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Posted on Dec 08, 10:17AM | IANS
Russia's Khrunichev space company has completed assembly of the Nauka ("Science") multirole laboratory module (MLM) for the International Space Station.
The module will now be tested by the RKK Energia corporation.
"Work has been completed on assembly of the multirole laboratory module for the International Space Station (ISS). The module was sent to RKK Energia on December 7 for further electronic testing of the flight systems," Khrunichev said.
Khrunichev is responsible for the main structure of Nauka, its engine installation, thermal regulatory and fire-safety systems. It is also responsible for the interface between the laboratory and the Proton rocket which will take it into space in March 2014.
The ISS currently has five Russian-built modules -- the Zvezda service module, the Zarya cargo block, the Pirs docking module, the Poisk ("Search") research module and Rassvet ("Dawn") research module.
The launch of Nauka was originally planned for 2011 but has been repeatedly delayed. Work started on the module in 1995.
In order to simplify the configuration of the Russian segment of the ISS, the Nauka module was based on the FGB-2 module. The MLM will carry out commercial projects with the aim of attracting private finance.
The MLM will also carry out a range of other functions including life-support, steering the ISS with its attached motor, docking with cargo vessels and fuel transit from Progress cargo ships to the Zvezda module.
Using special cameras on the sides of the MLM and ERA, it will be possible to move equipment and stores from the airtight sections of the station to its outer surface without the necessity of making exits into open space. MLM will have space for three astronauts to work in.
MLM will be attached to a part of the Zvezda module, replacing the existing Pirs module, which will be discarded.