KSC contact: George Diller

KSC Release No. 55 – 00

The U.S. Laboratory, Destiny, has more than successfully
completed a series of milestone testing operations that move it closer to
its final destination – space.

The 32,000-pound scientific research lab was the first
International Space Station (ISS) pressurized element to spend seven days in
a renovated vacuum chamber last used when Americans walked on the moon. The
28-foot-long, 14-foot wide laboratory was placed in the chamber July 1 to
undergo the element leak test.

“Completing this test was a large step in meeting the lab’s
‘Destiny’; launch early next year. Its performance exceeded expectations,
boosting our confidence in on-orbit performance. I’m very happy for the lab
team,” said Tip Talone, director of International Space Station and Payload
Processing at KSC.

NASA and Boeing employees coordinated the operation.

“Testing the laboratory in the vacuum chamber has provided
us with the information we need to ensure Destiny is leak free and safe for
the astronauts to inhabit while working at the International Space Station,”
said John Elbon, Boeing director of ISS ground operations at Kennedy Space

To perform the test, the laboratory was placed on the
rotation and handling fixture inside the Operations & Checkout (O&C)
Building high bay, raised to vertical, lifted and moved to a point above the
chamber, then lowered inside. Once the lid was lowered and secured, the
chamber created a vacuum environment equivalent to 257,000 feet altitude or
48 miles to determine if the module had any leaks and confirm the rates at
which gases were consumed.

The three-story, stainless steel chamber is one of two built
by NASA in 1964 to test the Apollo program flight hardware. The 33-foot-wide
by 50-foot-tall chambers were used to simulate a low-Earth orbit environment
for the command and lunar modules. Both chambers were deactivated in 1975
when the Apollo-Soyuz project ended.

In 1998, NASA selected the Boeing payload ground operations contract
team to renovate one of the two chambers to leak test pressurized elements
of the Space Station. The team, which included NASA and Dynacs Engineering
Co., provided designs for the new vacuum chamber pumping equipment and
controls, a new control room and a new rotation and handling fixture.

The U.S. Laboratory as been designed to provide world-class,
state-of-the art facilities to complete scientific research in zero gravity.
There is space for 24 racks inside the module – 13 will be dedicated to
scientific research and 11 will provide cooling water, power and temperature
and humidity control, as well revitalization to remove carbon dioxide and
replenish oxygen. During the early assembly missions, astronauts will
manipulate the Canadian robotic arm from within the lab using an integrated
video system that will receive live pictures from cameras positioned on the
arm and on the Station’s structure.

Destiny is among more than 216,000 pounds of Space Station elements,
including truss sections that are being prepared for flight at Kennedy Space
Center. The lab is scheduled to be launched on Shuttle mission STS 98, the
5A assembly mission, targeted for Jan. 18, 2001. When fully assembled in
2004, the Space Station will house a crew of seven -who will be able to work
in 46,000 cubic feet of pressurized volume spread across six laboratories,
two habitation modules, and two logistics modules.