 13, 2006

The interesting thing is that if they can't retract the panels far enough or leave them in a safe position, they may just end up jettisoning them out into space. It's happened before with Hubble.

But that's an absolute last resort.
posted by yupislyr at 3:06 PM on December 13, 2006

It's actually insanely boring to watch, muddgirl (so boring it wraps back around to interesting.)
posted by runehog at 3:08 PM on December 13, 2006

w00t... they're bringing them in!
posted by onalark at 3:17 PM on December 13, 2006

this is all a waste of tax money that could be spent on cancer research, and you should watch the live coverage of a nobler cause.

(but seriously, fascinating stuff. thanks for the link carter)
posted by kolophon at 3:31 PM on December 13, 2006

Man, this is familiar. For all the procedure and control, this is basically my family whenever anything's not working. "Try pushing it and then pulling it again." "No, wait, try twisting it this way." "No, stop, you're breaking it!" The need to get permission from mission control before any action is actually taken makes it even more frustrating.

And funny.
posted by phooky at 3:39 PM on December 13, 2006

Just out of curiosity are they bringing them in because of the coronal ejection?
posted by quin at 3:53 PM on December 13, 2006

Oh, God... I forgot, we can't have a space exploration thread on the internet without someone crying about "noble" causes and cancer research.

Ok then, did you forget forget about the technological advances that space exploration brings us, and yes, even medical research experiments done in zero gravity?

And despite that, the NASA budget is actually quite paltry compared to most government programs.
posted by yupislyr at 3:54 PM on December 13, 2006

kolophon, before totally dissing the space program in favor of cancer treatments, how many examples of space-based technologies used for cancer treatment like to see??

There are plenty of examples - those are just two highlighted on the NASA website.
posted by matty at 3:54 PM on December 13, 2006

And no, the solar panel retraction has nothing to do with the coronal ejection.

The solar panels are being retracted in order to allow some new panels that were installed this past September to be able to rotate on their own with the Sun.

These solar panels being retracted are actually in a temporary position right now and ultimately are going to be moved to a different area on the space station as construction continues.
posted by yupislyr at 3:56 PM on December 13, 2006

ummmm... WOULD YOU like to see.

My English is not so good sometimes...
posted by matty at 3:56 PM on December 13, 2006

Thanks yupislyr, I learned something new today.
posted by quin at 4:15 PM on December 13, 2006

Live blog, for the video disinclined.
posted by smackfu at 4:51 PM on December 13, 2006

Longer answer, quin: the final configuration of ISS has four sets of solar panels along the truss, which is perpendicular to the ISS module alignment. But they needed the power of the P6 array before the truss was built, so the assembly sequence had them install it on the top of the station. Now that the P3/4 array is in place, if it were to rotate fully, it would crash into the P6. So they're going to pull back the part that's in the way, and go from a station powered by one array to a station powered by 1.5 arrays. In March the S3/4 array goes up and they'll retract the other half, and for a time the P6 array will just be stored in place until it can be moved (August 07) to the outside end of the truss in parallel with P3/4.

Assuming it all works, it's quite a blend of the awkward and elegant.

A side effect of adding all these solar panels -- last September, and next March -- is that ISS is going to be considerably brighter and thus more visible. (Although usually only in the predawn hours.)

The need to get permission from mission control before any action is actually taken makes it even more frustrating.

You really don't get to be an astronaut unless you're ready to be somebody else's eyes and hands. Astronauts generally prefer it when they operate under direction because they're off the hook if they screw up. (But I'm sure they're human and it drives them a little nuts too.)

how many examples of space-based technologies used for cancer treatment like to see??

There's a trade-off. You knew there was.

they may just end up jettisoning them out into space

True, but damn, that would be expensive. I'm pretty sure each array segment cost about half a billion.
posted by dhartung at 8:00 PM on December 13, 2006

To kolophon and all those of a similar opinion that think the space program is a waste of money, you need to be put in your place for being way out of contact with reality. The space program is the single most important thing to happen in this century, and will continue to be for centuries to come, long after our grandchildren have passed on. If humanity even exists past our grandchildren, we will have all the advances in science made through the virtue of the worlds various space programs to thank.

Space = Science folks, and if you think Science is a waste of time, go and toss out your car, your TV, your computer, your cell phone, your light bulbs, your picture albums, your economy, and anything modern. May Benjamin Franklin haunt your very short sighted soul.

Seriously people, our world is overpopulated and running short on natural resources. There are more resources in the space neighborhood to be had....a lot more.
posted by blackankh at 8:08 PM on December 13, 2006

yupislyr, matty, et al: I notice that you're all past due for a calibration of your "internet humor" meters. Please take them to the cal lab and get them tested. Don't worry, they'll probably be returned to you within a few days, tight and shiny.
posted by muddgirl at 9:04 PM on December 13, 2006

Hubble solar panel cast-off, 1993.
posted by cenoxo at 10:59 PM on December 13, 2006

My daddy helped design those solar panels.
posted by Titania at 11:15 PM on December 13, 2006

"My daddy helped design those solar panels."

That is great!! Titania.. You should be always very proud of your Father. Good work... Congratulate him from all of us that we have a little experience trying to come out with a good workable design of something beneficial.

Kolophon: your comment "this is all a waste of tax money that could be spent on cancer research"... is just pure ignorance.
Cancer research will never stop until they come out with a new illness that will continue to kill yearly a good number of us. Money appropriation is the name of the game and vultures waiting to grab a portion they will always exist. With all the research and knowledge that they already have reached, cancer can be cured NOW.- But they will not do it (Politicians "Most of them, they are ignorant vultures anyway" and drug makers ) they release the "good news" in other word "advances" drop by drop... so we can continue to believe that they are working hard, but those advances are kept well in secret; that way, the well intended researches keep working hard and prevent them to become whistle blowers and at the same time they keep getting paid "SOME", while the big fish keep getting paid "LOTS"
One example: In 1999 I bought in Canada a Chinese made DVD player that played CD's, DVD's (all kinds), VCD's and MP3 disk for less than I paid for a Japanese (Toshiba) DVD player that played DVD's made only for USA. Only now for a little over a year you can buy in the states a DVD player that have all those other features. BUT!! not before!!, Only after they saturated and could not find any other suckers like us to buy the DVD only player device. Now they sale the DVD's with all those features so you and I we can throw away the old "DVD only player" machine and spend more money oin other Japanese trash.... My Chinese 7 year old player still works like a champ.
Did you get the picture??
posted by CRESTA at 12:22 AM on December 14, 2006

sorry, I thought at least the last sentence in brackets would make it clear that I was trying to be ironic - in anticipation of a discussion like here or here.
I won't do it again.
posted by kolophon at 4:04 AM on December 14, 2006

Excellent summary dhartung, thanks for the extra details. (The 'trade off' link was particularly interesting, cheers for that.)
posted by quin at 10:30 AM on December 14, 2006

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