ESA PR 52-2001. On Tuesday 16 October the European Astrium consortium will be ready to ship, from its Bremen establishment in Germany to NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, the microgravity science glovebox (MSG), one of the first ESA elements conducting science on the International Space Station.
On the same day there will be a press briefing by ESA, Astrium and NASA specialists, followed by a visit to the cleanroom.
The MSG will enable astronauts on board the ISS to perform a wide variety of materials, combustion, fluids and biotechnology experiments and investigations in the microgravity environment. It is slated for launch in the mini pressurised logistic module in May 2002.
This science facility provides an enclosed and sealed work volume fitted with lighting, mechanical, electrical, data, gas and vacuum connections, and thermal control for operation of experiments. The work volume is accessible through built-in gloves which isolate the experiment from the environment and the operator. The MSG is integrated in an international standard rack (ISPR) and can operate in open mode, with air circulating from the work volume to the Space Station cabin, or in closed mode, with air circulating within the MSG only. In addition, the MSG has the capability to maintain an inert atmosphere with dry nitrogen such that the oxygen volume is kept equal to or less than 10%.
The MSG facility was built for NASA for a projected operational use of ten years. It will be accommodated initially in the United States Laboratory (USLab) but could be moved later to ESA's Columbus Laboratory. ESA will have utilisation rights over this facility and will pre-screen European proposed experiments that could be accommodated by it.
After arrival at KSC on 23 October, the MSG will be submitted to preliminary check-out before undergoing a long series of tests on interfaces with the Space Station. If all goes according to plan, on 18 February 2002 the MSG will be installed in the mini pressurised logistic module and will be ready for its long operational life on board ISS.