Rassvet Mini-Research Module, MIM1
The Mini-Research Module 1, MIM-1, Rassvet (Dawn) became the fifth permanent element of the International Space Station built in Russia. The spacecraft was essentially a stopgap measure to fill the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port on the Zarya FGB control module of the outpost. Without some kind of extension, an originally planned addition of NASA's Node-3 module to a "next-door" nadir port on the Unity/Node 1 module of the American segment would block a safe access of the Soyuz spacecraft to the Russian segment. In turn, the Soyuz access was needed to accommodate two life boat spacecraft supporting a full six-member crew of the station.
The MIM-1 module configured for a ride to orbit in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis during the STS-132 mission in May 2010. The module itself is shown in gray, while green denotes payloads temporarily stored on its exterior. Panels of the radiator for the MLM module, as well as its airlock and a work place for space walkers are visible.
Within the ISS partnership, US "owed" Russian Space Agency a Shuttle flight for the launch of the US-owned Zarya FGB control module in 1998. In the following years, Russians developers continued studying various options to use the mission, including launching the Science and Power Platform or the Enterprise module. These plans however, had to speed up dramatically after the 2004 decision by the White House to abandon the Shuttle in 2010. Giving a short notice and scarce resources, Russians decided to fashion a low-cost and simple Docking and Cargo Module, SGM. It would be built out of a dynamic test prototype of the pressurized compartment originally developed for the Science and Power Platform, NEP. The latter had no chance of making it to the station due to lack of funds.
With the Shuttle retirement looming, Russian developers had to catch one of the last Shuttle missions -- Utilization and Logistics Flight 4, ULF-4, -- to get the module to the station. A preliminary design of the module was ready by the beginning of 2006. The vehicle was later renamed into a Mini-Research Module-1, MRM1, (or MIM1 in Russian abbreviation.) According to a Russian proposal, SGM/MIM1's exterior would also serve as a carrier for several items, which would be otherwise attached to a special cargo platform with its own mass of more than a ton. These items included an airlock and a radiator for the Russian MLM module, an elbow joint of the European robotic arm, ERA, and a portable work post, PWP, used on the exterior of the station during spacewalks. In addition, around 1,392 kilograms of NASA-ordered supplies would be carried inside the module to be later used in the interior of the station. These included food, clothing, health-care equipment, computers and accessories, office supplies and a cold stage equipment for National Lab Pathfinder experiment.
As of beginning of 2008, the MIM1 module would have a mass of 7,900 kilograms and provide 18 cubic meters of pressurized volume for the crew, along with two "work stations" for scientific payloads to be developed by the Russian Academy of Sciences. Around five cubic meters would be available for permanent cargo stowage.
As most other Russian modules, MIM-1 would feature a passive docking port on its outer edge and transit propellant lines, which would give the Progress cargo ship a capability to refuel the Zvezda service module. The MIM1 module was guaranteed to function for at least 12 years.
As MIM1 was well in the development process, NASA made a decision to change a future location of its Node 3 module from the nadir port of the Node 1/Unity module to its side docking port. As a result, an "emergency" role of the MIM1 module to provide clearance between Node 3 and the arriving Soyuz spacecraft had disappeared. However MIM1 still promised to give room for future scientific payloads of the Russian segment and, therefore, its development proceeded as scheduled.
Scientific capabilities of MIM1
As of 2009, from five to eight standard work spaces were planned to be installed in the pressurized compartment of MIM1, according to various sources. They could eventually a accommodate up to 100 kilograms of scientific equipment, including a glove box to keep experiments separated from the in-cabin environment; low-temperature and high-temperature incubators for biotechnology research and a vibration-proof platform for material science experiments in vibration-free weightless conditions. One location would be designed for up to four movable racks with scientific instruments. Each work space would feature mechanical, electric and data interfaces.
According to Russian officials, the scientific experiments planned for MIM1 would include Conjugation, which studies the exchange of genetic material in microgravity to develop strains producing new target proteins to fight disease. Another experiment, Kristallizator, would allow large protein crystals to grow in orbit to better determine their 3D structure. The results could be used in biology, medicine and pharmacology. However, from all official statements and publications made around the time of the MIM1 launch in May 2010, it was unclear when these or other scientific experiments onboard the new module would commence.
