Kibo Laboratory

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Kibo Laboratory

09140005 -- KiboKibo's Pressurized Module, shown here at its manufacturing facility in Nagoya, Japan, is 11.2 meters (36.7 feet) long. Photo courtesy of JAXA The Japanese Experiment Module, or JEM, called Kibo -- which means "hope" in Japanese -- is Japan's first human space facility and enhances the unique research capabilities of the International Space Station.

Experiments in Kibo focus on space medicine, biology, Earth observations, material production, biotechnology and communications research. Kibo experiments and systems are operated from the Mission Control Room at the Space Station Operations Facility, or SSOF, at Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, just north of Tokyo.

Kibo consists of several components: two research facilities -- the Pressurized Module and Exposed Facility; a Logistics Module; a Remote Manipulator System; and an Inter-Orbit Communication System unit. Kibo also has a scientific airlock through which experiments are transferred and exposed to the external environment of space.

Pressurized Module

09140003 -- Kibo Pressurized ModuleKibo's Pressurized Module. Photo courtesy of JAXA The Pressurized Module, or PM, provides a shirt-sleeve environment in which astronauts conduct microgravity experiments. There are a total of 23 racks, including 10 experiment racks, inside the PM providing a power supply, communications, air conditioning, hardware cooling, water control and experiment support functions.

The PM is 11.2 meters (36.7 feet) long and 4.4 meters (14.4 feet) in diameter, about the size of a large tour bus.

Kibo Pressurized Module Specifications
Length 36.7 feet
Diameter 14.4 feet
Mass 35,050 pounds
Launch date 5/31/2008

Exposed Facility

The Exposed Facility, or EF, is a unique platform on the ISS that is located outside of the Pressurized Module and is continuously exposed to the space environment. Astronauts exchange experiment payloads or hardware from the Pressurized Module through the scientific airlock using the Kibo Remote Manipulator System. Items positioned on the exterior platform focus on Earth observation as well as communication, scientific, engineering and materials science experiments.

The EF is a platform that can hold up to 10 experiment payloads at a time and measures 5.6 meters (18.4 feet) wide, 5 meters (16.4 feet) high and 4 meters (13.1 feet) long.

Kibo Exposed Facility Specifications
Length 13.1 feet
Width 18.4 feet
Height 16.4 feet
Mass 8,820 pounds
Launch date 7/15/2009

Logistics Module

The Logistics Module serves as an on-orbit storage area that houses materials for experiments, maintenance tools and supplies. It is attached to the top of the main pressurized section of Kibo.

Kibo Logistics Module Specifications
Length 12 feet
Diameter 14.4 feet
Mass 9,260 pounds
Launch date 3/11/2008

Robotic Arm

STS085-E-5030 -- Small Fine Arm Prototype A prototype for the Small Fine Arm was tested during a Space Shuttle mission in 1997. Image Credit: NASA Kibo’s robotic arm actually comprises two pieces. The Main Arm can handle up to 6.4 metric tons (14,000 pounds) of hardware and the Small Fine Arm, when attached to the Main Arm, handles more delicate operations. Each arm has six joints that mimic the movements of a human arm. Astronauts operate the robot arms from a remote computer console inside the Pressurized Module and watch external images from a camera attached to the Main Arm on a television monitor at the RMS console. The arms are specifically used to exchange experiment payloads or hardware located on the Exposed Facility and from inside the Pressurized Module through a scientific airlock, support maintenance tasks of Kibo and handle orbital replacement units.

The operations of a prototype Small Fine Arm were evaluated as part of the Manipulator Flight Demonstration experiment conducted during the STS-85 Space Shuttle mission in 1997.

The Main Arm measures 9.9 meters (32.5 feet) long, and the Small Fine Arm measures 1.9 meters (6.2 feet).

Kibo Robotic Arm Specifications
Main arm length 32.5 feet
Small arm length 6.2 feet

Inter-orbit Communication System

The Inter-Orbit Communication System, or ICS, allows the operators in the Mission Control Room at the SSOF at Tsukuba Space Center to send commands to Kibo and receive system, payload and video data from Kibo for scientific payload operations. The Mission Control Room uses the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, or TDRSS, to communicate with the ICS. An external ICS unit handles communications with TDRSS, while an internal ICS unit located in the Pressurized Module handles data exchange throughout the Kibo facilities.

+ More Kibo Images
+ JAXA ISS Web Site
+ JAXA Kibo Web Site
+ Payload Processing at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Page Last Updated: October 18th, 2013
Page Editor: Jerry Wright