NASA has officially taken possession of the Tranquility node, which will be the last major component set to be added to the International Space Station. When delivered to the ISS in February by the space shuttle Endeavour, the pressurized node will provide additional room for crew members and many of the space station's life support and environmental control systems already on board.
"Tranquility was built for NASA by Thales Alenia Space, in Turin, Italy, under contract to the European Space Agency," NASA said in a news release Nov. 23. Although Tranquility was actually delivered in May to "the cavernous Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida," NASA did not officially take possession until Nov. 20.
"Spanning about 22 feet in length and 14 feet in diameter ... Tranquility's connection point on the station will be on the Earth-facing side of the Unity node. The new component will provide an additional docking point for space shuttles and other crew vehicles visiting the station. Attached to Tranquility will be Cupola, a unique work module with six windows on the sides and one on top," NASA said.
According to NASA, Cupola's windows will be more than trimmings. "As more cargo vehicles begin frequenting the space station, the station's robotic arm is going to be called into action to capture some of them as they approach and guide them into their docking port," NASA said in a June 19 feature on the space shuttle. Cupola will provide additional views for those operations.
NASA has been touting the delivery of the Tranquility mode and its attached Cupola since the summer.
"This flight will, I think, grab the public's attention," Kirk Shireman, ISS program deputy manager, said in the same June 19 statement. "It's just going to be a really, really neat module for those on board. The dream of being able to go out and just have an unencumbered view of space-we'll have it. You can open up all the windows and look around and really feel like you're out there."