By August 2009, RKK Energia completed testing of a full-scale prototype of the module in the acoustic chamber imitating conditions of launch. Vibration testing was planned next. In the meantime, the flight version of the MIM1 module was undergoing final assembly in preparation for testing in a vacuum chamber. These tests were completed by Aug. 28, 2009. The module was then transferred to the Control and Testing Station, KIS, for integrated testing.
On Oct. 6 and 7, 2009, a radiator and an airlock for the MLM module were attached to the MIM1 at RKK Energia's KIS facility.
During the night of Dec. 14-15, 2009, a container holding MIM1 module was transported from Korolev to Ramenskoe airfield for loading into the Antonov-124 transport aircraft. The aircraft landed at Shuttle runway at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 17, 2009. The MIM1 was then transported to the Astrotech's SPPF facility at Cape Canaveral. Around 100 Russian specialists were working at Cape Canaveral in final processing of MIM1 for launch.
On April 3, 2010, MIM1 was transported to the Space Shuttle Processing Facility, SSPF, for integration with the orbiter. There it was formally transferred to NASA.
On April 5, 2010, the module with all its payloads was loaded into a special container for the delivery to the launch pad and the installation into the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle.
On April 16, MIM1, along with all other payloads of the STS-132 mission was rolled out to the launch pad. On April 22, Shuttle Atlantis itself also arrived to the launch pad and three days later its payloads were installed into the cargo bay.
MIM1 gets Shuttle ride to orbit
In one of its last missions before retirement, NASA’s Space Shuttle carried a Russian module to the International Space Station. Known as MIM-1 Rassvet (“Dawn” in Russian), a five-ton vehicle resembling diver’s oxygen tank, lifted off from Kennedy Space Center’s Pad 39A at Cape Canaveral, Florida, inside a cargo bay of the Shuttle Atlantis on May 14, 2010, at 2:20 p.m. local time. Space Shuttle arrived at the ISS on May 16, 2010. The installation of the MIM1 module was scheduled for May 18, 2010. The Shuttle's robotic arm was scheduled to pick the module at 12:55, lift it out of the cargo bay and transfer it to the station's remote manipulator at 14:55. At 15:50, the module was expected to be attached to Zarya.
Integrating Rassvet with the station
A MIM1 Rassvet module was successfully added to the Russian segment of the outpost on May 18, 2010, at 8:20 a.m. EDT. Shuttle Commander Ken Ham and Pilot Tony Antonelli maneuvered the shuttle robotic arm to unberth the module from Atlantis’ payload bay and positioned it for handoff to the station robotic arm. Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman and Piers Sellers were at the station arm controls to maneuver MIM1 to its new position on the Russian segment. Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov monitored the activities from the Russian segment as the MIM1 engaged into its automated docking sequence for the final attachment to the station. Astronauts connected the module to the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port of the Zarya FGB control module, as the space station orbited about 220 miles above Argentina.
Opening of hatches into the MIM1 module was scheduled for May 19, 2010. Initially, the crew was expected to open hatches only briefly to take air samples inside the vehicle and then reenter the module some 24 hours later. In the following days, the crew would have to unload cargo brought inside the MIM1 module, in order to go free passage to its nadir (down-facing) docking port, which was scheduled to receive the upcoming Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft on June 22, after its initial docking to the aft port of the Zvezda service module. Unloading of Rassvet's cargo was expected to commence while Shuttle Atlantis, which delivered the module, was still at the station to provide some extra help by astronauts from the STS-132 mission, NASA officials said.
Leak checks on MIM-1 were completed without apparent problems and hatches to the module were opened on May 20. Initial unloading of its cargo had also started on the same day. However some metal shavings were soon discovered floating in the atmosphere of the module, prompting an advise from the ground to close hatches. The crew reopened the hatch next day, after some period of ventilation and fewer debris were found. Still, unloading activities had to be postponed, until additional ventilation could be conducted. According to NASA officials, the crew did remove restrains holding the cargo inside the MIM1 module during the launch and made it all the way to the opposite end of the craft in process of re-arranging cargo inside to facilitate ventilation.
