During 2005, the International Space Station (ISS) marked the fifth anniversary of continuous crewed operations (November), during which NASA and ISS partner scientists have gathered vital information on the station that will help with future long-duration missions, as the station has a unique microgravity environment that cannot be duplicated on Earth.
ISS goals are to establish a permanent habitable residence and laboratory for science and research, and to maintain and support a human crew at this facility. To those purposes. the ISS expands our experience in living and working in space, encourages and enables commercial development of space, and provides 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, part way in its construction, is already providing 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, back to the Moon and on to Mars and beyond.
The station is the largest and most complex international scientific project in history. The completed ISS by about 2010 will have a mass of about 1,040,000 lbs. (470 metric tons), measuring 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.
One of the continuing Partnership issues in 2005 was the debate about 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 space transportation planning, currently under revision after the unveiling of the long-range space exploration strategy by President Bush on January 14 (which includes retirement of the space shuttle by 2010), a U.S. crew rescue capability would only be available by 2014. Efforts continue by the Partnership to work out a solution for dealing with the gap. Of much greater significance to the continuation of ISS assembly and operation proved to be Russia's shouldering the burden of providing crew rotation and consumables resupply flights to the station, after the loss of Columbia in 2003 brought shuttle operations to a standstill that lasted until the RTF (Return to Flight) mission of STS-114/Discovery in July 2005.
Following 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 (CDR) William Shepherd and Russian Pilot/Flight Engineers (FE) 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 continued through 2001 in rapid pace. During 2001, astronauts and cosmonauts added U.S. Laboratory module Destiny, the Canada-supplied Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Canadarm2, the U.S. Airlock module Quest and 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 centerpiece of the 109 m (356 ft) long truss for carrying the solar cell arrays of the station. In June 2002, the Expedition 4 crew of Russian CDR Yuri Onufrienko and U.S. FEs Carl Walz and Dan Bursch was "rotated" with the new station crew of Expedition 5 (Russian CDR Valery Korzun, U.S. FE/SO Peggy Whitson, Russian FE Sergey Treschev) and delivered cargo including the Mobile Service System (to provide mobility for the SSRMS on a rail track) and the Italian-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) "Leonardo" for cargo and equipment transport.
The second truss segment, S1, arrived in October 2002 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 of U.S. CDR Kenneth Bowersox, Russian FE Nikolai Budarin and U.S. FE/SO Donald Pettit (Expedition 6), and returned the Expedition 5 crew to Earth.
Early in 2003, further progress in ISS assembly was brought to a halt by the standdown of the space shuttles after the Columbia loss. As an immediate consequence of the unavoidable reduction in resupply mission to the station, which now could only be supported by Russian uncrewed automated Progress cargo ships, station crew size was reduced from three to a two-person "caretaker" crew per expedition (also known as Increment), except for brief 10-day stays by visiting cosmonaut/researchers or commercial "tourists" arriving and departing on the third seat of Soyuz spacecraft. Operations procedures had to be revised accordingly, and such vital areas as onboard systems maintenance and spares provision had to be replanned carefully to continue crewed occupancy and a viable science research program on board despite the sudden constriction in logistics.
During 2005, as ISS entered its sixth year of operations as a staffed facility, three crews, limited to two persons, lived on the station, each one working with ground teams to do their part to keep the station safely operating while accumulating knowledge ("lessons learned") for future deep-space missions of the new Vision for Space Exploration. Crews performed in-flight outfitting, preventive maintenance, replacements and repairs on station equipment and conducted on-going science/research activities. They also conducted four spacewalks (EVA, extravehicular activity) spacewalk to install external components such as an antenna, make electrical and data connections, remove and replace payloads and experiment containers, and launched a nanosatellite.
After appropriate training for the temporary two-man situation in the U.S. and Russia, Expedition 11 was launched to the ISS in April with the two-man station crew of Russian CDR Sergei Krikalev and American FE John Phillips and plus Italian VC8 (Visiting Crewmember 8) cosmonaut/researcher Roberto Vittori on a Soyuz TMA spacecraft. The two members of Expedition 10, Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov, plus Vittori returned on the previous Soyuz that had served as a contingency crew return vehicle (CRV) for almost the duration of its certified lifetime of 200 days. The replacement crew, Expedition 12, came six months later in a fresh Soyuz TMA, consisting of American CDR William McArthur and Russian FE Valery Tokarev to continue station operations into 2006.
