Atlantis space shuttle successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 10:28 a. m. EDT on Sunday. The Atlantis’ STS-132 mission marks a new “dawn” for science experiments at the orbiting laboratory – the space shuttle has hauled to the ISS a Russian-built module, called Rassvet, which means “dawn.”
The new $200 million Russian module - Mini-Research Module-1 (MRM-1) – will essentially be used for science research and cargo storage. The 11,000-pound, 19.7-feet long module will host wide-ranging biotechnology and biological science experiments, fluid physics and educational research.
The new module boasts a pressurized section having eight workstations; two incubators for accommodating high- and low-temperature experiments; and a vibroprotective platform for shielding payloads and experiments from onboard vibrations.
According to Igor Sorokin, deputy chief of the Space Station Utilization Center at S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia in Russia, where the module was developed, the Rassvet is essentially a midway version between the older Russian Service Module and future Multipurpose Laboratory Module, which will likely be hauled to the ISS in 2012.
Noting that the Rassvet will be a “cornerstone of Russian laboratory facilities for years to come,” Julie Robinson, an ISS program scientist at Houston’s Johnson Space Center, said: “Rassvet provides important new real estate for experiments to be conducted on the space station. This new module enhances the station's research capabilities and enables new investigations to be performed.”