Saw a news bit today about China successfully landing their first female astronaut (and a couple guy astronauts :p) after a visit in space to their orbiting space module, planned to be the start of an honest-to-goodness Chinese space station--and you know, with the ISS nearing retirement age, currently we're looking at a not so distant time where China's going to have the sole manned space station! And to think they became the third nation (behind the US and Russia) to achieve manned space flight only as recently as 2003! (I *think* that's the date I saw--don't quote me on that :P) Go China!
What particularly grabbed my attention about the news item was the footage of their capsule landing with a splash of sand in a deserty grassland in China's vast Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (which contains part of the Gobi Desert: home, according to local legend, of the Mongolian Death Worm--never seen by science (HMMMM) but so deadly, the locals have it, that merely to touch it means INSTANT DEATH... Oh and it is 2 to 5 feet long, they say, and can spray deadly acidic venom, or shoot electricity or something--good story! :P). Looked like a bumpy landing! And the newscast pointed out that the US is the only nation that lands its spacecraft in water.
Here's some pretty good footage of the landing:
If you're quick on the pause button, you'll see a very quick retro-rocket fire just before touchdown! That must be to cushion the landing a bit. Here are some frames of it firing:
Pretty slick! Although then the capsule touched down and rolled around a bit, which must not have been too much fun for the occupants (who had to be carried out because their legs were too weak to stand on, since they didn't use 'em while weightless in space for 13 days). Kinda neat to see how charred parts of the capsule are too (around 1:00 for instance), I guess that's probably from atmospheric friction in re-entry.
Hm another news item I saw while looking for a good video said that the female astronaut was something of a last-minute addition, to get more attention, since apparently the Chinese public hasn't been too excited about the Chinese space program so far. Well... I guess it worked!
For some time now--maybe years?--I've been in the habit of drawing people starting with the eyes. This kind of lets you make sure you're maximizing the impact of the eyes, which I like, BUT I've been noticing that it sometimes leads me to make the composition a little too head-heavy--like, favoring funky perspectives where the head is closer to the camera and proportionately bigger than usual. That's great once in a while but I don't want to do it all the time and I kind of have been, so maybe next week I'll get brave enough to try drawing the "normal" way, which is to sort of sketch out the whole figure first and then put the eyes in it later. :P I tend to default to that when I don't have to draw a face--like on page 95--and wouldn't you know it, the figures there aren't all crazy bobbleheaded perspectivey, because I wasn't so preoccupied with the eyes. So yeah I'll have to see if I can do that and still get some decent eye action.