Endeavour to bring high-tech 'sunroom' to ISS

January 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.

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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.
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!
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!!!!!!!
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.
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!!
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2010
The plan for shutting down the Shuttle was setup on Bush's watch.
Jan 30, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
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...*
not rated yet Feb 13, 2010

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.
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.

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