Jan. 31, 2007
Johnson Space Center, Houston
SPACE STATION TO GROW FASTER, MARK FIRSTS THROUGHOUT YEAR
HOUSTON - Already spanning an acre in orbit, the International Space
Station this year will grow faster in size, power, volume and mass
than ever before, significantly expanding its capabilities and
setting new records for humans in orbit.
“This will be a challenging but rewarding year for the station
program,” said Kirk Shireman, deputy program manager for the
International Space Station. “The station’s operations will grow both
in orbit and on Earth. As we launch new international components this
year, we also will begin new flight control operations from
facilities around the world.”
In addition to control centers in the United States, Russia and
Canada, control centers for the station also will be activated in
France, Germany and Japan, allowing NASA’s partners to oversee their
contributions to the station.
In 2007, NASA and Russia plan to conduct as many as 24 spacewalks,
more than has ever been done in a single year. The first spacewalk
began at 9:14 a.m. CST Wednesday, Jan. 31 on NASA TV and features
Mike Lopez-Alegria, the commander of the current space station
mission, known as Expedition 14.
By the end of Expedition 14 in April, Lopez-Alegria should lead all
astronauts in the number of spacewalks and the amount of time spent
spacewalking. After returning to Earth in July, Expedition 14 and
Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Sunita Williams will hold the NASA
astronaut record for longest time in space. Lopez-Alegria will have
set that record just months earlier. Williams also will have
completed the most spacewalks by a woman by the end of February.
Also this year, the electricity generated and used on the station will
more than double. By the end of 2007, the station’s solar panels will
extend to almost three-quarters of an acre of surface area. The extra
power and cooling will allow the station’s living and working space
to expand by more than one-third. The complex will grow from its
current size of a two-bedroom apartment to the size of a four-bedroom
house by year’s end.
The laboratories aboard will triple, with the addition of the European
Space Agency’s Columbus lab and the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo.
A shuttle mission targeted for October will deliver Columbus, while
another mission targeted for December will carry Kibo. The additions
will mark the first time the station’s interior space has grown in
more than six years.
The station’s supply lines also will grow. A new European cargo
vehicle, called the Automated Transfer Vehicle, is set to make its
first trip to the station in July. Currently, only the space shuttle
and Russian Progress cargo craft deliver supplies to the orbiting
This also will be a year of unparalleled robotic operations. For the
first time, the station’s robotic arm will be used to assemble large,
pressurized components without a shuttle present. In the fall, the
Canadarm2 will be used to move mating adapters and a large connecting
module, called Node 2, into place on the station. Node 2 will provide
pathways for crew members, air, electricity and water to the new
As the station breaks new ground in its use of robotics, its robotics
system also will grow. On the same mission that delivers the first
section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo lab, the
Canadian Space Agency’s Dextre robotic system will be delivered.
Dextre, an almost human-shaped two-armed robotic system designed to
work with Canadarm2, will add to the highly sophisticated robotics
aboard the space station. Dextre will enable the robotics to perform
even more intricate maintenance and servicing tasks, which previously
would have required spacewalks.
For information about the International Space Station, visit: