Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Russian module en route to space station

Russia this morning launched the latest addition to the International Space Station, a new docking module named Poisk, or "explore."

Technically called the Mini Research Module-2, Poisk is similar to the Pirs ("pier") docking compartment already on orbit.

The eight-ton module launched on time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:22 a.m. EST atop an unmanned Soyuz rocket.

It is scheduled to dock automatically around 9:45 a.m. Thursday with the upward-facing port of the station's Zvezda ("star") Service Module.

The module will add docking ports for Soyuz spacecraft, which will make first use of them in January, and provide a new airlock for spacewalkers and serve as an experiment platform.

It will also ferry about 1,800 pounds of supplies to the station.

Click here for more information on Poisk.

A sister module, the Mini Research Module-1, is scheduled for launch aboard space shuttle Atlantis on its final mission next May.

The shuttle is being prepared on Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A for a 2:28 p.m. Monday blastoff to the station on an 11-day mission that will deliver spare parts.

Technicians are at work closing out the rear portion of the shuttle for launch.

IMAGE NOTE: The Soyuz rocket carrying Poisk, Russia's newest module, launches on time from Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

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