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Aug. 7, 2006

Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington 

Kylie Clem
Johnson Space Center, Houston


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 
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: 


For information about the International Space Station, visit:



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