The major milestone in the development of the International Space Station (ISS) took place early Wednesday morning and US space companies, led by main contractor Boeing, are elated.
At last, the Russian service module Zvezda has become part of the ISS and the go ahead can be given for further assembly flights. The Russian module docked to its sister craft, the Zarya control module which itself is joined to the US node module, Unity. The three modules are all linked along one axis like buses end to end. Zvezda and Zarya also have sets of twin solar arrays. The next flight is STS 106, a logistics and EVA mission to prepare the ISS to receive its first Expedition Crew in October.
Preceding the Expedition Crew launch will be STS 92 which is to carry a truss structure, mating adapter, Ku band communications system and control gyros. The most ambitious mission this year will be STS 97, which is to carry another integrated truss structure, radiators and the first of four huge solar arrays. Things are not expected to run smoothly all the time, officials warn. There could be delays caused by technical problems, failures of components in orbit or launch failures.
Source: Flight Daily News