The U.S. Laboratory Module ("Destiny") is designed to house the research hardware and supporting systems required to allow a wide range of scientific and technological research to be conducted aboard the International Space station (ISS). The U.S. Lab module will be carried into space on the ISS-5A mission (STS-98) in early 2001 and will be the first dedicated laboratory module to be attached to the ISS.
The U.S. Lab module is made out of aluminum with an exterior waffle pattern which serves to strengthen the module's hull. The exterior of the module is covered by a debris shield blanket for protection against space debris and micrometeoroids. This blanket is covered by a thin aluminum debris shield for additional impact protection as well as reflecting some of the sun's radiation (thus lowering cooling requirements).
The module weighs 32,000 (14,500 kg), is 8.5 meters (28 feet) long, and 4.3 meters (14 feet) in diameter. The module is composed of three cylindrical sections and two endcones. The endcones contain hatches that will allow the module to be attached to the ISS (forward docking port of Node 1) and for another element (Node 2) to be attached to the forward docking port of the U.S. lab module. In addition, a portion of the Truss will be attached to the zenith (upper) outer surface of the U.S. Lab module. The U.S. Lab was built by the Boeing Corporation and was outfitted at NASA MSFC.
Research and Operational support hardware within the U.S. Lab (and other lab modules such as the JEM, Columbus, Centrifuge Accommodation Module, and Nodes) is contained within equipment racks. These racks are located on all four inner surfaces of the US Lab and can be tilted out of their locations for maintenance. These racks can also be brought up from Earth and moved to rack locations within lab modules; moved from one module to another, or be removed from their locations and placed in logistics modules for return to Earth.
Each rack is the size of a refrigerator: 73 in (185 cm) tall and 42-in (107 cm) wide. Fully outfitted, each rack weighs about 1,200 pounds (545 kg). Racks are based upon a basic graphite composite shell. There are two basic types of racks - systems racks (which contain various subsystems required to operate the module such as life support) and ISPRs (International Standard Payload Racks) which contain scientific research hardware. The interface between an ISPR and a lab module is more or less standardized within the US Lab, CAM, JEM, and Columbus lab modules allowing the reconfiguration of the ISS to met ever changing research programs. The U.S. Lab module contains 24 rack locations - 11 of which are equipment or systems racks, with the remaining 13 locations designed to accommodate ISPRs.
The U.S. Lab will be launched with 5 systems racks already installed. Included will be the station's Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMGs) which, when activated, will provide attitude control - a function previously provided by the Service Module. Additional equipment racks and ISPRs will be carried by subsequent Utilization and Assembly Missions.
The nadir (Earth-facing) side of the U.S. Lab Module will have a circular window A 50.9 cm (20 in) in diameter. This window offers very high
optical quality design. A rack will eventually be placed over this window - the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) that will house observational equipment for use with the window.