SSPTS to feed Orbiters at ISS

by Chris Bergin

The International Space Station (ISS) is to recieve a $70m modification which will allow NASA’s Orbiters to stay at the outpost for longer periods of time on missions, following an agreement between NASA and Boeing.

The news comes as the ISS prepares for Saturday’s visit of a Russian Progress re-supply ship – launched on Thursday from the Baikonur cosmodrome.

The agreement between Boeing and NASA will see an electrical system called the Station-Shuttle Power Transfer System (SSPTS) installed in Orbiter Discovery ahead of STS-121 – set for Spring 2006 – with STS-119 set to be used to deliver the final element of the system to the ISS’ truss and solar power array structure.

The modification will allow Orbiters to dock for up to 12 days – a 40 per cent extension to the current durations attached to the ISS.

“This modification is important for having more workable timescales for on-orbit inspections of the Thermal Protection System, with allowances for any unforeseen circumstance not being headache due to time restrictions,” said a United Space Alliance source today.

“It will also be an extra bonus to the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) in regards to being able to feed power from the ISS, instead of heavily relying on its own fuel cells.”

The massive solar arrays on the ISS will be the source of power for the feed to the Orbiters.

Saturday will see the arrival of the Progress re-supply ship – carrying more than 5,000 pounds of food, water, fuel, clothing, spare parts and other supplies for Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer and NASA Flight Engineer and Science Officer John Phillips.

The 19th Progress mission to the ISS, the automated ship will dock with the station’s Zvezda Service Module at 3:50pm UK time, Saturday.

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