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Russia's Federal Space Agency announces more ISS modules

While investigations continue into why two Russian Soyuz capsules' service modules failed to separate correctly before re-entry, the country's Federal Space Agency is planning new modules for the International Space Station.

The additional ISS modules were announced by FSA chief Anatoly Perminov at a heads of agency meeting in Paris on 17 July. NASA's Space Shuttle launch manifest details three modules. The Mini Research Module 2 (MRM2), being delivered by a Russian launcher in 2009, the MRM1 that is installed by NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery's crew on mission STS-132 in 2010 and a Proton rocket-delivered multipurpose laboratory module targeted for 2011. The Shuttle mission STS-132 is described as a contingency, but NASA has recently said that it will fly both its contingency missions, STS-132 and STS-133.

The 17 July meeting's joint statement referred to Russian modules being provided in 2009 and 2010. Perminov went further, saying: "Before 2011 we will be launching two small research modules. If a decision is made to continue working with the station after 2015 then the Russian segment will be completed with further modules - energy modules, research modules etc."

He confirms that the cause of the April failure of one of the pyrotechnic bolts that should have separated the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft's service module from its bell-shaped capsule before re-entry is still unknown.

Soyuz TMA-10 and Soyuz TMA-11 endured ballistic re-entries in October 2007 and April 2008, respectively. Soyuz TMA-12 is docked with ISS and one of its pyrotechnic bolts was removed during an extra vehicular activity by Russian crew members on 10 July. The bolt will be returned to the ground. Perminov says: "We will be carrying out detailed examination of [it]... [we] will be able to say what the cause was. We are certain at this stage that the entry vehicle can be corrected."

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