Comet Lovejoy (hot rock) and ISS



Comet Lovejoy and the ISS

Image Credit: Left – Carlos Caccia, (Intendente Alvear, Argentina) / Right – Dan Burbank (ISS Expedition 30, NASA)

Explanation: On December 24, Comet Lovejoy rose in dawn’s twilight, arcing above the eastern horizon, its tails swept back by the solar wind and sunlight. Seen on the left is the comet’s early morning appearance alongside the southern Milky Way from the town of Intendente Alvear, La Pampa province, Argentina. The short star trails include bright southern sky stars Alpha and Beta Centauri near the center of the frame, but the long bright streak that crosses the comet tails is a little closer to home. Waiting for the proper moment to start his exposure, the photographer has also caught the International Space Station still glinting in the sunlight as it orbits (top to bottom) above the local horizon. The right panel is the near horizon view of Comet Lovejoy from the space station itself, captured only two days earlier. In fact, Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, recorded Comet Lovejoy rising just before the Sun in a spectacular video (linked here). Even considering the other vistas available from low Earth orbit, Burbank describes the comet as “the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space.”

AWST – NASA, SpaceX Set First Dragon Launch To ISS


NASA and SpaceX announce a February launch for Dragon to the ISS.

Later in the article is this, first articulation of something that should have been policy from the start:

Philip McAlister, director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA headquarters, told the conference he expects regular commercial cargo deliveries to the ISS to begin next year, followed in about five years by commercial crew flights. Although it is currently funded only through 2020, McAlister says he expects the station to continue to operate “as long as it is safe and productive,” serving as an anchor destination for a growing space economy in orbit.