Friday, October 14, 2016

ISS Pioneers

The first long-term inhabitants of the ISS, Expedition 1, departed Earth from the Gagarin's Start launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on October 31, 2000. A Soyuz-U rocket launched the 3 member crew into orbit aboard the Soyuz TM-31 vehicle, which docked with the aft port of Zvezda two days later on November 2, 2000. The crew's arrival marked the start of long-term uninterrupted habitation of the ISS which continues to this day.

The Expedition 1 crew consisted of two Russians (Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev) and one American ( Bill Shepherd) and stayed 136 days.  Expedition 1 crew members departed from the ISS aboard Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-102) on March 18, 2001, which had also delivered the replacement Expedition 2 crew upon its arrival and docking to PMA-2 a few days earlier on March 10.

Soyuz TM-31 remained docked to the ISS during all of Expedition 1 and part of Expedition 2, serving as as the lifeboat option for emergency evacuation. During this period, TM-31 was moved twice. Move #1 occurred on February 24, 2001 with the spacecraft being transferred from Zvezda's aft port to Zarya's nadir port to accomodate docking of Progress M-44 at Zvezda's aft port on on February 26. Move #2 occurred on April 18, 2001 from Zarya's nadir port back to Zvezda's aft port to provide clearance for the Rafaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) berthing to Unity's nadir port, which arrived aboard STS-100 on April 19.  Soyuz TM-31 departed the ISS for de-orbit on May 6, 2001, carrying Soyuz TM-32 crewmembers back to Earth.

As with my previous Progress M1-3 build, this build also consists of two pages of parts and the same set of instructions were also used for this assembly effort. AXM chose to combine the instructions for both due to very similar steps being followed in assembling each spacecraft.

I first cut out and joined the main ring of the orbital module and main ring cover that contains the mission insignia. I extracted the circular TV transmission antennas from the cover.

Next, I recessed the TV antennas into the underlying main ring in order to achieve some depth

Next, I cut out the 2 upper and lower rings for the orbital module and joined them into circles. Then, as prescribed by AXM, I affixed each ring using glue one at a time, providing ample time for each join to dry before adding the next ring.  The result is a nice well-formed bulb structure synonymous with Soyuz.

I then moved to assembly of the descent module. First, I cut out the lower portion the includes the crew compartment windows and joiner tab used to make the upper to the lower portion of the descent module.  I extracted the window openings and recessed them into the joiner tab in order to achieve depth.  

I then covered the backside of each porthole area cutout with a small plastic cellophane to achieve the effect of glass reflection.

I then cut out the upper section of the descent stage, the service module, and service module flange, joined each part into a cylinder, and then joined all components of the descent and service modules together.

Next, I cut out the parachute covers and affixed them to the descent module at prescribed locations.

I then affixed the orbital module, paying special care to join the parts in an evenly aligned configuration.  I then affixed the control engine plate and applied layering to achieve depth and realism.  I also scored slits for insertion of the solar panels.

I chose to add some detail to the descent and service modules by cutting out select panels, conduit channels, hatches, and RCS thruster nozzles from another copy of the parts and layering them to achieve depth and realism.  I also cut out and affixed the umbilical connector between the orbital and service modules.

Next, I assembled the docking periscope, camera housing, zenith-mount Kurs antenna and horizon sensors. I affixed the parts to their respective locations on the spacecraft.

I then cutout and assembled the various Kurs antenna masts, receiver dishes, and associated shields, installing them at appropriate vehicle locations. I glued the solar panel sides together, darkened the edges with an orange colored pencil and inserted the completed solar panel assembly through the slits. 

I then built the docking hatch and  modified it to accommodate magnetic docking of the spacecraft to zenith and nadir docking port locations in the future.

Finally, I added small glass beads to the top of each horizon sensor to catch a glimmer of light and add realism. The spacecraft build was now complete!

 I transported the spacecraft to my office and mated it to Zvezda's aft port, signifying the arrival of Expedition 1, pioneers of the ISS!

Next up -  completion of the P6 Truss build..stay tuned!

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