NASA space shuttle to carry key space station upgrades

February mission will carry life support module into space

NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour is closed for the Christmas holiday but plenty of work is going on around it.

NASA said that the shuttle’s hatch has been closed and warm air is being blown into the shuttle to keep critical internal systems at about 70 degrees during the holiday break as final preparations for the mission are set for a scheduled Feb. 7 launch.

12 mad science projects that could shake the world

Endeavour will be carrying the 21 ft long, 14 ft wide, 27,000 pound life support module known as Tranquility to the International Space Station. A “room with a view” module known as the Cupola module is also part of the ISS package heading into orbit.

According to NASA, the pressurized Tranquility module Tranquility module, which was built for NASA by Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy, under contract to the European Space Agency -- will bump out the room for crew members and many of the space station's life support and environmental control systems including include air revitalization, oxygen generation and water recycling. A waste and hygiene compartment and a treadmill also will be relocated from other areas of the station, NASA stated.

Tranquility will be linked to the Earth-facing side of the ISS’ Unity node. The new node will provide an additional docking point for space shuttles and other crew vehicles visiting the station in the future.

NASA says the Cupola node could be considered the ultimate observation deck as the small, dome-shaped module has seven windows -- six around the sides and one on top -- that can be shuttered when not in use to protect them from micrometeoroids and the harsh space environment. The windows are made of fused silica and borosilicate glass panes, with temperature-sensing elements and window heaters, NASA said.

Just under ten feet in diameter, the module will accommodate two crew members and portable workstations that can control station and robotic activities. The multi-directional view will allow the crew to monitor spacewalks and docking operations, as well as provide a spectacular view of Earth and other celestial objects, NASA stated.

20 projects that kept NASA hopping in 2009

Endeavour's 13-day flight will include three spacewalks, NASA stated.

Endeavour's flight will begin the final year of space shuttle operations. Five shuttle missions are planned in 2010, with the final flight currently targeted for launch in September.

Meanwhile, onboard the ISS there are only two astronauts -- NASA astronaut and Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev. They have been the ISS’ only occupants since Nov. 30. NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis left the day before Thanksgiving.

Williams and Suraev will this week be joined by NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi who are on their way to the ISS in the Soyuz TMA-17 which launched on Sunday Dec. 20.

The next shuttle, Discovery, is slated to blast off in March with a payload of scientific gear and a spare ammonia tank assembly, NASA said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags international space stationspace shuttle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Michael Cooney

Michael Cooney

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?