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Shuttle crew to outfit living quarters on space station

The Space Station as of March 2008. Desktop available - 1024x768 - 1280 x 1024 and 1360 x 768
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 11, 2008
The shuttle Endeavour is set to lift off on Friday with seven astronauts who plan to make repairs to the International Space Station and expand its living quarters for bigger crews.

Weather permitting, Endeavour is scheduled for liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 14 at 7:55 pm (0055 GMT).

The mission marks the 27th shuttle flight to the orbiting space station, nearly 10 years to the day since a shuttle crew first began constructing the ISS, on November 20, 1998.

The Endeavour's trip is the fourth and final shuttle flight for 2008, as a mission to repair the Hubble space telescope set for October has been postponed until May 2009.

The shuttle will carry in its cargo hold about 14.5 tonnes of supplies and equipment, which will be ferried to the space station by the Italian logistics module Leonardo that serves as a "moving van" with help from the ISS's robotic arm.

The equipment will double the living quarters of the station -- from a three-member crew to up to six by the spring of 2009, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

The shuttle crew are due to install two separate sleeping compartments, exercise equipment, a second toilet, two new food warmers, a refrigerator for food and drink as well as a freezer and combustion rack for scientific experiments.

The Endeavour astronauts are also bringing an innovative recycling system that turns urine into potable water, a major step deemed vital for future space exploration. Similar "water recovery" devices are expected to be used one day in expeditions to Mars.

NASA sees expanding the accommodation aboard the space station as crucial for boosting scientific research efforts and to allow Japanese and European astronauts a chance to stay on the space station.

Japan and Europe have both provided elaborate research labs for the ISS, Kibo and Columbus, that were put in place in earlier shuttle missions this year.

To maximize power for the space station, the Endeavour team plans to carry out four spacewalks to repair a defective solar array joint that has been clogged with metal shavings.

The gear is supposed to rotate one of three solar arrays to continuously track the sun and help power the station, but at the moment the arrays only have limited movement.

The crew, five men and two women, all Americans, including commander Chris Ferguson, 47, and co-pilot Eric Boe, 44, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday ahead of Friday's scheduled launch.

"This mission is all about home improvement," Ferguson said Tuesday, referring to plans to outfit the station's living quarters and repair the power-generating solar arrays. "Home improvement inside and outside the station."

One of the crew, Sandra Magnus, will swap places with compatriot Greg Chamitoff as a flight engineer on the space station. She is due to stay on the ISS until February 2009.

The shuttle is set to return to Earth on November 29 but NASA said it was was possible the mission would be prolonged by a day.

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Progress Cargo Module To Undock From ISS Friday
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Nov 11, 2008
The Progress M-65 cargo spacecraft will undock from the international space station on Friday evening, mission control said on Monday.

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