International Space Station (ISS)

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The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility currently being assembled in outer space, the on-orbit construction of which began in 1998.

International Space Station (ISS): (19 Aug. 2007) --- Backdropped by a blue and white Earth, the International Space Station moves away from Space Shuttle Endeavour.International Space Station (ISS): (19 Aug. 2007) --- Backdropped by a blue and white Earth, the International Space Station moves away from Space Shuttle Endeavour.

The space station is in a Low Earth Orbit and can be seen from Earth with the naked eye; it orbits at an altitude of approximately 350 km (190 mi) above the surface of the Earth, and travels at an average speed of 27,700 kilometres (17,210 mi) per hour, completing 15.7 orbits per day.

The space station 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 had reportedly expressed interest in the project, especially if China was able to work with the RKA, though it is not currently involved. To mark the level of cooperation that the project is fostering between nations, in 2001, the station received the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

International Space Station (ISS): (17 Sept. 2006) --- This view of the International Space Station, backdropped against the blackness of space, was taken shortly after the Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the orbital outpost at 7:50 a.m. CDT. The unlinking completed six days, two hours and two minutes of joint operations with the station crew. Atlantis left the station with a new, second pair of 240-foot solar wings, attached to a new 17.5-ton section of truss with batteries, electronics and a giant rotating joint. The new solar arrays eventually will double the station's onboard power when their electrical systems are brought online during the next shuttle flight, planned for launch in December.International Space Station (ISS): (17 Sept. 2006) --- This view of the International Space Station, backdropped against the blackness of space, was taken shortly after the Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the orbital outpost at 7:50 a.m. CDT. The unlinking completed six days, two hours and two minutes of joint operations with the station crew. Atlantis left the station with a new, second pair of 240-foot solar wings, attached to a new 17.5-ton section of truss with batteries, electronics and a giant rotating joint. The new solar arrays eventually will double the station's onboard power when their electrical systems are brought online during the next shuttle flight, planned for launch in December.

The ISS is a continuation of several other previously planned space stations; Russia's Mir 2, the US Space Station Freedom, the European Columbus laboratory and the Japanese Kibō laboratory. The projected completion date is 2011, with the station remaining in operation at least until 2016. As of 2008, the ISS is larger than any previous space station.

The ISS has been continuously staffed since the first resident crew, Expedition 1, entered the station on November 2, 2000, thereby providing a permanent human presence in space. The crew of Expedition 18 are currently aboard. At present the station has a capacity for a crew of three, however, in order to fulfil an active research program, beginning with Expedition 19, it will be staffed by a resident crew of six. Early crew members all came from the Russian and American space programs, until German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter joined the Expedition 13 crew in July 2006, becoming the first crew member from another space agency. The station has, however, been visited by astronauts from 16 countries, and was the destination of the first five space tourists.

The station is serviced primarily by Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft and American Space Shuttle orbiters. On March 9 2008, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched an Ariane 5 with the first Automated Transfer Vehicle, Jules Verne, toward the ISS carrying over 8,000 kilograms of cargo. Several other servicing vehicles are also in various stages of planning.

International Space Station (ISS): (13/14 March 2008) --- Anchored to a Canadarm2 mobile foot restraint, astronaut Rick Linnehan, STS-123 mission specialist, participates in the mission's first scheduled session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction and maintenance continue on the International Space Station. During the seven-hour and one-minute spacewalk, Linnehan and astronaut Garrett Reisman (out of frame), Expedition 16 flight engineer, prepared the Japanese logistics module-pressurized section (JLP) for removal from Space Shuttle Endeavour's payload bay; opened the Centerline Berthing Camera System on top of the Harmony module; removed the Passive Common Berthing Mechanism and installed both the Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) tool change out mechanisms on the Canadian-built Dextre robotic system, the final element of the station's Mobile Servicing System.International Space Station (ISS): (13/14 March 2008) --- Anchored to a Canadarm2 mobile foot restraint, astronaut Rick Linnehan, STS-123 mission specialist, participates in the mission's first scheduled session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction and maintenance continue on the International Space Station. During the seven-hour and one-minute spacewalk, Linnehan and astronaut Garrett Reisman (out of frame), Expedition 16 flight engineer, prepared the Japanese logistics module-pressurized section (JLP) for removal from Space Shuttle Endeavour's payload bay; opened the Centerline Berthing Camera System on top of the Harmony module; removed the Passive Common Berthing Mechanism and installed both the Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) tool change out mechanisms on the Canadian-built Dextre robotic system, the final element of the station's Mobile Servicing System.

