Astronaut Snaps Photo of Her Friend's Launch Into Space. And It's Absolutely Stunning.

The best view of today's crew launch turned out to be from the spacecraft's destination itself, the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and United Arab Emirates spaceflight participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today (Sept. 25) at 9:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT or 6:57 p.m. local time). They were bound to join a crew of six currently living and working on board the International Space Station, including Meir's astronaut training classmate, Christina Koch.

"What it looks like from @Space_Station when your best friend achieves her lifelong dream to go to space," Koch wrote in a tweet sharing the image yesterday (on Sept. 25). "Caught the second stage in progress! We can’t wait to welcome you onboard, crew of Soyuz 61!"

Meir and Skripochka will remain on board the space station until February; their travel companion Almansoori returns to Earth in just a week, as he is a spaceflight participation. Koch will be heading home with Meir and Skripochka, completing the longest single spaceflight by a woman. She arrived in orbit on March 14.

Before becoming an astronaut, Meir trained as a biologist, and she her research has included raising a flock of geese. She has already completed a stint with NASA's underwater research program.

ISS should orbit forever with UN-like crews, Roscosmos chief says

Humanity needs the ISS to conquer deep space, according to the head of Russia's space agency, Dmitry Rogozin. The orbiting station should keep operating indefinitely with crews from all over the world, he added.
In the future, the International Space Station (ISS) would be used as an "assembly shop, a repair base, a refueling station for ships heading into deep space," Russia's top space official, Dmitry Rogozin, told reporters on Thursday.

"I think the ISS would always be there," added Rogozin, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, while commenting on the plans to keep the station operational in the coming years.
"This is not about the year 2024 or 2028, I'm talking about its historical necessity," he said, addressing the media at the Baikonur cosmodrome.
"It is possible it would be reconfigured, design features of modules will change, the participants will change, but it is a stepping stone that the humanity must use in order to move further," Rogozin said.

Together with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, Al-Mansoori later docked with the ISS to join the existing six-member crew, which currently boasts three Americans, two Russians, and one Italian.

Despite tense relations between the United States and Russia, the two countries cooperate closely in keeping the station operational. Space agencies from Europe and Japan also play a vital role.

Over 230 spacefarers from 18 countries have so far visited the station, which started operations in late 1998. On Thursday, however, Rogozin called for even more countries to be included.

He said, "In the future, the list of countries would more or less match the UN assembly, and this is normal."

The ISS serves as an orbiting laboratory and has so far hosted over 2,500 research projects. Rogozin said experiments will soon also be conducted outside of the station, instead of just inside the modules.

Crowded Space Station: There Are 9 People from 4 Different Space Agencies in Orbit Right Now

It's a busy week at the International Space Station (ISS). With nine crewmembers currently on board, the orbiting laboratory will be unusually crowded until Thursday (Oct. 3), when three of those crewmembers are scheduled to return to Earth.

While the ISS is usually staffed by three to six astronauts and cosmonauts, there have been nine crewmembers on board the space laboratory since last Wednesday (Sept. 25), when the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft arrived with three new crewmembers. This isn't a permanent set-up; part of the reason there are so many humans in space right now has to do with overlap in crew assignments.

Nine is certainly not the highest number of people ever stationed on the space lab. The record for the largest population on the ISS was set in 2009, when there were 13 people on board. The last time there were nine people on board was in 2015, during NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's "Year in Space" mission.

Over the course of the eight days when the space station will be a bit of a tight fit, the newly-arrived trio will get acclimated to their new orbiting home, while three other space flyers will prepare to head back down to Earth.

The new residents are NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, who will spend six months in space as members of Expedition 61, plus a special short-term visitor: the first person from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to fly into space, Hazzaa Ali Almansoori. The three launched on board Russia's Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft last Wednesday (Sept. 25) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan shortly before 7 p.m. local time, and arrived at the space lab about six hours later.

