Extension planned for ISS

Posted by Emma Woollacott

It's nearly spring, the traditional time for DIY, and the thoughts of many are turning to a nice little extension.

Here at TG Daily, we're thinking in terms of a cosy conservatory to house our collection of poisonous plants, but NASA has rather grander ideas.

During the STS-130 mission, space shuttle Endeavour will deliver the Tranquility node and its cupola, a dome-shaped extension made up of seven windows to the International Space Station (ISS). It's a shame not to take advantage of such a lovely view, after all.

"Just the idea of providing this great view of the station and the world beneath us is going to be pretty great," said STS-130 Commander George Zamka. "That’s not what it’s for, but it will be spectacular."

They'll be the last major US modules to be added to the space station - until the new baby comes along, at least - and NASA says it should help free up workspace in other areas of the station. We've heard that one before.

"It gives us a much needed addition to the house, so to speak," said Bob Dempsey, lead space station flight director, as he tripped over a pile of old newpapers.

"We’re getting to the point where we’re really cramped for space. You might be surprised at that, considering we’re essentially the volume of a 747 and we’ve been adding modules for the last couple of years. You might think we’d be sitting around in a big empty house. But no – every inch is really getting packed up there."

At 15 feet wide and 23 feet long, the Tranquility node will provide a centralized home for the station’s environmental control equipment. And there’s even enough room left over for a proper home gym, with a treadmill and the microgravity equivalent of a weight machine.