Atlantis Returns to the International Space Station

Atlantis returns to the International Space Station (ISS) for the second time in four months on NASA's third Shuttle flight of the year to complete outfitting of the first home in space for the first crew of the rapidly expanding facility.

Five American astronauts and two Russian cosmonauts are set to launch on the STS-106 mission no earlier than September 8 at 8:45 a.m. EDT from Launch Pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. It will be Atlantis' 22nd mission and the 99th flight in Shuttle program history.

Veteran Astronaut Terry Wilcutt (Col., USMC) leads the seven-man crew, commanding his second Shuttle flight and making his fourth trip into space. During the planned 11-day mission, Wilcutt and his crewmates will spend a week inside the ISS unloading supplies from both a double Spacehab cargo module in the rear of Atlantis' cargo bay and from a Russian Progress M-1 resupply craft docked to the aft end of the Zvezda Service Module. Zvezda, which linked up to the ISS on July 26, will serve as the early living quarters for the station and is the cornerstone of the Russian contribution to the ISS.

The goal of the flight is to prepare Zvezda for the arrival of the first resident, or Expedition, crew later this fall and the start of a permanent human presence on the new outpost. That crew, Expedition Commander Bill Shepherd, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, is due to launch in a Soyuz capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in late October for a four-month "shakedown" mission aboard the ISS.

In addition, Dr. Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko (Col., Russian Air Force), both making their second flights into space, will conduct a 6 V-hour space walk on the fourth day of the flight to hook up electrical, communications and telemetry cables between Zvezda and the Zarya Control Module, whose computers handed over commanding functions to the Service Module's computers in a smooth transition in late July. Lu and Malenchenko will also install a magnetometer to the exterior of Zvezda. The magnetometer will serve as a three-dimensional compass designed to minimize Zvezda propellant usage by relaying information to the module's computers regarding its orientation relative to the Earth.

It will be the second joint U.S.-Russian space walk outside a Space Shuttle, following on the work conducted by Astronaut Scott Parazynski and Cosmonaut Vladimir Titov outside Atlantis while docked to the Mir Space Station during the STS-86 mission in October 1997. Lu, designated EV 1, will wear the space suit marked by red stripes, while Malenchenko, EV 2, will wear the pure white suit.

This will be Lu's first space walk, while Malenchenko conducted a pair of space walks totaling 12 hours during his four-month stay aboard Mir in 1994. Dan Burbank (Lt. Cmdr, USCG), who is a space rookie, will serve as the space walk choreographer.

Mission Specialist Rick Mastracchio, also a space novice, will be the prime robot arm operator for the mission, using the Canadian-built arm to move Lu and Malenchenko around the ISS as they conduct their assembly work. Mastracchio is backed up on arm operations by Pilot Scott Altman (Cmdr., USN), making his second flight into space.

The final member of the crew is Russian Cosmonaut Dr. Boris Morukov, making his first flight into space. Morukov will be responsible for unloading supplies from the Progress vehicle during the docked phase of the flight.

When Wilcutt guides Atlantis in for its docking with the ISS on the third day of the mission, he will find the new station a much larger facility than the one left by the STS-101 crew during its flight in May. With the addition of the Zvezda and the Progress resupply ship, the ISS will measure 143 feet in length, roughly the height of a 13-story building, and will weigh 67 tons, twice the size of the ISS back in May. The joining of Zvezda to the ISS and the arrival of the Progress provides about 8,800 cubic feet of habitable volume for Station crew members, roughly the size of a comfortable apartment. By the time the U.S. Laboratory Destiny is installed on the ISS in January, the Station will have surpassed both Skylab and Mir in total livable space.

On the fifth day of the flight, Atlantis' crew will enter the ISS, opening the hatch for the first time to Zvezda and to the Progress to begin unloading 1,300 pounds of goods from the Russian craft for the first resident crew, including items ranging from clothing to medical kits, personal hygiene kits, laptop computers, a color printer, vacuum cleaners, food warmers for Zvezda's galley, trash bags and critical life support hardware, including an Elektron oxygen generation unit and a Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal unit. Elektron and Vozdukh will be unstowed from the Progress and moved into Zvezda, but will not be installed and activated until the Expedition One crew arrives on board. The first toilet for the ISS will be delivered to Zvezda on the last day of the crew's work inside the Station for installation this fall once the Expedition 1 crew is on board.

Among the first tasks facing Atlantis' crew will be the installation of three batteries and associated electronic components in Zvezda and replacement of two of the six batteries in the Zarya module, completing the work begun by the STS-101 crew in May. Zvezda was launched from Baikonur on July 12 with five of its eight battery sets already installed. Lu and Malenchenko will be in charge of the installation work in Zvezda. Also earmarked for Zvezda is the activation of two gas masks, which will serve as standard emergency equipment for ISS crews and three fire extinguishers.

In addition, American-Russian power conversion units will be installed in Zvezda on this flight to route electricity from huge solar arrays which will be installed on the STS-97 mission to the Russian modules. Electrical components to charge the batteries of Soyuz or Progress vehicles visiting the ISS will be installed in Zvezda as well.

While Morukov spends most of his time unloading supplies from the Progress, Mastracchio will be in charge of unloading 2 tons of equipment from the Spacehab module, including medical equipment for the ISS' Crew Health Care System, or CheCS, which will serve as the heart of the station's clinic for orbiting crews, and a treadmill device and bicycle ergometer which will serve as the first exercise gear for crews on board the ISS. Associated hardware for the treadmill which will prevent its use from disturbing sensitive microgravity experiments, will be installed by the crewmembers near the end of their stay on board.

