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April 14, 2010

Journeys to the International Space Station

April 12th marked the 49th anniversary of human spaceflight, when Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit the Earth in 1961. At this moment, 13 humans are currently in low-Earth orbit, aboard the International Space Station. Several were already aboard the ISS when a Soyuz TMA-18 brought a fresh crew up from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 2nd - they were later joined by the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery on the 131st shuttle mission to date (only three remaining launches scheduled). NASA recently signed a new deal with Russia for six more round-trips to the ISS, at a cost of $55.8 million per seat. Collected here are recent photos of the Space Station, its current crew, their launch vehicles, and the views from above. (38 photos total)

The Space Shuttle Discovery hurtles toward space after liftoff from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:21 a.m. on April 5th, 2010. The seven-member is delivering the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, filled with supplies, a new crew sleeping quarters and science racks that will be transferred to the International Space Station's laboratories. The crew also will switch out a gyroscope on the station's truss, install a spare ammonia storage tank and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior. (NASA/Tony Gray and Tom Farrar)

The Soyuz TMA-18 space ship is rolled out of a hangar to the launch pad at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, March 31, 2010 for the start of the new Soyuz mission to the International Space Station on April 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin) #

Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin takes part in a training session at the Star City space center outside Moscow April 1, 2010. Yurchikhin is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in a Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft. (REUTERS/Sergei Remezov) #

The Soyuz TMA-18 spaceship is transported by train to the launch pad at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, March 31, 2010. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin) #

Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov and US astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson speak while wearing their space suits at Kazakhstan's Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on April 2, 2010 not long before launch to the International Space Station (ISS). (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images) #

A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft at Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 1, 2010. (VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images) #

The Soyuz TMA-18 rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan April 2, 2010. A U.S.-Russian crew blasted off in the Russian Soyuz spaceship on Friday for a half-year odyssey aboard the International Space Station. (REUTERS/Carla Cioffi) #

The Russian Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft, carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko, blasts off from its launchpad at Baikonur cosmodrome April 2, 2010. (REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin) #

The Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft departs from the International Space Station carrying NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, Expedition 22 commander; and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, Soyuz commander and flight engineer. Undocking occurred at 4:03 a.m. (EDT) on March 18, 2010. Suraev guided the spacecraft to a parachute-assisted landing at 7:24 a.m. near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, wrapping up a five-and-a-half-month stay aboard the space station. (NASA) #

The Houston metropolitan area, seen at night in this image photographed by an Expedition 22 crew member on the International Space Station on Thursday March 18, 2010. (AP Photo/NASA) #

A view of Libya and the Gulf of Sirte from the International Space Station on March 23rd, 2010 at an altitude of 337 km. (NASA/JSC) #

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, Expedition 23 flight engineer, uses a still camera at a window in the Cupola of the International Space Station on March 28th, 2010. (NASA) #

"The World", man-made islands in the United Arab Emirates, seen from the ISS in low earth orbit on March 19th, 2010 (NASA) #

The International Space Station flies across the moon over NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida approximately 15 minutes before the launch of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-131 mission. (NASA/Fernando Echeverria) #

In the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery rolls through the open door of High Bay 1 into the night air on its 3.4-mile journey to Launch Pad 39A. The seven-member STS-131 crew will deliver the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo to the International Space Station aboard Discovery. (NASA/Amanda Diller) #

NASA astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, STS-131 mission specialist, attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit, is pictured during a water survival training session in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) near NASA's Johnson Space Center on September 17th, 2009. (NASA) #

The space shuttle Discovery sits on launch pad 39A Friday, March 19, 2010 at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The payload, at left, is being transferred into the payload change out room where it will later be moved into the cargo bay of the shuttle. (AP Photo/Florida Today,Michael R. Brown) #

An overall view of the space shuttle flight control room in the Johnson Space Center's Mission Control Center during launch countdown activities a few hundred miles away in Florida, site of space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 launch on April 5th, 2010. In the foreground are flight directors Tony Ceccacci (left) and Bryan Lunney. (NASA) #

In the White Room at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, United Space Alliance space suit technicians ensure that the launch-and-entry suit of STS-131 Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson fits properly before she enters space shuttle Discovery through the crew hatch in the background. (NASA/Sandra Joseph and Kevin O'Connell) #

The brilliance of space shuttle Discovery's liftoff at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is reflected in the water near Launch Pad 39A. The seven-member crew will deliver the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, filled with supplies, a new crew sleeping quarters and science racks that will be transferred to the International Space Station's laboratories. (NASA/Scott Andrews) #

Space Shuttle Discovery is seen streaking into space (to the left) as a plume of smoke floats through the air after it blasted off from launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center on April 5, 2010, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) #