Origins

In the early 1980s, NASA planned Space Station Freedom as a counterpart to the Soviet Salyut and Mir space stations. It never left the drawing board and with the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, it was nearly canceled by the US House of Representatives due to budgetary and design concerns. Similar problems for proposed space stations by other countries as well as the end of the space race prompted the US administration officials to start negotiations with international partners Europe, Russia, Japan and Canada in the early 1990s in order to build a truly international space station. This project was first announced in November 1993 and was called Space Station Alpha. It was planned to combine the proposed space stations of all participating space agencies: NASA's Space Station Freedom, Russia's Mir-2 (the successor to Mir, the core of which is now Zvezda) and ESA's Columbus that was planned to be a stand-alone spacelab.

International Space Station (ISS): (15 December 2001) --- As seen in a medium view from a digital still camera aimed through a window on Endeavour's aft flight deck, the International Space Station (ISS), now staffed with its fourth three-person crew, is contrasted against a patch of the blue and white Earth during a farewell look from the shuttle following undocking. The Destiny laboratory is partially covered with shadows in the foreground.International Space Station (ISS): (15 December 2001) --- As seen in a medium view from a digital still camera aimed through a window on Endeavour's aft flight deck, the International Space Station (ISS), now staffed with its fourth three-person crew, is contrasted against a patch of the blue and white Earth during a farewell look from the shuttle following undocking. The Destiny laboratory is partially covered with shadows in the foreground.

Assembly

The assembly of the International Space Station is a major aerospace engineering endeavour. When assembly is complete the ISS will have a pressurized volume of approximately 1,000 m³. Assembly began in November 1998, and as of July 2008 the station is approximately 85% complete.

The first segment of the ISS, the Zarya FGB, was launched into orbit in November 1998 on a Russian Proton rocket, and was followed two weeks later by the first of three 'node' modules, Unity, launched aboard STS-88. This bare 2-module core of the ISS remained unmanned for the next one and a half years, until in July 2000 the Russian module Zvezda was added, allowing a maximum crew of three astronauts or cosmonauts to be on the ISS permanently - the first resident crew, Expedition 1, was sent that November. 2000 also saw the arrival of two segments of the station's Integrated Truss Structure, the Z1 and P6 truss, together providing the embryonic station with communications, guidance, electrical grounding (on Z1) and power via a pair of solar array wings (on P6).

Over the next two years the station continued to expand, with a Soyuz rocket delivering the Pirs docking compartment and Space Shuttles Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour between them carrying the Destiny laboratory and Quest airlock to orbit, in addition to the station's robot arm, Canadarm2, and several more segments of truss.

The ambitious expansion schedule was brought to an abrupt halt, however, following the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-107. The resulting hiatus in the Space Shuttle program led to a halt in station assembly until the launch of Discovery on STS-114 in 2005.

The official Return to Assembly was marked by the delivery by Atlantis, flying STS-115, of the station's second set of solar arrays, which were followed by several more truss segments and a third set of arrays on STS-116, STS-117 and STS-118. This major expansion of the station's power generating abilities meant that more pressurised modules could be accommodated, and as a result the Harmony node and Columbus European laboratory were added, followed shortly by the first two components of Kibō, the Japanese Experiment Module.

As of July 2008, the station consists of ten pressurised modules, in addition to all but one of the components of the Integrated Truss Structure. Awaiting launch are the station's final set of solar arrays (set for delivery on STS-119), the final section of Kibō, the American Node 3, and the European Robotic Arm, in addition to several Russian modules. Also awaiting launch is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, recently manifested on what is currently the final Space Shuttle flight, STS-134. Assembly is expected to be completed by 2011, by which point the station will have a mass in excess of 400 tons.

