International Space Station gets Star-Wars-like “Eye-Pod”

Remember Han Solo’s cockpit in the Star Wars Millennium Falcon starship? Here’s a picture of a model in the collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to refresh your memory:

Star Wars' Millennium Falcon starship

That’s the cockpit on the left. The pilot sits surrounded by windows that provide an awesome view of space.

Now, life in space imitates art. The astronauts of today are emulating the science fiction of last century, with a new 360-degree-view observation “Cupola” being added to the International Space Station (ISS).

Artist's rendering of the International Space Station's new "Cupola"

The module will give astronauts a better view of Earth and the cosmos, which they will share through a website, The Gateway to Astronoaut Photography.

“Crews tell us that Earth gazing is important to them,” says Julie Robinson, the ISS Program Scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “The astronauts work hard up there and are away from their families for a long time. Observing the Earth and the stars helps relax and inspire them.”

This could [also] lead to scientific discoveries:

“By photographing oblique views with different sun angles, the astronauts can use the Cupola to give scientists a view of the Earth that is not available from satellites,” she adds. Astronaut photographs of Earth have been used to understand Earth processes such as melting of icebergs, noctilucent clouds, dust storms, and the structure of hurricane eyes. (source: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/26jun_cupola.htm )


EXPLORE:

“Space Station Room with a View,” Science @ NASA
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/26jun_cupola.htm

“Endeavor to Deliver a Room with a View,” NASA.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts130/room_with_a_view.html

The Gateway to Astronaut Photography
http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/

Millennium Falcon backstory
http://www.starwars.com/databank/starship/millenniumfalcon/

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