The coming year will be the most challenging ever for construction of the International Space Station. Already more than two-thirds of the way through the assembly of its core structure, international crews face a full and busy construction schedule.

2003 will be about power for the Station. Electricity-
generating systems will almost triple in capacity during the
next 12 months. The Station crew faces a unique challenge,
while almost continuously rewiring their orbiting home and
laboratory, the electrical work must be done with virtually
all-household appliances and computers continuously running
without interruption.

“The year ahead will be the most complex so far in the
history of the International Space Station and its
construction in orbit,” NASA Station Program Manager Bill
Gerstenmaier said. “The Station literally becomes a new
spacecraft with each assembly mission, and that will be true
next year with dramatic changes in the operations of its
cooling and power systems as well as in its appearance,” he

During 2003 three new research facilities will be delivered
to the U.S. Destiny Laboratory, bringing the total number of
research racks on orbit to 10. Approximately 30 experiments
are planned on board the Station in 2003. Crewmembers will
conduct biology, physics, chemistry, ecology, medicine, and
manufacturing experiments and also study long-term effects
of space flight on humans. In addition, the continuous
detailed measurement of the acceleration environment of the
Station will be extended to rigorously characterize
background levels that could affect research data.

2003 is planned to be the final full year of assembly of the
Station’s core structure, with orbital assembly of the
complex scheduled to be well into the home stretch as the
year draws to a close. Five NASA Space Shuttle flights are
scheduled to launch more than 80,000 pounds of components,
supplies and experiments to the Station. The Shuttle
missions will launch four new sections of the Station’s
backbone, or truss, to extend its length from the present
134 feet to 310 feet by the end of 2003.

The new truss segments will include two new huge sets of
solar array wings for the complex, totaling almost 6,300
square feet of surface area containing more than 65,000
individual solar power cells. The new truss segments include
giant rotary joints to allow the tips of the Station
“backbone” to continuously move, as the massive panels track
the sun. The increased power will allow scientific
experiments to expand aboard the complex in the years to
come, far surpassing any previous research capability in

“Today’s station, after four years of orbital assembly, is
unprecedented and spectacular,” Gerstenmaier said. “But the
complex in orbit today pales in comparison to what it is
planned to become by early 2004 – a research facility with
unmatched capabilities,” he said.

Plans call for astronauts to conduct a world record 24
spacewalks next year for Station assembly; 18 of those while
the Shuttle is docked to the Station, and six while the
Station is flying solo. 2003 will be the third consecutive
year to set a single-year record for the number of
spacewalks. The installation of the new truss segments and
unfurling of the arrays also will require unprecedented
robotic operations. Those operations will use both the
Shuttle and Station arms. The operations will rely heavily
on the capabilities of the Station’s space railway to move
the Station’s robotic arm along the truss to position new

Three Expedition crews will live aboard the station during
2003, including the current Expedition Six crew of Commander
Ken Bowersox, NASA Station Science Officer Don Pettit and
Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin. They will ring in the New
Year in orbit. Another 31 people, representing at least five
nationalities, are set to visit the Station during 2003
aboard the Shuttle and aboard Soyuz spacecraft taxi
missions. Those visitors include Educator Astronaut Barbara
Morgan, whose inspirational mission in late 2003 will carry
students to the heights of orbit.

As NASA looks toward an exciting 2003, a tremendously
successful year of Station assembly is closing. Four Shuttle
missions traveled to the station in 2002, delivering almost
90,000 pounds of new components.

The deliveries included three new segments of the Station’s
truss backbone. The segments stretch 134 feet across the
orbiting outpost and incorporate station “air conditioning,”
thermal control systems and radiators. The flights also
delivered key components of the first “space railroad,” a
railcar that travels up and down a railway on the truss
carrying a Canadian mobile base for the robotic arm. Also
installed were two astronaut “handcars” to ease the
transport of spacewalkers and their gear up and down the
railway. Astronauts conducted a record 22 spacewalks during

The final segment of the Station’s backbone is scheduled for
launch in January 2004. It will boost the completed length
of the truss to 354 feet. The Station’s mass will approach a
half-million pounds.

A look at the year ahead for the International Space
(Russian Progress flights not listed)

Shuttle Mission STS-114 (Atlantis)
Launch: March 1, 2003
Objectives: ISS ULF 1 ­ Deliver new Station crew;
deliver research and logistics equipment
and install new Control Moment Gyroscope
Spacewalks: Three
Crew: Commander Eileen Collins
Pilot Jim Kelly
Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi
Mission Specialist Steve Robinson

Expedition Seven Crew (Up):
Commander Yuri Malenchenko
Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri
NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu

Expedition Six Crew (Down):
Commander Ken Bowersox
Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin
NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit

Soyuz 6
Launch: April 26, 2003
Objectives: Deliver fresh Soyuz crew rescue vehicle
Crew: Commander Gennady Padalka
Flight Engineer Pedro Duque
Third crewmember TBD

Shuttle Mission STS-115 (Endeavour)
Launch: May 23, 2003
Objectives: ISS 12A ­ Install Port-side truss section
consisting of segments 3 and 4 (P3/P4),
including solar array wings, batteries and
Spacewalks: Four
Crew: Commander Brent Jett
Pilot Christopher Ferguson
Mission Specialist Dan Burbank
Mission Specialist Steve MacLean
Mission Specialist Heidemarie Stefanshyn-Piper
Mission Specialist Joe Tanner

Shuttle Mission STS-116 (Atlantis)
Launch: July 24, 2003
Objectives: ISS 12A.1 ­ Deliver new station crew;
deliver Portside truss section number 5 (P5)
Spacewalks: Four
Crew: Commander Terry Wilcutt
Pilot Bill Oefelein
Mission Specialist Bob Curbeam
Mission Specialist Christer Fuglesang

Expedition Eight Crew (Up):
Commander Mike Foale
Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev
NASA ISS Science Officer Bill McArthur

Expedition Seven Crew (Down):
Commander Yuri Malenchenko
Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri
NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu

Shuttle Mission STS-117 (Endeavour)
Launch: Oct. 2, 2003
Objectives: ISS 13A — Deliver starboard-side truss
consisting of segments 3 and 4 (S3/S4),
including solar array wings, batteries and electronics
Spacewalks: Four

Crew: Commander Rick Sturckow
Pilot Mark Polansky
Mission Specialist Jim Reilly
Mission Specialist Rick Mastracchio
Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham
Mission Specialist Pat Forrester

Soyuz 7
Launch: Oct. 18, 2003
Objectives: Deliver fresh Soyuz crew rescue vehicle
Crew: Three-person taxi crew TBD

Shuttle Mission STS-118 (Columbia)
Launch: No earlier than Nov. 13, 2003
Objectives: ISS 13A.1 ­ Deliver Starboard-side truss
segment 5 (S5); Educator Astronaut flight
Spacewalks: Three
Crew: Commander Scott Kelly
Pilot Charlie Hobaugh
Mission Specialist Scott Parazynski
Mission Specialist David Williams
Mission Specialist Lisa Nowak
Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan