Cosmic Paparazzi: Human Number 200

Enjoy this image of astronaut Alvin Drew beginning his first spacewalk, in which he also becomes the 200th human to walk in space.
Alvin Drew beginning spacewalk.
(Click image for large version)

A Good Day for a Spacewalk
Emerging from the Quest airlock on the International Space Station, astronaut Alvin Drew began his shared spacewalking duties with fellow astronaut Steve Bowen. Drew and Bowen completed the STS-133 mission’s first spacewalk on Monday, Feb. 28. Drew is the 200th human to perform a spacewalk, his first. This is Steve Bowen’s sixth spacewalk. This is the 154th spacewalk supporting assembly and maintenance of the space station and the 234th excursion conducted by U.S. astronauts.

Image Credit: NASA

It's Official… Probably

While funding from Congress isn’t complete, NASA added the 135th and final mission for the Shuttle Program. The agency has scheduled the shuttle Atlantis for a launch-date target of June 28.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Space Shuttle Atlantis following liftoff of STS-129. - Source: NASA

In October of last year, President Obama signed the 2010 NASA Authorization Act which allowed an additional shuttle flight before the fleet retires. Congress, however, has yet to appropriate the full funding required for the mission. Funds to get the mission started are available in existing budgets, but complete funding will have to come from Congress; expected in March.

The mission will take a four-member crew, the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module, and supplies to the International Space Station. One spacewalk is scheduled, and they’ll be returning a faulty ammonia pump module that has been troubling engineers.

I personally hope NASA can keep squeaking through additional shuttle missions. It’s not so much that I don’t want to let the program go, it’s that I don’t want to let it go without a replacement ready to fly.

My Name Is Earl

I neglected to post this a couple of days ago.

@Astro_Wheels tweets from 173 miles above and, as you can see, has an amazing vantage point to capture awesome images of our planet and its systems.