Over 4.5+ million people attended these traditional ticker-tape parades to celebrate returning American astronauts from space. We are amidst the “re-ignition” of a space age that aims to foster this kind of heroism and national pride, illuminating fresh avenues by which the hopes and dreams of new explorers reach further than before. 'I want to be an Astronaut' seeks to be a spark toward this effort, encouraging young people to pursue STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) careers.
Is anyone in space right now?
As of February 11, 2014, 6 astronauts are currently aboard the football-field sized International Space Station, representing 3 different nations and one 7+ billion-human strong spaceship Earth. Visit howmanypeopleareinspacerightnow to meet them.
Astronauts performing a spacewalk or EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity) on the ISS
Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano (right), U.S. astronaut Karen Nyberg (left) and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin (middle) pose for a picture at Baikonur cosmodrome May 24, 2013. [rt.com]
How are we getting to space?
Astronauts are being ferried to the ISS aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield explains Russian technology and 'The Soyuz Experience.'
Pre-launch @ the Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Soyuz launch sequence explained [video]
What are we doing in space and why?
Watch these NASA/ISS ‘Benefits for Humanity’ webisodes: 'In Their Own Words', 'Station Inspiration', 'The Sound of Life', 'Water for the World', 'Farming from Space', and 'Changing Lives'. We’re improving life on Earth, in all its forms, along with studying the biosphere in regards to climate change, deforestation, glacier/ice melt, ocean salinity…all of humanity’s effects on our environment are being consistently monitored for on board science, future missions (human or robotic), coupled with the effects microgravity has on the bodies of living organisms. Beyond this, there are too many scientific experiments to compose into a short list. For such information, visit the ISS page @ NASA.gov.
Astronaut Leroy Chiao, Expedition 10 Commander of the ISS and NASA Science Officer. Fluid dynamics experiments like this have helped us understand how liquids behave in microgravity. Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrates this by wringing out a wash cloth aboard the ISS [watch here]
Suni Williams, an American astronaut, holds the longest record for a single female space flight. She provided everyone with a tour of the ISS [watch here]
Where are we now, where are we going and when?
NASA’s human spaceflight program is being centered on work conducted aboard the ISS while developing the SLS (Space Launch System) on Earth, dwarfing previously built spacecraft and rocket platforms. A promo overview on the SLS (here) provides a quick need-to-know on its current progress and projections. NASA’s CCP (Commercial Crew Program) has been utilizing rising commercial space industry partners such as Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), Blue Origin, Boeing, and Space Exploration Technologies (Space X) toward the development of sustainable, reusable, and cost-effective propulsion systems and spacecraft technologies for efficient transport of cargo and astronauts to the ISS and low-earth orbit. Partnering with commercial space providers will enable NASA to focus on larger aspects of the program such as human missions to our Moon, Mars, and deep space exploration. A projected first launch for the SLS is slated for 2017.
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s “Dream Chaser” spacecraft
Blue Origin’s “New Shephard” spacecraft. There’s been secrecy surrounding the development of their spacecraft due to commercial competition, however, an infographic is available as a mockup for their projections.
A mockup of Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft crew module, which would support a crew of 7 to the ISS and Bigelow Orbital Space Complex.[Inflatable Bigelow Module for ISS Announcement Video]
The Space X Falcon 9 configuration. Take a tour of Space X, led by CEO Elon Musk, to discover just what’s “under the hood” of their space facility. [watch here]
Ticker-tape parades to remember: John Glenn and crew in 1962 || Gordon Cooper in 1963 || Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin in 1969