Cupola Corner 3 – Conversation With Andrey Borisenko

Dobro Pozhalovat Cupola Corner
Welcome to Cupola Corner Episode 3 – A conversation with Space Station Commander Andrey Borisenko about how we can use the view from here to inspire people to make a difference and to make life better on our planet. 
The more people who can observe our planet from orbit, more will understand how beautiful it is…” — Andrey Borisenko

Cupola Corner 2 – Conversation With Alexander Samokutyaev

Dobro Pozhalovat Cupola Corner!
Welcome to Cupola Corner Episode 2 – A conversation with Soyuz Commander Sasha Samokutyaev about how we can use the view from here on the International Space Station to inspire people to make a difference and to make life better on our planet. 
“I wish all (could) fly to space and maybe they’ll realize how fragile life is on earth and they will be able to cooperate better.” – Alexander Samokutyaev

The Sunrise From Space – Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires August 27, 2011

The Sunrise From Space – Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires 
August 27, 2011

Update 8/26/11: The Eastern time zone in the U.S. had the most mentions as of the cutoff of 8:00am Friday, August 26, 2011. But, with #Irene a factor along the U.S. east coast, we’ll need a rain (hurricane) check on that! 
GMT-3 was in a close second place. Beginning at 09:28 GMT, Saturday, August 27, 2011, Ron will point his HD camera at the rising sun as the International Space Station flies along a path between Rio de Janeiro in Brazil & Buenos Aires in Argentina. Thank you all for the many, many Tweets! 
Editor’s Note: On Saturday, August 27, 2011, Ron Garan will point an HD camera out a window of the International Space Station Cupolato film one of the sixteen sunrises he sees each day, and then describe it for all of us on Earth.  Which sunrise is up to YOU.
How’s that work?  Simply Retweet the following between now and 8:00am Eastern Time, Friday, August 26th:
@Astro_Ron: Share a sunrise w/ the #ISS #SunSpace
Be sure to include your location or time zone, and the hashtag #SunSpace!
A sunrise in the location/time zone with the most Tweets will be the one Ron films with his HD camera the next day. 
Sometime during the afternoon of the 26th, Ron will Tweet the “winning” location/timezone. On the 27th, Earth bound humans can share the experience of watching the sunrise with him and with each other, then compare notes. Here’s what Ron has to say:

Borders From Space

I have always said, “you can’t see any borders from space.” Apparently I was wrong.
On the evening of August 17, 2011, I “flew” to the Cupola of the International Space Station to shoot some photographs for a time-lapse photography project I have been working on for Fragile Oasis. 
Before beginning the sequence, I took some practice shots to verify camera settings. As I was about to delete them, something caught my eye. In one of the pictures, a very obvious illuminated line snaked across a large landmass for hundreds of miles. 
Initially, I wrote it off as a strange exposure from moonlight reflecting on a river. But, I was intrigued and did some investigating, only to learn this was not a natural reflection at all. Rather, it is a man-made border between India and Pakistan to control passage between the two countries.
Realizing what this picture depicted had a big impact on me. When viewed from space, Earth almost always looks beautiful and peaceful. However, this picture is an example of man-made changes to the landscape in response to a threat, clearly visible from space.  This was a big surprise to me. 
Since the beginning of human spaceflight fifty years ago, astronauts have reflected on how peaceful, beautiful, and fragile the Earth looks from space. These reflections are not clichés that astronauts say because it feels good. It is truly moving to look at the Earth from space.
The point is not that we can look down at the Earth and see a man-made border between India and Pakistan. The point is that we can look down at that same area and feel empathy for the struggles that all people face. We can look down and realize that we are all riding through the Universe together on this spaceship we call Earth, that we are all interconnected, that we are all in this together, that we are all family.
When we look down at the Earth, we are faced with a sobering contradiction. On the one hand we can clearly see the indescribable beauty of the planet we have been given. On the other hand is the unfortunate reality of life on our beautiful planet for a significant portion of its inhabitants.
It saddens me and compels me to action when I realize that we have the resources and technology to overcome almost all of the challenges facing our planet, yet nearly 2 billion people do not have access to clean water, countless go to bed hungry every night, and many die from preventable and curable diseases.
I believe that we live in a world where the possibilities are limited only by our imagination and our will to act.  It is within our power to eliminate the suffering and poverty that exist on our planet. 
The answer is quite simple – just do something.  The challenges of the world are really about how each of us individually responds to them.  In other words, to what extent does humanity, on a person-to-person basis, commit to making a positive difference, no matter how small, or how big?
The vision for Fragile Oasis is to be a vehicle to effect real change. We want to provide a means for people and organizations to collaborate and develop synergy toward overcoming our planet’s challenges. We want to encourage people to make a difference, and we want to help organizations that are striving to make the world a better place reach their goals.
In short, the goal of Fragile Oasis is to help reduce that sobering contradiction that we see when we look at the Earth. We want to assist those that are striving to improve life on Earth so that it is not only visibly beautiful, but life is beautiful for all. 

