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VIDEO: Mini-Research Module Docks With ISS

The new Russian Mini-Research Module 2 (MRM2), also known as “Poisk”, docked to the space-facing port of the Zvezda service module of the International Space Station Thursday at 10:41 a.m. EST. It began its trip to the station when it was launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.


New Russian Research Module “Poisk” On Its Way to ISS

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Image above: The Soyuz rocket carrying “Poisk”, Russia’s newest ISS module, launches on time from Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV

The new Russian Mini-Research Module 2 (MRM2), also known as Poisk, launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan Tuesday at 9:22 a.m. EST. Thursday at 10:44 a.m., the MRM2 will dock to the space-facing port of the Zvezda service module. Poisk is a Russian term that translates to search, seek and explore.

Poisk will provide an additional docking port for visiting Russian spacecraft. It also will serve as an extra airlock for spacewalkers wearing Russian Orlan spacesuits. Cosmonauts Roman Romanenko and Maxim Suraev were reviewing procedures with ground specialists for entering Poisk after it arrives.

At about the same time Poisk launched, the Expedition 21 crew was performing a Kazbek seat check inside the Soyuz TMA-15 docked to Zarya’s Earth-facing port. Some crew members were also tagging up with specialists on the ground discussing cargo transfers when space shuttle Atlantis arrives at the International Space Station on Nov. 18.

The station crew and flight controllers are still analyzing the operation of the Urine Processing Assembly. Troubleshooting over the weekend allowed the system to run again but it is not up to full functionality yet as flight controllers monitor its activities.

Science continued aboard the orbiting laboratory with blood and urine samples being drawn and stored in the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI), a science freezer that preserves biological samples for study on Earth. Colloid samples were photographed in an experiment that observes their structure over time to prove their use for the manufacture of stronger, more efficient materials on Earth. A Russian Earth-observation experiment that monitors radiation in the ionosphere was also under way.


Excalibur Almaz Plans Private Orbital Human Space Flight

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“Week-long orbital space flights beginning as early as 2013″

Excalibur Almaz Limited (EA), an international space exploration company, today announced plans to open up a new era of private orbital space flight for commercial customers, using updated elements of the “Almaz” space system originally developed by JSC MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia.

Realization of EA’s project with technical assistance from NPOM will allow regular access to and from space. This project joins Russian space technology expertise with an international private enterprise to create a commercial offering of orbital spaceflight services for global customers.

EA plans to offer week-long orbital space flights beginning as early as 2013 –
taking a big leap beyond the sub-orbital flight market targeted by most other private space companies. In addition to NPOM, other leading aerospace firms in the U.S., Europe and Japan will provide technical support for EA’s space flight operations

The original Almaz space system technology, comprising reusable reentry vehicle (RRV) and space station, was successfully tested in flight by NPOM. Working with NPOM and its international contractors, EA is now updating the spacecraft to conduct crew and cargo space missions for private individuals, corporations, academic institutions and national governments.

EA Founder and CEO Art Dula said, “Through cooperation with NPOM and with the support of leading space contractors around the world and an exceptionally strong management and advisory team, EA is in a unique position to initiate a new era of private orbital space exploration.”

Cosmonaut Vladimir Titov, advisor to EA in Russia, said, “With this announcement, the dream of private orbital space exploration may become a reality in the very near future.”

Quick Facts:

EA has ownership of several Almaz spacecraft, including reusable reentry vehicles (RRVs) and space stations.

EA will tailor space missions to accommodate customer objectives including exploration, cargo transportation and experimentation. On selected missions, spacecraft and space stations would provide platforms for microgravity scientific experiments, potentially serving the needs of governments and academic institutions.

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EA’s spacecraft will consist of two parts: an RRV and an expendable service module to provide crewmembers with room to comfortably operate during spaceflight. EA will update the Almaz RRVs with flight-proven technologies where appropriate, while retaining tested legacy systems to ensure safety and economy of operation. A critical feature of the RRVs is their reusability, which will reduce logistical, overhead and program costs for commercial access to space.

EA plans for its spacecraft to be compatible with a number of launch vehicles and capable of being launched from worldwide sites.

In addition to NPOM, leading aerospace firms contracting with EA include Space Flight Operations (SFO), a subsidiary of United Space Alliance, of the U.S.; Paragon Space Development Corporation of the U.S.; Qwaltec of the U.S.; EADS Astrium Space Transportation of Europe; and Japan Manned Space Systems (JAMSS) of Japan. EA has also formed strategic alliances with academic institutions including Rice University of the U.S and the International Space University of France, and is an Industry Forum member of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute of the U.S.

Established in 2005, EA is incorporated, headquartered and registered on the Isle of Man in the British Isles. EA’s support contractors are in Russia, Europe, Japan and the U.S. EA’s founders, executives and advisors include astronauts, cosmonauts and commercial aerospace business entrepreneurs.


Russia Readys MRM Research Modules For Trip to ISS

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S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia is in full swing creating two new modules, small research modules MRM-1 and MRM-2, for the International Space Station (ISS).

As per NASA’s commitments, MRM-1 is to be delivered to the ISS in May 2010 using the US Shuttle payload bay. At the present time, the works are under way on assembly of flight article MRM-1. Preparations were made for European manipulator ERA elbow element to be installed on MRM-1. In the meantime, modal test phase of full-scale dynamic mockup of the module is nearing completion with the aim to further verify its mathematic model and secure authorization for flight article MRM-1 to be delivered to the station. Works on flight article MRM-1 and its dynamic mockup are being carried out on schedule.

