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STS-120 Shuttle to Deliver Harmony Node to ISS

> STS-120 to Deliver Harmony Node to ISS
> 	07.20.07
> A series of recent shuttle missions have added to the International 
> Space Station's exterior with new elements for its main truss. Now, 
> Discovery will take into orbit a connecting module that will increase 
> the orbiting laboratory's interior space.
> October's STS-120 mission will bring the Harmony module, christened 
> after a school contest, that will provide attachment points for 
> European and Japanese laboratory modules. Known in technical circles 
> as Node 2, it is similar to the six-sided Unity module that links the 
> U.S. and Russian sections of the station.
> Image at right: The STS-120 insignia. Credit: NASA
> http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts120/mission_overview.html
> “STS-120 is such a cool mission,” said Commander Pam Melroy. “Node 2 
> is the expansion of the space station’s capability to bring 
> international laboratories up. It’s the expansion of our capability to 
> carry additional people.
> "It has additional life support equipment that will allow us to expand 
> out beyond a three-person crew. It’s this big boost in the capability 
> which is really exciting,” she said.
> Built in Italy for the United States, Harmony is a high-tech hallway 
> and Tinkertoy-like hub. It is a 23- by 14-foot passageway that will 
> connect the U.S. segment of the station to the European and Japanese 
> modules, to be installed later this year and early next year, 
> respectively.
> Harmony will be the first new U.S. pressurized component to be added 
> to the station since the Quest Airlock was attached to one of Unity's 
> six berthing ports in 2001.
> “It’s the gateway to the international partners,” Lead Station Flight 
> Director Derek Hassman said. “As the station is configured today, 
> there’s nowhere to put all the international partner modules until we 
> deliver and activate Node 2. That’s the piece that makes the rest 
> possible.”
> jsc2003e39020 -- Harmony Node 2; jsc2003e37640 -- The International 
> Space Station
> Image above: At left, is a detailed view of the Harmony Node 2. At 
> right, is a view of Harmony attached to the International Space 
> Station's U.S. Destiny laboratory.
> Installing Harmony should be straightforward, Hassman said. But 
> actually opening the gateway will require some shuffling. The shuttle 
> will be docked to an existing adapter port where the node is meant to 
> attach, so Harmony will be installed in a temporary spot on the first 
> connecting node, Unity, until the mission is over. It will be moved by 
> the station crew once the shuttle leaves.
> “It’s kind of a shell game,” Lead Shuttle Flight Director Rick LaBrode 
> said. “We’re going to put it on the left side of Node 1, and then, 
> after the mission undocks, we’ll robotically remove the port the 
> shuttle docks to from the end of the lab and put it on Node 2. And 
> then we’re going to take the Node 2 and put it on the end of the lab.”
> After that, it’ll be ready for the European and Japanese laboratories. 
> But labs require electricity. So Melroy’s crew – which includes Pilot 
> George Zamka, mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Douglas Wheelock, 
> Stephanie Wilson, Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, and 
> Daniel Tani, who will trade places with station Flight Engineer Clay 
> Anderson as an expedition crew member – will continue to set up the 
> station's exterior support truss and its power system.
> After Harmony is installed, they’ll move the truss segment holding the 
> station’s first set of solar arrays to a new home. The Port 6, or P6 
> arrays, as they are known, have been attached to the middle of the 
> truss for the past seven years, positioned vertically to the rest of 
> the station, acting as a temporary power system.
> With the addition of two sets of arrays brought to the station on 
> recent shuttle flights, the original arrays can be relocated during 
> STS-120 to their permanent position at the very end of the left side 
> of the truss. But that has its own trials and tribulations.
> sts120-s-002 -- The STS-120 crew
> Image above: The official portait of the seven member STS-120 crew.
> “This truss was the one where, when they retracted the solar array in 
> December, they had difficulties,” LaBrode said. “Well, we’re going to 
> take that during our mission and actually move it all the way 
> outboard. It’s tight clearances, and the way that the robotics 
> operations are here, the arm is completely extended out.”
> In fact, the space station’s arm was designed with this move in mind. 
> Engineers knew the arm would never need to reach farther than this 
> segment – or it’s mirror on the right side – and so they built it to 
> go just that far and not much farther. That creates some challenges. 
> LaBrode compared it to trying to do something with your arm completely 
> straight, rather than bent at the elbow – it limits your flexibility.
> “It’s the design-limiting case,” Melroy said. “It’s the maximum 
> capability of the robotic arm’s reach, and there are no cameras out 
> there. So our spacewalkers are going to have to be out there going, 
> ‘OK, a little bit to the right,’ guiding the robotic arm operator.”
> Hassman said he’s confident they can pull it off.
> “The good thing about the robotics stuff is the experience we have and 
> all the tools the spacewalkers have allow us to really nail that stuff 
> – knock it flat in terms of the planning,” he said.
> And this is one case where familiarity does not breed contempt – or 
> even boredom.
> “It’s funny,” LaBrode said. “This is my fourth lead, but I see myself 
> saying this every time. I know all the other ones have been pretty 
> exciting, but this has got to be the most exciting one. They’re all 
> completely critical to the success, all the way up to completing our 
> president’s vision, going to the next step. But they just seem to get 
> more and more complicated as they go along.”
> Brandi Dean
> Johnson Space Center
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