"We'll be able to look in all directions at one time," said station commander Jeff Williams.
In March, NASA plans to launch shuttle Discovery with tons of spare parts that will keep the station operational through at least 2015 and most likely to 2020 and beyond.
None of the other spacecraft that travel to the station can carry as much as the shuttle, which can hold about 50,000 pounds of cargo, so NASA is trying to stockpile as much as possible.
"We're going to finish strong with the shuttle and make sure we leave station in the best possible posture," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations.
In May, shuttle Atlantis will make its final flight, carrying a Russian-made docking port and research module. Endeavour's swan song in July will be devoted to delivering a pallet of spare parts and a particle physics experiment known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS.
The device, which is to be mounted to the outside of the station, is designed to look for evidence of dark matter, antimatter and other exotic phenomena.