It’s going to be a busy week aboard the ISS. On Wednesday, NASA plans to detach the large Permanent Multipurpose Module from the Unity module and move it to the Tranquility module.
This move is part of ongoing work to create docking ports for U.S. commercial spacecraft – which are currently being developed at Boeing and SpaceX. Starting in 2017, Boeing and SpaceX will ferry astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station. It will end NASA’s reliance on Russia to get astronauts to the station.
The move will also help NASA save some money. Right now, NASA pays Russia $70.7 million per seat.
NASA released an animation showing what Wednesday’s relocation will look like.
Robotics flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston will detach the module. You think there will be a few sweaty palms at Mission Control on Wednesday?
Moving a piece of the space station with a robotic arm as you travel at 17,000 mph? No pressure.
NASA astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly will supervise the move of the module. The pair will batten down the hatch on Tuesday and will reopen it at its new location on Thursday.
Wednesday’s relocation is just another part of the overall mission to prep the station for U.S. commercial spacecraft. The most important part of this mission will happen later this year. A SpaceX cargo ship will deliver a pair of International Docking Adapters to the ISS. Without these adapters, a spacecraft would not be able to equalize internal pressure with the ISS.
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