Now that the nights are drawing in, it is a great time for star gazing weather permitting of course, especially here in Ireland. However tonight I was lucky, (there were some clouds but none in the way) I was able to see both the International Space Station (ISS) and the Automated Transfer Vehicle 005 (ATV-5). The ISS went across Mayo at midnight and I seen the ATV-5 twice the first time just before 11pm and I have just came in from seeing it again at thirty minutes past midnight. I have seen ISS numerous times but this is the first time I have seen ATV-5.
ATV-5 is the fifth and final ATV to be built and is named after Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître carrying on the naming tradition of the European unmanned cargo resupply space vehicle for servicing of the crewed of the ISS which began with “Jules Verne” in March 2008, “Johannes kepler” 2011, “Edoardo Amaldi” 2012 and “Albert Einstein” June 2013.
Georges Lemaître was launched on an Ariane 5ES rocket from Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on behalf of the European Space Agency. ATV-5 is scheduled for a fourteen day flight to the station it has the largest cargo carrying capability of all ISS visiting vehicles and it also has the ability to perform ISS reboosts. During its trip to the space station it will fly four miles below the space station on Friday to test sensors for potential use on future European spacecraft before beginning the final docking phase on Tuesday 12th August. Georges Lemaître is ferrying 6.6 tonnes of spare parts, fuel, oxygen, clothing, food and water to the ISS.
The ISS is maintained in a nearly circular orbit at an altitude of 330-410 km (205-255miles) at an inclination of 51.6 degrees to Earth’s equator and it travels at an average speed of 27,724 kilometres (17,227miles) per hour, it takes about 91 minutes to orbit around the Earth. The ISS has been continuously inhabited since November 2000 the present crew until September are Steve Swanson, Oleg Artemyey, Alexander Skyortsov, Reid Wiseman, Alexander Gerst and Max Suraev.
The ISS crosses the sky for a few minutes and can be seen with the naked eye as an extremely bright star-like object and I think it is fascinating to think of the humans aboard. To find date and time of the next ISS orbit in your area look to NASA spot the station web site. By the way above photo was taken by my son, astronomy photography is one of my aspirations that I must get on to even if it is only taking a photo of the plough. Watch this space.