Why NASA Is Re-Configuring Part of the International Space Station

PHOTO: A still image taken from ReelNASA video shows a NASA program that is creating docking ports for U.S. commercial crew spacecraft at the International Space Station.NASA
A still image taken from ReelNASA video shows a NASA program that is creating docking ports for U.S. commercial crew spacecraft at the International Space Station.

NASA flight controllers are preparing to relocate a storage module at the International Space Station on Wednesday, marking the biggest change to the space outpost's structure since the module was installed in 2011.

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The Permanent Multipurpose Module, which is used for storage, will be detached from the Unity module and carefully moved via a robotic arm to the forward port of the station's Tranquility module, NASA officials said.

The move will allow NASA to clear an area for additional commercial spacecraft to dock at the station. Boeing and SpaceX both have contracts with NASA and could begin ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station as early as 2017.

An animation posted online by NASA shows how the move will be carried out on Wednesday if all goes according to plan.

The module being moved was previously used to take supplies back and forth from the station during shuttle assembly missions.

After its final launch on board the now-defunct shuttle Discovery, the 22-feet long, 11-ton module was bolted to the International Space Station.

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