Boeing and NASA Start New Year with Space Shuttle Atlantis Liftoff
ST. LOUIS.- With today’s successful liftoff of Space Shuttle Atlantis, The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] and NASA are starting off 2008 with renewed focus following three successful missions last year for the shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) programs.
“The successful liftoff is a testament to everyone who supports the shuttle program and their commitment to working together to make human space flight achievable for our nation,” said former astronaut Brewster Shaw, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space Exploration. “We have a challenging mission ahead of us that will require the best of Boeing in helping NASA get one step closer to completing the International Space Station, the most complex engineering project ever attempted in space.”
The ISS will receive its newest addition when the STS-122 crew delivers the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Columbus Research Laboratory, ESA’s largest on-orbit contribution to the station. As ISS prime contractor, Boeing participated in design and verification reviews to ensure that Columbus works properly with the Harmony utility module, the connecting point for the research laboratory
The STS-122 crew will attach Columbus to the Harmony module, which NASA delivered to the space station in October 2007 and now joins three other U.S. modules on the station, including the Boeing-built Destiny Laboratory. Boeing also built many of Harmony’s subsystem components.
During the 11-day mission, Atlantis will use new microchip technology mounted within panels that control nitrogen and oxygen pressure in the crew module to maintain a habitable environment. The microchips measure the amount of supplied oxygen and nitrogen and provide early insight into cabin atmosphere changes.
Other recent ISS improvements include the integration of Boeing-built Starboard 3, 4 and 5 truss segments as well as the Boeing installation of the U.S. Oxygen Generation System in Destiny. The S3 and 4 truss segments’ batteries and extra solar arrays ensure continuous electrical power to the outpost, even when the station is eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow. The S5 truss segment is a short spacer that connects the Starboard 4 and 6 power modules while maintaining a preferred distance between deployed arrays to maximize power generation.
Supporting United Space Alliance, NASA’s prime contractor for space shuttle operations, Boeing also upgraded both Space Shuttle Discovery and Endeavour, adding its Station-to-Shuttle Power Transfer System to help extend shuttle missions. The space shuttle orbiters also received Boeing-designed, damage-resistant heat shield tiles around the nose and main landing doors.
The space shuttle fleet is scheduled to retire in 2010 after the ISS is assembled to make way for a new human-rated spacecraft that will return humans to the moon by 2020. Technological advancements and lessons-learned from the space shuttle and ISS will facilitate future lunar missions and other space exploration pursuits.
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