Baikonur (Itar-Tass):  A Russian manufacturer of spacecraft components and the Khrunichev Space Centre will prepare a multifunctional laboratory module for launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012.

"We are facing the task of getting it ready by the end of 2012," said Vitaly Lopota, president of Russia's Rocket and Space Corporation Energia.

Initially, the module was supposed to be orbited this year, but the launch has been postponed until the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013.

The construction of the module started in 1995, using Khrunichev's own funds. Later the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) took over the funding.

The module's takeoff weight is 20.3 tonnes, including 3 tonnes of research equipment. It will have three universal workplaces. (Itar-Tass)