International Space Station (ISS): (2 December 2002) --- Backdropped by the blackness of space, this full view of the International Space Station (ISS) was photographed by a crewmember on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour following the undocking of the two spacecraft. Endeavour pulled away from the complex at 2:05 p.m. (CST) on December 2, 2002 as the two spacecraft flew over northwestern Australia. The newly installed Port One (P1) truss now complements the Starboard One (S1) truss in center frame.International Space Station (ISS): (2 December 2002) --- Backdropped by the blackness of space, this full view of the International Space Station (ISS) was photographed by a crewmember on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour following the undocking of the two spacecraft. Endeavour pulled away from the complex at 2:05 p.m. (CST) on December 2, 2002 as the two spacecraft flew over northwestern Australia. The newly installed Port One (P1) truss now complements the Starboard One (S1) truss in center frame.

Major ISS systems

Power supply

The source of electrical power for the ISS is the Sun: light is converted into electricity through the use of solar arrays. Before assembly flight 4A (shuttle mission STS-97, November 30, 2000) the only power source was the Russian solar panels attached to the Zarya and Zvezda modules: the Russian segment of the station uses 28 volts DC (as does the Shuttle). In the remainder of the station, electricity is provided by the solar arrays attached to the truss at a voltage ranging from 130 to 180 volts DC. The power is then stabilized and distributed at 160 volts DC, before finally being converted to the user-required 124 volts DC - this high-voltage distribution line allows for smaller power lines, reducing weight. Power can be shared between the two segments of the station using converters, and this feature is essential since the cancellation of the Russian Science Power Platform, as the Russian segment will depend on the US built solar arrays for power.

The solar array normally tracks the Sun to maximize the amount of solar power. The array is about 375 m² in area and 58 metres (190 ft) long. In the fully-complete configuration, the solar arrays track the sun in each orbit by rotating the alpha gimbal; while the beta gimbal adjusts for the angle of the sun from the orbital plane. (until the main truss structure arrived, the arrays were in a temporary position perpendicular to the final orientation, and in this configuration, as shown in the image to the right, the beta gimbal was used for the main solar tracking.) Another tracking option, Night Glider mode, can be used to slightly reduce the effects of drag produced by the tenuous upper atmosphere through which the station flies by orienting the solar arrays edgewise to the velocity vector.

Life support

Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS).

The ISS Environmental Control and Life Support System provides or controls elements such as atmospheric pressure, fire detection & suppression, oxygen levels and water supply, among other things. The Elektron system generates oxygen aboard the station. The highest priority for the life support system is the ISS atmosphere, but the system also collects, processes, and stores waste and water produced and used by the crew. For example, the system recycles fluid from the sink, shower, urine, and condensation. Activated charcoal filters are the primary method for removing byproducts of human metabolism from the air. Attitude control

The attitude (orientation) of the station is maintained by either of two mechanisms. Normally, a system using several control moment gyroscopes (CMGs) keeps the station oriented, with Destiny forward of Unity, the P truss on the port side and Pirs on the earth-facing (nadir) side. When the CMG system becomes saturated (a situation whereby a CMG exceeds its operational range or cannot track a series of rapid movements, and stops working) it can lose its ability to control station attitude. In this event, the Russian attitude control system is designed to take over automatically, using thrusters to maintain station attitude and allowing the CMG system to desaturate, a situation which has occurred once, during Expedition 10. When a Space Shuttle is docked to the station, it can also be used to maintain station attitude. This procedure was used during STS-117 as the S3/S4 truss was being installed.

Altitude control

The ISS is maintained at an orbit from a minimum altitude limit of 278 km to a maximum limit of 460 km. The normal maximum limit is 425 km to allow Soyuz rendezvous missions. Because ISS is constantly losing altitude due to slight atmospheric drag and gravity gradient effects, it needs to be boosted to a higher altitude several times each year. These effects vary from day-to-day, however, due to changes in the density of the outer atmosphere due to solar activity. The boosting can be performed by two boosters on the Zvezda module, a docked Space Shuttle, a Progress resupply vessel or by ESA's ATV and takes approximately two orbits (three hours) in which it is boosted several kilometers higher. While it is being built the altitude is relatively low so that it is easier to fly the space shuttle — with its large payloads — to the station. When the station is complete, it will be raised to a higher (and, therefore, more stable) orbit to reduce the need for reboosts to take place.

