Feeds

Parking spot flies to International Space Station

Spacecraft docking day or night

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

A new Russian module has arrived at the International Space Station today, providing the orbiting outpost with an much-needed extra parking spot for its expanded crew of six.

The unmanned Russian Mini-Research Module 2, also known as Poisk, docked to the space-faring port of the Zvezda service module on Thursday 15:41 GMT (10:41 EST). It used an automated radar-guided system to rendezvous, two days after launching from Kazakhstan.

Because the space station's crew was increased to six this year, two Russian Soyuz spacecraft are required to be docked at the ISS at all times to serve as emergency lifeboats. Before the new Poisk docking module, that left only one open spot for docking Russia's Progress resupply craft and for Soyuz crew rotation missions.

Poisk means "search" or "explore" in Russian.

It is the first major addition to the outpost from Russia since the launching of the near-identical Pirs docking module in 2001. In addition to Poisk providing the ISS with additional parking, the module will be used as an airlock for spacewalkers wearing Russian Orlan spacesuits.

Poisk arrived at the ISS carrying about 1,750 pounds of equipment that includes water supply gear, crew hygiene supplies, medical equipment, personal items, and spare parts. The module weighs about 8,000 pounds and is about 13 feet long and eight feet in diameter at its widest point, according to NASA.

Poisk approaching the ISS, courtesy: NASA TV

The station now has five docking ports total: one located on the American segment for US shuttles, and four on the Russian segment. European Space Agency craft also dock on the Russian segment, while Japanese craft are attached to the American segment.

Russian cosmonauts Max Suraev and Roman Romanenko will open the hatch to Poisk on Friday and enter the module for the first time. But before the Poisk is ready to host visiting spacecraft, the module's Progress space tug will be jettisoned around December 8. Cosmonauts will also perform a spacewalk in January to ready the port for rendezvousing.

Meanwhile, the ISS Expedition 21 crew is preparing for next week's scheduled arrival of space shuttle Atlantis on the STS-129 mission to deliver critical spare parts to station. Atlantis is penciled in for a launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on November 16. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Microsoft's anti-bug breakthrough: Wire devs to BRAIN SCANNERS
Clippy: It looks your hands are shaking, are you sure you want to commit this code?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.