CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Japan is about to roll out the Lexus
of space station labs, a whopper in size and sophistication.
The one billion-dollar Kibo lab is poised for a Saturday launch
aboard space shuttle Discovery. It'll be the biggest and, by far,
the most elaborate room at the international space station. It'll
be a 37-foot-long scientific workshop as large as a school bus,
with its own hatch to the outside for experiments and a pair of
robot arms. Making it even bigger will be a closet and porch.
Kibo (pronounced KEE'-boh) means "hope" in Japanese. The new
lab is so enormous that three shuttle flights were needed to get it
Seven astronauts, one of them Japanese, will deliver the actual
lab on the upcoming mission, along with the larger of the two robot
arms. A separate storage room loaded with Kibo equipment went up in
March. The porch for outdoor science experiments and the smaller
robot arm will fly next year.
Kibo dwarfs the two labs already in orbit - NASA's modest-size
Destiny and the even smaller European Space Agency's Columbus. Two
decades in the making, the 16-ton lab is 9 feet longer than the
U.S. Destiny lab, which was launched in 2001. It's more than 14
feet longer than Europe's Columbus, which flew to the space station