|Volume: 05, Issue: 05||10/25/2006|
ESA Astronaut Christer Fuglesang Gets Ready for the Next Shuttle MissionWith NASA's launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on flight STS-116 scheduled for the night of Thursday, December 7 to Friday, December 8, 2006, at 01:38 GMT, at the earliest, ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang of Sweden is set to become the first citizen of a Nordic country to fly to the International Space Station(ISS). Fuglesang is currently undergoing intensive training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to prepare for the mission.
Flight STS-116 is a very demanding undertaking and begins a series of complex missions scheduled to complete the construction of the Space Station. Two days after launch, Discovery will dock with the ISS and the seven Shuttle crew members will ingress into the Station. They will be welcomed by the three resident astronauts from the Expedition 14 crew, which includes ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter of Germany, who has been onboard since July 2006.
The mission's main objectives are to attach the PS connector element of the integrated truss structure to the Station and to connect the power from two large electricity-generating solar array panels already onboard since September. The solar array panels will provide a permanent supply of electricity for the ISS, which has been running on a temporary electrical power system since it went into orbit in 1998.
During the twelve-day mission, Christer Fuglesang and his NASA counterpart Robert Curbeam will carry out two Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs or spacewalks). During the first, the P5 truss structure will be installed. The main task during the second EVA is to rewire the power system for one half of the Station. The other half of the power system will be rewired during the third EVA, carried out by Robert Curbeam and Sunita Williams. The astronauts will head outside the ISS in their EVA suits and wait for mission control to switch off the ISS power. Once permission has been granted, they will unplug existing cables and plug them into new locations along the ISS.
Christer Fuglesang's mission is called "Celsius" after Anders Celsius, the inventor of the thermometer. The famous Swedish astronomer has a deep impact on the daily lives of his contemporaries in the 18th Century, just as space exploration is changing the lives of all of us today.
After completing his twelve-day mission, Christer Fuglesang will return to Earth accompanied by Thomas Reiter, who will by then have completed his six-month Astrolab mission onboard the ISS. The Shuttle landing is scheduled for no earlier than December 18, 2006, at the Kennedy Space Center.
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