Endeavour: Bringing the (Solar) Power to the ISS

The Shuttle Endeavour lifted off at 10:06 p.m. EST on November 30th, 2000.

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Here’s a fun historical note, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is named after the HMS Endeavour, the ship that then Lieutenant James Cook commanded on a voyage to Australia and New Zealand. The HMS Endeavour’s expedition around the world also included a stop at the island of Tahiti to record the transit of Venus across the sun in 1769. The other spacecraft to bear the name Endeavour was the Command Service Module on the Apollo 15 mission. That’s one prestigious lineage.

A crew of five astronauts spent 10 days in space during STS-97, delivering a massive new truss and solar panel assembly to the International Space Station.

Installing the P6 truss and solar panels on the station might not sound all that impressive. However, if you’ve ever seen the space station fly overhead its probably because you’ve seen the sunlight reflected off the massive solar panels on the space station, one of which is located on the P6 Truss. The P6 truss weighs 35,000 pounds, one of the heaviest payloads the shuttle ever took to orbit.

The two massive 115 feet long solar arrays were stored inside small containers; the accordion style solar panels fold up into an incredibly compact size.

Four of these trusses, each with four solar panels provide power to the station, as well as smaller solar panels located around the station.

Even though Endeavour was docked to the ISS for about a half hour shy of seven days, the crew of the shuttle only interacted with Expedition 1 for a day. The docking hatch was closed to allow the shuttle to keep the cabin pressure at the levels required for spacewalks.

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With the installation of the P6 truss and solar arrays complete and supplies transferred to the International Space Station, it was time for Endeavour to head back to Earth. The five astronauts on the shuttle left their fellow explorers on the station, and slowly backed away from the station. This allowed the shuttle to photograph the work they had just accomplished and to snap some incredible pictures of the then new station.

Picture Credits- NASA. Astronaut Joseph Tanner is pictured here during his EVA. He snapped a selfie in one, and is pictured working on the solar panels in the other picture.

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Hosts The Space Shot & The Cosmosphere Podcast. Podcaster. Techie. Bibliophile. Space science & history nerd.

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