Space Shuttle Flights to Set Records, Continue Challenges in 2002
information on this page is based on press release H01-256,
which was released Dec. 31, 2001.
Fresh on the
heels of making space history in 2001 by completing the first phase
of International Space Station assembly in orbit, the Space Shuttle
will continue a string of space firsts during six missions in 2002.
"In the past
12 months, we've completed some of the most challenging space flights
in history," Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said. "In
the next year those challenges will continue with missions just
as complex. The team continues to excel safely and successfully,
and 2002 promises to be just as rewarding as the past year."
year will be marked by the shuttle fleet matriarch Columbia's return
to space on the first non-station shuttle flight in more than two
years. Flights by Atlantis and Endeavour will begin the expansion
of the International Space Station. Discovery will remain on the
ground in 2002 for standard maintenance and inspections.
"We have simultaneously
been planning, training and flying the most complex shuttle missions
we have ever done, and the results have been truly awe-inspiring,"
Chief Flight Director Milt Heflin said. "The team has tremendous
reason to be proud of its accomplishments, but not much time to
bask in them because the year ahead holds more of the same. But
it is exactly that challenge on which I think Mission Control, the
planners, the trainers, the crews and the entire team thrive. These
kinds of missions are why they work here."
shuttles will add more than 50 tons of additional components to
the station. They also will service the Hubble Space Telescope and
conduct an extended research mission. NASA will break a record set
only last year for the most space walks ever conducted in a single
will never become routine, but we have entered an era of space exploration
now where they will continue to become more common," Heflin said.
"But no matter how many or how often crews leave their spacecraft,
each EVA remains just as exciting to prepare and conduct and just
as rewarding to complete."
shuttles alone, 15 space walks are planned in 2002. Coupled with
seven space walks that are planned by crews from the International
Space Station, the record for annual space walks will be shattered.
In 2001, 18 space walks were conducted -- 12 from the shuttle and
six from the station -- the most by far of any year to date. The
year 2002 also will see the shuttle carry more than three dozen
new experiments to the International Space Station and two new laboratory
start out the new year's shuttle missions with a flight to the Hubble
Space Telescope on STS-109, the fourth mission to service the space
telescope since its launch in 1990. Five space walks will be conducted
during the flight to install an advanced new camera system, attempt
to reactivate an existing infrared instrument system, install new
solar arrays and install a new power controller. The mission will
extend the lifetime and capabilities of the now-famous orbiting
flight to service Hubble, as we continue to oversee station operations,
signals a return for us in 2002 to conducting two distinct activities
in space, completely independent of one another," Heflin added.
"That's something we haven't done in awhile, and it adds yet another
element of complexity to the year ahead."
launches, it also will become only the second shuttle ever to fly
with a new "glass cockpit" which was installed as part of maintenance
and modifications completed in 2001. Atlantis was the first shuttle
orbiter to debut the new cockpit in May 2000 on mission STS-101.
The new cockpit has 11 full-color, flat-panel displays that replace
32 gauges and electromechanical instruments and four cathode-ray
tube monitors in the old cockpit. The new cockpit is lighter, uses
less power and sets the stage for a future "smart cockpit" for the
shuttle, a cockpit that will feature new, more intuitive displays
to reduce pilots' workloads during critical periods.
Atlantis will lift off on STS-110, the second mission of the year,
to begin the shuttle fleet's expansion of the station. Atlantis
will deliver the first of three giant truss segments to be launched
in 2002. The truss will form the central segment of what will eventually
become a more than 300-foot cross-beam for the station to support
future solar arrays, radiators and external experiments. Atlantis
also will carry the first part, called the mobile transporter, of
a system that will provide a mobile base for the station's robotic
arm to allow it to move up and down the eventual football-field-long
truss. Four space walks will be conducted from Atlantis to install
the new station components in one of the most complex station flights
of the year.
scheduled to launch in late spring on STS-111, a flight that will
carry a fifth resident crew to the station as well as the Leonardo
logistics module filled with experiments and supplies. Endeavour
also will deliver the mobile base system to the station, the second
part of the mobile platform for the station's innovative Canadarm2
robotic arm. Two space walks will be conducted while Endeavour is
at the station to hook up the arm's base and perform other assembly
fly again in mid-summer 2002 on STS-107, an international mission
dedicated to microgravity science that will carry a double Spacehab
module filled with 32 experiments involving 59 separate investigations.
A suite of eight additional investigations in Columbia's payload
bay, together called FREESTAR, will include studies ranging from
fluid physics to a student satellite. The mission's scientific work
will involve the fields of materials science, combustion, fundamental
physics and biology. The mission will be an extended flight with
a duration of 16 days.
In late summer,
expansion of the International Space Station will resume as Atlantis
makes its second visit of the year to the complex on STS-112, carrying
the first starboard side truss segment. The new segment will be
attached to the end of the central segment delivered in March. The
connections will be finalized during two space walks.
The final mission
of 2002 will see Endeavour visit the station again in the fall,
attaching a port side truss segment to the station, completing almost
half the length of the final truss. Endeavour also will deliver
a sixth crew to the station. Two space walks will be performed to
connect the new truss segment, and the truss will measure about
133 feet long by the end of the year.