Completing Japan’s “Hope”
Kibo's external experiment platform is moved in the processing facility.

Image above: After its shipping cover was removed, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo Exposed Facility was moved into the high bay of the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
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The Japanese Experiment Module is called Kibo, which means "hope" in Japanese. Their “hope” will soon be complete as the last element of their facility is added to the International Space Station next year.

The components of the external experiment platform -- officially called the Exposed Facility and Experiment Logistics Module - Exposed Segment -- arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a large Russian Antonov cargo plane in September 2008.

Japanese technicians are completing the checkout and processing of the elements in Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility. From there, the components will be loaded into a payload canister and transported to the launch pad for installation in space shuttle Endeavour’s payload bay. The crew of mission STS-127 is set to deliver and install the Exposed Facility on the orbiting outpost. The Experiment Logistics Module, which will be used to deliver experiments for the Exposed Facility, will return to Earth aboard the space shuttle.

Kibo's facilities already part of the space station include two pressurized modules and a manipulator arm. The new external experiment component will be mounted at the end of the large pressurized laboratory module. Once in place, it will provide a platform for experiments exposed to the harsh environment of space, as well as astronomical observations. The laboratory’s robotic arm will be used to install and monitor the experiments on the exposed facility.

Kibo is Japan’s main contribution to the International Space Station, bringing their 20-year-old dream of a Japanese presence in space to reality.

For more information on Kibo and other space station components check out the Space Station Processing Facility's Observation Deck.
Cheryl L. Mansfield
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center