Friday, January 5, 2018

The Dawn of Space Tourism

Soyuz TM-32 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 28, 2001 and docked to the Zarya module's nadir port two days later on April 30.  

The launch marked the debut of the first space tourist, Dennis Tito, who reportedly paid more than $20 million for the 8 day trip to/from the ISS.  To date, a total of 7 space tourists have visited the ISS.

TM-32 was the first "taxi" flight to the ISS.  Soyuz taxi flights are responsible for exchanging the Soyuz spacecraft that is used as the ISS crew escape vehicle.  Soyuz vehicles are rated for a 6 month lifespan and must be de-orbited within this period for crew safety purposes.  The flight also represents the first simultaneous docking of two Soyuz vehicles to the station.  TM-31 and TM-32 were simultaneously docked from April 30 - May 6, when TM-31 departed from the Zvezda aft port to transport the taxi crew back to earth.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A New Destiny

The Destiny laboratory, also known as the U.S. Lab, was added to the ISS by STS-98 on February 10, 2001.  The lab's arrival marked a new era in off-earth scientific research capabilities not available since the days of SkyLab, whose last mission ended on February 8, 1974, approximately 27 years beforehand.   Destiny was designated by Congress as the 17th U.S. National Laboratory in 2005.

Destiny provides an unparalleled ability to perform scientific experiments in a micro-gravity environment furthering government and private sector research in a multitude of areas. The module contains a total of 24 racks which provide power distribution, command and control functions, a micro-gravity glove box, and experimental and storage compartments for conducting research dealing with biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, and medicine. The module also touts a large 20-inch (510 mm) diameter observation window on the deck or nadir plane called the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF). The location is used by station crew members to perform various Earth observation studies dealing with climate, land and sea formations, crop weather damage and health assessments, atmospheric and geologic phenomena (hurricanes and volcanic eruptions), and optical sensor technology development.

My build started with fabrication of a spare SASA antenna stowed on the Z1 truss during STS-98.


Next, I assembled the nadir rigid umbilical.  I applied layering on this part so that the umbilical would more distinctly lay atop the Destiny hull.

 

I then moved to assembly of the Lab Cradle Assembly (LCA).  This component was not part of the Destiny STS-98 installation.  It was added by STS-102 and initially served as a platform for deployment of Canadarm2, a.k.a. Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) from its shuttle transport cradle.  The cradle now serves as the primary attachment point between Destiny and the S0 truss.

I cut out the main cradle part, extruded the black gap areas and reverse layered them to achieve depth.


I then glued two magnets to the inside top of the part.  These magnets serve as an attachment point between Destiny and the S0 passive module to struss structure (MTS) attachment system.

 

I then fabricated the External Stowage Platform 1 (ESP-1) and its payload components, a Pump Flow Control System (PFCS) module and a Direct Current Switching Unit (DCSU). I chose to use magnetic attachment points to ESP-1 for both components in order to accommodate future replacement/movement of the components from their Flight Releasable Attachment Mechanism (FRAM) locations. I recessed a small flat metal piece taken from the cutting edge of an aluminum foil package at each FRAM location and added a magnet to the inside of each component. 



I then assembled the UHF Antenna.  This component was added to the lower starboard side on the forward end of Destiny during STS-100.  In order to increase realism, I chose to extrude the black areas when cutting out the antenna parts. Also, I used the ends of a toothpick to add depth to the antenna dipole ends. I affixed a small piece of flat metal to the bottom of the antenna mast to provide a magnetic mating point.


 Next, I cut out the main body section, removed the joiner glue tab, and lap-glued it to avoid a seam overlap. I also extruded the dark grey areas representing the forward and aft S0 truss strut attachment points.



I then reverse layered the attachment points and glued magnets at each location to provide attachment to the S0 truss feet.



I also extruded the view port window, reverse layered it, and covered it with a piece of clear plastic to help promote some light reflection. I added window frame layering on the outside to achieve depth and fabricated a hinged window cover to allow display in both an open and closed position.  I used a sliver of parchment paper at the hinge point to avoid fraying from repeated opening and closing.



  
I cut out trunnion pin scuff plates and grapple fixture to layer on for added depth.


I then added magnets at locations on zenith facing port and starboard sides where the avionics and node 2 umbilicals will be affixed when the S0 truss and Harmony module are added to the configuration.



Next up, fabrication of the keel pin.  The design only has this depicted as a white thin rectangle outline located just behind the S0 truss forward strut attachment points. Wanting to add depth and realism, I created a keel pin by cutting out a T-shaped piece of balsa. I affixed two magnets to the underside of each arm of the "T" and covered the entire assembly with white paper. The magnets will mate to the magnets on the inside top of the lab cradle assembly when it's placed on top of the keel pin assembly.


I cut out the thin white rectangle and mounted the fabricated piece with the bottom of the "T" pointed up into the cutout section. I used a hand drill to create a small hole in the center of the upper edge and inserted a small piece of 18 gauge wire into the hole to serve as the keel pin.


I then rolled the main body section and glued it together along the joiner tab.



Next, I decided to add depth to the electronics area around the power data grapple fixture.  I cut out the raised section from a copy of the parts page, including a surrounding edge to raise the part up a few millimeters above base. I then glued the edges, affixed a small balsa block to support the raised area, and glued the section to the main body.



I then fabricated the power data grapple fixture and glude a magnet to the backside to accommodate mating with Canadarm2.



