Space Station Spinal Surgery

Ten years ago today — April 8, 2002 — the Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center on its way to the International Space Station.

(Astronauts Steven L. Smith [R] and Rex J. Walheim during the third of STS-110’s four EVAs. NASA image.)

STS-110, also known as ISS Assembly Flight 8A, featured astronauts Michael J. Bloomfield, Stephen N. Frick, Jerry L. Ross, Steven L. Smith, Ellen Ochoa, Lee M.E. Morin, and Rex J. Walheim. The team completed four spacewalks during their 10 days in space, and delivered and installed the “Starboard-Zero” Center Integrated Truss Assembly.

The new truss was a key part of the ISS’s skeleton — its “center backbone,” according to this STS-100 information page — with attachment points for additional station modules and solar panels. In addition to mechanical attachments, the truss included power and thermal control systems, a Mobile Transporter to extend the reach of the station’s robotic arm, as well as other equipment needed to keep the station operational.

In addition,

The launch marked a milestone as Mission Specialist Jerry Ross became the first human to fly in space seven times, breaking his own and other astronauts’ records of six space flights.

You know, some of us would be satisfied with getting to fly in space just once.

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