Friday, November 06, 2009
A new Russian docking module is destined to become a critical piece for the International Space Station as the country delivers a multifaceted docking port in support of space travel during the next decade.
The Russian Space Agency's Mini Research Module-2, or Poisk, will dock to the station's Zvezda service module two days following launch. It will serve as a docking port for Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft; will support future Russian spacewalks from it's 3-foot wide airlock; and act as a spare room for some of the crew's equipment in support of docking or spacewalks.
Launch of the Soyuz U rocket with the Poisk MRM-2 is planned for this Tuesday, November 10 at 9:22:01 am EST, (14:22 GMT) from launch complex 17P32 Pad 1 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan. The launch window is five minutes.
The new module will launch with 2,204 pounds of cargo in the pressurized section. New Russian Orlan spacesuits, science equipment and life support equipment will get a ride to the orbiting outpost in space.
Docking to the Russian Zvezda module by the Poisk is targeted for Nov. 12 at 10:44 am EST, or 15:44 UTC. Docking will likely occur a few minutes earlier based on a successful rendezvous
Built by RSC Energia, the MRM-2 Poisk hardware will allow for a fourth Russian spacecraft to dock with station as the need for new equipment and fresh supplies increases with the end of the space shuttle program during the first half of the 2010's.
There are also attachment points for future science experiments which will need the vacuum of space.
There are 523 cubic-feet of pressurized volume aboard Poisk, of that 380 are habitable for the crew.
The 8-ton module has a hull diameter of 8 feet and a length of 13 feet and 3 inches.
On June 10th, two spacewalkers replaced a door in the forward section of Zvezda with a docking cone which will allow for Piosk's docking.
In May 2010, the MRM-1 will launch aboard shuttle Atlantis for docking to the space station. MRM-2 was completed ahead of schedule, thus it's launching was moved up in support of future docked operations.