Atlantis to begin ambitious station assembly sequence
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
Posted: August 29, 2000
The 99th shuttle mission follows the successful but long-delayed launching of the Russian command module, Zvezda, in July and a Progress supply ship in August, kicking off the most ambitious 12 months of U.S.-Russian launch activity in station history.
"Beginning with the Zvezda launch a few weeks ago, we're beginning a year in which we should have about 15 launches, which is the most intense period of flight operations human spaceflight has ever undertaken," said James Vaan Laak, deputy space station program manager.
"We're very excited about that, but I think we're all very awed by the challenge it represents."
If all goes well, another shuttle crew will deliver stabilizing gyroscopes in October, the first permanent crew will arrive in early November, a huge NASA solar array section will be installed in early December and the U.S. laboratory module, Destiny - the scientific heart of the orbital outpost - will be attached in January.
"Those of us who are working on the program right now feel as though we're riding on a roller coaster that has crested the top of the first hill and has begun to accelerate down the back side," Van Laak said.
Said veteran shuttle flight director Wayne Hale: "The floodgates have been opened and we're in high gear."
OPENING ASSEMBLY FLOODGATES | LAUNCH TIMED TO CATCH ISS |
SPACEWALK TO WIRE UP STATION | MAKING A HOME IN SPACE