Spacemen are transmitting silent little floaty vlogs at planet Earth (also: laptops in orbit!)

This is not the first web video of daily highlights from a NASA mission, but it just struck me now, watching today's silent vlog from STS-128, that this video really is amazing. It is amazing because it is equal parts banal and mindblowing.

Just as our grandparents were wowed by silent black and white film, our grandchildren will one day find these little YouTubes from space quaint. May I suggest watching these while listening to Boards of Canada? Good, because I just did.

Below, a still from this video which shows a neat laptop array. What an awesome workstation. I think I'll rearrange my desk like this after Labor Day. OH WAIT. Gravity, right.

The NASA videos are provided in YouTube HD, meaning you'll see a nice, crisp 1280x720 video embed instead of the puny 480x295 embed above if you click through to this link: STS 128 HD Flight Day 7 Highlights (Periods With No Sound) (YouTube/NASA).

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  1. Notice, MacHeads… Windows XP is running on the laptops. That’s right. The laptops on the f-ing Space Shuttle run Windows! Ha!

    (I’m kind of surprised the screensavers are the stock WinXP logo, though… you’d think NASA would use SOMETHING more creative…

  2. yeah I noticed that they were using thinkpads. I thought for a second that one of them was a new model macbook… but nah. figures they would use thinkpads in space

  3. The ergonomics of looking “up” at a screen like that are horrible. You neck would get so sore.

    Nice use of space… Bad ergonomics.

  4. #8, DV Revolutionary:
    I feel like I’m gonna get a “whoooshhhhh” for missing your joke, but why would your neck get sore?

    Your head wouldn’t be so heavy in microgravity/orbit-freefall as to make your neck muscles hurt.

    Ergonomics is almost pointless in space. Your back hurts in a bad chair because your spine and local muscles are baring weight with leverage working against it.

  5. Proof that the geeks won, finally!

    Every time the video showed a shot out the window it caught my breath. I’m not suprised that they all seem to have a big smile on their faces all the time…

    Also – the space chick is a little hottie. Would totally test the effects of zero gravity with her, if you know what I mean…

  6. I used Daft Punk’s “Discovery” – funny thing was that it seemed to synch really well sometimes!
    Excellent video.

  7. Good call on Boards of Canada – try Alpha and Omega, from the album Geogaddi. It’s just about 7 mins long so you can just play it twice!

  8. several reactions:

    The lighting for photography is so excellent

    Do they have to go through and shut off/turn on lights every 45 minutes for sundown/sunrise?

    They are all so HAPPY. Must be some kind of good (endogenous) drug floating around up there.

    Can we trust people on such a manic high to do their jobs properly?

    Moving the astronauts in from outside looks like they are so much luggage.

  9. Quite interesting. Video from the orbit might be the artifact inherited from Soviet Russia.

    Many thought that videos were just a gimmick used for propaganda. Yet after fall of USSR some psychologists, who could finally talk, have explained that video was used mainly as a way to observe people in the orbit and to detect early mental disorders which might be caused by such missions. Astronauts pass special training with conditions and environment similar to those on space stations. During the trainings video is also recorded and later used as a reference. That’s why video quality has to be high: to see precise facial expressions.

    Though I’m not sure whether they still practice that or not.

  10. Apparently they are using Linux but have cleverly made it look like Windows so as not to confuse people ;)

  11. Thanks for bringing this to our notice! Very cool and yet surreal with all the floating going on. Watching the astronaut outside with the earth behind him/her actually gave me bad enough vertigo that I had to fast forward. Crazy!

  12. I know what you mean. Last night they were just basically pulling cables on the EVA, and all I could think was, “OMG they are pulling cables… in Space!”

  13. Agreed with 28, while I’ve seen various footage from space (black and white, stuff from ISS, etc), having this in HD makes a HUGE difference. And it seems to me that the ISS is only now coming together?

    Those shots catching the shuttle’s wing and then Earth are spectacular. And every once in a while there’s a weird change of perspective, or the necklaces floating surreal, or somebody just decided to float ‘upside down’. Anybody thinking of making a sci-fi flick should pay very, very close attention to these vlogs.

  14. @CHAS44: They used different OS for different missions. When they can they use GI (government issued) equipment. Nothing fancy to lower cost (licensing). For the record there were missions that ran Debian/Linux.

