Goals and Objectives. Goals of the International Space Station (ISS) are to establish a permanent habitable residence and laboratory for science and research, and to maintain and support a human crew at this facility. The ISS will vastly expand our experience in living and working in space, encourage and enable commercial development of space, and provide the capability for humans to perform unique long duration space-based research in cell and developmental biology, plant biology, human physiology, fluid physics, combustion science, materials science and fundamental physics. The ISS will also provide a unique platform for making observations of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, the sun, and other astronomical objects. The experience and results obtained from using the ISS will guide the future direction of human exploration of space.
The ISS is the largest and most complex international scientific project in history. The completed station will have a mass of about 1,040,000 lbs. (470 metric tons). It will measure 356 ft (109 m) across and 290 ft (88 m) long, with almost an acre of solar panels to provide up to 110 kilowatts power to six state-of-the-art laboratories. Led by the United States, the ISS draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency (ESA), and Brazil.
Operations and Assembly. One of the partnership issues that emerged in 2002 is the provision of assured crew return capability after the Russian obligation to supply Soyuz lifeboats to the station expires in April 2006. In NASA's new space transportation planning, a U.S. crew rescue capability (other than via space shuttle) will only be available in 2010. Efforts continue by the Partnership to work out a solution for dealing with the four-year gap.
Following the recommendations of an independent advisory panel of biological and physical research scientists called Remap (for "Research Maximization and Prioritization"), NASA in 2002 established the formal position of a "Science Officer" for one crewmember aboard the ISS, responsible for expanding scientific endeavors on the station. Expedition 5 flight engineer Dr. Peggy Whitson became NASA's first Science Officer.
After the initial major milestones for the ISS program since begin of orbital assembly in 1998 (which included the first crewed logistics/supply flight of a space shuttle in May/June 1999, the arrival of the first long-duration station crew of U.S. Commander William Shepherd and Russian Pilot/Flight Engineers Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev in November 2000 and the installation of the first set of U.S. solar array wings in December 2000), build-up and early operations of the permanently crewed station had continued through 2001 in rapid pace. During 2001, astronauts and cosmonauts added U.S. Laboratory module Destiny, the Canada-supplies Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Canadarm2, and the U.S. Airlock module Quest, the Russian Docking Compartment (DC-1) Pirs, In April 2002, the first of several truss elements, S0 (S-Zero) was attached on top of Destiny, becoming the center piece of the 109 m (356 ft) long truss for carrying the solar cell arrays of the station. In June, the Expedition 4 crew of Russian Commander Yuri Onufrienko and U.S. Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch was "rotated" with the new station crew (Expedition 5) of Russian Commander Valery Korzun, U.S. Flight Engineer/Science Officer Peggy Whitson, and Russian Flight Engineer Sergey Treschev, and delivered cargo including the Mobile Service System (to provide mobility for the SSRMS) and the Italian-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Leonardo for cargo and equipment transport. The second truss segment, S1, arrived in October and was attached to S0 on the starboard side. Its counterpart on port, P1, followed in November and was also successfully mounted. The same Shuttle mission brought the replacement crew (Expedition 6) of U.S. Commander Kenneth Bowersox, Russian Flight Engineer Nikolay Budarin and U.S. Flight Engineer/Science Officer Donald Pettit, and returned the Expedition 5 crew to Earth. By end-2002, 33 carriers had been launched to the ISS: 16 shuttles, two heavy Protons (FGB/Zarya, SM/Zvezda), and 15 Soyuz rockets (nine uncrewed Progress cargo ships, the DC-1 docking module, and five crewed Soyuz spaceships).
STS-110. The April 8-19 mission of Atlantis, on its 25th flight, lifted off at 4:44 pm EDT on ISS Mission 8A. The 13th shuttle flight in the ISS program, it carried the S-Zero (S0) truss, the Mobile Transporter (MT), and a crew of seven (Michael J. Bloomfield, Stephen N. Frick, Rex J. Walheim, Ellen Ochoa, Lee M.E. Morin, Jerry L. Ross, Steven L. Smith). Bloomfield linked up smoothly with the station on April 10 (12:05 pm). During the docked phase, Mission Specialists Ross, Smith, Walheim and Morin conducted four spacewalks (EVAs), installing the S0 as the first of nine pieces that will make up the station's external truss of 356 ft (109 m) when finished, and the MT. On April 15, the MT railcart traversed a distance of 72 ft (22 m) during this first operation of a "railroad in space". Ross became the first human with seven space trips to his credit and the U.S. astronaut with the most U.S. EVAs (nine), with a total duration of 58h 18m. Mission 8A was also the first flight during which the SSRMS robot arm of the ISS was used to maneuver spacewalkers around the station, and the first where all EVAs of a Shuttle crew were performed from the station's own Airlock "Quest". Atlantis and ISS separated on April 17 (2:30 pm), and the orbiter landed at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on April 19 (12:27 pm), with all mission objectives flawlessly accomplished.
