News media are invited to view the departure of what will be the final piece of the International Space Station's backbone, or truss, aboard NASA's unique wide-body Super Guppy aircraft at Ellington Field, Hangar 990 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9.
Weather permitting, the Starboard 6 (S6) truss segment, the 11th and final piece of the space station's football-field-long backbone and one of few station components fabricated in Houston, will be flown to the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., to be readied for a launch aboard the Space Shuttle in early 2004. The S6 truss will be shipped in two sections due to its size and weight -- over 26,000 pounds and 45 feet long when launched. "The shipment of this segment signals that the fabrication of all U.S.-built International Space Station core components has been completed," said ISS Program Manager Bill Gerstenmaier. "But the most complex and challenging work lies ahead as we continue to assemble the truss segments in orbit, multiplying and expanding the station's power system. When this final truss segment is attached in 2004, we will be in the home stretch of station assembly."
Monday morning's activities are scheduled to include the loading of the truss into the Super Guppy, the closing of the Guppy's giant hinged nose, and takeoff of the oversize aircraft from Ellington Field. Rain could result in a postponement of those activities. JSC's recorded Broadcast News Service, 281-483-8600, will be updated Sunday afternoon if weather threatens the shipment planned for Monday.
Stock footage of the S6 truss construction during the past year at JSC also is available. Media interested in attending should contact the JSC newsroom at 281-483-5111 for more information, although prearrangement of credentials is not required for attendance at Ellington Field NASA Hangar 990 on Monday.
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