The International Space Station is the result of an amazing collaboration of many countries and countless individuals from around the world, a research lab and symbol of global peace and partnership put together in space. But recent and growing political tension between the two biggest contributors to the ISS – the United States and Russia – are casting doubt on the status of Station’s future. Will Russia continue its support of the ISS? Or will they build their own space station like some reports have suggested? And if so, what will happen to the current Station?
Ron Garan, former NASA astronaut and ISS crew member, humanitarian, and author of the new book The Orbital Perspective, is featured in a webcomic by Andy Warner (perhaps in honor of Free Comic Book Day?) called “Atmospheric Breakup,” which addresses the significance of the ISS and the challenges facing its future. Check it out on The Nib by clicking the link below or the image above.
By continuing to spread the word about the importance of international collaboration, Ron is showing us that real superheroes wear blue flight suits!
Former NASA astronaut Ron Garan was recently interviewed for Huffington Post’s LIVE broadcast. Ron talked about his new book The Orbital Perspective (read my review here) along with what it was like to be an astronaut and the way his experiences changed his views of life on Earth. (He also live-narrated some of the work being done at the time of the interview outside the ISS during EVA 30!)
In addition to talking about astronaut stuff, Ron weighed in on the human exploration of Mars, recently brought into the spotlight – for better or worse – with the announcement of 100 finalists by the Dutch MarsOne company, which has aspirations of creating the first human colony on the Red Planet. Ron says that while it will be important for us to venture out into the Solar System, really the next logical step would be to establish a permanent presence on our own Moon first.
“This is our closest neighbor, it’s three days away… There are so many things that could be done on the Moon that would have tremendous benefit.”
– Ron Garan, NASA astronaut
You can watch the entire video here, and share what you think in the poll below – should we go back to the Moon first? Or head right on out to Mars?
If you’re anything like me you get a lot of your information online through various news and social media sources. This is great, as it puts the most up-to-date news in front of you instantly. But sometimes it’s nice to sit down and open up a book – yes, a real live book with pages you turn and non-clickable text (gasp!) – and explore a topic much more intimately than you normally could in a web article.
As a member of the “OP release crew” I recently had the opportunity to do precisely that with a pre-release copy of Ron Garan’s book The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles. A decorated fighter pilot, astronaut, and entrepreneur, Ron has logged 178 days in space and over 71 million miles in orbit (hence the title.) He is the founder of the nonprofit social enterprise incubator Manna Energy Foundation and is also the founder of Fragile Oasis, which uses the orbital perspective to inspire positive social and environmental action. During his time living and working in space over the course of two missions – shuttle mission STS-124 and Expedition 27/28 aboard the ISS – as well as participating in various humanitarian programs on Earth, Ron has developed a sense of acute awareness of the interconnectiveness of humanity, of how we really are “all in this together.” Unfortunately, regardless of how beautiful our planet looks from orbit there’s no denying that living conditions in many places around the world are belied by that beauty. Having seen the world first-hand from both viewpoints, Ron has become aware of the paradox but doesn’t feel that it has to be “just the way things are” – he believes we have the ability to change things on a global scale but only if we work together… only if we can achieve an orbital perspective.
A beautiful and mesmerizing series of time-lapse videos taken by astronaut Ron Garan during his last weeks aboard the International Space Station, this must-see montage is made all the sweeter by a score from Peter Gabriel and an intro from Ron himself.
Ron wrote in his blog entry on FragileOasis.org:
Although the International Space Station travels at 17,500mph, orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes, time-lapse photography speeds up our apparent motion considerably.
The flashes of light you see throughout the video is lightning captured by the individual frames of the photography. Yet, only a small percentage of the actual lightning is captured in the imagery. While the video is sped up, I think it still accurately captures the paparazzi-look of lightening storms as we see them from space.
While still onboard the ISS, Peter Gabriel and I brainstormed some ideas for using this type of imagery to help tell the Fragile Oasis story. The possibilities are truly exciting, and I can’t wait to see where this leads. I hope it will help people follow our missions not as spectators, but as fellow crewmembers, inspired to help improve life on our planet.
Be sure to visit the site for a full description of how the photos were taken!
Video: NASA/Ron Garan. Music courtesy of Peter Gabriel and Walt Disney Records (All rights reserved.)
Another stunning view from the Space Station, this photo was taken by Expedition 28 astronaut Ron Garan on July 31, 2011 and shows the Moon seeming to sink into the ocean of air that is our life-supporting atmosphere.
As the Moon passes behind Earth’s limb it appears to get squished because of light being refracted through the atmosphere.
Traveling at over 17,000 mph the ISS astronauts get to witness up to 16 sunsets – and moonsets – every day! Still, each and every one is a beautiful sight to see.
Follow Ron on Twitter @Astro_Ron and on his blog, FragileOasis.org. Even though he returned to Earth last month he’s still sharing awesome photos like this from his 5 1/2 months aboard the ISS!
Image: NASA / Ron Garan