The Joint Airlock Module — the gateway from which crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will enter and exit the orbiting research facility — reached a milestone in processing this week with the completion of vacuum chamber testing in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building at Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
On Monday, Oct. 2, an opportunity is available for media to witness the airlock being removed from the chamber in preparation for installation into the payload transportation canister. It will then be taken to the Space Station Processing Facility where it will continue to undergo preflight processing for the STS-104 mission scheduled to occur aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2001.
The six-and-a-half ton, spindle-shaped airlock is 20 feet long and has a diameter of 13 feet at its widest point. It was manufactured at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center by the Huntsville, Ala., division of the Boeing Company.
Once the lid of the vacuum chamber was lowered and secured early last week, it created a vacuum environment equivalent to 210,000 feet or 40 miles in altitude to leak test the pressurized air lock.
Spokespeople anticipated to be available to discuss this milestone in prelaunch preparations for the airlock will be Jon Cowart, STS-104 mission manager, NASA-KSC; and David Bethay, Pressurized Cargo Element Manager Director, The Boeing Company.
Reporters and photographers planning to attend the event should be at the NASA News Center at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 2, to be taken to the O&C building located in the KSC Industrial Area. Before coming to the press site, media should call the codaphone at 321-867-2525 to be sure that the time of the opportunity has not changed.