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May 31, 2008

Shuttle: Cornucopia of cool cargo

Posted: 05:29 PM ET

The most talked about cargo on the shuttle Discovery?

There’s that billion dollar Japanese laboratory…

The spare parts for the toilet…

And Buzz Lightyear!

Buzz in space: talk about product placement!

And depending on whether you’re a Japanese scientist, a space station crewmember tired of dealing with a primitive potty, or the PR folks at Walt Disney World… the order may vary.

The Japanese lab, known as Kibo, will be the nerve center of a scientific outpost that’s been in the works for years. Eventually, researchers will be able to work in five different experiment modules, focusing on everything from cell biology to fluid physics.

Far less scientifically exotic, but ever so necessary in this orbiting home away from home, a gas-liquid separator, urine collector bags, filters and other hardware to fix an only partially functioning toilet in the Zvezda service module.

And one of the goofier objects to hitch a ride on a shuttle (with an important educational component, of course) is a foot tall Buzz Lightyear action figure.

Astronaut and moonwalker Buzz Aldrin shows his lighter side in a video counseling young Buzz Lightyear about what it’s like flying in space. Catch it here:

Lightyear will try to get kids interested in the space program, and especially in math and science. And of course, encourage them to check out a new ride called Toy Story Mania! at both Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in California. The younger and smaller Buzz is scheduled to spend several months on the International Space Station, and return to Walt Disney World later this year.

A few sports items are also making the journey.

Among them, according to NASA: One of Lance Armstrong’s yellow jerseys from the Tour de France bicycle race, a backup jersey that New York Giants’ Eli Manning took to the Super Bowl, and the last jersey baseball's Craig Biggio wore in a game. (He played for the Houston Astros, OF COURSE!)

Marsha Walton, CNN science and technology producer at the Kennedy Space Center

Filed under: NASA • Space

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george   May 31st, 2008 5:43 pm ET

oh boy , here we go again, i saw not one chunk but two chunks! of foam loss, is that serious. i though nasa and their "engineers" fix this problem or they cant fly with these new tanks or i thought ? that i need glasses. what a monster.lets get on with project ares.

s callahan   June 1st, 2008 2:27 pm ET

I love that they are including Buzz Lightyear on this young nephews (ages 6 and 8) are fascinated by this.....and this helps them connect to what is going on, which as you said was meant to get the kids interested.
I'll bet the boys up there are going to love the new toys!

Franko   June 6th, 2008 3:50 am ET

"i saw not one chunk but two chunks! of foam loss, is that serious"
I would blame it on the managers, not the engineers.
After one crash, any top class manager can pay attention.

Just use nylon net stockings as the starting idea.
Astrogel is very light, contained by a firmer covering.

Jeff   June 10th, 2008 7:45 pm ET


If you were paying any attention at all to what the senior level engineers at NASA said, those two pieces of foam fell off the tank at such a time that atmospheric pressure, altitude and such rendered the loss of foam to be not of great concern. Besides, when you place hundreds of thousands of gallons of supercooled liquid into what amounts to a giant thermos, some expansion of metal (and ultimately loss of foam) will happen. The high-definition examination of the special tiles on the bottom of the shuttle revealed no major damage.

Unlike you, George, I trust that people put in charge of things know what theyre talking about and know what they are doing.

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