The International Space Station. Building for the Future
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There will be lots for Gateway dwellers to do. They could operate rovers on the lunar surface with virtually no commanding latency, for example, or take sorties down there themselves. And they'll doubtless conduct lots of scientific experiments aboard the outpost, just as ISS crewmembers do today. Meanwhile, doctors and mission planners will be carefully monitoring how these astronauts cope mentally and physiologically with their deep-space environment. But the outpost will host and support research year-round , no matter how often astronauts visit, NASA officials have said.
The agency envisions affixing a variety of scientific gear to both the interior and the exterior of the mini-station, and many of these devices will gather data autonomously. The Gateway will, of course, be much more distant from Earth's surface than the ISS, which circles a mere miles kilometers above our planet. NASA plans to assemble the Gateway in a highly elliptical "near-rectilinear halo orbit," which will bring the outpost within miles 1, km of the lunar surface at closest approach and as far away as 43, miles 70, km. Reminder, the moon lies about , miles, or , km, from Earth on average.
This six-day orbit will keep the Gateway out of the moon's shadow at all times, permitting constant communication with Earth, NASA officials have said.
And with this orbit, the outpost can serve as a jumping-off point, both for landers headed down to the lunar surface and for vehicles venturing out into deep space. As much as possible, NASA wants to avoid having to haul this heavy gear out of Earth's deep gravity well, to make Red Planet treks more efficient and cost-effective, Guidi added. And the Gateway should be able to help with that. The arrival of Pirs docking compartment on September 16, provided another airlock from which Orlan spacewalks can be conducted.
Pirs and Poisk are Russian airlock modules, each having 2 identical hatches. An outward-opening hatch on the Mir space station failed after it swung open too fast after unlatching, because of a small amount of air pressure remaining in the airlock. Pirs was used to store, service, and refurbish Russian Orlan suits and provided contingency entry for crew using the slightly bulkier American suits.
The outermost docking ports on both airlocks allow docking of Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, and the automatic transfer of propellants to and from storage on the ROS. Harmony , also known as Node 2, is the second of the station's node modules and the utility hub of the USOS. The module contains four racks that provide electrical power, bus electronic data, and acts as a central connecting point for several other components via its six Common Berthing Mechanisms CBMs.
The nadir and zenith ports can be used for docking visiting spacecraft including HTV, Dragon, and Cygnus, with the nadir port serving as the primary docking port. Tranquility , also known as Node 3, is the third and last of the station's US nodes, it contains an additional life support system to recycle waste water for crew use and supplements oxygen generation. Like the other US nodes, it has six berthing mechanisms, five of which are currently in use.
The final zenith port remains free. Columbus is the primary research facility for European payloads aboard the ISS, providing modular laboratory spaces as well as facilities specifically designed for biology , biomedical research and fluid physics.
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In , a number of expansions were planned for the module to study quantum physics and cosmology. It is used for research in space medicine, biology, Earth observations, materials production, biotechnology and communications, and has facilities for growing plants and fish. During August , the moment when a star was swallowed by a black hole was detected for the first time.
Japanese ground controllers use telepresence robotics to remotely conduct onboard research and experiments, thus reducing the workload of station astronauts. Ground controllers also use a free-floating autonomous ball camera to photodocument astronaut and space station activities, further freeing up astronaut time. Cupola is a seven-window observatory that is used to view Earth and docking spacecraft. Its name means "dome" in Italian. The module comes equipped with workstations for operating the station's main robotic arm and shutters to protect its windows from damage caused by micrometeorites.
Rassvet is primarily used for cargo storage and for docking by visiting spacecraft. Bigelow Expandable Activity Module BEAM is a prototype inflatable space habitat that was launched on a two-year technology demonstration. During its two-year test run, instruments are measuring its structural integrity and leak rate, along with temperature and radiation levels. The hatch leading into the module remains closed except for periodic visits by space station crew members for inspections and data collection. The module was originally planned to be jettisoned from the station following the test,  but following positive data after a year in orbit, NASA has suggested that it could remain on the station as a storage area.
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It was scheduled to arrive at the station in , docking to the port that was occupied by the Pirs module. After this date, the warranties of some of Nauka's systems will expire.
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Nauka contains an additional set of life support systems and attitude control. Originally it would have routed power from a single Science-and-Power Platform, but that single module was changed to two science modules attaching to Nauka via the Uzlovoy Module and incorporating their own large solar arrays to power Russian science experiments in the ROS.
