Thursday, 18 June 2009

The International Space Station

The Space Shuttle programme took another step forward on Monday 17 Nov 2008 with the arrival of equipment to double the accomodation for the crew. Space shuttle astronauts delivered tons of custom upgrades to the International Space Station on Monday and prepared for their first spacewalk to restore the outpost to full power.

Working from inside the space station's Destiny laboratory, shuttle Endeavour crew members Don Pettit and Shane Kimbrough used a robotic crane to move an Italian-built cargo canister from the shuttle's payload bay and fly it to a berthing port on the station.

The canister holds two new sleeping compartments, a second toilet, galley equipment and a water regeneration system to recycle urine into drinking water.

The gear is needed to support six crew on the $100 billion station, twice the current crew size.

"By going to a crew of six, we expand opportunities for ourselves and our partners to fly astronauts to do the kinds of experiments for which the space station was built," said NASA administrator Michael Griffin.

It is NASA's fourth and final shuttle mission of the year. Nine more flights are planned before the three-ship fleet is retired in 2010.

NASA and Russia have been building the space station for 10 years. It is scheduled to be finished in 2010, at a cost of more than $100 billion. Europe, Canada and Japan also are project participants. (Editing by Chris Wilson)

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