If everything goes according to plan, the Space Shuttle Endeavour – STS-126 will be launced on 14 November with a comprehensive 15 day schedule to upgrade the International Space Station.
The station currently houses 3 crew members and that is all that is possible at the moment. The Endeavour crew will prepare the station for the 6 person crew it was meant to have from the outset. Also, a repair of the solar arrays is in the program.
The solar array on one side of the station is using more power than anticipated for rotating the array to maximise the efficiency. It turns out that two bearings lack lubrication, and this will be repaired during three space walks.
Back inside, the crew will spend a lot of time unpacking new crew quarters, a new toilet, a new kitchen, a new refrigerator and new exercise equipment, not to mention the science experiments.
In addition to this a new water recycling system will be added, in order to reduce the station’s dependency of Shuttle missions. After all the Shuttle fleet is planned to be retired in 2010.
On top of this, it is good to see the station becoming fully operational at its 10th anniversary. The first module was launched on November 20th 1998, beginning the construction of the station.
If I can find the time, I will listen for the shuttle just after the launch to see if I can catch a few seconds of radio communication, and I will listen for ISS communication during the whole mission – time permitting.
Also, when all this goes on, and if you have a clear sky I recommend all you scifi geeks to go out and see a *real life* space station. Info about visibility can be found at
Seeing a real life space station or space ship beats the fictional one, no matter how good the story is.