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Extreme Space Makeover

Endeavor crew to expand International Space Station from 3-bedroom to 5-bedroom, 2-bath

By Suzanne Freeman | November 13 , 2008
The International Space Station (ISS). (Photo: NASA)
The International Space Station (ISS). (Photo: NASA)

Wanted: five-bedroom, two-bath residence for six. Must be able to orbit the earth.

The International Space Station (ISS) will soon be able to meet those requirements. The space shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Friday. Its crew's mission is to expand the three-bedroom, one-bath home for three into bigger digs for a larger crew. The crew will also install a recycling system to turn urine into drinkable water.

Friday's planned takeoff is the fourth space shuttle mission this year. Veteran space flier Navy Capt. Chris Ferguson, 47, will command the flight, set to launch at 7:55 p.m. EST—unless a cold front reportedly on the way causes a delay. If the front hits on Saturday, as currently predicted, the shuttle will be long gone from its launch pad.

If the mission is on schedule, the crew of seven should arrive at the space station two days later. They are scheduled to perform four space walks to get all the work done.

The shuttle will also deliver a new flight engineer, Sandra Magnus, 44, to join the Expedition 18 crew. Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff (SHA-eh-tawf), 45, returns to Earth with the shuttle after it completes its 15-day mission.

In discussing the mission with reporters, Magnus said, "there is definitely a yuck factor," when it comes to the water recycling project. She reassured everyone that the water would be clean and appealing.

"We are not really drinking our own urine," she explained. "We are drinking water that has been reclaimed from a process with urine as the input."

astronaut working on the international space station
An astronaut works on the International Space Station. (Photo: NASA)


Along with the recycling system, the Endeavor will carry an Italian-built reusable logistics module, named Leonardo. The module contains 14,416 pounds of supplies and equipment. The materials include an exercise device, a second toilet, a galley (kitchen), and two sleep stations.

When Leonardo returns to Earth with the crew, it will be bringing home an estimated 3,441 pounds of equipment and scientific samples from station research.

Friday's scheduled flight is the 27th shuttle mission to the ISS, and among the final for NASA's space shuttle fleet. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is retiring the fleet in 2010, when it hopes to unveil a space vessel called Orion. As part of the Constellation Program, Orion will send human explorers back to the moon. The craft, which is currently under construction, will also be designed to take astronauts to Mars and to other destinations in the solar system.

Eight to 10 flights remain in the current space shuttle schedule. Seven of those flights, including Friday's Endeavor launch, are for completing construction of the ISS.

Discover more about the final frontier in the News From Outer Space Special Report!

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blog it NASA's plans for future missions include returning to the moon and then traveling to Mars. Would you want to live on the moon? Would you want to visit Mars? What other places in outer space would you like to visit?

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