NASA Selects Experiments for Space Station Freedom
NASA has chosen 27 scientific experiments that will examine everything from cosmic dust to tropical rain patterns to fly aboard the planned space station Freedom, the agency announced Thursday.
Officials said 14 of the experiments will be mounted aboard elements of the space station’s structure during its construction phase. Thirteen others will lay groundwork for more complicated research that will demand greater power and data-handling capacity than Freedom is expected to have in its initial stages.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration hopes to begin building the space station in the mid-1990s, beginning with a “man-tended” capability and ending with habitable modules to allow full-time operation by an international crew of eight or so astronauts.
The station, expected to cost more than $20 billion to build and operate, faces budget hurdles in Congress, however, and it is possible construction will be stretched out to reduce short-term costs.
A major factor in determining what experiments can be placed on board is electrical power. Initial power will come for large solar panels but later NASA hopes to add more powerful solar collectors.
Some of the experiments announced Thursday will be housed in the station’s habitable modules. They are the “Astromag,” an ultra-cooled, superconducting electromagnet to measure cosmic rays, and the Cosmic Dust Collection Facility, designed to capture and record direction and speed of cosmic particles.
The scientific studies selected for Freedom’s initial operations phase will involve about 130 scientists from government, private industry, universities and five foreign nations.