Russia Postpones Launch of Free Flying Experiments Module

Russia has delayed the planned 2015 launch of its OKA-T free-flying experiments module by two to three years due to a lack of experiments, the Xinhua news agency reports.

The autonomous, 7.8-ton laboratory is designed for experiments in materials sciences, biology, medicine, nano technology, and other microgravity research areas. The vehicle would fly close to the International Space Station (ISS), docking with it periodically for maintenance and to change out experiments.

A free-flying laboratory is seen as ideal for extremely sensitive experiments because it is not subjected to the vibrations of the much larger, crewed ISS.

TsSKB-Progress and RSC Energia have been developing the OKA-T module since 2006. Initial plans were to launch two spacecraft, one in 2012 and the second in 2015.