November 12, 2009

Russian Module Meets With ISS

Russia's space agency said Thursday that its spacecraft carrying a new research module has arrived at the International Space Station.

Russia launched a cargo ship carrying the Poisk ("Quest") Mini-Research Module-2 on Tuesday in its efforts to resume construction on the ISS after a decade of economic problems that kept the space agency from any development on the orbiting outpost.

The cargo ship was also carrying about 850 kg of food, water, oxygen and other various equipment for crew members.

The MIM-2 module is the first of three components Russia intends to add to its portion of the ISS over the next three years. It represents Russia's first new construction to the ISS since 2001, when it launched the Pirs docking station.

The Poisk module is expected to be deployed next month. It will be used in new scientific experiments.

The MIM-2 is expected to take the place of Pirs as an entry point for Russian spacewalks and future exterior ISS work.

The Mini-Research Module-1 (MIM-1) is being tested and prepped for its flight at RKK Energia near Moscow, according to BBC News.

In June, Simonetta Di Pippo, the European Space Agency's (ESA) director of human space flight spoke about her view of the future for Russian spaceflight.

"I have continuous consultations with officials in Russia. We meet every month to month-and-a-half, and now we are going to start joint work on the study for how to proceed beyond 2025," Di Pippo said.

"We have a common idea that we would like to preserve a presence in [low-Earth orbit]. We are studying different scenarios, whether we need permanent presence or, maybe, a human-tended capability, and we can end up with a totally different solution in the end. But I don't believe we can leave Earth orbit."


Image Caption: The Russian Mini-Research Module 2 (MRM2), also known as Poisk, approaches the International Space Station for docking. Credit: NASA TV 


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