The next shuttle mission to the International Space Station is set for Friday, November 14. The seven-person crew has several important mission tasks to help prepare the space outpost for an expanded crew next year. VOA's Paul Sisco has more.
Space shuttle commander Chris Ferguson and his crew say they are ready for the 15-day mission. If all goes as planned Endeavour will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center for the International Space Station Friday evening.
A key part of the mission is delivery of a water reclamation system for the international space station. Bob Bagdigian helped create the system to turn astronauts' urine, sweat, and other liquid waste into drinking water.
"Although we could launch all the water that the crew needs, by recycling water, we can turn that, that waste water back into clean drinkable potable water, and therefore greatly reduce the amount of water that the space shuttle or any other resupply vehicle would have to launch from the Earth," he explained.
Scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama designed and built the space station's life support system. It has two major components: the Water Recovery System and an oxygen generating system that is already onboard. Once connected and operational, the space station, which now supports three member crews will double its capacity.
"Once everything is checked out we'll be able to support up to six crew members on orbit," Bagdigian said. "That will allow a greater amount of work dedicated to performing science and allowing space station to fully live up to its potential."
The system is called ECLSS - for environmental control and life support system. Ferguson says it will eventually produce about 15 liters of drinkable water a day.
"If we are ever to go on long duration spaceflight to Mars, and live there or go to the moon and live there we are going to have to find a way to recycle just about everything that we use," Ferguson explained.
The crew will deliver more than 14,000 kilograms of equipment to the station; conduct at least four spacewalks to inspect, lubricate and replace two malfunctioning joints on solar arrays; and celebrate the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station on November 20.