International Space Station (ISS): (18 Feb. 2008) --- A close-up view of the Columbus laboratory (center) -- newest addition to the International Space Station -- is featured in this image photographed by a STS-122 crewmember on Space Shuttle Atlantis shortly after the undocking of the two spacecraft.International Space Station (ISS): (18 Feb. 2008) --- A close-up view of the Columbus laboratory (center) -- newest addition to the International Space Station -- is featured in this image photographed by a STS-122 crewmember on Space Shuttle Atlantis shortly after the undocking of the two spacecraft.

Scientific research

One of the main goals of the ISS is to provide a place to conduct experiments that require one or more of the unusual conditions present on the station. The main fields of research include biology (including biomedical research and biotechnology), physics (including fluid physics, materials science, and quantum physics), astronomy (including cosmology), and meteorology. The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated the U.S segment of the International Space Station as a national laboratory with a goal to increase the utilization of the ISS by other Federal entities and the private sector. As of 2007, little experimentation other than the study of the long-term effects of microgravity on humans has taken place. With four new research modules set to arrive at the ISS by 2011, however, more specialized research is expected to begin.

Scientific ISS modules

The Destiny laboratory is the main research facility currently aboard the ISS. Produced by NASA and launched in February 2001, it is a research facility for general experiments, providing space for 24 International Standard Payload Racks, some of which are used for environmental systems and living equipment. Destiny also features a 20 inch, optically perfect window, the largest such window ever produced for use in space.

The Columbus module is another research facility, designed by the ESA for the ISS. Launched in February 2008, it provides a generic laboratory as well as facilities specifically designed for biology, biomedical research and fluid physics. The laboratory also provides external mounting locations for experiments such as the European Technology Exposure Facility, Solar Monitoring Observatory,Materials International Space Station Experiment and Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space. There are also a number of planned expansions that will be implemented to study quantum physics and cosmology.

The Japanese Experiment Module, also known as Kibō, was put in service during STS-124 on June 3, 2008. It was developed by JAXA to function as an observatory and to gather astronomical data. The module also provides an external platform, the Exposed Facility, that allows payloads to be directly exposed to the harsh space environment, and which is serviced by the module's own robotic arm, the JEM-RMS.

The ExPRESS Logistics Carriers, developed by NASA, are set to be launched for the ISS beginning with STS-129, which is expected to take place no earlier than September 11, 2009. They will allow experiments to be deployed and conducted in the vacuum of space and will provide the necessary electricity and computing to locally process data from experiments. Finally, the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, created by the RKA, is expected to launch for the ISS in December 2011, and will be the primary Russian laboratory on the station. It will supply the proper resources for general microgravity experiments.

Several planned research modules have been cancelled, including the Centrifuge Accommodations Module (used to produce varying levels of artificial gravity) and two Russian Research Modules (used for general experimentation).

Areas of research

There are a number of plans to study biology on the ISS. One goal is to improve understanding of the effect of long-term space exposure on the human body. Subjects such as muscle atrophy, bone loss, and fluid shifts are studied with the intention to utilize this data so space colonization and lengthy space travel can become feasible. The effect of near-weightlessness on evolution, development and growth, and the internal processes of plants and animals are also studied. In response to recent data suggesting that microgravity enables the growth of three-dimensional human body-like tissues and that unusual protein crystals can be formed in space, NASA has indicated a desire to investigate these phenomena.

NASA would also like to study prominent problems in physics. The physics of fluids in microgravity are not completely understood, and researchers would like to be able to accurately model fluids in the future. Additionally, since fluids in space can be combined nearly completely regardless of their relative weights, there is some interest in investigating the combination of fluids that would not mix well on Earth. By examining reactions that are slowed down by low gravity and temperatures, scientists also hope to gain new insight concerning states of matter (specifically in regards to superconductivity).

Additionally, researchers hope to examine combustion in the presence of less gravity than on Earth. Any findings involving the efficiency of the burning or the creation of byproducts could improve the process of energy production, which would be of economic and environmental interest. Scientists plan to use the ISS to examine aerosols, ozone, water vapor, and oxides in Earth's atmosphere as well as cosmic rays, cosmic dust, anti-matter, and dark matter in the Universe.

The long-term goals of this research are to develop the technology necessary for human-based space and planetary exploration and colonization (including life support systems, safety precautions, environmental monitoring in space), new ways to treat diseases, more efficient methods of producing materials, more accurate measurements than would be impossible to achieve on Earth, and a more complete understanding of the Universe.

