Russian lab unit finally off to space post
MOSCOW — Russia launched on Wednesday a long-delayed lab module for the International Space Station that is intended to provide more room for scientific experiments and space for the crew. A Proton-M booster rocket carrying the Nauka module lifted off as scheduled at 7:58 p.m. local time from the Russian space launch facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The navigational antennas and solar arrays deployed properly after a flawless launch that set the module on an eight-day journey to the orbiting outpost. After a series of maneuvers, the 22-ton module is set to dock at the station in automatic mode July 29. The launch of Nauka, also called the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, had been repeatedly delayed because of technical problems. It was initially scheduled to go up in 2007.