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Photos: Space station needs help from friends

The International Space Station may be decommissioned early if NASA shuttle flights continue to be delayed.
By Bill Detwiler, Contributor
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International Space Station

The International Space Station, as seen from the space shuttle Discovery, has been in orbit since its construction began in 1998. It may never be completed and may be put out of service before 2010 if NASA shuttle missions are delayed further. The station is 240 feet by 146 feet and 90 feet tall.

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station dwellers

Currently the International Space Station is inhabited by Expedition 11 Russian commander Sergei Krikalev and American flight engineer and science officer John Phillips. They have been manning the space station since April 16, 2005.

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station maintenance

Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi from Discovery traverses the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. Shuttle astronauts took spacewalks to install a platforms and repair instruments on the space station.

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lab work

Flight Engineer John L. Phillips works in the lab while conducting an experiment on his own body. He's wearing a pair of cycling tights outfitted with sensors that measure joints, muscle activity and foot force. Scientists hope to solve the mystery of bone and muscle loss during space flight and also better understand osteoporosis on Earth.

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incoming supplies

The space station replenishes its supplies from craft such as Progress 18, which was launched from Russia to deliver two tons of supplies--including food, water, fuel and equipment--to the Expedition 11 crew members aboard the station. Discovery also brought fresh supplies when it arrived.

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taking out the trash

To prepare for a new supply vehicle, crew members packed unmanned cargo ship Progress 17 with a load of trash and unneeded equipment and then sent it to be deorbited and burned up in Earth's atmosphere. Discovery brought back a load of trash to Earth.

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Hurricane

The space station serves as an orbiting observatory. Expedition 11 Science Officer John Phillips captured this photo of the eye of Hurricane Emily on July 17, 2005, as the storm churned in the Caribbean Sea east of the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Kliper

The Russian reusable spacecraft Kliper is one of the principal attractions at the MAKS 2005 air and space show in Zhukovsky, Russia.

Kliper is intended to replace the disposable Soyuz vehicle that runs supplies to the International Space Station. See more photos from the MAKS 2005 air and space show in Zhukovsky, Russia.

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Space adventure

Some of the funds for the maintenance of the space station are provided through travel adventures for private individuals. A Japanese agency will charge about $20 million a head for a weeklong tour. American company Space Adventures already has sent customers on such adventures. Greg Olsen, who is currently training and scheduled to go into orbit in October, says a flight to the moon is intriguing to him.

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