Almansoori's brief visit is part of an intergovernmental contract between the UAE and Roscosmos, according to NASA. Almansoori will return to Earth this Thursday (Oct. 3) on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft, accompanied by NASA astronaut Nick Hague and ISS commander Alexey Ovchinin, both of whom will have completed more than 200 days in space.

Also on board the ISS right now are the crew of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft: NASA astronaut Drew Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. The three spacemen arrived at the ISS on July 20 and will return to Earth sometime in December or January. Three of the men (Parmitano, Ovchinin and Hague) are celebrating birthdays this week. To celebrate, all nine crewmembers donned "space band" shirts for a photo this week.

Ovchinin, who is currently the commander of Expedition 60, will hand over command of the ISS to Parmitano on Wednesday (Oct. 2), marking the official beginning of Expedition 61. You can watch the change of command ceremony live on beginning at 9:20 a.m. EDT (1320 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV. Later that night, we'll stream live views of the crew farewells (beginning at 12:20 a.m. EDT on Oct. 3), followed by the Soyuz MS-12 undocking and landing early Thursday morning.

About International Space Station

A 19,000 kilo building block

The first module of the International Space Station was sent into orbit 20 years ago. It was the Russian-made Zarya, a "Functional Cargo Block" — also known as FGB. Zarya came in at 19,000 kilograms (41,000 pounds) and was 12 meters (39 feet) long. It was commissioned and paid for by America and built by a Russian space company. It was the start of two decades of international cooperation.

Larger than a six-bedroom house

The International Space Station is home to an international crew of six people, who also work there. It travels at a speed of five miles per second (8kps), orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. Eight solar arrays provide power to the station and make it the second brightest object in the night sky after the moon. You don't need a telescope to see it.

Expedition 1

The ISS's first long-term crew: American astronaut William Shepherd (center) and his two Russian fellow workers, cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko (left) and Sergei Krikalev (right). They moved into the ISS on November 2, 2000, and stayed for 136 days.

Up to one year

On average, space station crews, also known as expeditions, stay in space for about five and a half months. Some crew members, however, have broken that record — for example, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (photo) and Roscosmos cosmonaut, Mikhail Kornienko. They lived and worked in space for a whole year.


Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield strumming his guitar on the ISS at Christmas 2012. Since 2000, crew members and Space Flight Participants (self-financed space tourists) have come from 18 different countries. The most have come from the USA and Russia. Other teams have included people from Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Brazil and South Africa.

Shuttle bus

Crew members and supplies arrive at the ISS via transfer vehicles and space freighters. space shuttle Atlantis, which operated until 2011, docking onto the space station. These days, astronauts arrive at the ISS in a Soyuz capsule.

Out for a walk

There have been more than 210 spacewalks — "EVA" in astronaut terms — at the ISS since 2000. astronaut Mike Hopkins on a spacewalk on December 24, 2013.

Extraordinary exterior

The ISS has several robotic arms. Canadarm2, is 57.7 feet (17.58 meters) long when fully extended, and has seven motorized joints. It can lift 220,000 pounds (100 tons), which is the weight of a space shuttle orbiter. Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson anchored to Canadarm2's foot restraint.

Blue Dot mission

Crew members spend about 35 hours per week conducting research. On his first mission, dubbed "Blue Dot," German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst observed and analyzed changes to the human body that occur in microgravity. Gerst's second mission at the ISS started in June 2018. In October 2018, he became the first German astronaut to command the ISS.

Back home

When their time at the ISS is over, astronauts are taken away in a Soyuz capsules. They fall to Earth with a parachute to ease their landing. Welcome home!.

How Do Astronauts Practice Self-Care In Space?

Self-care is important for all humans, including those floating in space.

Think about it. If it’s challenging enough to incorporate self-improvement and wellness-boosting techniques into our daily routines, with the benefits of social connection, the pull of gravity, and fresh air at our disposal, how hard must it be for astronauts?

