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U.S. Destiny Laboratory

When Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered Destiny -- the U.S. Laboratory -- to the International Space Station during STS-98, the achievement was hailed as a major milestone for human space flight. Astronaut Tom Jones performed three spacewalks during that mission in February 2001 to activate the new module.

Destiny Lab being delivered to Station He said, "STS-98 … has always been a big milestone on the charts of Space Station assembly because it marks the arrival of the United States Laboratory, called Destiny. And the Lab … is really the guts of the Space Station's research and command and control capabilities. It becomes possible to do science and to make … quality science because of the arrival of the Lab."

Image to right: The Destiny Laboratory is being delivered to the Station by the Space Shuttle in 2001. Credit: NASA

Destiny is the primary research laboratory for U.S. payloads, supporting a wide range of experiments and studies contributing to health, safety and quality of life for people all over the world. Science conducted on the Station offers researchers an unparalleled opportunity to test physical processes in the absence of gravity. The results of these experiments will allow scientists to better understand our world and ourselves and prepare us for future missions, perhaps to the Moon and Mars.

Destiny Laboratory Interactive Image to left: This interactive looks at the racks and facilities in the Destiny Laboratory.

The laboratory was designed to hold sets of modular racks that could be added, removed or replaced as necessary. They can contain fluid and electrical connectors, video equipment, sensors, controllers and motion dampeners to support whatever experiments are housed in them.

When it arrived at the Station, Destiny had five racks housing electrical and life-support systems. Subsequent shuttle missions have delivered more racks and experiment facilities, including the Microgravity Science Glovebox, the Human Research Facility and five racks to hold various science experiments. Eventually, Destiny will hold up to 13 payload racks with experiments in human life science, materials research, Earth observations and commercial applications.

Astronaut Rex Walheim looks out Destiny window Destiny's window -- which takes up the space of one rack -- is an optical gem that makes possible the ability to shoot very high quality photos and video. Station crewmembers use video and still cameras at the window to record Earth's ever-changing landscapes below.

Image to right: STS-110 Mission Specialist Rex Walheim looks through the Destiny Lab's window. Credit: NASA

Imagery captured from this window has given geologists and meteorologists the opportunity to study floods, avalanches, fires and ocean events such as plankton blooms in a way they have never seen before. Imagery captured from this window has given international scientists the opportunity to study such features as glaciers, coral reefs, urban growth and wild fires.

Before the Station is complete, Destiny will be joined by laboratory modules sponsored by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, European Space Agency and Roskosmos.

In addition to its role as a science facility, Destiny also contains the control center for the Station's robotic arm operations.

Comparison of Destiny Lab content in 2001, left, and 2002 Image above: The photo on the left shows the Destiny Lab's interior as it appeared when it was added to the Station in 2001. A year later, as the photo on the right shows, the Lab is a busy, well-equipped facility. Credit: NASA

Physical Description

The aluminum module is 28 feet long and 14 feet in diameter. The lab consists of three cylindrical sections and two endcones with hatches that can be mated to other station components. A 20-inch-diameter window is located on one side of the center module segment.

An exterior waffle pattern strengthens the hull of the lab. The exterior is covered by a debris shield blanket made of a material similar to that used in bulletproof vests on Earth. A thin aluminum debris shield has been placed over the blanket for additional protection.

The Laboratory Module arrived at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. in November 1998 to begin final preparations for its launch on Feb. 7, 2001, aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-98, Station assembly flight 5A.

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