Back in the days of Space Station Freedom—the Cold War precursor to the International Space Station—Japanese space officials would joke that when they started work they had the smallest module in the station-development plan, and that it became the largest without growing a millimeter. While NASA and the European Space Agency scaled back their ambitions—and modules—as the station's cost grew, Japan stuck to its plan. As a result, the Kibo laboratory—usually called “JEM” for “Japanese ...


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