By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
In July, I went to a NASA Social meetup at Johnson Space Center to learn about Astronaut fitness and wellness in space.
At that event, our group met the crew of Expedition 37, including Astronaut Mike Hopkins of NASA, a flight engineer, Cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, Soyuz Commander and Cosmonaut Sergey Ryanzanskiy, Flight Engineer with the Russian Federal Space Agency.
I grew up during the Cold War, in which we feared the Russians, so it’s nice to see the collaboration our space program has with Russia now. The Cosmonauts and Astronauts are not only crew members, but friends.
And on Wednesday at 3:58 p.m. Central Time, Hopkins, Kotov and Ryanzanskiy lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a five hour trek to the International Space Station.
I watched the launch from Mission Control Center at Houston’s NASA Johnson Space Center with my teenage son, Teddy. Astronaut Kevin Ford and others from NASA briefed us on Expedition 37 and the flight.
By the time we drove back from Houston from the event, the crew had almost made it to the space station. They docked at 9:45 p.m. Central Time, again without any problems. My son and I were able to watch it live from our computers on NASA Television.
Hopkins, Kotov and Ryanzanskiy will spend the next five and a half months on the International Space Station, which celebrates 15 years in space this November. The U.S. Mission Control Center for the International Space Station is at NASA Johnson Space Center.
The crew joined Expedition 37 crew members who have been aboard the space station since late May: Commander Fyodor Yurchikin of Rosmosmos and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency.
They will work on more than 1,600 experiments on the space station and they will add some new ones focused on human health and human physiology.
So even though NASA officially ended its 30-year space shuttle program in 2011, the U.S. still sends astronauts to space. NASA buys seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
And Johnson Space Center is still a hotbed for innovation in Texas and the United States.