Following the recommendations of an independent advisory panel of biological and physical research scientists called Remap (for "Research Maximization and Prioritization"), NASA in 2002 had established the formal position of a "Science Officer" for one crewmember aboard the ISS, responsible for expanding scientific endeavors on the station. After FE Dr. Peggy Whitson of Expedition 5 became NASA's first Science Officer (SO), Expedition 8 CDR Michael Foale, Expedition 9 FE Michael Fincke, and Expedition 10 CDR Leroy Chiao were the fourth, fifth and sixth Science Officers in 2004. They were joined in 2005 by John Phillips (Expedition 11) and William McArthur (Expedition 12) as seventh and eighth SO.
By end-2005, 51 carriers had been launched to the ISS: 17 shuttles, two heavy Protons (FGB/Zarya, SM/Zvezda), and 32 Soyuz rockets (20 uncrewed Progress cargo ships, the DC-1 docking module, and 11 crewed Soyuz spaceships).
Progress M-52 (No. 352)Designated ISS-17P, the first of four uncrewed cargo ships to the ISS in 2005 lifted off on a Soyuz-U rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on February 28 (2:09pm EST). As all Progress transports, it carried about 2 tons of resupply for the station, including maneuver propellants, water, food, science payloads, equipment and spares.
Soyuz TMA-6. Soyuz TMA-6 (#216), ISS Mission 10S (April 14 - October 10), was launched in Kazakhstan on time at 8:46pm EDT, once again a flawless success of the Soyuz launcher. The fifth crew rotation flight by a Soyuz because of the shuttle standdown, it carried Expedition 11, the two-man station crew of Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips plus Italian VC8 cosmonaut Roberto Vittori who flew for the European Space Agency (ESA). TMA-6 docked to the ISS on 4/16 at 10:20pm EDT, replacing the previous CRV, Soyuz TMA-5/9S, which, when it undocked on April 24, 2005, had reached an in-space time of 192 days. In it, Expedition 10 crewmembers Chiao and Sharipov plus Vittori landed in Kazakhstan in the evening at 6:08pm EDT. Recovery forces in helicopters, including NASA personnel, reached the landing site soon after. Expedition 8 had spent 192 days 19 hours 35 minutes in space (~190 days on board the ISS).
Progress M-53 (No. 353) ISS-18P was the next uncrewed cargo ship, launched in Baikonur on a Soyuz-U on June 16 (7:09pm EDT) and arriving at the station with fresh supplies on June 18 (8:41pm EDT).
Progress M-54 (No. 354) ISS-19P, the third automated logistics transport in 2005, lifted off on its Soyuz-U on September 8 (9:07am EDT), docking at the ISS on September 10 (10:42am EDT).
Soyuz TMA-7 Soyuz TMA-7 (#217), ISS mission 11S (September 30 - April 8, 2006) lifted off on time at Baikonur at 11:55pm EDT. The sixth ISS crew rotation flight by a Soyuz, its crew comprised Expedition 12, the fourth "caretaker" crew of William McArthur and Valery Tokarev, plus the third "space tourist", US businessman Gregory Olsen (VC9), after another flawless countdown of the Soyuz-FG. With its perfect liftoff, the Soyuz launch vehicle racked up another success. On 10/3 at 1:32am EDT, TMA-7 docked smoothly to the ISS, achieving successful contact and capture. Hatch opening and crew transfer were nominal. Seven days later (10/10), the previous CRV, Soyuz TMA-6/10S, undocked from the FGB nadir port at 5:49pm EDT, where it had stayed for 177 days (179 days in space), and landed safely in Kazakhstan at 9:09pm EDT with Krikalev, Phillips and Olsen. Expedition 12's total mission elapsed time (MET), from launch to landing, was 179 days 23 minutes in space (~177 days on board the station).
Progress M-55 (No. 355) ISS-20P, the fourth automated logistics transport in 2005, lifted off on its Soyuz-U on December 21 (1:38pm EST), docking at the ISS on December 23 (2:47pm EST).