Russia to build autonomous space lab

Dec. 21, 2012 at 7:12 PM

MOSCOW, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Russia's Energia Corp. space manufacturer has won an $11 million contract to design an orbital space laboratory, the national procurements agency says.

Energia was the only bidder when Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos announced a tender for the contract in mid-October, RIA Novosti reported Friday.

The proposed multipurpose Oka-T-MKS space lab will operate autonomously in orbit, periodically docking with the International Space Station for the ISS crew to service its scientific research equipment and conduct refueling and other operations.

Capable of carrying 1,800 pounds of equipment, the space lab will perform research in space materials study, plasma physics, biology and medicine.

Oka-T-MKS will be able to work autonomously for as long as 180 days between required dockings with the ISS, officials said.

The space lab was to have been ready for a 2015 launch but that has been put back by two to three years "due to the lack of concrete scientific research projects, as well as clients," Roscosmos deputy head Vitaly Davydov said.

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