Self-care in a space context is anything that contributes to astronauts' mental and physical well-being while floating among the stars. Astronauts are tasked with adjusting to a new environment with reduced living quarters and limited hygiene facilities, while establishing working relationships with crew mates, keeping in touch with friends and family back home, balancing work and rest, and keeping up with their physical and mental fitness.

So, nice long soaks in a bubble bath are out considering how one showers in space. But unlike the branded version the wellness industry is glad to sell us, self-care is about more than fancy bath bombs anyway.

“If you don’t take care of yourself, then you’re not going to be able to be the team member that you need to be."

NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, who has logged thousands of hours in space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and the International Space Station, says that self-care is an integral part of being an astronaut, whether you’re training for space missions in an underwater facility or maintaining the ISS.

“Self-care is actually an everyday subject for astronauts and for the team that sends people to space, in that the mission is so compelling and important and it’s easy to sort of throw everything else aside and be all in for the mission,” Coleman told Mashable.

“If you don’t take care of yourself, then you’re not going to be able to be the team member that you need to be."
The importance of self-care is even embedded into training, before you take even one small step into a space station.
“At NASA, and within all those space agencies, we really acknowledge this, and in fact as much as we can, we send people out on exercises where they are going to be challenged in that way," said Coleman, noting that astronauts are sent on hiking, rappelling, and kayaking trips together to develop these self-care habits in addition to teamwork.
“It’s completely emphasised in training and it’s actually something that you’re evaluated on — whether you’ve found some mechanisms to take care of yourself,” she said.

 Regular exercise is key in space

One of the most common forms of self-care on Earth is regular exercise, which helps boost one’s overall health. But astronauts in space can’t exactly go for a jog in the fresh air to clear their minds, increase fitness, and gain strength.

Astronauts, according to NASA, exercise two hours per day on average to prevent bone and muscle loss during long-duration spaceflight. Exercise can also prevent some nasty side-effects of microgravity.

NASA astronaut and former ISS resident Karen Nyberg recorded a demonstration of how astronauts run on what’s known as the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) — yes, named for your favourite late night show host.

Just jump into the backpack-like harness and clip into the bungee cord hooks to stop you from floating away, select a pre-programmed setting from the computer, and off you run.

Eating well without a Whole Foods

Eating well can be relatively easy when you can hit up a supermarket and whip up a salad, but astronauts can spend hundreds of days in space with only designated space-friendly supplies.

Astronauts eat three meals a day like most of us on Earth, with nutritionists creating custom plans for a balanced diet for each person, with all the vitamins and minerals they individually need. Supplies are regularly sent to the ISS, and yes, you can cook in space.

Comfort food, however, is actually not out of the question for astronauts — and that's where the self-motivated nosh fests arise. Although it might not be amazing for your physical health, your emotional health sometimes requires a treat. And astronauts can bring some of their favorite foods on board for special occasions.

So, it might not be the healthiest option, but a simple way to boost team morale, even on a space station.

Communication changes everything

It seems like a given, but one of the most important forms of self-care for astronauts in space is communication. Sure, talking to each other about what’s going on is critical to team success, but talking to people outside the crew is key to maintaining one’s emotional health.

Coleman explained that communication was one of her primary ways to cope in space. Thanks to the station’s space-to-ground communication systems and yes, onboard WiFi, astronauts on the ISS are able to stay in touch with their loved ones back home.

“Self-care for the mind is also maintaining close contacts with family and friends on Earth."
“We are lucky enough on the ISS to be able to call our families, friends, or anyone on the planet. That was one of my coping mechanisms — [to stay] in touch with people on the ground and hear about their days and express things that were frustrating to me [and] go out and enjoy another day,” Coleman said.
The ISS is often referred to as the same size as a five-bedroom house, but along one long hallway, so anyone who’s spent time with housemates or family members in a space like this will know that self-care is everything to get through your day. Sometimes you just need someone to vent to.

