Space Shuttle fleet is due to be retired
by the end of this year, but the youngest shuttle still has two
more missions to complete. Both of these will be assembly missions to
the International Space Station. Endeavour was
constructed as a replacement vehicle after the Challenger disaster
in 1986.The STS-130 mission launched successfully this
morning carrying two primary payloads weighing more than 16.5 tons.
The Tranquility module
was built by Thales Alenia and funded by the European Space Agency.
It houses some of the most advanced life support systems in space, in
particular waste water recyclers (up to 93% efficient), oxygen
generators, and CO2 scrubbers.Tranquility is
an evolutionary design building upon the experience of constructing
Node 1 (Unity)
and Node 2 (Harmony).
It contains an extensive piping network for the distribution of water
(for fuel cells, drinking, waste and processes) between itself and
Node 1. There is a special line for the transfer of pretreated urine
from a new Waste and Hygiene Compartment (otherwise known as a
toilet) to Water Recovery System racks inside Node 3. Special lines
and sectioning devices are also adapted to distribute oxygen and
nitrogen.Originally designated as Node 3, Tranquility was
named after NASA held a controversial online poll. NASA wanted the
public to give their input on the suggested
names: Earthrise, Legacy,Serenity,
However, they allowed the public to suggest their own write-in names.
Stephen Colbert suggested naming it after himself on his TV show, and
a race developed with the fans of the Serenity movie, named after the
spacecraft from the Firefly TV series.Almost 1.2 million
votes were cast, but Colbert won
by 40,000 votes. However, NASA had reserved the right to pick the
final name, and choose Tranquility in
honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo
11 lunar landing on the Sea of Tranquility. The COLBERT
Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill) was named
instead for Colbert. It was launched in September of last year and temporarily installed
in Node 2, but will be moved to its permanent location in Tranquility
after it is attached to the ISS.The Cupola is a pressurized
observation and work area that will accommodate command and control
workstations and other hardware. It will primarily be used to control
station robotics such as the Canadarm2, Dextre, and the European
Robotic Arm. However, it will also be uses as a 360 degree
observation station by ISS astronauts. There aren't a lot of viewing
stations on the ISS, which has mostly small portholes. The best view
is currently afforded by a 20 inch (50 cm) window on the Destiny
module. The cupola includes window shutters that provide orbital
debris protection when closed.There are also
multiple experiments being carried onboard Endeavour.
NLP-Vaccine-7 is a commercial payload serving as a pathfinder for the
use of the ISS as a National Laboratory after station assembly is
complete. It will use several different pathogenic organisms to
further assess the use of space flight to develop potential vaccines
for infections caused by these pathogens on Earth and in
microgravity.Several experiments will focus on the growth of
plants in microgravity, including NLP-Cells-3. That experiment will
verify the potential effects of microgravity on improving
characteristics such as cell structure, growth, and development of
which has the potential to be used as an alternative biofuel
crop.The ISS will be about 90 percent complete after
the Tranquility module
and the Cupola are installed. The next shuttle flight will be in
March by Discovery to
deliver more supplies and experiments. Endeavour's
last flight will be in July, after which it will be decommissioned
and likely sent to a museum.
quote: I was really hoping to see a man walk on mars before I die. I'm 43, and I doubt I'll see it now.
quote: Four more flights, then the US manned space program comes to an end.
quote: So how many of those have had successful launches with higher than sub-orbital flight with multiple passengers?
quote: again, none have taken 1 person into space
quote: There is more to civilization than Dominoes pizza, youtube, and sitcoms.