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Preparations are made to deliver MRM-2 to the ISS at the year-end of 2009 through use of the Progress cargo space vehicle Instrument-Service Module (ISM) capability. Under the work schedule, the MRM-2 was assembled with this ISM module; factory tests of the assembled dedicated cargo vehicle-module (CVM) are under way.
For reference:

1. RSC Energia after S.P. Korolev is the prime contractor of the national rocket and space industry under the human flight space programs, responsible for the development of the ISS Russian Segment, its integration into the station, and operational use, including the development and operation of its Russian modules (“Zvezda”, “Pirs”, MRM-1, MRM-2 etc.); manufacture, launch and operational use of Soyuz TMA, Progress M space vehicles.

2. Structurally, CVM as part of MRM-2 and cargo vehicle ISM is similar to the dedicated CVM “Progress M-SÎ1″, which in 2001 delivered the Russian docking assembly-module Pirs to the ISS.


Russian Proton Rocket Launches AsiaSat 5

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International Launch Services (ILS) successfully carried the AsiaSat 5 satellite into orbit today on an ILS Proton for Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company Limited (AsiaSat) of Hong Kong. This was the fourth commercial mission of the year for ILS and the sixth successful Proton launch of 2009. From contract signing to launch, the full integration of the AsiaSat 5 mission was completed in less than six months.

The ILS Proton Breeze M launched from Pad 39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:47 a.m. today local time (3:47 a.m. in Hong Kong, August 12, 19:47 GMT, August 11 and 3:47 p.m. EDT, August 11). After a 9 hour 15 minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the AsiaSat 5 satellite, weighing over 3.7 metric tons, into geo-transfer orbit. This was the 347th launch for the Proton. The Proton Breeze M vehicle is developed and built by Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, Russia’s premier space manufacturer.

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(Above) Artists depiction of AsiaSat 5

Built by Space Systems/Loral, AsiaSat 5 will replace AsiaSat 2 at the orbital location of 100.5 degrees East. This new satellite with an enhanced pan Asian C-band footprint and high-power Ku-band beams over East Asia, South Asia, and an in-orbit steerable Ku beam, will provide advanced satellite services including television broadcast, telephone networks and VSAT networks for broadband multimedia services across the Asia Pacific. The satellite is based on the Space Systems/Loral 1300 platform, designed for a lifespan of 15 years. The station-keeping lifetime of the satellite may be even longer as a result of the performance of the ILS Proton launch vehicle.

Frank McKenna, President of ILS said, “This full integration and successful launch on ILS Proton of AsiaSat 5 in less than six months was a focused team effort on behalf of ILS, Khrunichev, AsiaSat and Space Systems/Loral. This is the real value that ILS/Proton offers our customers and we are proud to have met AsiaSat’s demanding business imperative for the replacement strategy of AsiaSat 2.”

“Launching AsiaSat 5 on ILS Proton was the best solution to meet our planned schedule for AsiaSat 2 replacement, to assure service continuity for all users on AsiaSat 2. We are most grateful for the diligence, professionalism and dedication demonstrated by ILS and Khrunichev to achieve on time delivery that is simply unmatched,” said Peter Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of AsiaSat.


SPACE ART: Soviet Space-Based Strategic Defense

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(Above) While publicly opposed to the US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the Soviet Union forged ahead with research and development of land, air, and space-based ballistic missile defenses. The Soviets deployed and tested ground-based lasers capable of interfering with some US satellites.

This painting was done by Ronald C. Wittmann for the US Defense Intelligence Agency.


SPACE ART: Soviet Space Shuttle on the Launch Pad

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As part of its efforts to militarize space, the USSR pressed forward in the 1980s with an active research and development program centered at Tyuratam. The Soviets designed the SL-W heavy lift space launch vehicle for use with the Buran Space Shuttle, as well as with other heavy payloads.

This painting was done by Ronald C. Wittmann for the US Defense Intelligence Agency.


SPACE ART: Soviet Anti-Satellite System

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(Above) Soviet military space capabilities posed an ever-increasing threat to U.S. land, sea, air, and space forces in the 1980s. The USSR operated and tested an orbital antisatellite weapon that was designed to destroy space targets with a multi-pellet blast.

This painting was done by Ronald C. Wittmann for the US Defense Intelligence Agency.


SPACE ART: MIR Space Station & Buran Shuttle Docked

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(Above) In the mid-1980s, Moscow announced plans to have a large, permanently manned space station orbiting the Earth in the 1990s. They launched MIR, the core vehicle of a modular space station, in February 1986. The Soviets planned to use a space shuttle orbiter, then in development called Buran, to carry payloads and assist in the assembly of the space station.

This painting was done by Brian W. McMullin for the US Defense Intelligence Agency.


SPACE ART: Soyuz Spacecraft in Orbit

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(Above) This is an artist’s concept depicting the Soviet Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) Soyuz spacecraft in Earth orbit.

The three major components of the Soyuz are the spherical-shaped Orbital Module on which the letters CCCP (USSR) are printed, the bell-shaped Descent Vehicle in the center, and the cylindrical-shaped Instrument Assembly Module from which two solar panels protrude. The docking system on the Orbital Module was specially designed to interface with the docking system on NASA’s Apollo Docking Module.

This painting was done by artist Paul Fjeld.


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