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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
Shuttle research mission for NASA
Shuttle research mission for NASA
Keywords NASA, Spacelab, Space travel
Spacelab Inc., a provider of commercial space services, recently announced that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has exercised a $30.9 million contract option for the company to conduct a new Space Shuttle research mission.
This Shuttle mission, designated STS-112 (formerly R2) and currently scheduled to launch in spring 2002, will use Spacelab's Research Double Module (RDM) as a laboratory for experiments to be conducted by astronauts. STS-112 will be the second flight of the RDM. The inaugural flight of the RDM will be Shuttle research mission STS-107, scheduled to be launched in late 2001.
Spacelab is marketing a portion of space on the RDM to commercial users, including other national space agencies. The company already has contracted with the National Space Development Agency of Japan and the German Aerospace Center to provide $8 million of payload accommodation services on STS-112.
"As a leader in space commerce, we are pleased with our continuing role in expanding space-based research capabilities and the commercial use of space", said Dan Bland, Spacelab senior vice president for flight services. "These Shuttle research missions are an excellent opportunity for cutting-edge researchers to explore the microgravity environment of space and prepare for future long-duration research activity on the ISS".
STS-112 also will be the second dedicated Shuttle research mission to be flown by NASA following the commencement of International Space Station (ISS) assembly. The US Congress has asked NASA to fly one Shuttle research mission every year, "in order to maintain the continuity and quality of microgravity research" until the ISS is ready to operate as a full-fledged laboratory facility.
Spacehab's RDM, measuring 18.4 feet long and 13.5 feet in diameter, adds approximately 2,200 cubic feet of pressurised volume to the Space Shuttle, more than quadrupling the living and working area for astronauts onboard. Astronauts will be able to move between the Shuttle's middeck area and the RDM through a pressurised access tunnel. The RDM can accommodate up to 9,000 pounds of research equipment.
Spacelab has flown a smaller Research Single Module (half the size of the RDM) on five Shuttle missions, the last being STS-95, former US Senator John Glenn's return to flight in October 1998.
NASA exercised the STS-112 flight option on its fixed-price Research and Logistics Mission Support contract with Spacehab. This contract, established in 1997, enables NASA to manifest new Shuttle research flights or International Space Station resupply missions as needed.
Founded in 1984, with more than $100 million in annual revenue, Spacelab, Inc., is a major provider of commercial space services. The company is thought to be the first to develop, own, and operate habitat modules and cargo carriers providing laboratory facilities and resupply capabilities aboard NASA's Space Shuttles. It also supports astronaut training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and builds space-flight trainers and mockups. Spacelab's Astrotech subsidiary provides commercial satellite processing services at facilities in Florida and California in support of a range of expendable launch vehicles, including Lockheed Martin's Atlas and Boeing's Delta and Sea Launch rockets. Spacelab's newest strategic growth initiative, Space Media, Inc. (SMI, a subsidiary) will bring space into homes and classrooms world-wide with television and Internet broadcasting from the International Space Station.
Further details are available from Spacelab, Inc. Tel: +1 202 488 3500.