October 26, 1998
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Johnson Space Center, Houston
Kennedy Space Center, FL
The International Space Station today moved to the doorstep of space as the first U.S.-built station component, the Unity connecting module, was moved to the launch pad to be loaded onto the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Endeavour, scheduled for launch on Dec. 3 with an international six-person crew, will carry Unity to a rendezvous and attachment with the Zarya control module. Zarya is scheduled for launch on a Russian Proton rocket Nov. 20 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan. Today's move completes work on Unity in the Kennedy Space Center's Space Station Processing Facility, a special hangar where the module has been undergoing final assembly, checkout and launch preparations since June 1997.
"There has been a tremendous amount of excellent work done by everyone involved with Unity from day one to get to this point," said Steve Francois, director of space station and shuttle payloads at Kennedy. "Unity represents the first new human spacecraft to go to a Kennedy launch pad since the first Space Shuttle launch 17 years ago. We're excited and ready to see Unity in orbit. We've got a processing facility full of other station components, and the centerpiece of the station, the U.S. Laboratory module, will arrive next month. The era of the International Space Station is here."
More than a half-dozen major station components are in the processing facility, and by the end of the year more than 500,000 pounds of U.S. and international station equipment will have been completed. Upcoming milestones for Unity at the launch pad include an interface verification test, a check of electrical and data connections between Unity and Endeavour on Nov. 9, and the installation of Unity into Endeavour's payload bay on Nov. 13.
Unity, the cornerstone for the International Space Station, is a six-sided connecting module to which all future U.S. station modules will attach. Unity will serve as a habitable passageway to various parts of the station. Attached to Unity's forward and aft berthing ports for launch are two conical mating adapters, one to serve as a permanent connection to the Russian station segment and another that will serve as a Shuttle docking port.
Built by The Boeing Company for NASA, the 25,000-pound Unity began construction in 1994 at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL. Because it is a station hub, more than six miles of electrical wiring, 216 lines that will carry fluids and gases and 50,000 mechanical items have been installed in Unity.
The International Space Station draws upon the resources and expertise of 16 nations and is the largest and most complex international scientific project ever undertaken to explore space for the benefit of all humankind.
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