Future of the ISS

NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin says the International Space Station has a role to play as NASA moves forward with a new focus for the manned space program, which is to go out beyond Earth orbit for purposes of human exploration and scientific discovery. "The International Space Station is now a stepping stone on the way," says Griffin, "rather than being the end of the line". Griffin has said that station crews will not only continue to learn how to live and work in space, but also will learn how to build hardware that can survive and function for the years required to make the round-trip voyage from Earth to Mars.

International Space Station (ISS): (7 Feb. 2008) --- An unpiloted Progress supply vehicle approaches the International Space Station. Progress 28 resupply craft launched at 7:03 a.m. (CST) on Feb. 5, 2008 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to deliver more than 2.5 tons of food, fuel, oxygen and other supplies to the Expedition 16 crewmembers onboard the station. Progress automatically docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment at 8:30 a.m. (CST) on Feb. 7.International Space Station (ISS): (7 Feb. 2008) --- An unpiloted Progress supply vehicle approaches the International Space Station. Progress 28 resupply craft launched at 7:03 a.m. (CST) on Feb. 5, 2008 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to deliver more than 2.5 tons of food, fuel, oxygen and other supplies to the Expedition 16 crewmembers onboard the station. Progress automatically docked to the Pirs Docking Compartment at 8:30 a.m. (CST) on Feb. 7.

In an internal e-mail leaked to the press on August 18, 2008 from Griffin to NASA managers, Griffin apparently communicated his belief that the current U. S. administration had made no viable plan for U. S. crews to participate in the ISS beyond 2011, and that the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy were actually seeking its demise. The email appeared to suggest that Griffin believed the only reasonable solution was to extend the operation of the space shuttle beyond 2010, but noted that Executive Policy (ie, the White House) was firm that there will be no extension of the shuttle retirement date, and thus no US capability to launch crews into orbit until the Ares I/Orion system becomes operational in 2014, at the earliest. He did not see purchase of Russian launches for NASA crews as politically viable following the 2008 South Ossetia war, and hoped the incoming U. S. administration would resolve the issue in 2009 by extending shuttle operations beyond 2010.

On September 7, NASA released a statement regarding the leaked email, in which Griffin said: "The leaked internal email fails to provide the contextual framework for my remarks, and my support for the administration's policies. Administration policy is to retire the shuttle in 2010 and purchase crew transport from Russia until Ares and Orion are available. The administration continues to support our request for an INKSNA exemption. Administration policy continues to be that we will take no action to preclude continued operation of the International Space Station past 2016. I strongly support these administration policies, as do OSTP and OMB."

On October 15, 2008, President Bush signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2008, giving NASA funding for one additional mission to "deliver science experiments to the station". The Act allows for a possible additional shuttle flight to the ISS to install the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which was previously canceled.

As president-elect, Barack Obama has supported the continued operation of the station, and supported the NASA Authorization act of 2008. Obama's plan for space exploration includes finishing the station, and completion of the Orion spacecraft program.

Visiting spacecraft

* American (NASA) Space Shuttle - resupply vehicle, assembly and logistics flights and crew rotation (to be retired in 2010)

* Russian (Roskosmos) Soyuz spacecraft - crew rotation and emergency evacuation, replaced every 6 months

* Russian (Roskosmos) Progress spacecraft - resupply vehicle

* European (ESA) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) - resupply vehicle

Currently docked

As of 2008-10-14:

* Progress M-65 is at the Zvezda aft port

* Soyuz TMA-13 is at the Zarya nadir port

Planned

* Japanese (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) resupply vehicle for Kibo module (scheduled for 2009)

* SpaceX Dragon for NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (scheduled for 2009)

* Orbital Sciences Cygnus for NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (scheduled for 2010)

* American (NASA) Orion for possible crew rotation and as resupply transporter (officially scheduled for 2014)

* European-Russian Crew Space Transportation System (Soyuz-derived) crew rotation and resupply spacecraft (scheduled for 2014)

Cancelled

* Russian (Roskosmos) Space Shuttle Kliper for possible crew rotation and as resupply transporter

* Kistler K-1 for NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services

Source: wikipedia.org

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