Shuttle Endeavour and Hope (Kibo) at the International Space Station
Space the final frontier. As a child I grew up watching Star Trek with my father and even when my parents divorced, when he came round for his weekly access we watched Deep Space Nine. There is something about how there is a whole universe out there, at a size our brains cannot comprehend on a scale from the sub atomic to galaxies far far away. It fires the imagination like a booster rocket.
The US space shuttle Endeavour has just docked with the International Space Station, and will be adding an experiment module constructed by Japan called Kibo (“hope”).
It will be completely assembled next year. According to JAXA:
The International Space Station Project aims to conduct astronomical observations of Earth and other celestial bodies. It will allow scientists to perform studies and experiments in space by taking advantage of special features unique to the space environment. The Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) “KIBO,” the first Japanese manned experimental facility, will be docked to the ISS in 2008 [which has just happened].
KIBO consists of two facilities. The Pressurized Module which is 11.2 metres long and 4.4 metres in diameter, will allow astronauts to work in a comfortable environment with air composition and pressure similar to Earth’s. The Exposed Facility will be a staging area for long-term experiments in open space, as well as Earth and astronomical observations. The Exposed Facility is a unique facility in that it enables astronauts to conduct experiments with direct exposure to space without any modification.
We expect KIBO to be a place where scientists conduct experiments and surveys that will help create a better, more hopeful future for our planet.
One of the most important experiments planned for KIBO is the observation of Earth’s environment. Today, Earth is faced with serious environmental problems such as the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming and desertification. KIBO will enable us to study these problems from space, in order to find clues to how to solve them. Scientists will study trace gases that deplete the ozone layer and observe short waves (sub-millimetre waves) emitted by ozone.
Also, the world’s largest wide-angle X-ray camera will be mounted on the platform, to make observations of space, examine the phenomena beyond our galaxy, and refine our map of the distribution of the galaxies.
Microgravity experiments conducted in space will produce larger and more uniformly-sized protein crystals, which will help us understand disease mechanisms and develop new medicines. KIBO will also be the site of studies on the influence of microgravity and radiation on plants, animals and humans, and experiments in robotics, communications, and energy.
The world coming together in pursuit of better understanding of the world and in improving life on earth by going out of space.
Here is a list of preliminary dates for other shuttle launches as appears on BBC News site:
More on the story, together with a video of the shuttle docking can be found here.