European-built ISS module welcomed to KSC
The European-built Node 3 module for the International Space Station was officially welcomed to NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Monday evening. The module will now be prepared for launch with Space Shuttle Endeavour in February 2010.
Node 3, built by prime contractor Thales Alenia Space in Turin, Italy, is the last element of a barter agreement by which ESA supplied NASA with International Space Station (ISS) hardware, including two Node modules (Node 2 and 3) and the Cryo freezer. In return, NASA ferried the European Columbus laboratory to the ISS in February 2008.
Node 3 was transported from Turin on an Airbus Beluga aircraft, leaving on 17 May. With overnight stopovers along the way, the Beluga arrived in Florida on 20 May. The module has since been unloaded and moved to the Space Station Processing Facility (SSPF) at KSC where it will now be prepared for the final leg of its journey to the ISS with the Space Shuttle.
ESA’s Project Manager for the Nodes and Cupola, Philippe Deloo commented on the arrival of Node 3 at KSC. "This is a significant milestone for ESA. After over 12 years of design and development of Node 3, I am sure it is promised to a bright future," said Deloo. "Europe entrusted the development of Node 3 to Thales Alenia Space Italy, a company with decades of experience in that field and an impressive track record in the manufacturing of pressurised element for the ISS. They did not disappoint us. They have developed an element of an outstanding build quality that will without a doubt operate flawlessly for years, just like its big brother Node 2, Harmony."
Once in space, Node 3 connects to the port side of the Unity Node and provides room for eight refrigerator-sized racks, two of the locations being used for the avionics racks controlling Node 3. It will house many of the Station's Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS), including an air revitalisation system, an oxygen generator system, a water recycling facility, a waste and hygiene compartment, a treadmill and the Advance Resistive Exercising Device for crew exercise, which are currently stored in various places around the Station.
Node 3 is also the home of the European-built observation post Cupola. Cupola allows for a 360 degrees view of the Station and Earth to monitor robotics operations and to observe our home planet.
Following the tradition to name the ISS modules, NASA has chosen to name Node 3 'Tranquility' after the Sea of Tranquility, the lunar landing site of Apollo 11 in 1969, highlighting the link between the ISS, exploration and the Moon.
"Node 3 represents a turning point for the International Space Station," said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight. "By having accomplished the development of the ISS modules and by completing its assembly in the months to come we open a new avenue of cooperation and exploration that will take humankind back to the Moon and beyond to other destinations while continuing to exploit the enormous possibilities in low Earth orbit."
Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to deliver Node 3 and Cupola to the ISS on flight STS-130, targeted for launch in February 2010.