Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who experienced a sort of Space Odyssey when his helmet filled with fluid during a recent spacewalk, has taken another interesting image from the International Space Station.[...] he has shot a contrail (shaped by high-altitude winds) of what he believes is a missile launch.
American? Russian Intecontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)? Hard to say,
Saw something launch into space today. Not sure what it was but the cloud it left behind was pretty amazing
The Strategic Rocket Forces carried out a successful test launch of a Topol/SS-25 missile on October 10, 2013. The missile was launched at 17:39 MSK (13:39 UTC) from Kapustin Yar to the Sary Shagan test site in Kazakhstan. According to a representative of the Rocket Forces, the test was used to confirm characteristics of the Topol missile, to test the systems of the Sary Shagan test site, and "to test new combat payload for intercontinental ballistic missiles."
[UPDATE: Matthew Greene on Twitter told me the Topol missile uses solid fuel as propellent (he is correct), so it cannot have been a dump that the astronauts saw. I'm not sure now what caused the cloud, but it's clearly associated with the missile itself. I'll continue to investigate.]
nice photos Arken. missiles everywhere these days.
Am I the only one who finds the fact that we are no longer able to view the live feed from the ISS (previously accessed through USTREAM) more than a little suspicious?? NASA quote a loss in funding as the cause, but I find this unbelievable considering the amount of money that must be available to them! Just wondered what other people on here thought...
One of the several tasks of an astronaut on the ISS is known by the acronym CEO or Crew Earth Observation. A team of researchers on ground studies the orbits of the Station and selects objectives to photograph, indicating the time of their passage, the coordinates, the type of photo you need to provide and as much information as possible to find the target. These range from easily identifiable cities to impact craters that are absolutely indistinguishable from the background – all at roughly 400km distance from us. This task is voluntary, but the challenge of finding the targets is a pleasure. Finding a particularly difficult target gives me a satisfaction that must be similar to a passionate collector purchasing a missing piece to a collection. My crew has a daily routine and Expedition 36 has far exceeded all previous photo targets snapped and sent to Earth.
I am in Cupola again and I am setting-up a camera on a window overlooking the north. The Station is operating under working hours so all the lights are on. My next Crew Earth Observation target is the Aurora Borealis. To avoid reflections from the Station’s lights I build a tent to obscure the area around the camera. I have already entered all required parameters in the camera, including the estimated time of the aurora. With a little luck I should be able to photograph the sequence even without being physically present behind the camera: at that moment I will be engaged in another activity.
Sunset is fast approaching. The gold and orange light that reflects off the solar panels attract my attention and I cannot look away until my eyes focus on an image that is foreign to nature: smoke emerges straight and clear on the horizon, accentuated by the last rays of the Sun. Nature does not like straight lines, and this inconsistency has guided my vision. I am looking at a launch of something, I do not know what and I do not know where, but it is definitely a launch. I do not know what my chances are of seeing the launch of a suborbital object when I did not know the launch details beforehand but instinctively I would say they are very slim: an extraordinary case of being in the right place at the right time!
Karen and Mike are above me in Node3, and I dare to look away for a moment to call them. They both float into the Cupola and we share the little space to observe the object as it follows its path through the upper layers of the atmosphere. Its trail is now at the mercy of the stratospheric winds which distort the shape, transforming it into a series of segments that twist, starting from the ground till it reaches the blackness of the stellar vacuum. I take one of the cameras and hope that the automatic settings will be enough to take good pictures, despite the light from the sunset starting to fade. I stop shooting only when the Sun is completely gone, but I do not stop looking. The object disintegrates before our eyes, and hundreds, probably thousands of kilometres away, we see a cloud of transparent white gas expand growing ghost-like, in all directions until it flattens when it meets the atmosphere. We wonder what we just witnessed, but even Houston ground control fails to explain.
In the evening, we discover that it was the test launch of a Russian intercontinental missile launched from Kazakhstan. All three of us are surprised by the incredible coincidence that allowed us to observe such a rare event. We are not sure what to think. For my part, I am pleased to add another valuable piece to the only true collection I have, the only one that is worth anything: my memories.
Dude, these sighting were in predicted IN ADVANCE, in this thread....
If the weather was clear, we might expect some spectacular videos to show up on youtube and rutube. Keep an eye out for them.