Russia to de-orbit space station docking module
Moscow: Russia plans to de-orbit and sink its Pirs docking module at the International Space Station later this year, a top official with space corporation RKK Energia said.
Alexander Kaleri, head of the company's scientific technical centre, said undocking and de-orbiting Pirs will take place before a new Russian module docks with the station.
RKK Energia's deputy chief designer Alexander Derechin said in March that the launch of the multirole laboratory module (MLM) was tentatively scheduled for the end of 2013.
"The final spacewalk (by Russian members of the present ISS crew) is scheduled to take place before the arrival of the new multirole laboratory module (MLM), and will be devoted to the 'departure' of the Pirs docking module. It should be de-orbited and sunk prior to MLM arrival," he said.
Russia is planning to launch four new ISS modules - MLM, a node module and two science-power modules - by 2020, when the time comes to de-orbit the existing international outpost in space.
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.