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Boeing Supports Contributions by Canada and Japan to the International Space Station


A Boeing [NYSE: BA] International Space Station (ISS) team performed the complex task of integrating Canada’s Dextre robotic device and a segment of Japan’s Kibo laboratory ahead of their launch today aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. These components will be added to the ISS during shuttle mission STS-123.

“The transport of these latest two major additions brings NASA and its partners even closer to the goal of completing the International Space Station by 2010,” said former astronaut Brewster Shaw, vice president and general manager of Space Exploration for Boeing. “The mission was also supported by the Boeing Space Shuttle team, whose extra inspections of shuttle tiles from STS-122 helped make STS-123 possible.”

Kibo, a contribution to the ISS from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will increase the station’s research capability in a variety of disciplines. Dextre will work with the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to perform delicate tasks.

The segment of Kibo being delivered on this mission is the Japanese Experiment Logistics Module Pressurized Section, the smaller of Kibo’s two pressurized modules. The Dextre robotic device -- the final element of the ISS Mobile Servicing System -- will work with the station’s robotic arm to install the pressurized module and other Kibo components.

The space shuttle’s 50-foot Orbital Boom Sensor System (OBSS) will be stowed on the ISS during the 16-day mission to make room in Space Shuttle Discovery’s payload bay for more Kibo components to be delivered during STS-124 in May. Boeing built and designed the On-Orbit Support equipment that will allow the stowage of the OBSS.

Boeing is responsible for ensuring the successful integration of new hardware on the ISS. The company worked together with the Japanese and Canadian teams to test the components.

“Our job is to verify that software from various organizations can talk to one another, and if they can’t, to suggest and implement corrective actions,” said John Royal, Space Exploration Software integration manager for Boeing.

“In regard to Dextre, we designed and built a test platform that represented a segment of the space station and provided commands to the robot to see if it would respond correctly,” Royal said. "We also conducted simulations at Boeing’s Software Integration Laboratory in Houston.

“During the testing, we did find that some corrective actions were necessary for driving the software on the space station,” Royal added. “Sometimes organizations can interpret requirements differently, and we are here to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

The ISS is scheduled to be completely assembled in 2010. At that time, the space shuttle will retire to make way for a new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon by 2020. Technological advancements and lessons learned from the space shuttle and ISS will aid future lunar missions and other space exploration pursuits.


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