Soyuz TM-34. The April 25-May 4 Russian mission Soyuz TM-34 (#208), ISS mission 4S, was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on time at 2:26am EDT on the 3rd "taxi" flight to deliver a fresh crew return vehicle (CRV) to ISS. Its crew of three, under the command of Yuri Gidzenko, included an Italian flight engineer (Roberto Vittori) and the second "space tourist", Mark Shuttleworth of the Republic of South Africa (RSA). Vittori was the first Italian to fly on a Soyuz and the third European astronaut to visit the ISS. Docking took place on April 27 (3:56 am EDT). During the mission, the crew successfully conducted a packed science program sponsored by Italy and the RSA, which included four experiments in the Italian "Marco Polo" program, five payloads in the Shuttleworth program, and two new Russian experiments. In addition, both Vittori and Shuttleworth entertained numerous public TV events with their home countries. Undocking of the "old" Soyuz TM-33 from the DC-1 Pirs module was seven days later, on May 4 (8:31 pm EDT), and the Soyuz Descent Module landed smoothly near Arkalykh in Kazakhstan at 11:51 pm EDT (9:51 am on May 5, local time).
STS-111. On the 14th shuttle flight to ISS, Endeavour launched at 5:23pm EDT on Mission UF-2 after a six-day slip (due to inclement weather and replacement of a gaseous nitrogen regulator in the left orbit maneuvering system (OMS) pod). Its seven-member crew (Kenneth D. Cockrell, Paul S. Lockhart, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Philippe Perrin, Valery Korzun, Peggy Whitson, Sergei Treschev) included two Russians, one astronaut from France/CNES (Perrin) and one naturalized U.S. citizen born in Costa Rica (Chang-Diaz on his seventh space flight), as well as the fifth ISS resident crew (Korzun, Whitson, Treschev). Its cargo comprised MPLM Leonardo on its third flight, loaded with 5600 lbs (2500 kg) of equipment and consumables, the Mobile Base System (MBS) and a replacement wrist roll (WR) joint for the Canadarm2 manipulator (SSRMS), meteoroid/orbital debris protection shields (ODPs) for the "Zvezda" Service Module, and new science payloads. Chang-Diaz and Perrin performed three spacewalks (EVA1: June 9, 7h 14m; EVA2: June 11, 5h; EVA3: June 13, 7h 17m). Among else, they installed the MBS on the MT (mobile transporter), temporarily stowed the ODPs, and replaced the SSRMS WR joint during EVA3. It was the 41st spacewalk in support of ISS, bringing total assembly-EVA time to 255h 58m, and the 16th EVA conducted from the ISS itself (total time: 88h 43m). It was also the 10th spacewalk conducted from the Joint Airlock "Quest". After a very successful mission, Endeavour returned to Earth with the fourth station crew (Yuri Onufrienko, Daniel Bursch, Carl Walz after a stay of 196d 20h 35m, with 189d onboard ISS, a new U.S. record), landing at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) at 1:58 pm EDT, after two days of wave-offs at KSC due to inclement weather. It was the 49th Shuttle landing at EAFB (KSC: 59; White Sand Missile Range [WSMR]: 1).
STS-112. On the 15th Shuttle flight to ISS and the ninth station assembly mission of October 7-18, Atlantis lifted off at 3:46pm EDT on Mission 9A, with a six-member crew (Jeffrey S. Ashby, Pamela A. Melroy, David A. Wolf, Sandra H. Magnus, Piers J. Sellers, Fyodor N. Yurchikhin), including a Russian (Yurchikhin). Docking took place on October 9 (11:17am). On October 10, its main payload, the 14.5-ton S1 truss element, was transferred with the Canadarm2 from the shuttle cargo bay to the ISS and firmly attached to the S0 center truss segment atop the Lab module. The 4h15m installation for the first time featured the SSRMS operating from its new MBS. The crew also transferred about 1000 lbs (450 kg) of supplies, equipment and other cargo to the station. Sellers and Wolf performed three spacewalks (EVA1: October 10, 7h 1m; EVA2: October 12, 6h 4m; EVA3: October 14, 6h 36m) to connect the S1 and S0 trusses with electrical, fiber-optical, data and coolant umbilicals, and installed external systems. This brought the number of ISS EVAs to 46, with a total time of 285h 25m. Atlantis undocked on October 16 (9:13am) and returned to Earth, landing at KSC on October 18 (11:45am) after a successfully accomplished mission.