    One can also say they ran OLD XP rather than “New” Vista. HA! ;-)

  15. I can’t believe it, they even leave those stupid little “intel inside” or “2 megapixels” stickers on their laptops. That’s the first thing I remove from a new machine or camera.

  16. I’ve lost entire days watching the live NASA TV feeds during EVAs of space shuttle missions. I got absolutely no work done the week of the STS-125 mission to Hubble.

    FYI, for those in North America, the ISS and Discovery are going to be making some fantastic evening passes overhead this week. It will be best to catch them while they are still docked together because they will be the brightest thing in the sky (lest the moon). If lucky enough, we might be able to see them both separately after Discovery undocks on Tuesday. Punch in your coordinates here and find when to look:

  17. @ #41
    I happen to work at Goddard Space Flight Center, and our employee association has a store on campus and just opened an online branch (It is very no-frills, and reminiscent of 1997. Please don’t hate on it) but it does sell NASA polos, tees, and all sorts of other swag. The clothing logos have the NASA meatball and Goddard Space Flight Center below it… so, it might make some of you happy.
    You can even get scale models of the shuttle and the Saturn V rocket, too.

    Don’t forget your “Yes, I am a rocket scientist” button, either!

  18. There’s something unexpectedly uplifting about these ISS videos on YouTube. Kinda like a counterpart to the news dominated by war and hardcore-capitalism.

    PS: To the guys saying they run Windows… They run Windows XP… which, for me, is another good argument against Vista.

    You know, I run the operating system they use in SPACE. :D

  19. All space videos should be scored by Boards of Canada. Dayvan Cowboy works very well, btw.

    Also, check out the tray icons on the laptop with the video feed. Its network looks to be offline (no WiFi on the ISS?), and Windows is not up to date. Apparently Microsoft didn’t code for this use case. Go figure.

  20. I do really have to stress how emphatically I love the Saturn V launch video I linked to, by the way. I have this bizarre, irrational urge to share it with everyone, and I didn’t even make or upload it.

  21. Arkizzle: “The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) logo has three official designs, although one of them (the “worm”) has been retired from official use since 1992. The three logos include the NASA insignia (also known as the meatball), the NASA logo (also known as the worm), and the NASA seal.” Sorry. I was working at KSC when they had to repaint the side of the VAB.

  22. @AirPillo I have the same bizzare, irrational urge to post the same video on my blog every 2-months, despite the fact that I’m the only one who reads the damn thing. Its madness just trying to comprehend the fact that there are three Human Beings strapped to the very top of that rocket, speeding away at 17,000mph.

    I also recommend the Saturn V launch sequence from In The Shadow Of The Moon:

    Another well composed piece, juxtaposed to very delicate, innocent and almost child-like music. Like its just a bunch of eight-year-old kids pedaling their tricycles down a hill to see how fast they can go before the wheels fall off. Wonderful madness.

  23. I want a pair of those blue spacepants with the (for lack of a better word) hip bumpers. Way cool looking.

    Also, doesn’t anyone think of Randy in “A Christmas Story” when they see how much effort it takes to unpack a person from a spacesuit?

  24. Lolop: “feng shui”means wind and wave does it not? So none in space, but on Titan, yes. Maybe even Enceladus or Mars….

    And La Bowie is/was not the only pop artist with space on his mind:

    I (too) wanted to be a spaceman…

  25. I’ve lost entire days watching the live NASA TV feeds during EVAs of space shuttle missions.

    I’m the same way, but I’m not sure “lost” is the right word. How about “invested and been amply rewarded for, in a currency other than money”?

  26. Good point Tak. Still it’s great to be a guy and not really give a damn. I have a pair of short boots that I wear once in a while, but since this is FL, it’s usually flip flops or sandals.

  27. Tak, actually I think that you misphrased that. if they’re the ONLY thing that you have on, I don’t think that anyone will notice them.

  28. They are all so HAPPY. Must be some kind of good (endogenous) drug floating around up there.

    Can we trust people on such a manic high to do their jobs properly?

    These are not randomly selected people off the street. These are the most rigorously screened people in the world. They have exactly the personalities and emotions specified in the mission plan.

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