On the tenth day of the flight, Atlantis will undock from the ISS and Altman will conduct a flyaround of the newly expanded station to enable his crewmates to conduct photo documentation of the outpost.

Two days later, Wilcutt will fly Atlantis to a predawn landing at the Kennedy Space Center, setting the stage a few days later for the launch of a second Russian Progress ship to the Station and a plethora of Shuttle assembly flights to turn the complex into a working research facility.

International Space Station Assembly Sequence: Revision F (August 2000)



Launch Vehicle


Nov. 20, 1998


Russian Proton

• Zarva Control Module

(Functional Cargo Block - FGB)

Dec. 4, 1998


U.S. Orbiter STS-88

• 2 Pressurized Mating Adapters attached to Unity

May 27, 1999


U.S. Orbiter STS-96

• SPACEHAB - Logistics Flight

May 19, 2000


U.S. Orbiter STS-101

• SPACEHAB - Maintenance Flight

July 12, 2000


Russian Proton

• Zvezda Service Module

Sept. 8, 2000


U.S. Orbiter STS-106

• SPACEHAB - Logistics Flight

Oct. 5, 2000


U.S. Orbiter STS-92

• Integrated Truss Structure (ITS) Z1

• Pressurized Mating Adapter - 3

• Ku-band Communications System

• Control Moment Gyros (CMGs)

Oct. 30, 2000


• Expedition 1 Cre

Nov. 30, 2000


U.S. Orbiter STS-97

• Integrated Truss Structure P6

• Photovoltaic Module

• Radiators

Jan. 18, 2001


U.S. Orbiter STS-98

• Destiny Laboratory Module

Feb. 15, 2001


U.S. Orbiter STS-102

• Logistics and Resupply; Lab Outfitting

• Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) carries equipment racks

March 2001


Russian Soyuz

• Strela Boom






April 19, 2001


U.S. Orbiter STS-100

• Rafaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) (Lab outfitting)

• Ultra High Frequency (UHF) antenna

• Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS)

May 17, 2001


U.S. Orbiter STS-104

• Joint Airlock

• High Pressure Gas Assembly

June 21, 2001


U.S. Orbiter STS-105

• Donatello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

Oct. 4, 2001


U.S. Orbiter STS-109

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

• Photovoltaic Module batteries

• Spares Pallet (spares warehouse)



U.S. Orbiter

• Central Truss Segment (ITS S0)

• Mobile Transporter (MT)

Feb. 2002


U.S. Orbiter

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) with payload racks

• Mobile Base System (MBS)

May 2002


U.S. Orbiter

• First right-side truss segment (ITS S1) with radiators

• Crew & Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) Cart A

June 2002


U.S. Orbiter

• Utilization and Logistics Flight

Oct. 2002


U.S. Orbiter

• First left-side truss segment (ITS P1)

• Crew & Equipment Translation Aid (CETA) Cart B

Oct. 2002


U.S. Orbiter

• Russian provided Science Power Platform (SPP) with four solar arrays

Dec. 2002


U.S. Orbiter

• Second left-side truss segment (ITS P3/P4)

• Solar array and batteries

Feb. 2003


U.S. Orbiter

• Third left-side truss segment (ITS P5)

• Logistics and Supplies






April 2003


U.S. Orbiter

• Second right-side truss segment (ITS S3/S4)

• Solar array set and batteries (Photovoltaic Module)

June 2003


U.S. Orbiter

• Logistics and Supplies



Russian Proton

• Universal Docking Module (UDM)



Russian Soyuz

• Docking Compartment 2 (DC2)

Oct. 2003


• Spacelab Pallet carrying "Canada Hand" (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator)

Nov. 2003


U.S. Orbiter

• US Node 2

Feb. 2004


U.S. Orbiter

• Japanese Experiment Module Experiment Logistics Module (JEM ELM PS)

• Science Power Platform (SSP) solar arrays with truss

April 2004


• European Automated Transfer Vehicle

May 2004


U.S. Orbiter

• Kibo Japanese Experiment Module (JEM)

• Japanese Remote Manipulator System (JEM RMS)

June 2004


U.S. Orbiter

• Propulsion Module

Sept. 2004


U.S. Orbiter

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

• Express Pallet

Oct. 2004


U.S. Orbiter

• European Laboratory - Columbus Module



U.S. Orbiter

• Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility (JEM EF)

• Solar Array Batteries

• Cupola

Feb. 2005


U.S. Orbiter

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

• Express Pallet








Russian Proton

• Docking and Stowage Module (DSM)

May 2005


U.S. Orbiter

• Science Power Platform (SPP) Solar Arrays

• Zvezda Micrometeroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) Shields

June 2005


U.S. Orbiter

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

• Batteries

July 2005


U.S. Orbiter

• US Node 3



Russian Soyuz

• Research Module 1

Sept. 2005


U.S. Orbiter

• Habitation Module

Oct. 2005


U.S. Orbiter

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

• Destiny racks

Dec. 2005


U.S. Orbiter

• Crew Return Vehicle (CRV)



U.S. Orbiter

• Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM)

March 2006


U.S. Orbiter

• Solar Arrays and Batteries (Photovoltaic Module S6)

March 2006


Russian Soyuz

• Research Module 2

April 2006


U.S. Orbiter

• Centrifuge Accommodation Module (CAM)

Notes: Additional Progress, Soyuz, H-II Transfer Vehicle and Automated Transfer Vehicle flights for crew transport, logistics and resupply are not listed.

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