Extending the life span of Rassvet
The factory warranty for the MIM1 Rassvet module expired on Aug. 31, 2021, but well before that date was reached, it had been officially extended until 2024. (Insider Content) Additionally, NASA certified the FRGF grapple fixture, which was attached to the airlock component (Insider Content) carried aboard Rassvet to operate until 2028. The US-built FRGF was designed to be used by a robotic arm aboard the station to transfer the airlock from its storage location on the Rassvet to the operational position on the MLM-U Nauka module.
Rassvet module specifications:
*including European robotic arm for Columbus, airlock for the MLM module and a portable workplace.
MIM1 module chronology:
2004: The White House announces a decision to retire the Shuttle in 2010.
2006: RKK Energia completes a preliminary design of the SGM (MIM1) module.
2009 August: RKK Energia completed testing of a full-scale prototype of the module in the acoustic chamber imitating conditions of launch.
2009 Aug. 28: Vacuum chamber testing of the flight version of the MIM1 module is completed.
2009 Oct. 6-7: A radiator and an airlock for the MLM module were attached to the MIM1 at RKK Energia's KIS facility.
2009 Dec. 14-15: A container holding MIM1 module was transported from Korolev to the Ramenskoe airfield for loading into the Antonov-124 transport aircraft.
2009 Dec. 17: MIM1 arrives to the Shuttle runway at Kennedy Space Center in Florida onboard An-124 transport aircraft.
2010 April 3: MIM1 is transported to the Space Shuttle Processing Facility, SSPF, for integration with the orbiter.
2010 April 5: MIM1 with all its payloads is loaded into a special container for the delivery to the launch pad and the installation into the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle.
2010 April 16: A payload container with MIM1 and other cargo of the STS-132 mission was rolled out to the launch pad.
2010 April 22: Shuttle Atlantis rolls out to the launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
2010 April 25: The MIM1 module and other payloads of the STS-132 mission are installed into the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
2010 May 14: The Space Shuttle Atlantis launches from Kennedy Space Center with MIM1 onboard as one of its payloads.
2010 May 16: Atlantis docks to the ISS.
2010 May 18: MIM-1 Rassvet is attached to the nadir port of the Zarya FGB control module on the ISS.
A rendering circa 2007 shows the location of the MIM1 module, then identified as SGM (a Russian abbreviation for Docking and Cargo Module). Note the proximity of the PMA-3 module on the US side of the station, as it was planned to be positioned at that time. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
The 2010 graphic shows the location of the MIM1 (MRM1) module with a NASA logistics module, then expected to be its closest "neighbor" on the station (left). Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
A prototype of the pressurized module built in the 1990s for the Scientific and Power Platform, NEP, and later recycled for the MIM1 module. Credit: RKK Energia
Pre-launch processing of the MIM1 module in Florida. Credit: NASA
MIM1 module shortly before the delivery to the launch pad. Credit: RKK Energia
A glovebox and related scientific hardware designed for MIM1. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
The Space Shuttle Atlantis approaches the International Space Station with MIM1 module onboard on May 16, 2010. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
Shuttle's robotic arms transfers the MIM1 module to the space station's remotely controlled manipulator on May 18, 2010. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA TV
Credit: NASA TV
Click to enlarge Credit: NASA
The MIM1 Rassvet module is being transferred toward its permanent position on the International Space Station, on May 18, 2010. Click to enlarge Credit: NASA
Early images of the MIM1 module in its permanent location on the International Space Station. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA TV
Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, Expedition 23 flight engineer, appears behind cargo containers in the cramped compartment of the MIM1 module on May 22, 2010. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA
TV camera and the location on the MIM-1 module where it was installed during a spacewalk on Jan. 21, 2011. Credit: NASA
An interior view of the docking port in the Rassvet module during the departure of Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft in April 2013. Credit: NASA
View of the nadir (Earth-facing) docking port on the MIM1 Rassvet module. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA