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Space Station EXPRESS Rack Flying On STS-83 Mission Puts Science Customers On Fast Track Into Space

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- When the space shuttle Columbia blasts off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., for the STS-83 mission, scheduled for April 3, on-board will be an International Space Station rack that promises to allow scientists quicker, easier and more affordable access for getting their experiments into space.

The EXPRESS Rack on-board Columbia is designed to provide multiple smaller payloads with quick, simple integration thanks to standardized hardware interfaces and a streamlined approach. This "plug-in and go" rack, built by Boeing, will allow experiments to easily transfer from the shuttle to the International Space Station.

EXPRESS stands for EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to the Space Station. The EXPRESS Rack will allow researchers to have experiments operating on-board the space station in just 11 months or less after signing a single integration agreement. Previously, researchers have had to wait three years or more to get their experiments into space.

The "EXPRESS" system was developed by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's (MSFC) Payload Projects Office, with the EXPRESS Rack built by Boeing in Huntsville, Ala. Experiments may be controlled by the crew on-board from the experiment or laptop computer, or operated via uplink from the ground from the operations center or a remote customer facility.

Included in the subsystems of the EXPRESS Rack's subsystems are an avionics air assembly to cool payloads for the space station, and a system providing power distribution and protection to payloads in the rack. Another system provides a communication link between payloads, the Spacelab data system and ground controllers. On the mission, this system will simulate the command and control link for the International Space Station.

Two experiments will reside in the EXPRESS Rack on the STS-83 mission. The Physics of Hard Spheres Experiment (PHaSE), improves the fundamental understanding of the transition from liquid to solid phases by investigating behavior and physical properties of hard spheres.

The second experiment on STS-83 is the Astro/Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus (Astro/PGBA). Primary focus is on the production of secondary metabolites in vegetable plants. By studying how plants adapt to spaceflight, researchers may learn how to manipulate the same species on Earth, deriving significant commercial benefits.

After the mission, the EXPRESS Rack's performance will be evaluated. Eight EXPRESS Racks will be built for the space station.

SOURCE Boeing
 -0- 4/01/97


/CONTACT: Jim Keller, Boeing, 205-461-2803, email, James.Keller@ Hsv.Boeing.com, or Internet: http://www.boeing.com/

CO: Boeing Defense & Space Group ST: Alabama IN: ARO SU:

KS -- ATTU001 -- 5690 04/01/97 07:59 EST http://www.prnewswire.com
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 1, 1997
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