Monday, May 23, 2011

Soyuz snaps spectacular pics of station, shuttle

An astronaut aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft snapped what should be spectacular pictures of shuttle Endeavour moored at the International Space Station before the spacecraft fired thrusters to begin its journey home to Earth tonight.

"Is it beautiful?" asked cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, the commander of the Soyuz TMA-20.

"It's very nice," said Italian Paolo Nespoli, who was positioned with cameras in a windowed module above Kondratyev and American Cady Coleman.

The images are expected to be released as soon as Tuesday evening, following the crew's landing in Kazakhstan at 10:26 p.m. EDT today.

But black-and-white engineering cameras on the Soyuz offered a preview, showing the space station perform a special maneuver to present a full side view of Endeavour and the station, together weighing more than a million pounds.

Around 6:20 p.m., Nespoli took his seat next to the others and closed a hatch to the other module, taking the camera memory cards with him.

The cameras will burn up with the habitation and propulsion modules, which will separate from the astronauts' descent module before it re-enters the atmosphere.

An engine burn to begin dropping the capsule from orbit is planned at 9:36 p.m.

After the crew members land, the digital still and high-definition video images will be copied and NASA expects to release them Tuesday.

No comments: