Releasing the Dragon

This timelapse video shows still pictures taken from the International Space Station of the departing #Dragon supply spacecraft. Played in quick succession the video displays faster than real life but in 4K resolution.

The Dragon spacecraft was released from the Station’s robotic arm at 18:38 GMT on 3 August 2018. Thrusters fired to increase its distance from the Space Station and the spacecraft started its deorbit and return to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean less than seven hours after release.

The International Space Station flies at 28 800 km/h above our planet doing a complete orbit in around 90 minutes – during release operations the sun set and rose above the horizon many times.

As Dragon faded into the distance it flew over a stormy part of Earth – lightning flashes can be seen many kilometres below.

Dragon is the only spacecraft that can return to Earth with scientific cargo aside from the Soyuz spacecraft that ferries astronauts to space and back – this flight carried over 1700 kg of cargo.

Watch the release of Cygnus here: https://youtu.be/bttU_rKoti0

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ESA is Europe’s gateway to space. Our mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. Check out http://www.esa.int/ESA to get up to speed on everything space related.

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Bye bye Cygnus

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor commanded the International Space Station’s 16-m robotic arm to release a #Cygnus supply spacecraft to burn up harmlessly over Earth.

The duo set up the robotic workstation in the European-built Cupola module to follow operations from the observatory. You can see Alexander opening the protective shutters from a window at the start of the video.

The spacecraft was released at 14:17 GMT on 15 July 2018 as the International Space Station flew over Colombia.

Cygnus spent two weeks orbiting Earth on its own allowing engineers to conduct tests as well as releasing a series of miniature satellites before ending its mission.

Watch the release of Dragon here: https://youtu.be/0_TxRN8OnCA

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ESA is Europe’s gateway to space. Our mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. Check out http://www.esa.int/ESA to get up to speed on everything space related.

Copyright information about our videos is available here: http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Terms_and_Conditions

Horizons mission – preparing for a spacewalk

Known to the crew as an EVA (extravehicular activity), each spacewalk provides a valuable opportunity to carry out repairs, test new equipment and even perform science experiments beyond the confines of a spacecraft. Exiting the International Space Station however, brings heightened risk and activities are planned down to the minute.

In this clip, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor help NASA astronauts Feustel and Ricky Arnold prepare to step out into space for EVA 51.

This spacewalk occurred on 14 June, 2018 – during Alexander Gerst’s Horizons mission.

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Horizons mission – Soyuz: launch to orbit

This unique video shows a full launch of the Soyuz MS-09: from liftoff to orbit.

Watch the launch from inside the crew capsule with first-ever shots from outside the spacecraft recorded by cameras fixed to the exterior of the Soyuz.

The intense launch lasts less than ten minutes whereby the Soyuz spacecraft is propelled 1640 km and gains 210 km altitude. Every second for nine minutes, the spacecraft accelerates 50 km/h on average as the rocket’s boosters burn their fuel and are discarded.
See the astronaut’s reactions and what the spacecraft looks like as the main steps are carried out to get into orbit:

-00:12 Launch command issued
-00:10 Engine turbopumps at flight speed
-00:05 Engines at maximum thrust
00:00 Launch
+1:54 Separation of emergency rescue system
+1:57 First stage separation
+2:38 Fairing separation
+4:48 Second stage separation
+4:58 Tail adapter separation
+8:45 Third stage engine cut off having arrived in orbit
+8:49 Soyuz separation, deploy solar arrays and antennae

The astronauts, from left to right, are NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev and ESA astronaut and flight engineer Alexander Gerst launched in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station on 6 June 2018. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and ESA television host Richard Hollingham provide commentary taken from the live event.

Hunched in their Sokol flight suits that offer protection in case of fire or depressurisation, the trio stay in the crew capsule of the Soyuz – the only module that is also designed to survive a return to Earth. The bags above their heads contain supplies for the International Space Station as every bit of space is used.

During a Soyuz launch astronauts typically experience forces of up to 4g – having to work while being pressed into their seats with a force that is four times more than the gravity felt on Earth. The Soyuz commander uses a stick to press buttons as they are too far away from the control panel.

The fluffy toys above the astronauts’ heads are mascots and good luck charms but also serve as a simple but effective test to see when the spacecraft is in orbit: when they start to float the spacecraft is weightless and orbiting Earth. Above Sergei is the mascot for the 2018 FIFA soccer World Cup held in Russia. Alexander took German children television icon “Die Maus” with him.

The launch went as planned as the 50-m tall Soyuz rocket propelled the astronauts to their cruising speed of around 28 800 km/h.
For this launch the astronauts took 34 orbits of Earth over two days to arrive at their destination spending their time in the cramped orbital module of the Soyuz that is no larger than a car. With limited communications and living space the astronauts had time to adapt to weightlessness and reflect on their mission ahead. They aligned their spacecraft with the International Space Station and approached the orbital outpost for docking on 8 June 2018. The files for this video were downloaded by the astronauts after arriving at the Space Station.

Alexander is a returning visitor to the International Space Station, the first of ESA’s 2009 class of astronauts to be sent into space for a second time. During the second part of his mission Alexander will take over as commander of the International Space Station, only the second time an ESA astronaut will take on this role so far.

Credits: ESA / NASA / Roscosmos

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Horizons mission – docking and hatch opening highlights

After orbiting Earth 34 times to catch up to the International Space Station, the car-sized spacecraft carrying ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev, arrived at the Station two days after launch.

The German astronaut is a returning visitor to the International Space Station, the first of ESA’s 2009 class of astronauts to be sent into space for a second time. During the second part of his mission Alexander will take over as commander of the International Space Station, only the second time an ESA astronaut will take on this role so far.

The mission is called Horizons as a symbol for the unknown and what lies beyond – reflecting on ESA’s strategy to extend human and robotic exploration beyond Earth orbit. While in space, Alexander will work on over 50 European experiments, including testing ways of operating and working with robots to develop techniques required for further human and robotic exploration of our Solar System.

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Horizons mission – preparations to liftoff

Going to space is not an easy thing.

Here are the highlights of the preparations and liftoff for the Horizons mission with ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.

At 11:12 GMT (13:12 CEST) on 6 June 2018, Alexander was launched into space alongside NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Horizons mission – liftoff replay

At 11:12 GMT (13:12 CEST), 6 June 2018, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst was launched into space alongside NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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