Shuttle Discovery to Deliver Japan Space Lab to International Station
The astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be breathing a little easier this week as parts arriving from the shuttle Discovery include items that will help fix the broken toilet aboard the station.
The space shuttle Discovery launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Saturday to deliver not only a highly-anticipated Japanese space Lab, but the almost-as-anticipated toilet parts.
The lab, a 11.2-meter, 14.8 ton cylinder will installed over the next several days, and once completed will be the single largest room aboard the ISS, with space for four scientists. The Kibo lab also comes with a 33-foot robotic arm, useful for manipulating materials and equipment for science experiments.
The space shuttle Discovery is preparing to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) on a mission to deliver a bus-sized component of a Japanese space laboratory, and an urgently needed spare part to fix the station's only toilet.
The $1bn space lab, known as Kibo, the Japanese for "hope" will be the largest module attached to the station so far.
Discovery is set to dock with the ISS at 1754GMT on Monday, day three of its 14-day mission.
Space shuttle Discovery is preparing to dock with the International Space Station on Monday, bringing on board a bus-sized Japanese laboratory and spare parts for a troublesome toilet.
The shuttle zipped around Earth with one Japanese and six American astronauts aboard as it pursued the orbiting station for a rendezvous 338 kilometers (210 miles) above Earth.
The spacecraft are scheduled to link up at 1754 GMT and open up their hatches about two hours later, allowing the seven astronauts to float into their new home for the next nine days.
About an hour before docking, Commander Mark Kelly will steer Discovery into a rollercoaster-like maneuver, flipping the shuttle to allow astronauts aboard the ISS to photograph its underside.
The shuttle is due to arrive at the station around 6pm GMT, having begun its two-week mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday.
As well as the Japanese science lab – which is 37 feet long and weighs 32,000 pounds – Discovery is bringing spare parts to fix the station’s broken toilet.
Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 5:02 p.m. EDT Saturday to deliver and install a Japanese laboratory on the International Space Station.
The mission, designated STS-124, is the second of three flights to launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. Discovery is carrying Kibo's tour bus-sized Japanese Pressurized Module, or JPM, which will be the station's largest module. The shuttle astronauts will work with the three-member station crew and ground teams around the world to install the JPM and Kibo's robotic arm system.
Shortly before launch, Commander Mark Kelly thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible. "We're going to deliver Kibo, or hope, to the space station," Kelly said. "And while we tend to live for today, the discoveries from Kibo will certainly offer hope for tomorrow."
The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility currently being assembled in space. The on-orbit assembly of ISS began in 1998. The space station is in a low Earth orbit and can be seen from Earth with the naked eye: it has an altitude of approximately 350 km (217 mi) above the surface of the Earth, and travels at an average speed of 27,700 km (17,210 statute miles) per hour, completing 15.77 orbits per day.
The ISS is a joint project among the space agencies of the United States (NASA), Russia (RKA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and eleven European countries (ESA). The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB, Brazil) participates through a separate contract with NASA. The Italian Space Agency similarly has separate contracts for various activities not done in the framework of ESA's ISS works (where Italy also fully participates). China has reportedly expressed interest in the project, especially if it is able to work with the RKA, though it is not currently involved.