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Russian storage module arrives in Florida for launch

Posted: December 17, 2009

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A Russian-built piece of the International Space Station flew into the Kennedy Space Center on a cargo plane Thursday, five months before the module is set to launch on a space shuttle mission.

The MRM 1 module at a Russian facility earlier this month. Credit: Energia
The Mini-Research Module 1 arrived at the Shuttle Landing Facility at about 1 p.m. EST aboard an Antonov 124 cargo plane, completing a nearly 6,000-mile journey from Moscow.

The egg-shaped module will be unloaded from the Antonov later Thursday afternoon and transported to an Astrotech processing bay in Cape Canaveral to undergo preps for launch, a NASA spokesperson said.

It will be moved to the Space Station Processing Facility in the spring to be boxed inside a payload canister before going to the launch pad.

MRM 1 is named Rassvet, which means dawn in Russian. It was built by the Russian aerospace company Energia.

Rassvet will launch aboard the shuttle Atlantis' STS-132 mission scheduled for liftoff May 14.

Launching with Rassvet will be more than 3,000 pounds of NASA cargo. An airlock and radiator will be mounted on Rassvet for use by the Multi-Purpose Laboratory Module, a Russian research lab slated to fly to the station in 2012. NASA is obligated to launch Rassvet and the outfitting equipment in an international agreement with Russia.

Five work platforms for spacewalkers will be loaded inside Rassvet for launch. The module will also deliver a spare elbow joint for the European robotic arm.

With all the cargo aboard Rassvet, the module will weigh more than 17,400 pounds at launch. The internal volume of the module for cargo storage measures 176 cubic feet, according to Energia.

Rassvet will be attached to the nadir, or Earth-facing, docking port of the Zarya module during Atlantis' mission.

The addition of Rassvet will provide more clearance between the Zarya docking port and a berthing location on the U.S. segment. It adds flexibility for mission planners juggling a busy manifest of space station missions, ensuring the availability of both ports.

Russia launched the smaller MRM 2 module, called Poisk, to the station last month on a Soyuz rocket. Poisk added another docking port on the space-facing side of the Zvezda module.

Space station managers want to have as many Russian docking ports as possible to ensure Soyuz, Progress and European Automated Transfer Vehicles always have parking spot at the complex.