Endeavour to bring high-tech 'sunroom' to ISS

Jan 29, 2010

The US space shuttle Endeavour will carry the last major component needed to complete the International Space Station and a high-tech "sunroom" called a cupola next week, officials said Friday.

The shuttle is due to blast off on February 7 from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida on the last night launch before the shuttle program is set to be mothballed at the end of September.

"The main goal of this mission is to deliver Node 3, also called Tranquility, and the cupola to the International Space Station, or ISS," said Kwatsi Alibaruho, lead shuttle flight director for the mission.

"Tranquility will contain life-support systems that will enable continued human presence aboard the ISS," Alibaruho told a news conference.

He described the cupola as a "windowed robotics viewing station from which astronauts will have the opportunity not only to monitor a wide variety of ISS operations but also to study our home planet."

The cupola, which will be berthed on the European-built Tranquility module by Endeavour astronauts during the mission, will be "the key thing" on the huge module, said Robert Dempsey, the lead station flight director.

"A robotic work station will be placed in there and with the views they have from the seven windows, the crews will be able to do all kinds of robotic operations," Dempsey said.

"They will be able to look out and use the robotic arm to capture and berth visiting vehicles," he said.

Along with enhancing the space station's technical capabilities, having the new, windowed area on the ISS will help to improve quality of life for crews who sometimes spend several months on the orbiting international laboratory.

"It's a very gruelling training and operations regime that the crew goes through and they're separated from their families for a long time," Dempsey said.

But once the cupola is in place, crews will be able to raise the protective shutters on its multi-paned windows and look out over "a beautiful view of the universe," according to Alibaruho.

One of the pieces of exercise equipment on the ISS will be placed in front of the cupola to give the space station's crewmembers "that stop-and-smell-the-roses type ability" as they work-out, said Dempsey.

"That's important to put everything in context," he said.

One of the pieces of exercise equipment on the ISS will be placed in front of the cupola to give the space station's crewmembers "that stop-and-smell-the-roses type ability" as they work-out, said Dempsey.

"That's important to put everything in context," he said.

The mission of the six-member crew of Endeavour is scheduled to last around two weeks. While at the ISS, where Endeavour is due to arrive and dock on the third day of the mission, two crew members will make three space walks.

Besides bringing Tranquility and the cupola to the space station, the Endeavour crew will also repair a piece of equipment which takes urine and transforms it into drinking water.

"It has not been functioning since the fall of last year," said Dempsey.

The first ISS module -- called Zarya, which means sunrise in Russian -- was carried up into space in 1998 and the first full-time crew arrived two years later.

Explore further: Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Space shuttle Atlantis, 7 astronauts back on Earth

Nov 27, 2009

Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts ended an 11-day journey of nearly 4.5 million miles with a 9:44 a.m. EST landing Friday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Space shuttle Endeavour readies return to Earth

Jul 28, 2009

The space shuttle Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station on Tuesday to take photographs of the orbiting research facility before final maneuvers to prepare its return home.

Space Station Room With a View

Jun 29, 2009

The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) is about to get a new "eye-pod." The Tranquility node headed for the space station early in 2010 will feature a viewing dome unlike any other window ever flown ...

Recommended for you

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

11 minutes ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

2 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Ceres and Vesta Converge in Virgo

5 hours ago

Don't let them pass you by. Right now and continuing through July, the biggest and brightest asteroids will be running on nearly parallel tracks in the constellation Virgo and so close together they'll easily ...

A full-spectrum Mars simulation in a box

6 hours ago

There are many reasons why Mars excels at destroying expensive equipment. For one thing, its entire surface is made of partially-magnetized dust. For another, Mars possesses just enough atmosphere so that ...

User comments : 9

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2010
Thank you Obama and the Democrats for destroying the last of our space flight capabilities. No moon, no manned trips into space. The world now looks to China and India and Russia for manned exploration into space.
boznz
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
Seems a waste of money for a station with only 5 years left until its scheduled end of life!
Thadieus
4.5 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2010
5 years left! Come on how much longer has the Mars Rovers lasted past their scheduled life.
As in terms of Obama "destroying" the Space Program. Don't you know how Government works! Once they tell you one thing expect the opposite, i.e. The Patriot Act- There is nothing Patriotic about it!!!!!!!
otto1923
2 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2010
Station is obsolete and waiting to get hit by debris. Move it or lose it. It was a valuable exercise in engineering, multinational fabrication and coordination, and zero g construction; worth the cost.
Jayofalltrades
4.7 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2010
I thought the big O just cut the manned moon mission, not all manned missions? Anyways, doesn't matter, we need a corporation to really invest, otherwise in the future, the gov will control all exoplanet imports. I don't think anyone wants that except for the gov. Also, there is no way that anyone will abandon the station, it cost to much to get everything up there to just throw it away. Thats not fiscally responsible on anyone's part. Since Obama said no to the moon but pretty much gave no other guidance, I think its time that NASA stopped screwing around with surface launched ships and just built a space elevator already. Guam is a decent place, build it there!!
david_42
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2010
The plan for shutting down the Shuttle was setup on Bush's watch.
High_Evolutionary
not rated yet Jan 30, 2010
How have these astronauts been urinating all the while? I think when the shuttle astronauts arrive with the repair kit for the urinal all the ISS astronauts may be smelling not so good. :) on topic...*
GHK
not rated yet Feb 13, 2010
http://www.spacea...2.04.pdf

Page 12 of this article tells how we developed the design of the nodes. Pages 13-15 talks about the evolution of the cupola requirements, concept and design.
Jayofalltrades
not rated yet Feb 14, 2010
The plan for shutting down the Shuttle was setup on Bush's watch.


Yes, and that was in response to the last one killing everyone on board during re-entry.

More news stories

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...