Nauka 's mission has changed over time. During the mids, it was intended as a backup for the FGB, and later as a universal docking module UDM ; its docking ports will be able to support automatic docking of both spacecraft, additional modules and fuel transfer. Nauka has its own engines. Like Zvezda and Zarya , Nauka will be launched by a Proton rocket, while smaller Russian modules such as Pirs and Poisk were delivered by modified Progress spacecraft. Prichal , also known as the Uzlovoy Module UM , or Node Module is a 4-metric-ton  ball-shaped module that will allow docking of two scientific and power modules during the final stage of the station assembly, and provide the Russian segment additional docking ports to receive Soyuz MS and Progress MS spacecraft.
UM is due to be launched in One port is equipped with an active hybrid docking port, which enables docking with the MLM module. The remaining five ports are passive hybrids, enabling docking of Soyuz and Progress vehicles, as well as heavier modules and future spacecraft with modified docking systems.
The Bishop Airlock Module is a commercially -funded airlock module intended to be launched in It is intended to be manifested with a Commercial Resupply Services mission. Several modules planned for the station were cancelled over the course of the ISS programme. Reasons include budgetary constraints, the modules becoming unnecessary, and station redesigns after the Columbia disaster. The US Centrifuge Accommodations Module would have hosted science experiments in varying levels of artificial gravity. Instead, the sleep stations are now spread throughout the station.
The ISS has a large number of external components that do not require pressurisation. The largest of these is the Integrated Truss Structure ITS , to which the station's main solar arrays and thermal radiators are mounted. ORUs are parts that can be replaced when they fail or pass their design life, including pumps, storage tanks, antennas, and battery units.
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Such units are replaced either by astronauts during EVA or by robotic arms. The AMS measures cosmic rays to look for evidence of dark matter and antimatter. The system is designed to be robotically serviced and will require no astronaut intervention. It is named after Christopher Columbus's younger brother.
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The Integrated Truss Structure serves as a base for the station's primary remote manipulator system, called the Mobile Servicing System MSS , which is composed of three main components. The critical systems are the atmosphere control system, the water supply system, the food supply facilities, the sanitation and hygiene equipment, and fire detection and suppression equipment.
The Russian Orbital Segment's life support systems are contained in the Zvezda service module. Some of these systems are supplemented by equipment in the USOS.
The MLM Nauka laboratory has a complete set of life support systems. The atmosphere on board the ISS is similar to the Earth's. An Earth-like atmosphere offers benefits for crew comfort, and is much safer than a pure oxygen atmosphere, because of the increased risk of a fire such as that responsible for the deaths of the Apollo 1 crew.
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The Elektron system aboard Zvezda and a similar system in Destiny generate oxygen aboard the station. Other by-products of human metabolism, such as methane from the intestines and ammonia from sweat, are removed by activated charcoal filters. Part of the ROS atmosphere control system is the oxygen supply. Triple-redundancy is provided by the Elektron unit, solid fuel generators, and stored oxygen.
The primary supply of oxygen is the Elektron unit which produces O 2 and H 2 by electrolysis of water and vents H2 overboard.
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This water is either brought from Earth or recycled from other systems. Mir was the first spacecraft to use recycled water for oxygen production. This unit is manually operated. Double-sided solar arrays provide electrical power to the ISS. These bifacial cells collect direct sunlight on one side and light reflected off from the Earth on the other, and are more efficient and operate at a lower temperature than single-sided cells commonly used on Earth.
The higher distribution voltage allows smaller, lighter conductors, at the expense of crew safety. The two station segments share power with converters. The USOS solar arrays are arranged as four wing pairs, for a total production of 75 to 90 kilowatts. In the complete configuration, the solar arrays track the sun by rotating the alpha gimbal once per orbit; the beta gimbal follows slower changes in the angle of the sun to the orbital plane.
The Night Glider mode aligns the solar arrays parallel to the ground at night to reduce the significant aerodynamic drag at the station's relatively low orbital altitude. The station originally used rechargeable nickel—hydrogen batteries NiH 2 for continuous power during the 35 minutes of every minute orbit that it is eclipsed by the Earth. The batteries are recharged on the day side of the orbit. They had a 6. The station's large solar panels generate a high potential voltage difference between the station and the ionosphere. This could cause arcing through insulating surfaces and sputtering of conductive surfaces as ions are accelerated by the spacecraft plasma sheath.