January 16, 1998
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
The International Space Station will complete a major milestone toward its first launch as the first station piece, a U.S.-funded and Russian-built control module, is shipped from a Moscow factory next week to its Russian Space Agency launch site in Baikonur, Kazahkstan.
In advance of the shipment of the control module, formerly called the Functional Cargo Block and designated by the Russian acronym FGB, a rollout ceremony and press conference will be held at the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center in Moscow at 11 a.m. Moscow time on Saturday, Jan. 17. Highlights of the rollout ceremony will be broadcast, tape-delayed, on NASA Television at 2 p.m. CST Saturday, with a repeat airing at 5 p.m. CST. The actual shipping of the control module is scheduled to begin on Thursday, Jan. 22.
The 20-ton module is targeted for a late June launch to begin the five-year, 45-flight orbital assembly of the new space station. It will be launched on a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan. The control module was built by the Khrunichev factory, under contract to The Boeing Company, the prime contractor to NASA for the International Space Station. It will depart Khrunichev via a special rail car late next week to begin the 1,200-mile, five-day train journey to Baikonur, where it will begin five months of launch preparations and final testing.
"When the control module arrives at Baikonur, all of the elements for our first two launches will be undergoing final launch processing," International Space Station program manager Randy Brinkley said. "The year of the International Space Station is 1998. This is something that all of us have looked forward to for a very long time. We have a lot of exciting and challenging activities ahead
as we begin our assembly in orbit. The incredible efforts of a worldwide engineering and development team will be coming to fruition, and a new, unprecedented phase of space construction will begin."
Shortly after the control module is launched from Russia, Endeavour will launch on Space Shuttle mission STS-88 from the Kennedy Space Center, FL, with the second piece of the station, a connecting module called Node-1, built by Boeing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL. The node was shipped to Kennedy to begin a year of launch preparations and final testing in June 1997. Two mating adapters have since been shipped to Kennedy from California and are being attached to the node prior to its launch. Endeavour's crew will dock the control module to the node and perform three spacewalks to make final connections between the two components during the 11-day flight. The station will then await the launch of the Russian-built Service Module, a component that will become the early living quarters, targeted for December. The first crew of the new station is planned for launch on a mission in early 1999.
The 20-ton control module will provide early power and propulsion for the station as well as the capability to remotely rendezvous and dock with the Service Module. Construction began on the control module at Khrunichev in December 1994.
NASA Television is available in the continental United States and is carried on GE-2, Transponder 9C, 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz, and audio of 6.8 Mhz.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Raw video of the event will be available Saturday at 7:30 a.m. CST on Galaxy 6, Transponder 17.
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