“For me — surviving the space station, surviving the training, all those things — I’m a pretty verbal person and I figure out what I want to do about things sometimes by talking it through with someone, whether that’s a husband or a girlfriend or a friend,” Colman told
“For a lot of people, you come home from work and talk to your spouse and you say, ‘Oh, this guy at work, it makes me crazy when he does that, he does it every day!’ Just actually saying that, then you’re all done and you feel better,” she added. “I realised I needed to make sure I had a mechanism for doing that."

If the phone's not available, there's also always social media. In fact, platforms like Twitter have become incredibly important to the astronauts’ feeling of connectedness to the Earth.

Being so far from Earth, albeit with quite the privileged perspective of our planet, astronauts might experience feelings of disconnectedness from current events. However, WiFi access has helped, with many astronauts regularly tweeting and engaging with the public conversation.

But all this online time needs to be monitored, lest it impact one of the main techniques of self-care: sleep.

"Being in touch with your family, keeping a journal and things ... I found I was leaving all of them for the end of the day. That meant I was staying up too late and not getting enough sleep," said Coleman.
"I really learned that lesson for the International Space Station. Really, I needed to make sure that I did the things that were really a part of my day and I wasn’t going to bed until they were done. I had to find a way to work them in the day earlier. I couldn’t afford to not get enough sleep.”

Sleeping on top of the world

Getting a good night’s sleep is a key part of a good daily self-care routine — a rested body and mind are important. According to NASA, astronauts are scheduled for eight hours of sleep at the end of each mission day. How do astronauts get that precious rest? They don’t actually have beds, but sleeping pods in which they’re strapped to the wall.

In a video for the Canadian Space Agency, CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield takes us through exactly how astronauts sleep in space, and even debuts his special “space jammies.”

“We keep busy on board the space station. Long days, lots of work, physical exercise — at the end of it you’re tired,” he said. "You might think it’s uncomfortable not having a mattress and a pillow, but without gravity, of course, you don’t need anything to hold you up. You can just completely relax. You don’t even need a pillow. In space, you don’t need to hold your head up, so you relax every muscle in your body."

Getting a good night’s sleep is a key part of a good daily self-care routine — a rested body and mind are important. According to NASA, astronauts are scheduled for eight hours of sleep at the end of each mission day. How do astronauts get that precious rest? They don’t actually have beds, but sleeping pods in which they’re strapped to the wall.

In a video for the Canadian Space Agency, CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield takes us through exactly how astronauts sleep in space, and even debuts his special “space jammies.”

“We keep busy on board the space station. Long days, lots of work, physical exercise — at the end of it you’re tired,” he said. "You might think it’s uncomfortable not having a mattress and a pillow, but without gravity, of course, you don’t need anything to hold you up. You can just completely relax. You don’t even need a pillow. In space, you don’t need to hold your head up, so you relax every muscle in your body."
Sounds pretty ideal — although studies have shown that sleeping in space is not always that easy.

Reading loud and clear

Living in your workspace can feel like you’re constantly on the clock, so, according to NASA, flight planners on Earth schedule daily time for astronauts to relax.

Reading as a way of unwinding is a big part of self-care in space. Astronauts can use their own pods to read and chill out, or they might find a special spot. NASA astronaut, engineer, and current ISS resident Christina Koch gave some insight into self-care on Labor Day, with a photo of herself enjoying a good book by her favourite window.

“Even astronauts need to chill,” she tweeted. “After a long week packed with science, a spacewalk, and a re-docking, it’s important to recharge your batteries to keep focused on bringing your best.”
And Koch should know what it means to take care of yourself in a cramped, unconventional environment for lengthy periods — she’s on a record-setting mission to achieve the longest single spaceflight by a woman. Hope she brought plenty to read.

