Astronauts give space station extra compartment (Update)

May 18, 2010 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
This May 17, 2010 photo provided by NASA shows the space shuttle Atlantis's cabin and forward cargo bay and part of the International Space Station while the two spacecraft remain docked, during STS-132's flight-day four extravehicular activity of astronauts Garrett Reisman and Steve Bowen (not shown). (AP Photo/NASA)

(AP) -- The Atlantis astronauts attached a new Russian chamber to the International Space Station on Tuesday, using a robot arm to drive in the 20-foot-long room that will double as a closet and mini-lab.

This was the first time NASA delivered a Russian compartment to the 12-year-old space station and required two astronauts working a big robot arm.

Normally, Russian space station modules dock automatically. That's how a similar compartment got to the space station last November.

Astronaut Garrett Reisman operated the space station's robot arm, driving in the module with such precision that the first capture sensor didn't even go off.

"He went right down the middle and got a hole in one," Mission Control said. Reisman was assisted by Piers Sellers, who called out all the milestones.

The six space station residents - especially the three Russians - were thrilled with the addition. Commander Oleg Kotov thanked NASA for delivering the compartment, named Rassvet, or Dawn in Russian.

"The International Space Station has grown by one more module," he called down in Russian.

Rassvet - nearly 8 feet in diameter - is stuffed with more than 3,000 pounds of space station supplies, all provided by NASA under a barter agreement with the Russians. There's even equipment attached to the outside of the compartment for use on the full-scale science lab that Russia plans to launch in 2012.

The addition - which provides an extra docking port - now puts the space station at 98 percent complete in terms of habitable volume and 93 percent complete in terms of structure. Its mass exceeds 816,000 pounds.

NASA's share of the construction work is almost over. Only two shuttle missions remain; they're currently scheduled for fall. This is the last planned flight for Atlantis after 32 flights over 25 years.

President Barack Obama wants NASA out of the shuttle business as soon as possible so it can focus on trips to asteroids and Mars. American astronauts will hitch rides to the space station on Russian rockets until U.S. companies develop their own launch vehicle.

Next up for the Atlantis astronauts: two more spacewalks. Two of the crew will venture out on another spacewalk Wednesday to replace three space station batteries. Another three batteries will be replaced Friday.

With so few shuttle flights left, NASA wants to leave behind as many new parts as possible so the space station can keep running until 2020.

The spacewalking astronauts also may be asked to untangle a cable on the shuttle's inspection boom that's prevented a proper safety survey of Atlantis.

Explore further: Cassini watches mysterious feature evolve in Titan sea

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spacewalk hit by brief power outage, no danger

May 17, 2010

(AP) -- A partial power outage at the International Space Station briefly interrupted Monday's spacewalk, knocking out robotic camera views of the two astronauts as they worked to install a spare antenna.

Shuttle Atlantis arrives at space station

May 16, 2010

(AP) -- The shuttle Atlantis arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday amid a flurry of picture-taking intended to make up for a curtailed safety survey the day before.

NASA schedules four ISS spacewalks

Jan 24, 2007

NASA astronauts are to conduct an unprecedented series of four spacewalks during the next month at the International Space Station.

Astronauts take 3rd, final spacewalk of mission

Apr 13, 2010

(AP) -- A pair of astronauts finished installing a fresh storage tank outside the International Space Station on Tuesday, accomplishing a main mission objective that required three spacewalks.

Recommended for you

Cassini watches mysterious feature evolve in Titan sea

14 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft is monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square miles (260 square ...

MOM eyes the limb of Mars after historic arrival

22 hours ago

India's maiden interplanetary voyager, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has transmitted a breathtaking new image eyeing the limb of Mars and its atmosphere against the blackness of space.

The extremes of Earth's Late Heavy Bombardment

23 hours ago

On June 30, 1908 a bolide streaked across the sky in the region near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Russia. When it exploded, the airburst leveled more than 2,000 square kilometers of trees. It is now ...

User comments : 0