Planned changes in fleet of spacecrafts which are visiting ISS forced modernization of onboard equipment of the station.
It would be wrong to think that changes in construction of International Space Station are performed only during spacewalks. Along with scheduled external modifications, many necessary modifications should be done inside of ISS. Yesterday, on 7 March 2016, Tim Peake (ESA) and Tim Kopra (NASA) spent some time on installing new device to let ISS meet demands of docking new manned version of SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecrafts. Installed equipment is called Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles (C2V2). Necessary parts of C2V2 which should be installed outside (cables and antennas) the ISS were settled during 187th ISS EVA on 1 March 2015 (5h 38', Terry Virts (NASA) and Barry Wilmore (NASA)). Today Tim Peake and Tim Kopra were mounting necessary cables for installing C2V2. It fits NASA schedule for C2V2. On ISS astronauts should install following components of the system:
- C2V2 RF Cables and Interfacing Assemblies
- C2V2 Transceiver and Processor Assembly
- C2V2 Antenna Assemblies
Schedule is consistently implemented without unnecessary delays which leads us to believe that C2V2 will be ready for first docking of CST-100 and Dragon in 2017 under NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) program.
Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles is important upgrade for International Space Station mainly because of crucial change which is planned for 2017. New generation of NASA manned spacecrafts will be visiting station and ISS should be prepared for it - it is worth to mention that last NASA manned space vehicle docking to ISS was Space Shuttle which was representing definitely older technology. Space Shuttles were docking to ISS, communication between ISS and Shuttle was kept thanks to UHF communication system but with no transferring telemetry data or video from cameras of ISS. After retiring Space Shuttle voice communication with visiting vehicles was not truly necessary, because NASA sent to ISS only robotic spacecrafts with resupply missions. Manned Soyuz spacecrafts were docking to Russian modules and using its voice communication systems. C2V2 will be modern communication system with impressing capabilities. It will serve as voice communication system and telemetry data transfer system. It will also provide transfer data from navigation systems of ISS and spacecraft; it will give possibility of real time video transmission. Every data transfer will be performed in both ways: from ISS to spacecraft and from spacecraft to ISS. It will make even complicated maneuvers safer and easier to perform. Astronauts remaining on ISS will be able to monitor and, if necessary, assist in docking to visiting vehicle crew members.
On picture above You can see Barry Wilmore during installing parts of C2V2 on 1 March 2015.