Shuttle Endeavour Will Be Visible Over UK Just After Final Launch

Credit: Adrian West

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On April 29th, 2011, the space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to blast off for the last time, delivering the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and an ExPRESS Logistics Carrier to the International Space Station.

If you live in the UK you can watch the launch live on NASA TV and a number of other sites on the internet, but that’s not all you can do! You may be able to watch it fly over the UK with your very own eyes about 20 minutes later!

Yes! You can watch the Shuttle fly over the UK roughly 20 minutes after launch (launch time is currently set for 3:47 p.m. EDT – 8:47 p.m. UK Time) if the timing is right and skies are clear. It will be accompanied by its bright orange external fuel tank as it sails across the sky.

I was lucky to see and actually film this in August 2009 with the launch of STS-128 Space Shuttle Discovery.

How to see it? Go outside roughly 15 – 20 minutes after launch and you could see two bright objects similar to what the ISS looks like when it passes over, moving at roughly the same speed. These bright objects in parallel to each other will follow a similar track in the sky to what the ISS does, but it will be the Shuttle Endeavour and its separated external fuel tank!

Hope for clear skies and that the launch isn’t delayed, as this may be our last chance ever of seeing a space shuttle fly over the UK just after launch.

Checkout NASA’s listing of sighting opportunities for your area.

Good luck to the crew of the shuttle and to everyone trying to spot it in the sky on Friday!

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Iran Claims They’ve Built a Flying Saucer

The Zohal (lower right). Credit: Fars News Agency

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Iran’s Fars News Agency revealed that the country has built an unmanned flying saucer, named “Zohal” (Saturn in Persian) which will be used for various missions including aerial imaging. UPDATE: thanks to reader Robert McCelland, we now have an actual picture of the Zohal instead of the hoaky flying saucer image that was included in the Fars article (see below). It is not really all that big — more like a remote controlled toy helicopter — but reportedly the Zohal is equipped with an auto-pilot system, GPS and two separate imaging systems with full HD 10 mega-pixel picture quality and is able to take and send images simultaneously. It was unveiled in a ceremony attended by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei at an exhibition of strategic technologies.

No detailed specifications were supplied such as exact size and flight capabilities, (except that it can fly vertically) but the report said it could fly both indoors and outside.

The craft was designed and developed jointly by Farnas Aerospace Company and Iranian Aviation and Space Industries Association (IASIA).

The original image on the Fars site:

This image accompanied a news article in Iran about the country's own flying saucer.