• Kyodo

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The National Space Development Agency has unveiled to the public a storage facility that will be installed as part of Japan’s contribution to the International Space Station.

The cylindrical logistics module, unveiled Monday at NASDA’s Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture, is approximately 4.4 meters in diameter and 4 meters long. It weighs about 4.1 tons and was constructed at a cost of 3.5 billion yen, NASDA officials said.

The module will be launched on a space shuttle in October 2002, carrying with it experimental devices, samples and information-control systems to be used in the Japanese Experiment Module, which is set to be installed in the International Space Station.

The remainder of the JEM is scheduled to be launched in January 2003. The logistics module will be placed atop the main experiment module in space.

Assembly of the entire Japanese complex, named Kibo (Hope), is scheduled to be completed in June 2003, following the launch of final components.

Though the module will be used primarily as a storage facility, it may also be used as a shelter in case of fire, NASDA officials said. Normal air pressure will be maintained inside the logistics module, enabling astronauts to forgo spacesuits, they said.

The Tsukuba center will conduct tests on the module’s airtightness and insulation prior to the launch.

Sixteen nations, including Japan, Russia and the United States, are participating in construction of the ISS. It is scheduled for completion in 2004.

The first component of the station was launched in November 1998 by Russia.