Monday, November 17, 2008
Happy birthday ISS
It's a few days early, but I want to wish the International Space Station a happy 10th birthday. The Russian Zarya module was launched on November 20, 1998, and of course many modules have been added since then to create the gigantic orbiting laboratory we have today. Right now the crew of the shuttle Endeavour (STS-126) is visiting the ISS to deliver and install the expanded life support and other facilities needed to support six station crew members. It's great that they will have a big team on hand for the tenth anniversary - I imagine they have some sort of celebration planned in addition to the turkey dinners they've carried up for Thanksgiving.
The picture is from Orbiter, showing the ISS in July 2008 during STS-124. There's another view (above New England) on Flickr. If you want to re-enact the evolution of the ISS on your own, you can do so with the help of David413's great ISS Fleet add-on for Orbiter. There are a few predefined scenarios including STS-88, the first shuttle flight to the ISS in December 1998, which delivered the Unity node, the first American component of the ISS.
The PDF manual for the ISS Fleet has pictures of all the ISS configurations with designations like ISS4A (circa 2000). There isn't a scenario for every configuration, but you can easily modify one of the scenarios in the ISS Fleet Scenarios folder with a text editor. Find the line that says ISS:ISS2A (for example, after "BEGIN_SHIPS") and change it to ISS:ISS4A (say) and save it under another name (maybe ISS4A.scn). Your new scenario will include the station with that configuration. The other parts of the scenario (shuttle, positions, date, etc.) won't change from the starting file. Note that the ISS Fleet is a separate add-on from the Shuttle Fleet (find the most recent shuttle/ISS fleet add-ons and mission scenarios including STS-126 here).