Spaceflight Now STS-111

Italian cargo module attached to station
Posted: June 8, 2002

Shuttle commander Kenneth Cockrell, operating Endeavour's 50-foot-long robot arm, pulled a $150 million cargo module from the orbiter's payload bay this morning and successfully attached it to a downward-facing port on the international space station's Unity module.

The multi-purpose logistics module, known as Leonardo, is more fully loaded than any of the four previous MPLM flights to the station. Fifteen of 16 internal stowage racks are occupied with supplies, food, clothing, spare parts, new computers and other gear.

Leonardo also is carrying a science rack provided by the European Space Agency called the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The glovebox is a sealed enclosure with reach-in gloves that gives station scientists an isolated environment in which to safely manipulate fluids, flames and other toxic materials.

Here's a description from NASA's press kit:

"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 Facility is attached to the station in a couple of years.

"The Microgravity Science Glovebox provides vacuum, venting and gaseous nitrogen, as well as power and data interfaces for experiments. The MSG occupies an entire rack inside the Destiny lab and is more than twice as large as gloveboxes flown previously on the space shuttle. This enables the MSG to hold experiments about the size of an airline carry-on bag."

Some 1,500 pounds of science gear will be unloaded during Endeavour's visit, along with 2,500 pounds of science support hardware. All told, Leonardo is carrying some 5,600 pounds of cargo and supplies to the station.

Getting the module unloaded will be difficult enough. But the astronauts and cosmonauts also must repack it with no-longer-needed equipment, trash, packing foam and other gear that must be returned to Earth.

"We have a very full MPLM, with 15 of the 16 rack spots taken up and with hopes of filling it to 90 percent capacity for return, which will unload sort of a backlog of excess supplies and equipment on board space station that really needs to be removed," Cockrell said in a NASA interview. "So we have a full plate in front of us."

Mike Rodriggs, launch package manager for STS-111, described loading Leonardo for return to Earth as part of "doing a spring cleaning, basically taking an assessment of all the items on board that really don't need to be there, they've served their usefulness or they have to come down for refurbishment or whatever.

"So we're just compiling them all, finding locations inside the MPLM and just having the crew repack them inside the MPLM," he said.

The space station's new crew - Expedition 5 commander Valeri Korzun, Peggy Whitson and Sergei Treschev - officially took over from their Expedition 4 predecessors around 7 p.m. Friday. That milestone occurred after the new crew's custom-fitted Soyuz seatliners and Sokol pressure suits were transferred from the shuttle to the station. With the seatliners and suits in place, Korzun and his crewmates can use the station's Soyuz lifeboat to evacuate the lab complex in an emergency.

Expedition 4 commander Yuri Onufrienko, Daniel Bursch and Walz are now considered members of Endeavour's crew. Whitson will be bunking in a sleep station inside the U.S. Destiny module while Korzun and Treschev will occupy two staterooms in the Zvezda command module at the other end of the station.

It is the first station crew to have more rookies than veterans.

"Sergei and Peggy, they are unflown astronauts but they have had very nice training and they're ready for flight," said Korzun. "I feel it's a little bit difficult for an unflown cosmonaut and astronaut to imagine the situation on the station. We've had good training on simulators in the laboratory here on the ground, but the real station is not the same as here on the land. This is true.

"But I think we have had enough time and the previous crew will familiarize us with situation on the station. We need a short time to understand exactly all configuration of all systems and equipment which is on the station."

Such "handover" sessions are scheduled throughout the docked phase of Endeavour's mission to give Onufrienko, Bursch and Walz time to brief their successors on the details of day-to-day life aboard the station.

What they will not be able to do is fully prepare Whitson and Treschev for the psychological challenges that await them during a long-duration stay in space, cut off from the support of friends and relatives.

"I think probably the most challenging thing after some period of time being in space is just going to be missing the Earth," Whitson said. "I'm an outdoors person, my hobby is working in the yard with my plants so I think I will miss just the planet, being close to the plants and the planet itself. But it's obviously a phenomenal view so that will give me a new perspective from which to look at it. So I'm looking forward to the experience."

Korzun agreed "we will miss our friends, land and family."

"But especially what Peggy said about her yard, she will think about it every time because on the station, this is just fabric, metal," he said. "During our flight on space station Mir, there was a greenhouse and everybody had a chance to look at these green plants in a greenhouse, it was very nice psychological support. I think we will grow something."

Korzun and his crewmates are scheduled to return to Earth in mid October.

During a news conference today with the space station's three Russian crew members, a reporter in Moscow asked Expedition 5 commander Valeri Korzun what he thought about the possibility that *NSynch's Lance Bass might visit the lab complex later this year as a space tourist.

"Well how about Cindy Crawford?" Korzun quipped. "We would be very happy to see one of the super models."

Korzun quickly said he was just joking, of course, adding "we will be very happy to receive any space tourist, they're very welcome here. For example, speaking about (South African tourist) Mark Shuttleworth, he is a great computer specialist and he was very helpful aboard the station. So probably somebody with certain professional qualities would be better."

The next Soyuz flight with a potential tourist seat is scheduled for launch in October.

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