Watching what you're watching at home

Watching a bunch of TV as self-care is a pretty polarising strategy — although there's a lot to be said for the undeniable comfort that comes with a Fleabag binge. Sure, it can be fun, but binge-watching can have adverse effects on your mental health. However, taking a break and watching things that are popular on Earth could be considered self-care for astronauts since it's a potential way to treat feelings of homesickness or loneliness.

American/Canadian NASA astronaut and geophysicist Drew Feustel watched seven seasons of Game of Thrones while he was on the ISS.

“We see the same walls every day unless we go outside for a spacewalk, which is pretty rare. When you’re six people separated from 7 billion people, you like to have things in space that keep you connected to Earth,” Feustel told The Atlantic. “Astronauts watch all kinds of entertainment on the ISS, from TV shows and films to sporting events and cable news, usually on their laptops.”

ISS residents regularly post images of themselves watching the game.

And there was that iconic Star Wars viewing celebrating May the Fourth.

The value of a killer window seat

Interestingly, some physical features of the ISS have contributed to maintaining resident astronauts’ mental health, including the cupola, the small, panoramic, ESA-built observatory module of the station. It's meant to allow for observation of activities like spacewalks and shuttle approaches, but also provides pretty incredible views of the Earth below.

“My favourite mental health support that we have is the cupola. It’s our window to look down on the world,” said American NASA astronaut and current ISS resident Nick Hague in a NASA Q&A.
”I use it every day to look out and get that different perspective that we get up here, to fully appreciate the place that we’re at, the unique perspective that we get from the laboratory up here. But it also is a way to connect with the ground, you know, we spend six-plus months up here, upwards of a year, and it’s important to stay connected with the ground and that’s one way we can do it.”

Russia to Halve Number of Piloted Missions to ISS in 2020

Russia will send only two manned Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020, instead of four it has been sending every year since 2009, according to insurance broker RK-Insurance, a subsidiary of Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos.

According to RK-Insurance, piloted missions have been scheduled for the second and fourth quarters of 2020.

In addition to two piloted spacecraft, three Progress-MS space freighters will be sent to the orbital station in 2020.

Earlier, Space Engineering & Technology, the official journal of Russia's Energia rocket and space corporation, reported Russia's Science-Power and Prichal Nodal modules are expected to be delivered and attached to the International Space Station in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and to later help to form the first building blocks of the country's new space station.
Spending hundreds of hours floating above the Earth or beyond, away from your loved ones, cramped in tiny quarters, but getting a look at what's beyond our own atmosphere, it seems taking care of oneself is paramount to both mission success and the overall wellness of astronauts.

ISS astronauts gear up for 10 spacewalks in 3 months

In what may be called the biggest ever marathon of spacewalks since the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) was completed in 2011, astronauts aboard the space station plan to conduct 10 of them during the next three months.

The station crew will replace some of the orbiting laboratory’s solar array batteries during the first half of the spacewalks and then refurbish a renowned scientific instrument that explores the fundamental nature of the universe during the final five excursions, NASA said on Tuesday.

The first of a set of five spacewalks dedicated to replacing batteries on the far end of the station’s port truss is scheduled to begin on October 6.

The existing nickel-hydrogen batteries will be upgraded with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries transported to the station aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle, which arrived on September 28.

These spacewalks continue the overall upgrade of the station’s power system that began with similar battery replacement during spacewalks in January 2017, the US space agency said.

The second half of this sequence of spacewalks will focus on repairs to the space station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

While the dates for those spacewalks have not yet been revealed, they are expected to begin in November.

Experts will discuss the details of the spacewalks in a briefing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on October 4.

Watch as video 

NEWS SOURCE :-DW (English): ISS should orbit forever with UN-like crews, Roscosmos chief says.

Mashable: How do astronauts practice self-care in space?. Crowded Space Station: There Are 9 People from 4 Different Space Agencies in Orbit Right Now.

Sputnik International: Russia to Halve Number of Piloted Missions to ISS in 2020.

Udaipur Kiran: ISS astronauts gear up for 10 spacewalks in 3 months.

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