The ELCs will provide scientists with a platform and infrastructure to deploy experiments in the vacuum of space without requiring a separate dedicated Earth-orbiting satellite, and will also serve as parking fixtures for spare International Space Station (ISS) hardware which can be retrieved robotically long after the shuttle retires.
"It took more than 100 engineers from Goddard, Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers working together over a three-year period to complete this project," said ELC Project Manager Kevin Carmack at NASA Goddard.
Engineers from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Carriers Development Office at Goddard constitute a large segment of this new organization. The team developed the unique ELC design, which incorporates elements of both types of science and spare hardware pallets. Goddard served as the overall integrator and manufacturer of the ELCs.
The ELCs are designed to fit in the space shuttle's cargo bay and each is capable of carrying up to 12 fully integrated payloads, Orbital Replacement Units, and/or first time outfitting cargo to the ISS. Two ELCs will be attached to the ISS on the starboard truss 3 and two ELCs will be attached to the port truss via the space shuttle's robotic arm.
ELCs #1 and #2 will fly aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-129 mission slated for November 16. ELC #3 will fly aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-134 mission in July 2010, while ELC #4 will be carried to the ISS aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in September 2010. ELC #5 will serve as a spare.
Susan Hendrix | EurekAlert!
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