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Monday, September 12, 2005

ISS Helping To Power The Space Shuttle

[Media Source*]

(New Scientist Space) A system that reroutes power from the International Space Station to a docked space shuttle will allow the shuttles to make extended trips to the station.

The shuttle can currently stay no more than eight days at a stretch because of the limited amount of liquid oxygen it can carry onboard to power its electricity-generating fuel cells.

With a little help from Boeing, NASA's space shuttle will now be able to stay an extra four days longer in space which will allow astronauts to conduct more spacewalks, experiments and unscheduled repairs of the station without worrying that their battery might run out of energy on the ship.

Although this new feature will not shorten the amount of time to fully assemble the space station, it will allow the crew to spare the oxygen supplies as an alternative source for the shuttle fuel cells.
(New Scientist Space) The new system is scheduled for its first use on shuttle mission STS-119, which will carry the final segment of the station’s spindly truss and solar array. But five other shuttle flights are ahead of STS-119 in the flight schedule, meaning the system is unlikely to be operational soon. The system will require a spacewalk for astronauts to install some external cables to reroute the power.

With NASA beginning to phase out the current fleet by 2010, testing these features in the older shuttles will enable them to discover any bugs that may arise and hopefully make the ride up a little smoother.

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