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SHUTTLE, STATION MISSIONS AHEAD ARE MOST CHALLENGING EVER



SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468

Aug. 7, 2006

Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington 202-358-0668

Kylie Clem
Johnson Space Center, Houston
281-483-5111


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 
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 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 
partners."
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 
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:
http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
For information about the International Space Station, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/station

    
-end-



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