No one imagined Salyut's core to take a step
No, it's not a little of Mir. It's the first part of the ISS (credit: NASA)
The International Space Station has reached 20 weeks this week, while space agencies and "naut" have also celebrated the launch of the first ISS module.
The Functional Load Block (FGB) was launched on November 20, 1998, which means starting the ISS assembling. Also known as "Zarya" in connection with the first space station in Russia in 1971, the Mir module built in motion was designed to provide power, storage and propulsion in the early stages of ISS assembly.
Russia began building FGB of 19,323kg (42,600lb) in 1994, and the US contributed with 220 million dollars. It is 12.56 m long and 4.11 m above the widest point and is mainly used for storage. The module has enjoyed its own power-driven engines, and solar networks to provide power. These boards were later withdrawn to allow radiators on the federal kits segment to be later installed in the ISS assembly.
The module was designed to cover itself autonomously for several months but came to wait until July 2000 before the Zvezda delayed service module arrived to allow the habitation to continue to begin that year.
Concerned, the FGB also had only a 15-year service life at launch, although Russian engineers believe that the venerable way is good until 2028, following ground tests, doubling its original life. Replacing would certainly be a challenge. NASA, of course, faces similar difficulties with US modules, such as Unity, who followed the FGB in orbit less than a month later.
Shades of Mir
The FGB had a strange path to the launcher. Just to the last minute, according to James Oberg in his book Star-Crossed Orbits, negotiations continued between the largest taxpayers at the ISS, the US and Russia, in the current orbit of Zarya. A school of thought felt that by placing the ISS in the same plane as Mir, Russia could transfer some goods and equipment from the aging station. After all, it was done earlier in 1986 between Mir and Salyut 7.
Perhaps even one or more of the existing Mir modules could be connected to the ISS (Early Housing for ISS was terribly unfolding behind the program), saving the cost of building things.
NASA undoubtedly categorically declined despite the agency's desperation to get something in orbit after the billions that had been poured into its space station program. An ambitious assembly sequence was planned, and a space shuttle mission was in place to launch the first US contribution to ISS in the form of the Unity module.
The launch ended almost in disaster. A defect in the design of the module almost stopped the dead ISS program in its tracks, as the FGB got into orbit and then ignored ground commands.
The instructions for the unlock module to raise its orbit remained unanswered and, if the situation had not been resolved within a few days, the FGB would simply return to Earth as its orbit collapsed, burning in atmosphere.
NASA was, of course, firmly aware of the ongoing crisis (it would have been a while before the full picture was communicated to the agency), and the Americans had no independent control and monitoring capabilities for the Russian side.
Fortunately, a lieutenant colonel named Nazarov, who trained on FGB class vehicles and their failure mode, was able to sketch some alternative control codes and, in a very real sense, saved the day when the FGB engines fired and raised the FGB on a larger orbit.
NASA sent a space shuttle a few weeks after launching the FGB to attach the Unity module from which the US and other ISS partners could close their own program contributions. The December STS-88 was followed by STS-96 in May 1999 and STS-101 in May 2000, while NASA equipped the complex and amplified the orbit while the module waited for the module.
Zarya required immediate maintenance by the visiting crews, and the ongoing repairs were to some extent a distinctive sign of the ISS program. Noisy fans and poor traffic left the early-season transfer crews, such as STS-96, quite confusing as space agencies learned how to manage their new toy.
As ISS turns to 20, its future remains unsafe as the launch. The current US administration has expressed its desire to end funding by 2025, effectively killing ISS. NASA hopes private industry could eliminate the gap, but as its modules continue to aging, the chances of fasting over a quarter of a century seem remote. ®
To accentuate the age of the ISS, current crew member Alexander Gerst opened one of the cabinets on board and pulled out … a bunch of rescue icons? He did not elaborate whether relegation could actually be used.
I found a cupboard on @ Space Station which probably was not open for a while … / Ich habe hier auf der #ISS ein Fach gefunden, das vermutlich schon seit einer Weile nicht mehr geöffnet wurde … # SpaceStation20th pic.twitter.com/XOc3FS8tMm
– Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) November 20, 2018
thanks to Register the reader who indicated this tweet.