NASA Gearing Up to Reassemble the Space Station

Feb 23, 2015

Image credit: NASA

By Irene Klotz

NASA this week begins work to reassemble parts of the International Space Station to create parking spots for two commercial space taxis.

The reconfiguration, which is expected to be finished before the end of the year, is the first major overhaul of the station, which was completed in 2011 after more than a decade of space shuttle-based assembly missions.

With station construction finished, NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles and turned to Russia for crew ferry flights, a service that costs the United States more than $70 million per person.

NASA, which hopes to end its reliance on Russia before the end of 2017, awarded contracts to Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to develop, test and fly capsules that can taxi astronauts to and from the station, which orbits about 260 miles above Earth. The agency expects to pay its U.S. operators an average $58 million per person for transportation to and from the station, said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program.

Reconfiguring the station will open docking ports for Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon capsules. One berthing slip will be at the front end of the Harmony connecting node, where the space shuttles used to dock. The other will be on Harmony’s zenith, or up-facing, port.


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4 comments on “NASA Gearing Up to Reassemble the Space Station

  • @OP link – SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the company’s upgraded Dragon V2 passenger ship should be ready for an unmanned debut test flight to the station in late 2016 and a crewed test flight in early 2017.

    Boeing’s plan is to make an unmanned CST-100 test flight to the station in April 2017, followed by a crewed flight in July 2017, said company vice president John Elbon.

    This looks like the replacement crew and cargo ferries to orbit, will be in place by 2017, if things go to plan, to replace the ageing but well tested Soyuz capsules.



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  • @OP NASA, which hopes to end its reliance on Russia before the end of 2017, awarded contracts to Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, to develop, test and fly capsules that can taxi astronauts to and from the station, which orbits about 260 miles above Earth.

    In the mean time, Space X is using its Falcon 9 rocket, to launch electric rocket powered geosynchronous communication satellites.

    http://www.spacex.com/news/2015/03/01/falcon-9-launches-two-all-electric-communications-satellites

    *On March 1, 2015, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket delivered the ABS 3A and EUTELSAT 115 West B all-electric satellites to a supersynchronous transfer orbit. Marking Falcon 9’s sixteenth launch and the vehicle’s most voluminous payload to date, the liftoff occurred at 10:50pm EST from SpaceX’s Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The rocket and payload went vertical on the launch pad on Saturday, February 28.

    Liftoff occurred at the front of the launch window, with Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines putting out 1.3 million pounds of thrust, rising to 1.5 million pounds as the stage climbed out of Earth’s atmosphere.

    The satellites will now fire their thrusters to reach geosynchronous orbits. As the world’s first all-electric propulsion satellites, they carry no liquid propellant – rather, they reach orbit entirely via a lighter and more efficient electric propulsion system.



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