Khrunichev Strikes Again: New Russian ISS Module Full of Flaws

Multifunctional Laboratory Module (Credit: Khrunichev)
Multifunctional Laboratory Module (Credit: Khrunichev)

Russian media are reporting that the latest screw up by disaster-prone Khrunichev involves the long-delayed Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), which was originally set to be launched to the International Space Station next April.

“The Energia Corporation is completing factory tests of this product,” a source told Interfax-AVN earlier this week. “But the module cannot be accepted the way it is. When the electrical tests are over it will be returned to the producer, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, which may work on it for another 12-18 months.”

Details are a bit sketchy, but reports indicate there are a number of issues with the new scientific module, including material found inside the pipes.

The report further indicates that the module began construction in 1995 as Functional Cargo Block 2 (FGB-2). The FGB-1 module, also known as Zarya,  was the first element of the International Space Station to be launched.

In 2004, FGB-2 was re-purposed as a multi-use module with the goal of attaching it to the space station in 2007. However, the project has been delayed repeatedly since that decision.

Khrunichev has been the most problem plagued company in the Russian space industry. Over the past three years, it has suffered repeatedly failures of its Proton rocket. The most recent failure occurred in July, when a Proton launched three GLONASS satellites into the ground at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.