By Tracy McMahan. Originally published inthe Marshall Star

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

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 the Marshall
Center. 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 Hous-ton,
Texas, but his team members are
stationed in NASA’s Payload Operations
Center at the Marshall Center – the
Space Station command post for science

“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, safe drug delivery capsules,
antibiotic production, cancer cell forma-
tion, 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.

Marshall’s contributions
to Space Shuttle Flight STS-108
and 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 treat-ments,
    plant growth, pharmaceutical production and petroleum refining.