Discovery Delivers a Module "Filled With Dreams"

After a wait of more than two decades, "hope" arrived at the International Space Station on June 3, 2008, just three days into space shuttle Discovery's STS-124 mission.

Using the space station's robotic arm, Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Karen Nyberg slowly and carefully maneuvered the 32,500-pound Japanese Pressurized Module out of Discovery's payload bay. More than two hours later, as Earth rolled by below, Hoshide installed it on the left side of the station's Harmony node.

"We have a new hope on the International Space Station," said Hoshide, who represents the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The Pressurized Module is the largest piece of hardware in the Japanese Experiment Module known as "Kibo," or hope. After 23 years in the making, Japan's contribution to the International Space Station is finally taking shape in orbit.

Discovery's STS-124 mission was the second of three shuttle flights required to deliver the entire Kibo complex to the station.

Commanded by astronaut Mark Kelly, the seven-member crew started the two-week mission May 31 with a spectacular late-afternoon liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Discovery roared toward orbit at 5:02 p.m. EDT and started its two-day orbital pursuit of the space station.

On June 2, with Pilot Ken Ham at the controls, the orbiter linked up with the space station as the two spacecraft flew above the South Pacific. Later that afternoon, astronaut Greg Chamitoff took the place of ISS Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who had served three months aboard the station.

Mission Specialists Mike Fossum and Ron Garan conducted the mission's first spacewalk the next day, which marked the 43rd anniversary of astronaut Ed White's first U.S. spacewalk. During their six-and-a-half-hour excursion, the spacewalkers prepared the laboratory module for installation. They also cleaned and inspected the station's starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, one of two such joints which help the power-generating solar arrays follow the sun.

The Japanese Pressurized Module was officially open for science the following day. Read more...>

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