Despite being funded
only through the end of 2015, there is widespread political
support domestically and internationally to extend the ISS'
operations through 2020
and beyond. However, the Space Shuttle fleet is due
to be retired by the end of 2010, which would make unavailable
large parts that are deliverable only by the Space Shuttle and its
massive cargo bay.
In order to mitigate this problem, NASA has
planned a series of flights that will deliver large-sized spare parts
to the ISS, starting with yesterday's launch of the Space Shuttle
Atlantis. There are nearly 30,000 pounds (13.6 tons) of parts and
equipment that will be delivered during STS-129.
terms of being the flight that brings up all the spares for station,
this is really full," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's Director of
Space Operations. "This flight, and a couple of the other
shuttle flights that come later, really set us up very well for kind
of the end of the shuttle servicing era."
payload bay is chock full of equipment and parts mounted on two cargo
pallets, known as ExPRESS Logistics Carriers (ELCs).
contains an Ammonia Tank Assembly (ATA), a Battery Charge Discharge
Unit (BCDU), a Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS)
Latching End Effector (LEE) that will be used in the station's
Canadarm2 robotic arm, a Control Moment Gyro (CMG), a Nitrogen Tank
Assembly (NTA), a Pump Module (PM), a Plasma Contactor Unit (PCU),
and two empty Passive Flight Releasable Attachment Mechanisms
(PFRAMs) used for storage.
A box containing spare circuit
breakers and a Canadian robot known as DEXTRE are mounted on the
ELC-2 contains a High Pressure Gas Tank (HPGT), a
Cargo Transport Container 1 (CTC-1) mounted to a Small Adapter Plate
Assembly (SAPA), a Utility Transfer Assembly (UTA), an empty Payload
PFRAM,and a Mobile Transporter/Trailing Umbilical System (MT/TUS)
used in the Canadarm2. There is also an extra Control Moment Gyro, a
Nitrogen Tank Assembly, and Pump Module. ELC-2 also contains flight
equipment and MISSE-7.
The Materials International Space
Station Experiment 7 (MISSE-7) is a test bed for
materials and electronics that will be attached to the outside of the
materials and electronics include solar cells,
coatings, thermal protection, optics, sensors, and computing elements
could be used in the next generation of satellites, space probes and
There is also a spare S-band Antenna Support
Assembly (SASA) that will be attached
to the sidewall inside the
space shuttle payload bay. The SASA is an assembly that consists of
the Assembly Contingency Radio Frequency Group, SASA Boom, and
Avionics Wire Harness. It is used to communicate with NASA's
fleet of Tracking Data and Relay Satellites, which are used to ensure
fast and reliable communications with Mission Control.
ELC pallets will be mounted on the left and right sides of the
station's primary solar power truss. Connections will be made to the
electrical grid of the ISS in order to power heaters and provide
telemetry. The new oxygen tank will be attached to the station's
airlock during one of the three spacewalks.
establishing critical spares on board the International Space
Station," commented lead shuttle Flight Director Mike
Sarafin. "We're going to warehouse parts that only the shuttle
can deliver in large volume to the International Space Station for
the pending retirement of the space shuttle, roughly a year from
There are five more Space Shuttle missions
scheduled, the final three of which involve the delivery of more