[sarex] SHUTTLE, STATION MISSIONS AHEAD ARE MOST CHALLENGING EVER
azrowe80 at verizon.net
Thu Aug 10 02:34:41 PDT 2006
SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468
Aug. 7, 2006
Headquarters, Washington 202-358-0668
Johnson Space Center, Houston
SHUTTLE, STATION MISSIONS AHEAD ARE MOST CHALLENGING EVER
Program managers and the six-member crew of the next space shuttle
Atlantis flight will participate in a series of media briefings Friday,
Aug. 11, at the Johnson Space Center, Houston. With the remaining
shuttle missions, NASA will embark on a series of flights as difficult
as any in history to complete the International Space Station.
"The flights ahead will be the most complex and challenging we've ever
carried out for construction of the International Space Station in
orbit," said Mike Suffredini, NASA station program manager. "The station
literally becomes a new spacecraft with each assembly mission, and that
will be true starting this year with dramatic changes in its cooling and
power systems, habitable volume, utilization capability as well as its
The station is nearly halfway through assembly. The next four flights
will bring new truss segments, massive structural girders, to the
complex. The new segments will increase the mass of the station by
almost 40 tons. Two of the trusses include huge sets of solar array
wings, totaling more than 17,000 square feet and more than 130,000 solar
cells. The new segments include giant rotary joints to allow the tips of
the station "backbone" to move as the massive panels track the sun.
Together, the new arrays will add 50 kilowatts of power for the complex.
The increased electrical power will set the stage for the addition of
European and Japanese laboratories that will far surpass any previous
research capability in space.
The installation of the new truss segments and unfurling of the arrays
require unprecedented robotic operations. Those operations will use the
shuttle and station's Canadian-built mechanical arms to delicately
maneuver school bus-sized station components into place. The operations
will rely heavily on the station's mobile transporter, a sort of space
railway that positions the robotic arm along the truss to install the
Later this year, the station and shuttle crews face a unique challenge
to activate a permanent cooling system and the new power sources. They
must rewire the orbiting laboratory and change its electrical supplies
without interrupting the continuous operation of any of its critical
systems. Once the power grid is in place, additional shuttle flights
will launch a connecting node and the European and Japanese laboratories.
"The assembly of the station on these flights has no parallel in space
history," Suffredini said. "We have planned, studied and trained for
these missions for years. We know they will be hard, and we may
encounter the unexpected. But we are eager to get started, and there is
tremendous excitement building in NASA and among our international
The station's assembly and maintenance in orbit, the long-duration
spaceflight experience gained aboard the complex, and the research into
the effects of long spaceflights contribute to NASA's plans for future
missions to return to the moon and travel beyond.
The current station represents only a fraction of its eventual
capabilities. Between now and station completion:
* The volume and mass of the station will more than double. The space
station will be larger than a five-bedroom house with a cabin volume of
33,023 cubic feet. When completed, it will have a mass of almost a
million pounds. * The number of research facilities on the complex will
more than triple. The percentage of total power dedicated to research
will increase by 84 percent.
* The total power generated by the complex will almost quadruple.
* The station's truss, currently 134 feet long, will grow to 354 feet,
the longest man-made object to fly in space.
* To construct the station, more than 100 international space flights
will have been conducted on five different types of vehicles launched
from four different countries.
* More than 140 spacewalks, totaling nearly 800 hours, dedicated to
assembly and maintenance of the space station will have been completed.
That is more spacewalks than were conducted in all of U.S. space history
before construction of the station began. * There have been 115 space
shuttle flights, of which 18 were dedicated to the space station. With
15 remaining assembly flights planned to the station, more than
one-quarter of all shuttle flights will have been dedicated to station
Friday's briefings about the mission will be carried live on NASA TV
beginning at 9 a.m. EDT. To participate, media should contact the
Johnson Space Center newsroom at 281-483-5111 by Aug. 9. For NASA TV
schedules, downlink information and links to streaming video, visit:
For information about the International Space Station, visit:
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