How to Steer the Space Station: Chris Hadfield Explains

by Nancy Atkinson on May 3, 2013

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Attitude and altitude are important factors for flying a spaceship. But How do you control the International Space Station, a ship the size of a US football field (or five hockey rinks — a better reference for Canadians!)? And where does this happen? Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield answers these questions from inside the ISS.

And below is a beautiful image Hadfield just shared via social media today, showing shadows and clouds over a mountain:

Shadow play of cloud and mountain at sunset, as seen from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/CSA via Chris Hadfield.

Shadow play of cloud and mountain at sunset, as seen from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/CSA via Chris Hadfield.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Aqua4U May 3, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Chris Hadfield is a really cool guy! I like all the effort he’s put into his public outreach videos. I hope you get a chance to interview him sometime soon? Be way cool to ‘get the grits’ from his perspective… He does Canada proud!

zetetic elench May 3, 2013 at 5:08 PM

is there any reason those panels, or additional supplement panels, couldn’t be tethered a few thousand meters away so they could keep solar alignment separately?
Does one set of reaction wheels turn the entire thing?

Martin Lefebvre May 4, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Radiating heat away from the station.

Since it’s in vacuum, the station can’t use the more efficient convection and conduction, and thus needs a very big surface to radiate away the heat.

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/basicdesign.php#id–Heat_Radiators–Life_Support

Kevin Frushour May 3, 2013 at 5:37 PM

But…. isn’t he talking about orientation rather than actual steering?

m crow May 3, 2013 at 5:47 PM

What about when you want to use rest room because everything seems to to rise up instead of falling.

Mabel May 4, 2013 at 2:05 AM

I would go up there if the spaceship was like the TNG Enterprise. I’d like to have the view; just from a nice cushy suite with sparkly blankets and a replicator. :)

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