A colorfully-lit cloud left by Space Shuttle Discovery hovers over Pad 39-A at Kennedy Space Center April 5, 2010, in Cape Canaveral. (Matt Stroshane/Getty Images) #

Backdropped by a cloud-covered part of Earth, the STS-131 external fuel tank (ET) begins its separation from the Space Shuttle Discovery following launch on April 5th, 2010. (NASA) #

The space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station are in the midst of their rendezvous and docking activities in this image photographed by an Expedition 23 crew member aboard the orbital outpost on April 7th, 2010. Part of a docked Russian spacecraft can be seen in the foreground. (NASA) #

NASA astronaut James P. Dutton Jr., STS-131 pilot, is pictured on the aft flight deck of space shuttle Discovery during flight day one activities on April 5th, 2010. (NASA)#

This front-on, 800mm view of the top part of Discovery's cabin was provided by one of the Expedition 23 crew members on board the International Space Station on April 7th, 2010. The shuttle was in the midst of a back-flip, performed to enable the station's cameras to survey it for possible damage. The rendezvous and subsequent docking occurred early on April 7. (NASA) #

A view of southern Egypt, Lake Nasser, and circular fields north of Sudan, seen from the International Space Station on March 1st, 2010. (NASA/JSC) #

Heavily distorted by the Earth's atmosphere, the Moon is seen rising above the Atlantic Ocean on March 31st, 2010. (NASA/JSC) #

The station's robotic Canadarm2 grapples the Leonardo Multi-purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) from the payload bay of the docked space shuttle Discovery (STS-131) for relocation to a port on the Harmony node of the International Space Station on April 7th, 2010. (NSAA) #

The Japanese Kibo complex of the International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-131 crew member while space shuttle Discovery remains docked with the station on April 7th, 2010. (NASA)#

This detailed astronaut photograph released by the NASA Earth Observatory on April 12, 2010 and acquired on March 31, 2010 provides a rare cloud-free view of the northern end of Semirara Island, located 280 kilometers south of Manila in the Philippines. The northern part of the island is dominated by the open pit Panian Coalfield, the largest of three coalfields on the island. Plumes of sediment from overburden piles enter the Sulu Sea along the northern and eastern coastline of the island. (NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY/AFP/Getty Images) #

With 13 astronauts and cosmonauts on board the station at one time, activities around the galley in the Unity node get rather busy at meal time. Over half the 13 are seen in this flight day five aggregation on April 9th, 2010. NASA astronaut James P. Dutton Jr., STS-131 pilot, prepares part of his meal at left. Also pictured clockwise (from the right) are JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi and NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, both Expedition 23 flight engineers; NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson and Clayton Anderson, both STS-131 mission specialists; along with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Mikhail Kornienko, Expedition 23 commander and flight engineer, respectively. (NASA) #

Two Russian spacecraft docked with the International Space Station are featured in this image photographed by an STS-131 crew member while space shuttle Discovery remains docked with the station on April 8th, 2010. (NASA) #

1NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, STS-131 mission specialist, views a bubble within a water blob floating freely between him and the camera, on the mid-deck of space shuttle Discovery while docked with the International Space Station on April 12th, 2010. (NASA) #

Dwarfed by space shuttle Discovery, NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio (right) and Clayton Anderson, both STS-131 mission specialists, are seen working in Discovery's aft payload bay during the mission's third and final session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction and maintenance continue on the International Space Station ion April 13th, 2010. During the six-hour, 24-minute spacewalk, Mastracchio and Anderson hooked up fluid lines of the new 1,700-pound tank, retrieved some micrometeoroid shields from the Quest airlock's exterior, relocated a portable foot restraint and prepared cables on the Zenith 1 truss for a spare Space to Ground Ku-Band antenna. (NASA) #

NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson, participate in the mission's second session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on April 11th, 2010, as construction and maintenance continue on the International Space Station. During the seven-hour, 26-minute spacewalk, Mastracchio and Anderson unhooked and removed the depleted ammonia tank and installed a 1,700-pound ammonia tank on the station's Starboard 1 truss, completing the second of a three-spacewalk coolant tank replacement process. The thin line of Earth's atmosphere appears in frame center. (NASA) #

The Aurora Australis, viewed by astronauts aboard the ISS, 356 km above the Indian Ocean on March 28th, 2010. (NASA/JSC) #

The Aurora Australis, air glow, and cloud-obscured city lights - blurred by the relative motion of the ISS during the long-exposure photograph. Two Russian spacecraft, docked to the ISS, are seen in the foreground of this April 4th, 2010 image. (NASA/JSC) #

 
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