[sarex] SHUTTLE, STATION MISSIONS AHEAD
azrowe80 at verizon.net
Mon Aug 7 10:53:14 PDT 2006
SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468
Aug. 7, 2006
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
"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 appearance."
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 components.
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
"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
* 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 assembly.
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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