The New York Times announced the lift-off of the 129th shuttle mission. Atlantis‘s primary objective, according to the article, is to supply the station with back-up equipment, including components that are not yet in use (ammonia and nitrogen for the station’s impending cooling system). Wrote William Harwood on NYT’s online edition: (Continued after jump)
The primary goal of the 129th shuttle flight is to deliver critical spares to the space station that are too large to be launched on the European, Japanese and Russian cargo ships that will be used to support the outpost after the shuttle is retired next year.
Mounted on twin pallets in Atlantis’s payload bay are two spare gyroscopes, used to control the space station’s orientation in space, a high-pressure oxygen tank for the lab’s airlock, and a spare pump module, ammonia coolant and nitrogen that will be needed at some point by the station’s cooling system.
Other components include a spare mechanical hand-like appendage for the station’s robot arm, a power cable spool used by the arm’s mobile transporter, a solar array battery charge-discharge unit and a device designed to prevent electrical arcing that could pose a threat to spacewalkers.
Sure, it’s the coolest and some of the most expensive equipment ever leaving our world, and granted, they are moving personell too, but come on! NASA just discovered that there is definitively water on the moon; somebody else do the heavy lifting.