October 1, 1997
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
With the first launch nine months away, representatives of the 15 nations building the International Space Station gathered in Houston this week to finalize the station's assembly sequence and confirm that construction remains on target.
"All of the partners reported they were on schedule with their contributions to the station," International Space Station Program Manager Randy Brinkley said. "The first elements, the Functional Cargo Block and the U.S. Node 1, remain on track for launches next year. In September, during a General Designer's Review for the third element, the Russian Service Module, we were reassured by the Russian Space Agency that they can meet the scheduled launch date of December 1998."
The latest assembly sequence approved by the board maintains a launch of the European Space Agency's Columbus Orbital Facility in October 2002 and establishes the launch of a third connecting module, called Node 3, to the station. The Revision C Assembly Sequence had been approved in preliminary form during a May board meeting. The last 15 flights of the 45-flight sequence remained under review following the May meeting, pending further evaluation of launch date options for the Columbus module.
The Service Module, the first fully Russian contribution to the station, completed a critical milestone Sept. 12 when the general designer's review was held in Moscow. Under construction at the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow, the module has progressed rapidly this summer. It remains on target for the December 1998 launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan.
Manufacturing of the module will be completed at Khrunichev in November and it will be moved to Rocket Space Corporation-Energia (RSC-Energia) facilities to begin final testing. Another general designer's review is scheduled for January 1998, and the module will be shipped to Baikonur to begin launch preparations in late May 1998.
The first station element, the U.S.-funded, Russian-built Functional Cargo Block, is on track for a launch in June 1998. Modifications to the module begun earlier this year have been completed that will allow it to be refueled and to accomodate Soyuz dockings. It completed manufacturing at Khrunichev Sept. 15 and was moved to the RSC-Energia facilities where it is undergoing final testing. In January 1998, it will be shipped to Baikonur.
The first U.S.-built station element, Node 1, was shipped from its Alabama factory to the Kennedy Space Center, FL, in June to begin preparations for launch on the first Space Shuttle assembly mission, STS-88, set for July 1998. The second of two conical-shaped pressurized mating adapters that will be attached to either end of the node is being shipped from its California factory to Kennedy this week.
"With the Node and pressurized mating adapters now at Kennedy for launch processing and the FGB ahead of schedule for its shipment to Baikonur, it's a busy and exciting time as we prepare for the launch and assembly phase," Brinkley said.
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