The Fruits of Labor – From Earth to Space

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has submitted a project to the Fragile Oasis community. 
The vision for Fragile Oasis is for it to become a vehicle to effect real change. We want to provide a means for people and organizations to collaborate and develop synergy toward overcoming our planet’s challenges. We want to encourage people to make a difference, and to help organizations that are striving to make the world a better place reach their goals.
I have been very impressed with the projects that have already been submitted.  But, in this post, I’d like to highlight a project that I have been involved with personally.  The members of the  Johnson Space Center Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (JSC-EWB) have been volunteering their time for several years to develop a fruit dryer for the L‘Esperance Children’s Aid Orphanage in Rwanda.
Several JSC-EWB members with dried fruit – (left to right) Angela Cason, Tom Bryan, Jake Garan, Matthew Fiedler, Tyler-Blair Sheppard, Lauren Cordova.  Not pictured is Samantha Snabes.
L’Esperance is near and dear to my heart. I visited the orphanage in 2006 during a trip to the area with the humanitarian organization Manna Energy Foundation. I founded Manna in 2005 outside of my work with NASA and it has no affiliation with my “day job.”
The orphanage director, Victor Monroy, is committed to developing L’Esperance into a financially self-sufficient community that can also provide employment to the orphans when they reach adulthood. One of the ways they are doing this is to grow fruit on the orphanage grounds, and staffing the orchards with adult community members, who were orphaned in childhood themselves.
The orphanage plans to produce up to 18,000 kg per year of wet, cored peeled pineapple, 16000kg/year of guava, and 24,000 kg of wet, peeled, sliced mango. While some of the fruit feeds the children and staff of the orphanage, the goal is to dry most of the fruit to sell at market, producing a source of income from just under five metric tons of organically-grown, sustainably-dried premium snack food per year, and perhaps 50,000 jars of mango preserves.  As I write this, members of the JSC-EWB are at the orphanage installing the first prototype solar fruit drying systems.
Besides the solar dryer, the team is investigating kitchen waste heat, dedicated wood stoves, and biogas as potential sustainable heat sources for the many months in Rwanda when sunlight is insufficient to dry the fruit.  This trip will help to characterize the overall systems engineering of the project, and build expertise with fruit preparation, handling, and storage issues at the orphanage.
As the team prepared to leave Houston for Rwanda, they ran their prototype solar fruit dryer through a test program which produced some great dried fruit. The team was kind enough to send me a sample of dried pineapple on the Progress Cargo ship which docked to the International Space Station in June. It’s great to have this tasty fruit up here as a reminder of this great project, and the hard work of all the team members to improve the lives of those at the orphanage.
Keep submitting those great projects to Fragile Oasis!

Music From Your Space Station

Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions to my on-orbit playlist through my blogs, via Email, Twitter and Facebook. I attempted to put as many of your suggestions as possible into my “Fragile Oasis” list.
As discussed in an earlier post, music is important to feeling connected to life on Earth. The environment onboard the International Space Station is very sterile.  Pumps and fans are the only sounds, and it’s possible to start feeling disconnected. 
I have found myself at times missing the sounds, smells and feel of life on Earth that I may have on some level taken for granted. Music gives us a real connection with home. And, when the sound of pumps and fans is replaced with great music, we feel closer to what — and who — we hold dear on our planet.  Listening to beautiful music while orbiting our beautiful fragile oasis at 17,500 miles per hour is a wonderfully surreal experience.
 This is my Fragile Oasis playlist for you to download (PDF document) – you suggested so many of the songs. I thank YOU and my family, who also provided suggestions, for helping me to stay connected with life on Earth, 

San Francisco Stopover

“Thanks to my dear friend and amazing guitar player, Davy Knowles, I was introduced to Astronaut Ron Garan presently on the International Space Station. I spoke with Ron first via email and then by PHONE ……. from space?!!  I got this idea of having Ron being visually and audibly with us on a screen from space on a screen behind us on stage. Ron and  NASA  were really into the idea. So, in San Francisco at the Warfield Theater we put it all together. Here’s how it looked. Thanks to Ron Garan and NASA for making this a moment I will never forget.” 
— Peter Frampton 
Peter, thanks for setting that up. It was great fun! And, it was surreal listening to “Float” while floating onboard the International Space Station.  
Thank you for your music, 

With Apologies to Guitar Players & Music Lovers Everywhere

Last weekend Sasha, Andrey and I received word that our return to Earth from the International Space Station would be delayed. It was possible that our scheduled September 8th landing would move to October 29th. The delay, regardless of length, was due to a failure during the launch of an unmanned Russian Progress cargo spaceship. Because the rocket that carries the Progress cargo ship to space is the same rocket that carries human crew on Soyuz spacecraft, the next Soyuz launch to the Space Station would be delayed until the cause of the failure was determined and resolved.  Because of this situation, the three of us would need to stay onboard the ISS for a while longer.
When I heard the news of the delay, I knew that this would delay not only my homecoming and post-mission plans, but it would also upset the schedule of many people on our ground control teams all over the world. Many hard earned vacations would need to be canceled, and many additional hours of work would be required to re-plan activities. These “extra innings” of the Expedition 28 mission rapidly became known as “Expedition 28.1.”
I wanted to do something light-hearted to let everyone know that we are all in this together, so I enlisted Mike Fossum to help me make a video poking a little fun at the situation.
Since we made the video, we learned that the delay in our return to Earth may be shorter, and as of now it is possible for a landing as early as mid-September. We also learned that if we are not able to launch the next Space Station crew in time, there is a possibility we may have to leave the ISS unmanned.  This would have serious implications, and we all hope that it does not come to that.
Despite the seriousness of the possibilities, and while we are all in this period of uncertainty, it doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun. With apologies to guitar players and music lovers everywhere, I hope you enjoy our little video (featuring, in order of appearance, the Expedition 28 crew of Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa, Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev, Sergei Volkov and Ron Garan).