For release: 05/16/02
Release #: 02-123
Shuttle Endeavour to visit Station during STS-111 mission
Marshall Center contributes to Space Station construction, science
Our orbiting space laboratory will get even better when the Space Shuttle Endeavour visits the International Space Station for the STS-111 mission in June. Astronauts will install equipment so a robot arm can crawl on Station trusses, as well as a new science facility a glovebox for hands-on experiments. Marshall Center engineers contributed to both these special deliveries and to other payloads, including the Leonardo logistics module packed with new Station experiments to kick off Expedition Five the next four-month Station research mission.
Photo: Inside Leonardo logistics module, packed with experiments (NASA)
When the Space Shuttle Endeavour returns to the International Space Station during the STS-111 mission in late May, it will arrive with new equipment that enhances the orbiting outpost’s construction and science capabilities and improves its safety.
“The new equipment Endeavour will bring to expand the orbiting outpost is ready to fly in part because of excellent engineering work done here at the Marshall Center,” said Renee Cox, a project manager with the Flight Projects Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “The Shuttle’s payload bay is filled with hardware and facilities that we helped prepare for delivery.”
A major Space Station component riding in Endeavour’s bay is the Mobile Base System, which allows the Station’s robotic arm to “inchworm” up and down the Station’s trusses and aid in maintenance and assembly tasks. It is a piece of the Canadian Mobile Servicing System that will crawl along the truss railway, a portion of which was installed on the last Shuttle mission.
The Space Station Program Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, asked the Marshall team to use their experience in preparing payloads for integration with the Shuttle to help the Canadian Space Agency as they readied the Mobile Base System for its flight in the Shuttle. Once the Shuttle docks with the Station, astronauts will perform two spacewalks to install the Mobile Base System on the Space Station’s truss.
The engineering savvy of the Marshall team, including several North Alabama contractors, also enabled another payload to ride in the Shuttle the Service Module Debris Panels built by the Russians.
“These debris panels are important because they help protect Zvezda, the Russian Service Module where the crew eats and sleeps, from debris and dangerous objects,” said Cox. “The Space Station program had room on the Shuttle and decided to deliver earlier than planned.”
Marshall’s team helped out by designing and building an adaptor plate to hold the debris shields to the sidewall of the orbiter.”
“We started last summer,” said Cox, “and delivered the new hardware in January. That’s a remarkable turn-around-time for producing flight hardware.”
Also in the Shuttle’s payload bay, the Multi Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo will be making its third trip to space loaded with new science facilities and experiments to kick off Expedition Five the next four-month research mission on the orbiting laboratory. The Raffaello logistics module also made two trips to the Station last year.
“This is the fifth flight of a logistics module in 14 months,” said Jon Holladay, an engineering manager for Marshall’s Pressurized Carrier Group. “These successful flights demonstrate the excellent teamwork between NASA and the Italian Space Agency, which built the module.”
The NASA-owned fleet of three logistics modules is managed by Marshall’s Flight Project Directorate. For STS-111, Leonardo is filled with new experiments and a major new science facility the Microgravity Science Glovebox.
The glovebox a sealed container with built-in gloves on its sides and fronts provides a facility that safely contains fluids, flames, particles and fumes, but still allows the crew to “get a grip” on science equipment via the gloves.
“Without the glovebox, many types of hands-on experiments would be impossible or severely restricted on the Space Station,” said Charles Baugher, project scientist for the glovebox at the Marshall Center.
The glovebox, designed to stay in the Destiny laboratory for 10 years, will support the first two Space Station materials science experiments, also being delivered on STS-111. These experiments will study materials processes similar to those used to make semiconductors for electronic devices and components for jet engines. In exchange for building the glovebox, the European Space Agency will be able to perform experiments inside Destiny until that agency’s Space Station laboratory – the Columbus Orbital Laboratory is attached to the Station in a couple of years.
EXPRESS Rack 3, also ferried inside Leonardo, will be the fifth EXPRESS rack built at Marshall to be delivered to Destiny. These racks house experiments and provide them with power, fluids, cooling, data and other basic utilities.
The Expedition Five research complement includes 24 new and continuing investigations, including the first two materials science experiments; two new plant experiments sponsored by industry; a commercial bioreactor that grows liver cells; facilities that grow biological crystals and zeolite crystals used in petroleum processing; and numerous experiments that study how the human body adapts to space flight.
Operation of the science experiments is coordinated from the ground by controllers on duty around the clock, seven days a week at the Payload Operations Center at Marshall. It is the command post for both planning and executing Space Station science activities. It links Earth-bound researchers with their experiments and the Station crew.
“One of our most challenging tasks early in Expedition Five will be to work with the crew in space to get the new glovebox facility installed and up and running,” said Tina Melton, the payload operations director, who will lead the Expedition Five ground controllers.
The operations center team works with payload developers to create experiment plans and procedures before a mission, and then works with the crew as science activities unfold in space. Engineers from Marshall’s Microgravity Science and Applications Department will be working with engineers from the European Space Agency to evaluate the hardware and software performance as the new glovebox is readied for its first experiments.
“We have a long history of working with the Europeans on the glovebox concept,” said Mary Etta Wright, one of the Marshall Center’s lead glovebox engineers. “We built on our successful flights of gloveboxes on the Space Shuttle and the Russian space station Mir.”
For the STS-111 mission, Marshall engineers also worked with the Italians on the logistics module, the Canadians on the mobile base system, and the Russians on the debris panels.
“The Space Station’s international character really shines on this expedition,” said Melton.
To launch the payloads and the new Expedition Five Space Station crew safely into orbit, Marshall managers and engineers will support the STS-111 launch from both the Launch Control Center at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and Huntsville Operations Support Center at the Marshall Center. The Space Shuttle Projects Office at Marshall manages the Shuttle’s propulsion system including its three main engines, external fuel tank, and twin solid rocket boosters. Marshall serves as a key leader in NASA’s research and development of the propulsion systems that enable safe, reliable and lower-cost access to space and space exploration.
Marshall Space Flight Center’s Role in the STS-111 Space Shuttle Mission and International Space Station Expedition Five
- Consulted with the Canadian Space Agency to help it prepare the final piece of the Canadian Mobile Servicing System – the Mobile Base System – for flight on the Shuttle.
- Designed and manufactured a payload bay carrier to hold the Service Module Debris Panels that will provided additional shielding for the Russian Service Module, Zvezda, where the Space Station crew lives.
- Collaborated with the Italian Space Agency, which built the Multi Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo, making its third delivery of experiments and supplies to the Space Station. This is the fifth flight of the logistics module, which is managed Marshall’s Flight Projects Directorate.
- Marshall’s Microgravity Science and Applications Department worked with the European Space Agency on a new Space Station science facility – the Microgravity Science Glovebox allowing safe, hands-on materials science experiments inside the Station’s Destiny laboratory.
- Delivered the fifth EXPRESS rack, which will support more experiments inside Destiny.
- Twenty-four experiments, including the new glovebox and the first two Station materials science experiments, will be controlled from the Payload Operations Center at Marshall.
- Engineers working in the Huntsville Operations Support Center at Marshall will monitor the Shuttle’s propulsion systems