This week, NASA is starting work on reconfiguring the International Space Station to create space for the docking of two commercial missions.
The reconfiguration, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year, is the first major overhaul of the station, after the 2011 renovation.
At the end of the station’s construction, NASA will resign its space fleet and will use Russian launch vehicles that will cost the United States more than $ 70 million per person.
NASA, which plans to stop working with Russia before the end of 2017, will sign contracts with Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX to develop, test and use capsules that will allow sending crew members to the ISS. The agency expects the cost of sending one member of the crew of the ISS to drop to $ 58 million. The re-tuning of the station will open the docking port for the Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Dragon capsules. One docking point will be located at the front end of the American Harmony segment where the space shuttle will dock. The other will be located on the Harmony anti-aircraft docking module.
The spacecraft will also need dock targets, communications systems and other mechanisms, all of which will be installed during the seven spacewalks scheduled for this year.
The first spacewalk is scheduled for this Friday, when Barry Wilmore and flight engineer Terry Wirz will make the first of three excursions to prepare cables and communication devices. The other two exits are scheduled for February 24 and March 1.