I then cut out and affixed the end caps, recessing the portholes on each end cap to provide additional realism.





Then then started on assembly of Canadarm2.   This component is made up of 46 separate parts.  

First, I cut out and tightly rolled the main arms and connector nubs.  I used a bamboo skewer to assist in getting a tight roll on the paper sections.  I labeled the connector nub sections to help with determining which ones to use at the correct joint locations.



Here's a photo of all 46 parts cut out prior to assembly.


Next, I assembled modular units that attach to the boom segments. These units consist of two Video Distribution Units (VDU), an Arm Control Unit (ACU), two Camera, Light and Pan /Tilt Unit Assembly (CLPA) units and a Backup Drive Unit (BDU).




I then built the assembled the two Latching End Effectors (LEE). Magnets were incorporated on the end of each LEE to facilitate magnetic attachment to power data grapple points and future visiting spacecraft. 


 
 
 

I then proceeded to assemble and connect the booms, pitch elbow, pitch, roll,  and yaw joints.





I just could not resist a "test" mating to the power data grapple once all glue points were dry enough...looking good!

 

The aft docking ring was then cut and affixed.  I added magnets at the nadir and zenith points to mate with corresponding magnets already in-place on the inside edge of the Unity forward mating flange. I then fabricated ammonia coolant lines and connector boots.  The coolant lines will be cut to fit once Destiny is mated to Unity so that they will lay on top of the Z1 cable tray.


Next, I used my hand drill to set holes at all four trunnion pin locations.  I then cut and trimmed out 4 segments of white insulated wire and stripped off half of the insulation to allow insertion into the holes.  Three of the segments were mated to the trunnion pin covers and the fourth was mated to the inside aft edge of ESP-1.



Next, I turned my attention to the future mating of Destiny to the S0 truss.  I had already placed magnets at key attachment points where the truss will connect.  However, I wanted to ensure correct placement and alignment between Destiny and S0 without having to pull down deployed components and making future adjustments.  Therefore, like I had previously done to handle the Z1 and P6 truss mating, I decided to assemble part of the S0 truss, including the outer shell, forward and aft struts, MTS attach system, and avionics and node 2 umbilicals in order to test fit the S0 truss to Destiny.

I proceeded to cut out the necessary S0 parts to build the outer S0 truss shell, forward and aft struts assembly, MTS attach system, and umbilicals.




  
I glued the MTA sides together, folded at the prescribed location, and glued magnets to the inside top of the MTA fold so that the LCA would attach from below.


I then glued the MTA to the S0 truss lower shell at the prescribed location.


Next, I assembled the forward struts and affixed a small metal plate to the foot of each truss so that they would magnetically attach to the mount points on the Destiny hull.  I embellished the truss arms with metal wire representing hand holds. 



I then removed the keel pin, affixed the LCA, aligned the S0 truss MTA to the LCA, and glued the zenith points of each forward strut to prescribed locations on the S0 truss shell.






I determined that a mount point was necessary for the aft strut assemblies.  I cut out two small blocks of balsa and affixed a piece of metal plate to the bottom of each block to accommodate magnetic attachment.  Next, I drilled recess holes at proper angles on each block and then glued the individual struts to the block at these locations.  Zenith ends of each strut were then glued to the designated mount points on the S0 truss shell.




I then cut out and assembled the avionics and node 2 umbilicals.  I also assembled and mounted the umbilical connector panels to the lower S0 truss.



My initial plan was to affix a small metal plate on the underside of both sets of umbilicals at the forward end and bend points to provide magnetic attachment.  My test fits of this approach revealed that not enough magnetic attraction existed with this configuration to ensure that all umbilicals would stay in-place.  I decided to modify my approach by fabricating a lip for the bottom side of each avionics umbilical. The lip's width matched the width of disk magnets that were glued to the underside of each umbilical at the forward end and near the bend point. 


I then affixed a metal plate to the underside of the node 2 umbilical segments at the same locations. 


 The resulting configuration yielded a clean assembly with strong magnetic bonds that would ensure all umbilicals would stay in-place.





Finally, I attached the end caps to Destiny and added magnets to the inside area to provide connection points to Unity, PMA-2 and Harmony, a.k.a. node 2 (in the future).



The build was now complete.  I took some photos of Destiny mounted to the S0 truss with all umbilical attachments to provide visual reference as needed during future build and assembly.




I then packed up all parts for Destiny and transported them to my office.


I then added Destiny and related parts to the existing ISS configuration in the order that the assembly and configuration occurred over three shuttle missions.

STS-98 delivered Destiny to the station.  During this mission, PMA-2 was relocated to the Z1 truss docking ring and Destiny was mated to the forward port of Unity.  PMA-2 was then re-located to Destiny's forward docking Port. A spare SASA antenna was also placed onto the Z1 truss.





Next, during STS-102 the LCA was attached to the keel pin location, ESP-1 was attached to the port side aft trunnion pin, the early communications antenna was removed from the Unity port side berthing port, PMA-3 was moved from the Unity nadir to port berthing port, and the Leonardo multi-purpose logistics module (MPLM) was docked to the Unity nadir berthing port.


Finally, during STS-100, the starboard early communications antenna was removed from Unity, a UHF antenna was attached to the lower starboard forward side of Destiny, and the Canadarm2 SSRM attched to to the power data grapple on Destiny's forward lower port side.



 



The next component in the ISS assembly sequence is the Quest Joint Air Lock.