Feeds

Italians build biggest space window

Room with a view

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The view from the International Space Station is about to get a lot better, as the largest window ever built for use in space has been completed.

The construction of the window was originally funded by NASA and Boeing. However, when NASA's budgets were tightened in 1998, the project ran out of money. The European Space Agency (ESA) agreed to complete the construction as part of a "barter agreement" with NASA.

The circular window, measuring 80 cm across, sits in the centre of an observation dome called Cupola, flanked by six, smaller, trapezoid viewpanes. Each pane consist of four layers of silica, fused together to produce a 10cm-thick, transparent panel, the BBC reports.

The external pane needs to withstand the kind of battering any object in orbit can expect: tiny objects at orbital speed are more energetic than a bullet fired from a rifle. The inner layer need only withstand the constant battering it will get from tumbling astronauts - small fry, in comparison. The two central layers in the silica sandwich deal with the significant pressure differences between the pressurised space station and the vacuum of space.

The window gives astronauts living on the ISS a better view of what they are doing when operating the station's external robotic arm. The dome has a diameter of about 2 metres and is about 1.5 metres tall, providing a 'shirtsleeves' work environment for two people.

As a side benefit, the unparalleled view of the Earth will provide long-stay astronauts with a psychological boost, according to Doriana Buffa, Cupola project manager at Alenia Spazio, the company responsible for the final construction.

Maurizio Tucci, the company's CEO, said the knowledge gained from the project will be invaluable in expeditions calling for long stays in space, such as getting humans to back to the Moon, and even to Mars.

The next step is transportation to the Kennedy Space centre for full approval in November this year. If approved, the window will be fitted to Node-3 of the ISS as part of the January 2009 mission. ®

Related stories

Scientists ponder sluggish Pioneers
Brits bet on gravity wave discovery
Astronomers probe Cassiopeia's secrets

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.