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NASA Opens The Door To Atlantis July 12

Atop the mobile launcher platform, Space Shuttle Atlantis, with its orange external tank and white solid rocket boosters, sits on Launch Pad 39B after rollout from the Vehicle Assembly Building. Seen on either side of the orbiterís tail are the tail service masts. They support the fluid, gas and electrical requirements of the orbiterís liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen aft umbilicals. The Shuttle is targeted for launch no earlier than July 12 on mission STS-104, the 10th flight to the International Space Station. The payload on the 11-day mission is the Joint Airlock Module, which will allow astronauts and cosmonauts in residence on the Station to perform future spacewalks without the presence of a Space Shuttle. The module, which comprises a crew lock and an equipment lock, will be connected to the starboard (right) side of Node 1 Unity. Atlantis will also carry oxygen and nitrogen storage tanks, vital to operation of the Joint Airlock, on a Spacelab Logistics Double Pallet in the payload bay. The tanks, to be installed on the perimeter of the Joint Module during the missionís spacewalks, will support future spacewalk operations and experiments plus augment the resupply system for the Stationís Service Module.
Houston - July 3, 2001
Space Shuttle Atlantis will launch July 12 to carry a new airlock to the International Space Station. The mission will bring the orbiting outpost an unprecedented degree of self-reliance, providing it with a new doorway to space for maintenance and construction.

Atlantis is scheduled for liftoff at 4:04 a.m. CDT July 12 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL, at the beginning of an approximately five-minute launch window. Atlantis' mission, designated STS-104, will be the fourth shuttle flight this year and the 10th shuttle mission dedicated to assembly of the International Space Station.

"This mission will be a milestone for both the station and shuttle as we complete a major phase of the station's assembly," Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said.

"A year ago, I said we would fly the most complex series of missions NASA has undertaken since landing on the moon -- now we're nearing completion of the first phase. The team has truly done an excellent job to get us here safely, successfully and on schedule."

Atlantis' mission includes three spacewalks to install and outfit the station's new Joint Airlock, including the first-ever outside spacewalk to originate from the station. Atlantis' crew will be commanded by Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Lindsey. Marine Corps Maj. Charlie Hobaugh will serve as pilot.

The crew also includes astronauts Mike Gernhardt, Janet Kavandi and Jim Reilly. Gernhardt and Reilly will perform the planned spacewalks, while Kavandi operates the shuttle's robotic arm.

The mission will be the second shuttle to visit the station during the stay of the second station crew -- Commander Yuri Usachev and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms -- now in their fourth month aboard the complex.

Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center at 11:56 p.m. EDT July 22.

The Airlock is a critical component allowing Extravehicular Activity (EVA), or space walks to be conducted using U.S. spacesuits or Russian Orlan spacesuits without the presence of the shuttle.

The Airlock also will add an additional 1,200 cubic feet of volume to the station, bringing its size to about 12,000 cubic feet of volume.

The six-and-a-half-ton module, built by Boeing at NASAís Marshall Space Flight Center, can only be attached to the station using the new Canadian-built robot arm that was delivered to the station on the most recent shuttle mission in April.

Since that time, the Canadarm2, as itís known, has been undergoing an extensive on-orbit checkout. Several problems with the testing led to launch delays, but those issues have been resolved and the arm has operated flawlessly for several weeks.

In the event of a recurrence of the most serious of the problems, which was a communications error in the shoulder pitch jointís backup electronics, a software patch essentially telling the robotic armís electronics to bypass the nuisance fault has been loaded into station computers, which likely will solve the problem should it surface again.

Extensive reviews by engineers from NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and its prime robotics contractor ≠ MD Robotics ≠ concluded that the communications error between Canadarm2ís shoulder pitch joint and the armís main computer commanding unit was attributable to an intermittent problem with a computer chip in the jointís electronic system and not a problem with joint itself.

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My Way or the SKYway
Los Angeles - June 27, 2001
Although a California businessman had to drop some serious change to get space-bound, Hollywood producer David Krieff of Destiny Productions has just put the chance to leave Earth within the grasp of the average wage-earner with a far-out new reality show dubbed "Space Trials." Picture "Survivor" meets "Star Trek" meets "The Truman Show."

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