Issue Date: July 27, 2009
Space Station Nears Completion
When NASA's space shuttle Endeavour launched on July 15, it carried with it to the International Space Station (ISS) the final element of the Japanese Kibo laboratory, which astronauts installed last week. The element, a high-tech platform, or "porch," will allow experiments to be exposed directly to space. During the 16-day mission, which includes five spacewalks, the astronauts will install an experiment storage pallet on the open-space porch that they will detach and bring back to Earth with them. Among the experiments that will be placed on the porch are an astronomical observatory to monitor X-ray spectra and a payload to measure the space environment—including neutrons, heavy ions, high-energy particles, and atomic oxygen—in the shuttle's orbit and its impact on materials and electronic devices. The mission brings NASA and its international partners one step closer to completing the construction of ISS by 2010 and NASA closer to retiring the aging space shuttle fleet.
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