ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli and Node 2 module head for the ISS

October 23, 2007

This evening, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:38 local time (17:38 CEST) and successfully entered low Earth orbit after almost 8 minutes of powered flight. On this STS-120 mission, the third Shuttle flight this year, Discovery carries a crew of seven, including ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, from Italy.

The purpose of the 14-day STS-120 mission is to deliver and install the Italian-built Node 2 module - the first addition to the Station's work and living space for six years. A second main task is to relocate the ISS P6 truss section and deploy its solar arrays and heat dispersal radiator.

The mission will also see the rotation of one of the ISS Expedition crew members. NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, who has been a resident on the Station since arriving with the crew of STS-117 last June, will be replaced by NASA astronaut Daniel Tani.

This is Paolo Nespoli's first spaceflight, but he is not the first Italian to visit the ISS since contruction began in 1998. He follows his fellow ESA astronauts Umberto Guidoni (2001) and Roberto Vittori (2002 and 2005).

Nespoli's mission, which has been named Esperia from the ancient Greek name for the Italian peninsula, stems from six flight opportunities granted to the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for their provision of three pressurised cargo containers (Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules, or MPLMs) to NASA under a bilateral agreement. The close cooperation between ESA and ASI led to the assignment of Nespoli, a member of the European Astronaut Corps, for this ASI flight opportunity.

During the complex assembly mission Nespoli will play a key role as the intravehicular activity (IVA) astronaut for three of the five spacewalks, including the installation of Node 2. As IVA astronaut Nespoli will coordinate activities from inside the ISS during the spacewalks, as well as being involved in preparations such as configuring and testing the spacesuits and tools, helping the spacewalking astronauts to suit-up, and airlock depressurisation and repressurisation.

Nespoli's other responsibilities during the Esperia Mission include conducting a joint ESA/ASI programme of human physiology and biology experiments, as well as a number of educational activities.

Node 2, or 'Harmony' as it has been named, is the second of three interconnecting elements for the Space Station. The nodes connect the various pressurised modules, allowing for the passage of astronauts and equipment, as well as providing each module with important resources, such as electrical power and thermal and environmental control.

Harmony will be temporarily docked to the port side of Node 1 during the first spacewalk on 26 October. Once the Shuttle undocks at the end of the STS-120 mission, Node 2 will be relocated to its final location - the forward facing port of the US Destiny laboratory - using the Station's robotic arm.

The arrival of the cylindrical Node 2 module paves the way for the addition of the European Columbus laboratory in December 2007, and the Japanese Kibo laboratory in April next year.

Node 2 was developed for NASA under an ASI contract with European industry, with Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor.
-end-


European Space Agency

Related Space Station Articles from Brightsurf:

Amyloid formation in the International Space Station
The collaborative research team of Japan using the International Space Station (ISS) successfully characterized Alzheimer's disease-related amyloid fibril formation under microgravity conditions.

Bacteria on the International Space Station no more dangerous than earthbound strains
Two particularly tenacious species of bacteria have colonized the potable water dispenser aboard the International Space Station (ISS), but a new study suggests that they are no more dangerous than closely related strains on Earth.

'Dust up' on International Space Station hints at sources of structure
In a lab on Earth, electrically charged dust generally lines up either along the downward pull of gravity or across it.

May the forest be with you: GEDI moves toward launch to space station
GEDI (pronounced like 'Jedi,' of Star Wars fame) is a first-of-its-kind laser instrument designed to map the world's forests in 3-D from space.

NASA's CATS concludes successful mission on space station
A spaceborne lidar instrument that fired more laser pulses than any previous orbiting instrument has ended its operations on the International Space Station, after a successful 33-month mission to measure clouds and tiny atmospheric particles that play key roles in Earth's climate and weather.

The bacterial community on the International Space Station resembles homes
Microbiologists at the University of California, Davis analyzed swabs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) and compared them with samples from homes on earth as well as the Human Microbiome Project.

NASA watching Harvey from satellites and the International Space Station
NASA has a lot of resources providing information on Tropical Storm Harvey as it continues to drop tremendous, flooding rainfall on Texas and Louisiana.

New mission going to the space station to explore mysteries of 'cosmic rain'
The ongoing fires that have been plaguing British Columbia for most of the summer are causing air hazards across the province and even parts of the US.

Space station crew cultivates crystals for drug development
Crew members aboard the International Space Station will begin conducting research this week to improve the way we grow crystals on Earth.

Experiment aboard space station studies 'space weather'
To study conditions in the ionosphere, Cornell University research engineer Steven Powell and others in the College of Engineering have developed the FOTON (Fast Orbital TEC for Orbit and Navigation) GPS receiver.

Read More: Space Station News and Space Station Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.