New Station Plan Sees Assembly Complete in 16 Shuttle Flights
On March 2, 2006, heads of space agencies partnering in the International Space Station announced a sequence of space flights that would result in completion of the orbiting laboratory by 2010.
The agencies unanimously endorsed the plan which focuses initially on assembly of the space station and defers utilization. Leaders of U.S, Canadian, French, Japanese and Russian space agencies all praised the updated plan.
Image at right: A full view of the International Space Station backdropped by the blackness of space as photographed on Aug. 6, 2005. Credit: NASA
"We've reached agreement, as agency heads, on final configuration of the International Space Station, with no major changes …," said NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. "The budget here in the United States and the plans for the fly-out of the shuttle program support these agreements.
"It was a good meeting," Griffin said of the gathering at Kennedy Space Center, where the news conference announcing the agreement was held.
The sequence, including 16-shuttle-flights, foresees launch of the European Columbus Laboratory module on the seventh shuttle flight of the sequence and launch of the Japanese experiment module and associated equipment on the eighth, ninth and 12th shuttle flights. The assembly sequence provides almost a year's cushion for completion of assembly by 2010.
The station's crew would expand to three persons with the STS-121 mission, now scheduled for launch no earlier than May, and to six in 2009. The European Automated Cargo Vehicle, an unpiloted cargo carrier with more than twice the capacity of the Progress spacecraft, is scheduled to be launched on an Ariane rocket between the fifth and sixth flights in the shuttle sequence, perhaps in the spring of 2007.
+ Read the press release
+ Transcript of Heads of Agency ISS News Conference
+ View ISS Assembly Schedule
+ View Configuration Graphic (as of January 2007)