The International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is the most important and ambitious program of global cooperation in science and technology so far and it can be considered as the greatest engineering accomplishment made by man.
With the launch of the logistics module Leonardo, which occurred in March 2001, Italy became the third nation, after Russia and the United States, to send into orbit an element of the ISS. Today more than 40 percent of the volume of the space station is built in Italy.
Node 2 is the connecting element between the laboratories of the ISS. Node 2, built in Europe, is one of the three nodes of the International Space Station. Nodes are the interconnecting elements between the various pressurized modules of the Space Station, which provide a working environment to allow the passage of astronauts and equipment through the elements of the station and provide functions and vital resources for the astronauts and the equipment is inside Node 2 is inside the modules and the laboratories attached to it.
Node 2 consists of a pressurized cylindrical hull 4.6 meters with a shallow conical section enclosing each end. It ‘a length of just over 7 meters and weighs about 14 tons at launch. The pressurized shell of Node 2 is constructed of aluminum alloys with a covering of insulation to ensure thermal stability and a further 98 sections of paneling to act as a protective shield against bombardment from space debris. Even the set of panels is made of an aluminum alloy with a layer of Kevlar and Nextel. Heat exchangers between the external panels and the pressurized shell of Node 2 help to disperse excess heat from its interior and attached modules.
One can imagine the Node 2 as if it were divided into two halves. A half, with a single docking port where Node 2 docks with the ISS contains 8 standard sized racks, four of which will house relevant systems and the other four will serve as accommodation for the crew or stowage. The other half consists of five other docking ports on the other end or cone and four arranged around the circumference of the main body of cylindrical shape of Node 2. The docking mechanism on the end will have attached a pressurized adapter priming that will serve as the main site docking to the ISS.
On the main cylindrical Node 2, two of the docking ports will be used to attach permanent laboratories: the European Columbus laboratory and the Experiment Module ‘Kibo’ Japanese. A third port will house one of the European multifunctional logistics modules (MPLMs) traveling in the Shuttle cargo bay or on the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) Japanese, a logistic supply craft similar to the European Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV).
The fourth docking port of the main body of Node 2 does not have a permanent position although it can be used as a backup port since the docking mechanism is the same for the majority of the ports.
Node 2 has systems, which provide many different functions and resources to the attached laboratories to maintain a safe and ideal working and living aboard the station. The systems include: the distribution and control of electric current, the thermal control to remove the excess heat from environmental control (temperature regulation, ventilation and humidity), pressure regulation and signaling depressurization, detect and extinguish fires, sampling of the atmosphere, and the treatment of water condensed and recycled Station, treatment data, audiovisual distribution.
Node 2 also has support equipment for internal operations and spacewalk.
Two of the three ISS Nodes (Nodes 2 and 3) were made under a contract Europe, while Node 1, which has been in orbit since December 1998, was built under a NASA contract in the United States.
Nodes 2 and 3 are an evolution of Node 1. ASI and prime contractor Thales Alenia Space put forward a design for Nodes 2 and 3, deriving from their experience with the MPLM and that included the new requirements of habitability, in other words make possible permanent accommodation for four astronauts with the capacity of water treatment and purification, the functions of personal hygiene and treatment of waste, the disposal of carbon dioxide and oxygen generation.