NASA begins its 2001 science odyssey with the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, now scheduled for liftoff at 6:11 p.m. EST, Feb. 7. The STS-98 mission will carry the first laboratory to the International Space Station.
The American-made Destiny module is the cornerstone for space-based research aboard the orbiting platform. Once the lab is in place, Destiny will also serve as the command and control center for the space station.
"We're looking forward to this next stage of the space station's construction," said W. Michael Hawes, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Development. "The foundation has been laid, the electrical lines and plumbing have been extended. We're ready to get the lab in place and go to work."
Destiny will draw its power from the giant solar arrays delivered by Endeavour in December. At the conclusion of STS-98, the 112-ton space station will be 171 feet long, 240 feet wide and 90 feet high, roughly the size of a three-bedroom house.
Atlantis and its five member crew, Commander Ken Cockrell, Pilot Mark Polansky, and Mission Specialists Tom Jones, Marsha Ivins and Bob Curbeam, will use the shuttle's robotic arm to attach Destiny to the space station. Astronauts Jones and Curbeam will make three space walks to complete the new laboratory's installation, connecting power cables and other hardware.
The last space walk of STS-98 will mark the 60th extravehicular activity (EVA) of the Shuttle program and the 100th space walk conducted by an American in space. "In 1962, astronaut Ed White made history by walking outside his Gemini 4 space craft for 21 minutes," added Hawes. "By 2003, we will have spent more than 550 EVA hours on the construction of the space station, alone."
Astronauts Jones, Curbeam and Ivins were all born in Baltimore, MD. Never before have so many crewmembers from one mission hailed from the same hometown.
Ivins brings the most space flight experience to STS-98. She has logged more than 1,000 hours in space on four previous space shuttle flights. Ivins is also the only astronaut on this mission to have experienced life on Russia's Mir space station. She was a visitor to Mir in 1997 as a member of the STS-81 crew.
Atlantis will be the second shuttle to pay a visit to the space station's Expedition One crew. American commander Bill Shepherd and fellow crewmates Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko have been in orbit for 11 weeks, assisting in space station assembly, performing systems maintenance, exercising and preparing for the arrival of STS-98 and the Destiny module.
Destiny is the first of six space science laboratories that will be launched during the assembly of the station.
Additional information on the International Space Station and STS-98 is available at:
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