KOROLYOV, April 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia plans to deorbit and sink its Pirs docking module of the International Space Station later this year, a high-ranking official with the Russian space corporation RKK Energia said on Friday.
Alexander Kaleri, the head of the company’s scientific technical center, said undocking and deorbiting Pirs will take place before a new Russian module docks with the station. Alexander Derechin, RKK Energia deputy chief designer said in late March the launch of the multirole laboratory module (MLM) is 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 deorbited and sunk prior to MLM arrival,” he said.
He said that Russian cosmonauts are scheduled to make six spacewalks this year, one of them is currently underway. The six-hour spacewalk by Flight Engineers Pavel Vinogradov and Roman Romanenko is due to end by midnight Moscow time [8:00 p.m. GMT].
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.