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 works with Astronomy Cast, and is 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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