Soyuz TMA-1. Soyuz TMA-1 (#211), ISS Mission 5S (October 30 - November 10), was launched from Baikonur on time at 8:11am local time (10:11pm EST on October 29) on the fourth "taxi" flight to the ISS, to replace the previous CRV, Soyuz TM-34/4S, which reached the end of its certified lifetime on November 11. TMA-1 was the first of a new version of the venerable Soyuz, with modifications financed by NASA for improved safety and widened crewmember size range. The crew was Sergei Zalyotin and Yuri Lonchakov, plus an ESA guest cosmonaut from Belgium, Frank De Winne. Docking at the DC-1 "Pirs" compartment took place on November 1 (12:01am EST). During the mission, the crew successfully conducted a packed science program sponsored by Belgium and the Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos (RSA), which included nineteen experiments in the ESA "Odissea" program and four Russian experiments. In addition, De Winne conducted numerous public TV events with his home country. Undocking of the "old" Soyuz TM-34 from the FGB nadir port was eight days later, on November 9 (3:44pm EST), and the Soyuz Descent Module landed smoothly near Arkalykh in Kazakhstan at 7:04pm EST (6:04am local time on November 11).
STS-113. Mission ISS-11A on Endeavour (November 23 - December 7) was launched at 7:50am EST, after a scrub on November 11 due to an oxygen leak, a further delay for damage assessment on the Shuttle remote manipulator system (RMS), and a second scrub on November 22 due to rain showers at the transatlantic abort landing (TAL) site Zaragoza, Spain. The 16th ISS mission carried a crew of seven (Jim Wetherbee, Paul Lockhart, Michael Lopez-Alegria, John Herrington, Kenneth Bowersox, Nikolai Budarin, Donald Pettit), including the fifth replacement crew (Bowersox, Budarin, Pettit), the fourth truss element, P1 (of 11 total), and other equipment and resupply. Docking occurred on November 25 (4:59pm). During the docked phase, the 14.5-ton P1 was transferred and installed on the S0 truss portside, and Lopez-Alegria and Herrington conducted three spacewalks to connect the P1 and install other gear (EVA1: November 26, 6h 45m; EVA2: November 28, 6h 10m; EVA3: November 30, 7h). The last EVA was the 49th spacewalk of station assembly, the 24th from the ISS (the others from the Shuttle), and the 15th from the Joint Airlock "Quest" (the others from the Russian DC-1 "Pirs"). Total US EVA time for ISS now stood at 305h 20min. Endeavour undocked on December 2 (3:05pm), launched two tethered minisatellites called MEPSI (microelectromechanical systems-based Picosat Inspector), and returned to KSC on December 7 (2:37pm) after three wave-offs due to inclement weather on as many days, having traveled 5.7 million miles. For the returning Expedition 5 crew of Valery Korzun, Peggy Whitson and Sergei Treschev, it was the 185th day in space (178 days aboard ISS).
STS-107. Columbia, on its 28th flight, lifted off on January 16, 2003, on time at 10:39am EST on a research mission that gave more than 70 international scientists access to the microgravity environment in a sophisticated laboratory setting staffed by highly trained and motivated researchers working 32 payloads with 59 separate investigations. With its crew of seven, Commander Rick D. Husband, Pilot William C. McCool and Mission Specialists David M. Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, Laurel B. Clark and Ilan Ramon, Columbia circled Earth for nearly 16 days in an orbit of 173 miles (277 km) altitude. Both in the Shuttle middeck and in the SPACEHAB Research Double Module (RDM) on its first flight in the cargo bay, the international crew, with the first Israeli astronaut (Ramon) and two women (Chawla, Clark), worked 24 hours a day in two alternating shifts on a mixed complement of competitively selected and commercially sponsored research in the space, life and physical sciences. Experiments were performed in the areas of astronaut health and safety, advanced technology development, and Earth and space science disciplines. Besides the RDM, payloads in the Shuttle cargo bay included the FREESTAR (fast reaction experiments enabling science, technology, applications and research) with six payloads, the MSTRS (miniature satellite threat reporting system) and the STARNAV (star navigation). After completing a highly successful mission, Columbia returned to Earth on 2/1, but was lost with its crew during re-entry, 16 minutes before planned landing at KSC, when it violently disintegrated in the skies over Texas at 9 am EST. Debris from the Orbiter fell in Texas, Louisiana, Arizona and perhaps even California. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), chaired by Admiral (ret.) Harold W. Gehman Jr., later concluded that unbeknownst to crew and ground one of the left wing's leading edge RCC (reinforced carbon carbon) elements or an associated filler strip of the heat shield had been compromised during ascent to orbit by a piece of debris, possibly a suitcase-sized chunk of foam insulation blown off the External Tank (ET) by the supersonic air stream, hitting the leading edge and rendering the wing unable to withstand reentry heating longer than about eight minutes after entry interface. Further Shuttle operations were halted for the duration of the CAIB investigation.
In addition to the above missions, Russia launched four uncrewed Progress logistics/resupply missions to the ISS : M-44 (3P) on February 26, M1-6 (4P) on May 20, M-45 (5P) on August 21, M1-7 (6P) on November 26.