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STS 106



STS 106 was an American shuttle spacecraft that was launched from Cape Canaveral. Veteran Astronaut Terry Wilcutt (Col., USMC) led the seven-man crew, commanding his second Shuttle flight and making his fourth trip into space. During the 11-day mission, Wilcutt and his crew mates spent a week inside the ISS unloading supplies from both a double SPACEHAB cargo module in the rear of Atlantis's cargo bay and from a Russian Progress M-1 resupply craft docked to the aft end of the Zvezda Service Module. Zvezda, which linked up to the ISS on July 26, served as the early living quarters for the station and is the cornerstone of the Russian contribution to the ISS.

The goal of the flight was to prepare Zvezda for the arrival of the first resident, or Expedition, crew later this fall and the start of a permanent human presence on the new outpost. That crew, Expedition Commander Bill Shepherd, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, is due to launch in a Soyuz capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in late October for a four-month "shakedown" mission aboard the ISS.

In addition, Dr. Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko (Col., Russian Air Force), both making their second flights into space, conducted a 6=-hour space walk on the fourth day of the flight to hook up electrical, communications and telemetry cables between Zvezda and the Zarya Control Module, whose computers handed over commanding functions to the Service Module's computers in a smooth transition in late July. Lu and Malenchenko also installed a magnetometer to the exterior of Zvezda. The magnetometer will serve as a three-dimensional compass designed to minimize Zvezda propellent usage by relaying information to the module's computers regarding its orientation relative to the Earth.

It was the second joint U.S.-Russian space walk outside a Space Shuttle, following on the work conducted by Astronaut Scott Parazynski and Cosmonaut Vladimir Titov outside Atlantis while docked to the Mir Space Station during the STS-86 mission in October 1997. Lu, designated EV 1, wore the space suit marked by red stripes, while Malenchenko, EV 2, wore the pure white suit. This was Lu's first space walk, while Malenchenko conducted a pair of space walks totaling 12 hours during his four-month stay aboard Mir in 1994. Dan Burbank (Lt. Cmdr, USCG), who was a space rookie, served as the space walk choreographer.

Mission Specialist Rick Mastracchio, also a space novice, was the prime robot arm operator for the mission, using the Canadian-built arm to move Lu and Malenchenko around the ISS as they conducted their assembly work. Mastracchio was backed up on arm operations by Pilot Scott Altman (Cmdr., USN), making his second flight into space.

The final member of the crew was Russian Cosmonaut Dr. Boris Morukov, making his first flight into space. Morukov was responsible for unloading supplies from the Progress vehicle during the docked phase of the flight.

When Wilcutt guided Atlantis in for its docking with the ISS on the third day of the mission, he found the new station a much larger facility than the one left by the STS-101 crew during its flight in May. With the addition of the Zvezda and the Progress resupply ship, the ISS will measure 143 feet in length, roughly the height of a 13-story building, and will weigh 67 tons, twice the size of the ISS back in May. The joining of Zvezda to the ISS and the arrival of the Progress provided about 8,800 cubic feet of habitable volume for Station crew members, roughly the size of a comfortable apartment. By the time the U.S. Laboratory Destiny is installed on the ISS in January, the Station will have surpassed both Skylab and Mir in total livable space.

On the fifth day of the flight, Atlantis's crew entered the ISS, opening the hatch for the first time to Zvezda and to the Progress to begin unloading 1,300 pounds of goods from the Russian craft for the first resident crew, including items ranging from clothing to medical kits, personal hygiene kits, laptop computers, a color printer, vacuum cleaners, food warmers for Zvezda's galley, trash bags and critical life support hardware, including an Elektron oxygen generation unit and a Vozdukh carbon dioxide removal unit. Elektron and Vozdukh will be unstowed from the Progress and moved into Zvezda, but will not be installed and activated until the Expedition One crew arrives on board. The first toilet for the ISS will be delivered to Zvezda on the last day of the crew's work inside the Station for installation this fall once the Expedition 1 crew is on board.

Among the first tasks facing Atlantis's crew was the installation of three batteries and associated electronic components in Zvezda and replacement of two of the six batteries in the Zarya module, completing the work begun by the STS-101 crew in May. Zvezda was launched from Baikonur on July 12 with five of its eight battery sets already installed. Lu and Malenchenko were in charge of the installation work in Zvezda. Also earmarked for Zvezda was the activation of two gas masks which will serve as standard emergency equipment for ISS crews and three fire extinguishers. In addition, American- Russian power conversion units were installed in Zvezda on this flight to route electricity from huge solar arrays which will be installed on the STS-97 mission to the Russian modules. Electrical components to charge the batteries of Soyuz or Progress vehicles visiting the ISS will be installed in Zvezda as well.

While Morukov spent most of his time unloading supplies from the Progress, Mastracchio was in charge of unloading 2 tons of equipment from the SPACEHAB module, including medical equipment for the ISS' Crew Health Care System, or CheCS, which will serve as the heart of the station's clinic for orbiting crews, and a treadmill device and bicycle ergometer which will serve as the first exercise gear for crews on board the ISS. Associated hardware for the treadmill which will prevent its use from disturbing sensitive microgravity experiments, was installed by the crew members near the end of their stay on board.

On the tenth day of the flight, Atlantis undocked from the ISS and Altman conducted a flyaround of the newly expanded station to enable his crew mates to conduct photo documentation of the outpost

The shuttle landed back in Cape Canaveral at 07:56 UT on 20 September, after a 12 day mission.

Alternate Names

  • 26489
  • STS106

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2000-09-08
Launch Vehicle: Shuttle
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (United States)


  • Human Crew

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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