I watched the docking from the Sojuz to the ISS, as a little intermission from my Gothic Architecture studies.
The broadcast did start at 14:15 sharp, first we got a good overview of the Space Flight Command Centre. Then we got 'Programme Crypte: Insertez une Carte'. And then it went to colour bars again. It's not exactly NASA TV.
Good thing they are better at launching a rocket than public outreach. No, that's mean of me. They are doing a great job and very much trying to bring this to a wider audience. The Dutch ESA centre has some cool options for young space enthousiasts and artist/biologist Angelo Vermeulen is currently working on an art/research project.
Anyway, after some time the technical glitches were solved and we got a good look at the docking and very interesting audio commentary from André Kuipers, the Dutch astronaut about docking procedures and how the Sojuz has to rotate to have its solar panels pointed towards the sun.
...Radar information corrects computer predictions. Ground tracking control is lost once it flies over China, an antenna that is no longer needed is folded up, and we enter the night part of the earth...
Automatic docking took place over southern Japan at 14:35.
Once docked the space travellers have about 1 rotation around the earth to check everything. It takes some time to do this, they are in full space suits in case something goes wrong. Once everything is ok, no air leaks or what have you, they can open hatches on both sides.
How cool is this. Countries who were entangled in a cold war two decades ago cooperating on this kind of scale. Where politics fail science and technology succeed. How much more proof do we need?
Three cheers for science!
Oh, and the crew had a nine hour sleep before starting manoeuvres. So next time Dr Livingstone says I sleep way too long, I can tell him astronauts sleep late too on some occasions.