Feature

STS-130: Window of Opportunity
02.02.10
 
STS-130 astronauts

Members of the STS-130 crew are (from left) Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick, Pilot Terry Virts, Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Kathryn Hire, Commander George Zamka and Mission Specialist Stephen Robinson. Image Credit: NASA
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As far as rooms with a view go, there's never been anything like this one.

The space shuttle Endeavour soon will launch on its STS-130 mission, carrying a new addition to the International Space Station. Stowed in Endeavour's cargo bay are the station’s new Tranquility node and cupola.

Tranquility will be the station's third U.S. connecting node. It contains advanced life-support systems, which will provide air and water for the crew. The space will be used for exercise and storage. The node also contains an additional bathroom for the station.

The cupola will be attached to Tranquility and will house the station’s robotic arm. Its most distinctive feature is a bank of seven windows, which will offer an outside view unprecedented on any spacecraft ever. The cupola will allow astronauts to enjoy the beautiful sight of Earth beneath them and will provide visibility for robotics operations, external science experiments and docking of visiting spacecraft.

STS-130 continues the countdown to the end of the Space Shuttle Program. Including this mission, only five shuttle flights remain.

Delivering a node to the space station is a familiar experience for astronaut George Zamka, who will be Endeavour's commander for the STS-130 mission. Zamka is making his second spaceflight. He previously visited the space station on the STS-120 shuttle mission in 2007, during which the Harmony node was added to the station. The pilot for STS-130 will be Terry Virts, who is making his first spaceflight.

STS-130 mission patch

The design of the STS-130 mission patch was inspired by the cupola's windows. Image Credit: NASA
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Mission specialists for the flight are Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken, Stephen Robinson and Kathryn Hire. Patrick previously flew on the STS-116 shuttle mission in 2006, which installed the P5 truss segment. Behnken flew on the STS-123 mission in 2008, which delivered the first component of the Japanese laboratory module, Kibo, and the Canadian robot hand, Dextre. Robinson is a veteran of three spaceflights, including STS-85 in 1997 and STS-95 in 1998 (on which he flew with Mercury astronaut John Glenn). Robinson previously visited the space station on the STS-114 Return to Flight mission in 2005. Hire flew on the STS-90 mission in 1998, a 16-day science flight.

The STS-130 mission is an important step in preparing for the future of spaceflight. NASA is working to carry out a long-term plan that will lead to human exploration of the solar system. Currently, NASA is working to complete the International Space Station by the time the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010. The station is an important platform for learning how to live and work in space and will be vital to exploration as human space travel extends farther from Earth.

NASA is committed to building strategic partnerships and links between science, technology, engineering and mathematics formal and informal educators. Through hands-on, interactive educational activities, NASA is engaging students, educators, families, the public and all agency stakeholders to increase scientific and technological literacy in the United States.


Related Resources
STS-130
International Space Station
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David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services