The human race sure has its means to uncover the mysteries, not just of the earth, but also of the universe. It has come up with different ways to find the pieces of information so we could add it up to a bank called ‘knowledge’. We have searched under the sea, through our vast lands, and now, a part of the endless horizon of the universe. Since the beginning of time, we have been very impulsive in discovering and unearthing every piece of the puzzle. The International Space Station is one living proof of the humans’ diligence, patience, intelligence, and passion.
The International Space Station or ISS project began in 1980; the project was then called Space Station Freedom and it was in response to the other space stations launched by other nations such as the Salyut and Mir space stations. The project was later put on hold after the Soviet Union and Cold War had ended; but it didn’t end there. In the first half of the 1990’s, the United States of America began negotiating with other nations or countries like Europe, Russia, Japan, and Canada for international partnership.
In 1993, the new and improved project was proclaimed and named it Space Station Alpha; it was a collaboration of the different powerful agencies from around the globe: The Space Station Freedom of NASA, Mir-2 of Russia, and the Columbus of ESA. The other nations or agencies that have shown their support and interest are as follows: The Brazilian Space Agency, The Italian Space Agency, and China. The assembly commenced in 1998 and almost everything was done on orbit.
The International Space Station, with an altitude of roughly 350 km above the earth’s surface and with a speed of 27,700 km per hour, is a haven for scientists who want to develop and improve on the humans’ way of life. It weighs 1, 040,000 lbs, measures 256 across and 290 feet long and has the capacity to contain 6 laboratories for on-orbit experimentations. Its main power supply comes from the sun; through the solar panels, the light the sun emits is converted to electricity. The target completion date is 2010 and so ISS has become, if not the only, one of the most complex and most expensive objects / stations here on earth.
The presence of a human entity can be traced back on November 2, 2000 and ISS has been inhabited since then. The International Space Station: The Purpose of Existence Research and Experimentation have become the main reasons of the existence of the ISS. Since the ISS works on space, it provides the scientist a variation and a different condition for their studies and experiments. The six state-of-the-art laboratories will be used to work on the different fields such as Biology, Physics, Astronomy, and Meteorology. ISS will be home to numerous discoveries and new studies like the study on Protein Crystals.
It is believed that protein crystals can be grown abundantly in space than on Earth. This study of protein crystals can open our eyes to viruses and it also goes without saying that it can also lead us to a better understanding of the matter and of course, to new and more effective drugs or medications. This study could also be the answer to Cancer, Diabetes, and other Immune-System Disorders. The Tissue Culture will also be given enough time to improve on. Because of the absence gravity, the living cells can be developed in there protected from distortion.
This study can also be the key to the cancer treatment that will not put the patients in danger. ISS can also be a means to ‘gravitational experimentations’. There is still no answer to what might happen to a person or to an object that is exposed to reduced gravity over a long period of time. This research can help us better understand the human framework and the functions of the different systems of our body like muscle atrophy, bone loss, and fluid shifts. This study can also act as a ‘test-drive’ if humans can withstand to long exposure to reduced gravity for future uses like space explorations.
Elements can also be experimented on in ISS. We will witness the progress of Combustion Science and Materials Science. Here, we will see improvements on elements such as fire, fluids, and metals. Physics is one are NASA will be studying on since liquids on microgravity haven’t given enough emphasis ever since and scientists would like to work on an accurately model fluid. ISS can also help the humans watch over the Earth directly from space. This can help us gain a better understanding of the Forests, Oceans, Mountains, Volcanic Eruptions, Meteorite Impacts, Hurricanes, and the other forces from nature.
The humans can also be observed from the ISS’ standpoint. This can help us diminish air and water pollution, do something about deforestation and other global issues. For these researches, studies, and experimentations to be possible, different ISS modules were set up. The Destiny Laboratory Module is the main research facility and will act as the facility for general experiments; it was launched in February 2001. The Columbus Module was designed to facilitate scientific experiments and was launched 7 years later. The Japanese Module or Kibo will be launched in January 2009 and it will work on astronomical data and observations.
The ExPress Logistics Carrier of the NASA will be launched in September 2009 and will take care of the experiments that will be conducted in the vacuum of space and other necessary and relevant data. The Multipurpose Laboratory Module by Russia will be the lab for the general microgravity experiments and will be launched in the last quarter of 2009. International Space Station: On-Space Assembly The complexity of the ISS project can be observed from the way it has been built. The construction workers patching up the different areas of ISS are none other than the astronauts 250 miles above the surface of the Earth.
It is an everyday construction work and they used new generation of space robots to act as cranes. 100 components of 45 space flights with three different types of rockets being used in order to make space construction possible. They have scheduled 34 Space Shuttle Missions for the assemblage. A decade of flight tests and mock space walks were conducted. For the actual assemblage, the astronauts had to use enhanced spacesuits, the Shuttle Spacesuit or the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU). The EMU can be used for 25 spacewalks and after that, it has to be sent back to Earth fixed or restored.
Unlike in other space constructions, the assembly work must be done in a much lower temperature. Enhancements in the EMU include, easily replaceable internal parts, reusable carbon dioxide removal cartridges, metal rings that allows in-flight suit adjustments, new gloves with dexterity, new radio that will allow 5 people to talk at once, fingertip heaters, cooling system shut off, new helmet-mounted flood and spotlights, and Safer, a lifejacket that save the life of the astronaut and will automatically bring him back to the station in case of mishaps.
New generation robotics was used. The acting cranes for this project were the Space Shuttle’s Mechanical Arm and a New Space Station Arm; these arms maneuvered the huge modules, components, and the astronauts. The mechanical arm built in Canada has a Space Vision System (SVS) that helped the see clearly every object and location; it has a video image processing that could give the astronauts graphical laptop display that helped the arms of the cranes work in precision
Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) is a 55-ft arm built in Canada that could move around and attach/ detach itself for Power and Data Grapple Fixtures (PDGF). A Mobile Servicing System is being done so the SSRMS could ride over it to serve as a platform that will move in the station. Another navigator is called the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) that has 2 arms that can direct more complicated tasks. A European Robotic Arm of the European Space Agency is used for the maintenance of the Russian part of the station.