A new suite of experiments will be delivered to the International Space
Station by Space Shuttle Endeavour later this month — kicking off
Expedition Four and broadening scientific research onboard the orbiting
space laboratory.

Endeavour will carry the Raffaello logistics module — a “moving
van” bearing new experiment equipment for the Space Station’s Destiny
laboratory. Raffaello was built by the Italian Space Agency and managed
by the Flight Projects Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Ala. It is making its second trip to the Station on the
STS-108 Shuttle Flight. Raffaello successfully delivered many experiments
to the Station last April on Space Shuttle Flight STS-100, ISS Flight

“Since our first payload reached the Space Station in September 2000,
we have launched more than 4.6 tons (4,200 kilograms) of research hardware
and experiments, and returned more than a thousand pounds (500 kilograms)
of hardware, samples and other data to Earth,” said John Uri, the Expedition
Four science mission manager. Uri works at NASA’s Johnson Space Center
in Houston, Texas, but his team members are stationed in NASA’s Payload
Operations Center at the Marshall Center — the Space Station command
post for science operations.

“The laboratory has five research racks, and we have accomplished the
goals of 28 research payloads, supporting 41 investigations from government,
industry and academia in the United States, as well as Japan, Canada,
Germany and Italy.”

In addition to the experiments being delivered to the Station, Endeavour
will carry four Shuttle-based science experiments on the Lightweight
Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier — a platform that
Marshall Center engineers designed to fit in the rear of the Shuttle
behind Raffaello. STS-108 is the first flight of this new carrier.

“The combination of a talented design team and the close coordination
among people at five NASA centers made it possible to get this new carrier
ready for its maiden flight in less than a year,” said Susan Spencer,
a systems engineer in Marshall’s Flight Projects Directorate. “This
innovative modification of existing hardware will make it possible to
fly additional, low-cost science payloads in the Shuttle, or deliver
replacement parts quickly to the Space Station.”

During Expedition Four, the suite of research instruments will grow
from 18 to 26 U.S. payloads -seven of them new to the Space Station
science program and several with multiple experiments.

“We are going to accomplish more science on Expedition Four than we
attempted on any of the previous three expeditions,” said Uri.

New experiments during Expedition Four are expected to lead to insights
in bone disorder treatments, petroleum production, antibiotic production,
cancer cell formation, plant growth, embryo development, biotechnology,
and long-term effects of space flight on humans.

Research equipment for Expedition Four will be transported both on
the STS-108 flight this month and on the STS-110 mission when Space
Shuttle Atlantis visits the Station in March.

Twelve experiments, taking advantage of the low gravity created as
the Station orbits Earth, are sponsored by the Marshall Center —
NASA’s Lead Center for Microgravity Research. Six of the 12 are sponsored
and partially funded by industry through NASA’s Space Product Development
Program at Marshall, which works with 17 NASA Commercial Space Centers
across the United States.

“We are increasing the scope and sophistication of the science we are
doing on the Space Station by building on what we have learned during
the earlier expeditions,” said Uri. “This month marks nine months of
continuous research and an extraordinary increase in research capabilities
aboard the Station.”

So far, nearly 500 hours of crew time have been dedicated to the research
program on the Space Station, chalking up more than 50,000 hours of
experiment run time. Many of the experiments are operated by controllers
at the Payload Operations Center, which will be staffed this month with
a fresh crew in charge of Expedition Four operations.

“The Marshall Center’s experience working with three previous Space
Station Expedition crews has helped prepare my team to implement NASA’s
ambitious research program for Expedition Four,” said Tim Horvath, lead
payload operations director, and head of the Expedition Four ground
team at the Marshall Center.

“The diverse set of experiments slated for Expedition Four include
intricate human-tended research, as well as automated and ground-controlled
payloads. The flight controllers on our team interact with scientists
around the world to choreograph the events required for successful research.”

The three new Expedition Four crew members — astronauts Carl Walz
and Dan Bursch and cosmonaut Yuri Onufrienko — will devote about
300 hours to research during their stay on the Space Station. The ground
team at the Marshall Center will plan, operate and monitor science operations
for five months, until the new Expedition Five ground team takes over
in May 2002.

For a list of the Marshall Center’s contributions to Expedition Four,
please visit

Marshall’s contributions to Space Shuttle Flight STS-108 And International
Space Station Expedition Four

  • New ground crew to support Expedition Four from the Payload Operations
    Center — the command post for Space Station science operations.
    March 2002 will mark the one-year anniversary of support from this
    control center, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.Ý
    • Second flight of the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics
      Module (MPLM) — built by the Italian Space Agency and managed
      by the Marshall Flight Projects Directorate — packed with tons
      of equipment, including research payloads.
    • First flight of the Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment
      Support Structure Carrier (LMC), a new carrier that will make it easier
      to fly small experiments and get spare parts to the Station by using
      the very back of the Shuttle bay. The LMC was built and tested by
      The Boeing Company and engineers in Marshall’s Flight Projects Directorate.Ý
    • Of the 26 Expedition Four payloads, 12 experiment
      payloads are managed by Marshall — the Lead Center for Microgravity
      Research. Six experiments are sponsored by NASA’s Microgravity Research
      Program and study crystal growth, cell formation and other fundamental
      science questions. Six experiments are sponsored by NASA’s Space Product
      Development Program that helps industry do business in space through
      17 Commercial Space Centers located across America. These experiments
      include experiments focusing on bone loss treatments, plant growth,
      pharmaceutical production, and petroleum refining.